The Darcy Brothers Virtual Book Launch Party with Authors, Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Susan Mason-Milks and Abigail Reynolds

The Darcy Brothers by Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Susan Mason-Milks and Abigail Reynolds We are very pleased to welcome Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Susan Mason-Milks and Abigail Reynolds to Austenprose for the official virtual book launch party of their new novel The Darcy Brothers, released today by White Soup Press.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, The Darcy Brothers is an original variation based on Austen’s classic in which Mr. Darcy has a charming younger brother named Theo who meets Elizabeth Bennet and vies for her affections. Written by five Austenesque authors, you may well ask, as we did ourselves, how they could pool their talents and create one novel together? Abigail Reynolds has kindly supplied a revealing guest blog to share the experience with you. And, any  celebration would not be complete without gifts. Please enter a chance to win one of the four fabulous prizes being offered by their publisher by leaving a comment. The giveaway details are listed at the end of this post. Good luck to all!

DESCRIPTION (from the publisher)

Easy-going Theophilus Darcy is the opposite of his controlled older brother. Where Fitzwilliam Darcy is proud and awkward among strangers, Theo is a charmer. Fitzwilliam took his studies seriously, while Theo was sent down from Oxford for his pranks. Still, the brothers were the best of friends until tragedy and George Wickham tore them apart.

What if Theo were to meet Miss Elizabeth Bennet? Would he charm the young lady’s stockings off… or would he help his brother win her hand? Find out as the two brothers lock horns in this unique Pride & Prejudice variation collectively written by five respected authors.

The Darcy Brothers was first conceived as an interactive group writing project and has developed into a full-length novel featuring the charismatic Theo Darcy.

Continue reading

Mr. Darcy’s Challenge: A Pride and Prejudice Variation (The Darcy Novels Book 2), by Monica Fairview – Preview & Exclusive Excerpt

Mr. Darcys Challenge by Monica Fairview 2014 x 200It is always a pleasure to introduce a new book by a treasured author. Many of Monica Fairview’s Pride and Prejudice sequels: The Other Mr. Darcy and The Darcy Cousins, are among my favorite Austenesque novels. Her latest, Mr. Darcy’s Challenge, is the second book in The Darcy Novels series of “what if” variations. Here is a preview and exclusive excerpt for your enjoyment.

PREVIEW (from publisher’s description)

In this humorous Pride and Prejudice Variation, Mr. Darcy is determined to win Elizabeth Bennet’s hand in spite of her rejection and he has a strategy worked out. He will rescue Lydia Bennet from Wickham and will return to Longbourn to convince Elizabeth to marry him. But when a chance encounter prompts Darcy to propose once again to Elizabeth before he has rescued Lydia, his plans go horribly wrong.

Broken hearted, disillusioned and bitterly regretting his impulsive action, Darcy sees no point in assisting Miss Bennet. After all, rescuing Lydia might save Elizabeth’s reputation, but why should he care when they have no future together? His code of gentlemanly conduct, however, demands that he fulfill the terms of his promise to her. Once again, Darcy finds himself faced with impossible choices: helping Elizabeth when she is certain to marry someone else, or holding onto his dignity by turning his back on the Bennets once and for all.

Pride and love are at loggerheads as he struggles to choose between his mind … and his heart.

Volume Two of The Darcy Novels continues the story began in Mr. Darcy’s Pledge but can be read as an independent book as well.

Continue reading

The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla: A Pink Carnation Novel, by Lauren Willig – A Review

The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla by Lauren Willig 2014 From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:

A new Pink Carnation novel is always the highlight of my reading season, though the anticipation for The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla was stifling. How could Lauren Willig’s eleventh addition equal or surpass her previous highly-successful novels seeped in Napoleonic spies, romance and burlesque comedy? Yes, comedy. They say “dying is easy; comedy is hard” and it is so true. There are few authors in the genre who will even attempt it. Willig excels.

One of the main reasons I enjoy the “Pink” series so much (besides the humor) is that they take me back to Regency England, and the characters are SO original. Willig started the series in 2004 with The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. Each successive novel features a new set of protagonists: a romantic couple thrown together by mystery, espionage and love. After ten novels I have never been disappointed.

Set in 1806 London, The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla re-introduces us to the three young Misses from Miss Climpson’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies in Bath, brought together in the seventh novel, The Mischief of the Mistletoe: Miss Sally Fitzhugh, Miss Agnes Wooliston and Miss Lizzy Reid. They are in Town for the Season, chaperoned by Lord and Lady Vaughn whose next door neighbor is reported to be a vampire. Yes, vampires are all the rage in London at the moment due to Lizzy Reid’s step-mother’s best-selling novel The Convent of Orsino. No one is above suspicion, especially aristocrats. Continue reading

The Passion of the Purple Plumeria: A Pink Carnation Novel, by Lauren Willig – A Review

The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, by Lauren Willig (2013) From the desk of Christina Boyd

Acclaimed author Lauren Willig’s latest offering, The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, is the tenth novel in her New York Times best selling Pink Carnation series. This historical romance series of Napoleonic era English spies, that fight for Britain and for love, is constructed within a modern day love story, told from the point of view of the American grad student Eloise Kelly who is writing her dissertation on the true identity of the Pink Carnation, the master British spy of the time.

In Purple Plumeria, (those of us who have been previously “Pinked,” often refer to the novels by the abbreviated Flower title…), the handsome Colonel William Reid, who we first encountered in Blood Lily (The Betrayal of the Blood Lily) has returned to his daughters in England from a lifelong military career in India only to discover his youngest has recently disappeared from boarding school with one of her classmates.  Soon we learn the other missing student is Agnes Wooliston, the sister of British spymaster, errr, ehm, spymistress, the Pink Carnation – generally known as Miss Jane Wooliston – recalling  her home from Paris to England. And where Miss Wooliston goes, so goes her caustically witty and straight-laced companion, and adroit, clever, parasol-wielding agent of the War Office, Miss Gwendolyn Meadows. While conducting an interview with the headmistress, they meet the aforementioned comely, charming Colonel.

Gwen didn’t like any of this. She didn’t like it one bit. All her instincts, well honed over years of midnight raids, were shouting “trouble.” How much of the trouble was coming from the situation and how much from a certain sun-bronzed colonel was a matter for debate. Bad enough that Agnes had gone missing; worse yet to have to deal with the parent of the other girl, poking his nose in—however attractive a nose it might be—and posing questions that might prove inconvenient for everyone. And by everyone, she meant the Pink Carnation.  p. 55

Finding they must work together if they have any hopes of finding the two young ladies, the Colonel discovers his partner to be quite a delightful, refreshing conundrum and not only because of her dexterity while under attack. The lines at the corners of Colonel Reid’s eyes crinkled. “Do you ever allow anyone else the last word, Miss Meadows?”  “Not if they haven’t wit enough to seize it,” said Gwen. “That,” said Colonel Reid, ‘sounds remarkably like a challenge.” p. 92 She on the other hand, never expected to be partnered with such a man and is surprised by the thoughts and emotions he inspires.  He looked at her quizzically. They were close enough that she could make out the faint hint of a scar beside his lip, close enough to kiss. Where had that ridiculous thought come from? p. 93 Could our uptight, upstanding, paragon of virtue, spinster-heroine have passion simmering beneath that starchy, purple plumed facade?

We last left our modern day Harvard grad student Eloise in book #9, The Garden Intrigue, the story telling the story, (or is it the story in the story? much like the chicken or the egg?), researching the Napoleonic Wars, specifically, the Pink Carnation, while living with her boyfriend, Colin Selwick at his country family estate, Selwick Hall. As it would happen, she fell into this love affair while researching his very ancestors – and with only 2 months left until she is expected to return to Harvard, the American one on the other side of the pond – she is as anxious about leaving him as she is about discovering her research has come to an unexpected standstill.

No matter where I looked, I couldn’t find any reference to Miss Jane Wooliston or Miss Gwendolyn Meadows in my sources post 1805. Edouard de Balcourt went on merrily living in the Hotel de Balcourt, toadying up to the Emperor (until the Restoration, at which point he abruptly remembered that his father had been decapitated during the Revolution and he’d never liked that upstart Corsican dictator anyway), but his cousin and chaperone had left the building. p. 72

And when the Selwick family legend of “the lost jewels of Behar” stirs up the skulking about of Colin’s loathsome douche of a cousin/step-father, Jeremy Selwick-Alderly, their family’s matriarch demands the two men work together to find the treasure, or else.  Guided by childhood familial stories, a three-lined riddle, and a 200 year old book entitled, The Convent of Orsino by A Lady, the trio, embark on their own intrigue, which fortuitously re-ignites Eloise’s dissertation.

In the cunningly written Reader’s Guide, interviewing both the authors of The Convent of Orsino and the author of Purple Plumeria, Willig admits no little intimidation in pursuing Miss Gwen’s story and even wrote her Edwardian era stand-alone novel The Ashford Affair as a means of deferment. As much as I loved reading the fruits of her willful, blatant procrastination of this next Pink book, I am thoroughly satisfied with her win-win stratagems. The Passion of the Purple Plumeria has all the trademark characteristics of Lauren Willig’s previous Pink Carnation books: clever players and Napoleonic spy intrigue united with heart pounding romance. My only complaint: this book is not offered in hardback. In the spirit of Miss Meadows this reader snaps, “Hmph! It mars the look of the rest of my collection! The wrong trim on the wrong bonnet!”  *Sniff!* But since that is not the author’s fault and falls clearly to the publisher, Lauren Willig’s latest is still a 5 star read! Be certain to add it to your summer reading list. Added bonuses: Discussion Questions perfect for your book club, as well as an excerpt for her next in this series, due Summer 2014.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

The Passion of the Purple Plumeria: A Pink Carnation Novel, by Lauren Willig
NAL Trade (2013)
Trade paperback (480) pages
ISBN: 978-0451414724

Cover image courtesy of the Penguin Group © 2013; text Christina Boyd © 2013, Austenprose.com.

Giveaway Winner Announced for Miss Lacey’s Last Fling

Miss Lacey's Last Fling, by Candice Hern (2012)22 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win a copy of Miss Lacey’s Last Fling, by Candice Hern. The winner drawn at random is

  • Elsie who left a comment on July 26, 2013

Congratulations Elsie! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by August 7, 2013. Please tell me if you would like a print or digital version of the book. Print book shipment to US addresses, or eBook internationally.

Thanks to all who left comments, and for all those participating in the Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013. It has been great fun. Our next review of “Lady Anne’s Excellent Adventure: A Regency Short Story,” will be on Wednesday, August 28th. I hope you can join us.

Book cover image courtesy of © 2012 Candice Hern; text © 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

The Ashford Affair: A Novel, by Lauren Willig – A Review

Image of the book cover of The Ashford Affair, by Lauren Willig © 2013 St. Martin’s PressFrom the desk of Christina Boyd

In a departure from her Napoleonic spy romances of the Pink Carnation Series, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig ventures into new territory with The Ashford Affair. Entwining one generation’s story with that of another, from post-Edwardian British society to modern day Manhattan to a coffee farm in Kenya, the long veiled secrets of a woman are unraveled.

Clementine Evans, a focused, driven law associate on the cusp of making partner in a large Manhattan firm, attends her beloved grandmother Adeleine’s 99th birthday and is accidentally enlightened to a family secret. At 34, Clemmie, feeling like her life is nothing but a 70-plus hour workweek, and a failed engagement, this intrigue becomes more than a distraction to the un-fulfilling, lonely details of her days.

Clemmie slid the picture back into the drawer. There was another underneath it, a studio portrait of a woman, her head tilted. Her pale hair was crimped in stylized waves around her face and her pale eyes gazed soulfully into the distance. She looked, somehow, strangely familiar, her cheekbones, the shape of her lips, as if Clemmie had seen her somewhere before.” p. 65.

But trying to get any information from her own tight-lipped mother proves difficult. And how is it that her ex-stepbrother knows more about the family histories than she does?

Adeleine Gillecote’s parents die when she is almost six and she grows up as the mouse-brown ward of her aristocratic aunt and uncle at Ashford Park, a grand English country house. Though brought up with her cousins, Addie never overcomes the status of a poor relation. Despite this, her best friend from almost the start is her vivacious, beautiful, golden cousin, Bea, who takes Addie under her wing, sheltering Addie from her unwelcoming mother, and earning her love and fidelity. As the girls grow and experience the pre-WWI balls and English society, Addie tries not to begrudge Bea’s beauty or her unaffected graces. But when a man comes between the two, it appears all loyalties come to an end, and, escaping to Kenya still isn’t quite far enough. “Addie pressed her fist to her lips, trying not to think what she was thinking. She closed her eyes, fighting a terrible certainty, the certainty that what she was hearing was true, that this was Bea, that Bea had, did, and always would do what she liked, regardless of the consequences, regardless even of Addie.”  p. 196.

Although this latest offering is a non-Pink novel, fans of Willig’s the Pink Carnation Series will be giddy with delight when they meet the handsome, cynical and witty descendant of Lord Vaughn. Yes! That Vaughn from The Masque of the Black Tulip.

“He looked feline himself, all boneless grace, with the measureless self-satisfaction afforded by knowing his ancestors had been dining off gold plate when others had still been scratching about in the dirt: the Honorable Theophilius Vaughn, the despair of the ancient line. According to his frustrated family, he had both the morals of a cat and all of its nine lives.” p. 248.

The spawn of Vaughn.”  Ha!! Her words from her website, not mine!

Some have described this novel as Out of Africa meets Downton Abbey. *sigh* Well, use those cinematic visuals if you must, but I can honestly attest, The Ashford Affair is so much more. Much more. This is the kind of the novel that will stay with you; keep you mulling over the vibrant characters and intrinsic detailing long after you’ve inhaled that satisfying last page. Lauren Willig’s The Ashford Affair is brilliant! Glittering brilliance.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Ashford Affair: A Novel, by Lauren Willig
St. Martin’s Press (2013)
Hardcover (368) pages
ISBN: 978-1250014498

Cover image courtesy © 2013 St. Martin’s Press; text © 2013 Christina Boyd, Austenprose

Giveaway Winner Announced for An Affair of Honor

Image of the book cover of An Affair of Honor, by Candice Hern © 2012 Candice Hern26 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win a copy of An Affair of Honor by Candice Hern. The winner drawn at random is

  • sherrysbooks who left a comment on March 29, 2013

Congratulations Sherry! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by April 10, 2013. Please tell me which item you have won and if you would like a print or digital copy. Print book shipment to US addresses, or eBook internationally.

Thanks to all who left comments, and for all those participating in the Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013. The challenge is open until July 1st, 2013, so please check out the details and sign up today!

Image courtesy © 2012 Candice Hern; text © 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Falling For Mr. Darcy, by KaraLynne Mackrory – A Review

Falling For Mr. Darcy, by KaraLynne Mackrory (2012 )From the desk of Jeffrey Ward

We know from the surviving canceled chapters of Persuasion that Jane Austen penned an alternative conclusion to her final novel with stunning results. Based on the now 200 year old masterpiece Pride and Prejudice, debut Author KaraLynne Mackrory has likewise crafted her own romantic detour. Let us find out, through the eyes of this old-school traditionalist reviewer if this spin-off embodies similar gratifying qualities.

The opening deviates immediately following the disastrous Meryton assembly with Mr. Darcy taking a morning horseback ride out from Netherfield, trying to calm his already intense attraction to Elizabeth and his mortification for insulting her. Miss Elizabeth Bennet simultaneously is taking her morning walk and pauses to rest in her favorite wooded copse. Darcy spots and admires her from afar. Suddenly, a gust of wind snaps a dead oak that Miss Bennet scrambles to avoid being struck by. Her ankle injured, Darcy comes to her rescue showing great concern. This chance meeting between hero and heroine fills many pages with absorbing and delicious detail which typifies the author’s unique style. As Darcy attempts to lift the injured Miss Bennet to his horse, as gentlemanly as possible, this charming dialogue ensues:

“Miss Bennet, I must help you to the horse, if you will give your consent again.” Mr. Darcy tried to sound as casual as possible even as his mind was screaming – yes, say yes! You belong in my arms Elizabeth! She laughed, and the hair on his neck stood up at the musical sound. “Mr. Darcy, I cannot see any other way I could get up there unless another gust of wind were to pick me up and place me atop your horse! You may assist me, thank you.” p. 21

The author’s route then heads straight from Longbourn to London, bypassing Pemberley. Things are proceeding much too smoothly between Darcy and Elizabeth when at about the half-way point his pride rears its ugly head, he comes to his senses, (loses his senses?) and affirms to himself that he can never marry a lady with poor connections and embarrassing family members.

The author, much to my satisfaction, also emphasizes the significance of Mr. Bennet as a major character who loves all of his daughters and has a hidden but joyous surprise for each daughter, should they marry for love instead of convenience. The odious Mr. Collins also makes an appearance and with the influence of Mr. Darcy be shocked at whom the clueless curate sets his eyes upon for matrimony!

Especially effective throughout is the mood of latent sexual desire between our heroine and hero without referring to any of the currently abused secondary sexual characteristics. Instead, the author delicately features the eyes, hair, facial expressions, garments, hands, posture, and the glimpse of a feminine ankle, much as it was two centuries ago. Combine this subtle sexual tension with the author’s dialogues, which faithfully stress the extremely polite civility between the sexes, and you are treated to page after page of crisply entertaining Regency conversations and situations.

A particularly savory moment is Elizabeth’s coincidental encounter with Georgiana Darcy in a fine London clothing shop where neither is aware of the other’s identity, yet they take an instant liking to each other as Elizabeth draws the shy Georgiana out:

“You will think me most silly, but I had teased my brother that I would shop for a wife for him today and choose a pair of slippers for her as well. He was so pleased to get out of coming in here with me that he laughed and went along with it.” Georgiana then frowned as she realized her silliness. Elizabeth laughed at the unusual declaration and said, as she glanced around the shop, “I did not see the ‘wife aisle’.” p. 183

My only minor criticisms? Somewhat departing from most of Jane Austen’s beloved characters who manifest both weaknesses as well as strengths, the author’s good characters are sometimes too-too good, the bad characters (Mr. Wickham) are too-too bad, and the ugly characters (Mr. Collins) are too-too ugly. This, at times, seemed to foster a cloying or schmaltzy atmosphere. We are also privy to the private thoughts of some of the characters (in italics) which are effective in some situations but perhaps reveal a little too much in others.

Nevertheless, I’m impressed by this debut novel and give praise for the author’s clever plot detour, character authenticity, genuine regency manners, and especially the tastefully rendered romantic eroticism between Elizabeth and Darcy which really drew me into the story right from the beginning.

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

Falling For Mr. Darcy, by KaraLynne Mackrory
Meryton Press (2013)
Trade paperback (264) pages
ISBN: 978-1936009206

© 2013 Jeffrey Ward, Austenprose

Top Jane Austen-inspired Books of 2012

Jane Austen Pop Art Banner

2012 was a banner year for Jane Austen-inspired books. From historical fiction to self-help to mysteries, Austen was visible in several genres and as popular as ever. Here are our top favorites reviewed here at Austenprose.com in 2012 with a bonus category, Readers Choice Awards.

Top 5 Historical sequels, prequels or retellings:

The Three Colonels: Jane Austen’s Fighting Men, by Jack Caldwell (4.5 stars)

Dear Mr. Darcy: A Retelling of Pride and Prejudice, by Amanda Grange (4.5 stars)

The Journey, by Jan Hahn (5 stars)

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, by Syrie James (5 stars)

A Pemberley Medley: Five Pride & Prejudice Variations, by Abigail Reynolds (5 stars)

Top 5 Contemporary inspired:

Compulsively Mr. Darcy, by Nina Benneton (4 stars)

Mr. Darcy Forever, by Victoria Connelly (4.5 stars)

Find Wonder in All Things, by Karen M. Cox (4.5 stars)

Hidden Paradise, by Janet Mullany (4.5 stars)

Darcy Goes to War: A Pride and Prejudice Re-imagining, by Mary Lydon Simonsen (5 stars)

Regency inspired:

The Garden Intrigue, by Lauren Willig (5 stars)

The West Yet Glimmers: The Lord & Lady Baugham Stories, by Gail McEwen & Tina Moncton (5 stars)

Mysteries:

Midnight in Austenland: A Novel, by Shannon Hale (4.5 stars)

My Particular Friend: A Charlotte House Affair (Volume 1), by Jennifer Petkus (5 stars)

Paranormal:

Jane Vows Vengeance: A Novel, by Michael Thomas Ford (5 stars)

Searching for Captain Wentworth, by Jane Odiwe (5 stars)

Nonfiction:

The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After, by Elizabeth Kantor (5 stars)

The Jane Austen Guide to Life: Thoughtful Lessons for the Modern Woman, by Lori Smith (5 stars)

Scholarly:

The Marriage of Faith: Christianity in William Wordsworth and Jane Austen, by Laura Dabundo (5 stars)

Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures, by Claudia L. Johnson (5 stars)

Self-published:

Mr. Darcy’s Proposal, by Susan Mason-Milks (4 stars)

For Myself Alone, by Shannon Winslow (4 stars)

Young Adult:

The Beresfords, by Christina Dudley (4.5 stars)

Persuaded, by Jenni James (4 stars)

Debut Author: (tie)

All My Tomorrows, by Colette Saucier (5 stars)

Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story, Book 1: So Rough a Course, by Laura Hile (5 stars)

Readers Choice Awards:

1.) The West Yet Glimmers, by Gail McEwen & Tina Moncton

2.) Persuaded, by Jenni James

3.) The Journey, by Jan Hahn

4.) Echoes of Pemberley, by Cynthia Ingram Hensley (tie)

4.) Find Wonder in All Things, by Karen M. Cox (tie)

5.) Pulse and Prejudice, by Colette L. Saucier

Congratulations to all of the authors! Thanks for another great year of fabulous reading.

Cheers,

Austenprose review staff

Related posts

2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013

The Pride Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge (2013) 2013 is a celebratory year for the legion of Jane Austen fans. It marks the bicentenary of her second published novel, Pride and Prejudice.

For two hundred years we have been enjoying her romantic, dramatic, and witty story filled with memorable characters – the Bennet sisters: angelic Jane, spirited Elizabeth, pedantic Mary, impressionable Kitty and impetuous Lydia; and the men in their lives: amiable Charles Bingley, charming Lt. George Wickham, and the proud Mr. Darcy. There is so much to praise in Jane Austen’s most popular novel which has inspired many movie adaptations, book sequels and spinoffs. In its honor, we are very pleased to announce another reading and viewing challenge for our readers:

The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013

We had a fabulous year here in 2011 during The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge and are pleased to offer another new challenge for Pride and Prejudice. If you have not read Jane Austen’s masterpiece (or would like to revisit it in honor of its special anniversary), seen all of the movies, or read all of the sequels and spinoffs, this is the year to join the challenge along with other Janeites, historical fiction, Regency romance, and period drama movie lovers.

Challenge Details

Time-line: The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013 runs January 1, through December 31, 2013.

Levels of participation: Neophyte: 1 – 4 selections, Disciple: 5 – 8 selections, Aficionada: 9 – 12 selections.

Enrollment: Sign up’s are open until July 1, 2013. First, select your level of participation.  Second, copy the Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013 graphic and include it in your blog post detailing the novels or movies that you commit to reading and watching in 2013. Third, leave a comment linking back to your blog post in the comments of this announcement post. If you do not have a blog you can still participate. Just leave your commitment to the challenge in the comments below.

Check Back Monthly: The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013 officially begins on Wednesday, January 9th, 2013 with my review of the Naxos Audiobooks edition of Pride and Prejudice, read by Emilia Fox. Check back on the 2nd Wednesday of each month for my next review in the challenge.

Your Participation: Once the challenge starts, leave a comment in my monthly post including the book, movie, television, or web series that you finished and a link to your blog review. If you do not have a blog, just leave a comment in the monthly post about what you did read or view with a brief reaction or remark. It’s that easy. (To clarify, the post you are reading right now if the announcement and sign-up post for the challenge. Leave your reviews in future monthly posts as the year progresses.)

Resources: Since there are literally hundreds of Pride and Prejudice prequels, sequels, re-tellings, variations, mysteries and paranormal novels – both historical and contemporary – now in print or digital format, and many film adaptations to choose from on DVD or online, I will not begin to list all the possible choices that you could select for this challenge. Many are available for purchase through online book and DVD retailers. Some of the movies can also be rented and viewed on your own tablet, computer or television. Your local library is also an excellent resource.

My Choices: I have decided to start off the challenge by honoring the origins of our challenge by listening to an audio book of Pride and Prejudice, and then revisit or discover many early and classic sequels that I read many years ago, or have been on my TBR list for years. We will end the year with a TBA novel inspired by Pride and Prejudice that is new this year. Here is my list of my 12 selections:

My Reading & Viewing Schedule:

I hope you can join us. It shall be a wonderful year reading Pride and Prejudice, and visiting all of its varied offshoots.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

The beautiful Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013 graphic was designed by the very talented Katherine Cox of November’s Autumn

• PARTICIPANTS!

Please leave comments or links to your reviews in the monthly reviews as we progress through the year. The list and links to each monthly review is listed above. This post is a sign-up and commitment post. Thanks!

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Announcing the Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013: Featuring Candice Hern

The Regency Romance Reading Challenge (2013)Yes, gentle readers it’s time for a new reading challenge—and for 2013 we are stretching our wings and embracing a new author.

We are very pleased to announce the Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013 featuring the very talented author Candice Hern. If you are unfamiliar with Candice, I am excited to introduce her to you. She writes witty and romantic traditional Regency romance novels with endearing heroines and swoon-worthy heroes highlighted by incredible historical accuracy. If you enjoyed any of Georgette Heyer’s great romance novels or laughed along with Lauren Willig’s characters in the Pink Carnation series, I highly recommend joining in the challenge—affording you the perfect opportunity to discover Ms. Hern’s great novels and short stories along with other Janeites, historical fiction and Regency romance lovers.

We will be reading and reviewing one title a month and posting on the third Wednesday through September. Here is our schedule:

The Regency Romance Reading Challenge Review Schedule:

Challenge Details

Time-line: The Regency Romance Reading Challenge runs January 1, through September 30, 2013.

Levels of participation: Neophyte: 1 – 2 novels & short stories, Disciple 3 – 5 novels & short stories, Aficionada 6 – 9 novels & short stories.

Enrollment: Sign up’s are open until July 01, 2013. First, select your level of participation.  Second, copy the Regency Romance Reading Challenge graphic and include it in your blog post detailing the novels or short stories that you will read in 2013. Third, leave a comment linking back to your blog post in the comments of this announcement post. If you do not have a blog you can still participate. Just leave your commitment to the challenge in the comments below.

Check Back Monthly: The Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013 officially begins on Wednesday, January 23, 2013 with my review of A Proper Companion. Check back on the 4th Wednesday of each month for our next review in the challenge.

Your Participation: Once the challenge starts, leave a comment including the novel or short story that you finished and a link to your blog review. If you do not have a blog, just leave a comment about which novel or short story you finished with a brief reaction or remark. It’s that easy.

The Prizes

Oh, of course there are prizes! Author Candice Hern has very generously offered one paperback or an eBook of each of the novels, and one eBook of the short stories that we will be reviewing each month here on Austenprose.  The winners will be drawn from comments left with each post. There will also be one lucky Grand Prize Winner who will receive a copy of the entire set: either print or eBook of the novels, and an eBook copy of the short stories drawn from comments left at any and all of the Regency Romance Challenge reviews left on this blog. Winners will be announced monthly one week after the blog post, and a Grand Prize Winner will be announced on Thursday, October 3, 2013. Print book shipment to US addresses only. Ebooks available internationally.

Bonus Stuff: Yes, of course there is more to get happy about. Availability of each of the novels and short stories is great. The novels can be purchased as print copies or eBook download at most online book retailers and the short stories are available as eBooks. Your local library might have copies too, so do check there if that it your preference.

One of the delights of Ms. Hern’s stories is the incredible historical detail. To expand upon our reading journey in 2013, visit author Candice Hern’s extensive website including her Regency World pages where you will find information on many aspects of the era such as fashion, people, places, a glossary and much more.

So, make haste and join the challenge today. I am so looking forward to re-visiting many of the novels and short stories in the Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013 and hope you can join in too.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

The beautiful Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013 graphic was designed by the very talented Katherine Cox of November’s Autumn

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Preview & Excerpt of The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, by Syrie James

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, by Syrie James (2012)Gentle readers: Here is a special treat for you today. Author Syrie James has graciously offered an exclusive sneak peek to Austenprose readers of an excerpt of her new Austen-inspired novel, The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, which releases on December 31st.

I have had the pleasure of reading the entire novel and I can share with you that you have a great treat ahead of you. Here is a brief description of this exciting new book from the author of The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen and The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte.

Samantha McDonough cannot believe her eyes—or her luck. Tucked in an uncut page of a two-hundred-year old poetry book is a letter she believes was written by Jane Austen, mentioning with regret a manuscript that “went missing at Greenbriar in Devonshire.” Could there really be an undiscovered Jane Austen novel waiting to be found? Could anyone resist the temptation to go looking for it?

Making her way to the beautiful, centuries-old Greenbriar estate, Samantha finds it no easy task to sell its owner, the handsome yet uncompromising Anthony Whitaker, on her wild idea of searching for a lost Austen work—until she mentions its possible million dollar value.

After discovering the unattributed manuscript, Samantha and Anthony are immediately absorbed in the story of Rebecca Stanhope, daughter of a small town rector, who is about to encounter some bittersweet truths about life and love. As they continue to read the newly discovered tale from the past, a new one unfolds in the present—a story that just might change both of their lives forever.

We will also have the honor of hosting Syrie’s launch party for The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen right here on Austenprose.com on Monday, December 31, 2012. Syrie will be sharing her inspiration and insights into writing her new novel, discussing characters, and of course Jane Austen’s influence. So be sure to mark your calendars — there will be great giveaway prizes and fun conversation. It is the perfect way to ring in the New Year with one of our favorite Austenesque authors. Now, on to the excerpt. Enjoy!

How It Began

The minute I saw the letter, I knew it was hers.

There was no mistaking it: the salutation, the tiny, precise handwriting, the date, the content itself, all confirmed its ancient status and authorship.

I came upon it entirely by accident. It lay buried between the pages of a very old book of eighteenth-century British poetry that I’d found at a used bookstore in Oxford—an impulsive purchase I’d made to add to my library back home and to keep me company during a few days of sightseeing in England.

It was to be a quick trip—less than a week. When I’d learned that my boyfriend, Dr. Stephen Theodore, was attending a medical conference in London, I hadn’t been able to resist tagging along. Although I knew he’d be tied up almost the entire time, it was a great excuse to do some touring on my own. My first stop was Oxford, the site of my unfinished education. I still felt pangs about having to abandon my doctoral studies in English literature, and returning to the “city of dreaming spires” filled me with nostalgia. I’d spent a lovely June afternoon and evening exploring my favorite old haunts—wishing, every step of the way, that I could have shared them with Stephen—but we kept in constant touch via e-mail, phone, and text.

I’d found the book in a dusty pile on a shop’s back table, unappreciated and ignored. I could see why. It wasn’t the prettiest of volumes. It was still in its original, temporary binding—the pages hastily sewn together inside a cheap, cardboardlike cover, with the title printed on a tiny paper label pasted on the spine. The publication date was missing, but I judged the book to be at least two hundred years old.

I didn’t have a chance to really study my new treasure until the morning after I’d bought it. I awoke to grey and stormy skies, and after a leisurely English breakfast at my B&B, I decided to wait out the rain with a cup of coffee in my cozy little room. I sank down into a comfortable chair by the window, turned on the old-fashioned lamp, and carefully opened the aging volume.

The pages at the beginning were brown and soiled at the edges, but as I went further in they became clean and white, with only a light brown speckling in the margins. I slowly thumbed through the volume, smiling at the familiar, much-loved poems set in antique type. The edges of the pages were ragged where the original owner had used a knife to cut open the folds. Near the end of the book, I noticed that a few pages hadn’t been cut, but were still joined at the edge, creating a kind of pocket. I borrowed a letter opener from the B&B proprietor and gently sliced open the remaining pages. To my surprise, tucked in between the leaves of the last pocket, I discovered a single sheet of paper neatly folded into envelope shape and size.

I opened it. It was an unfinished letter. The paper was of substantial weight and bore a watermark and the distinctive ribbing from the paper molds of yesteryear. The ink was black-brown. The date and elegant cursive hand proclaimed that it had been written by quill. I read the greeting, and my heart jumped. With disbelieving eyes, I read it through.

Tuesday 3 September 1816

My dearest Cassandra,

Thank you for your Letter, which was truly welcome. I am much obliged to you for writing so soon after your arrival, and for sharing the particulars of your Lodgings, which I suspect provided far more entertainment for the reader, than for the writer.—Although your Bedroom sounds comfortable enough, I am sorry you had no fire, and am appalled that Mrs. Potter thinks to charge three Guineas a week for such a place! Cheltenham is clearly to be preferred in May! Your Pelisse is no doubt very happy it made the journey, for it will be much worn. I hope Mary gains more benefit from the waters than I did. Do let me know how she gets on. We are well here. The illness which I suffered at the time of your going has very kindly taken its leave, without so much as a good-bye, and I am happy to say that my back has given me very little pain the past few days. I am nursing myself into as beautiful a state as I can, so as to better enjoy Edward’s visit. He is a great pleasure to me. He is writing a Novel—We have all heard it, and it is very good and clever. I believe it could be a first-rate work, if only he can bring himself to finish it.

Listening to Edward’s composition has put me in something of a melancholy state and given rise to Feelings I had thought long got over, and of which I may give vent only to you. I promise to indulge for no more than five minutes.—It brings to mind that early Manuscript of my own, which went missing at Greenbriar in Devonshire. Even at a distance of fourteen years, I cannot help but think of it with a pang of fondness, sorrow, and regret, as one would a lost child.—Do you recall my theory as to how it came to be lost? I still maintain that it was all vanity, nonsense, and wounded pride. I should never have read it out to you that night during our stay but kept it safe with all the others—although we did have a good laugh! (What banner years for me—two Proposals!) It is tragic that I had only the one Copy.—And yet perhaps it was simply fate, and it was never meant to be seen. You did persuade me to tell no one about it while I was writing it, and you were right; it might indeed have troubled that most valued member of our family. Every time I thought of trying to write it out again, something happened to prevent it—all our travels—so difficult, you will recall, to work at Sydney Place—and then papa died, and it was quite impossible. To recall it now from memory would prove to be a task beyond my power. I have been inspired, however. Yesterday, I sat down and poked fun at my poor, lost creation with a piece of foolishness I call Plan Of A Novel. It is in part what I remember of that Story, embellished with hints from Fanny and others who have been kind enough to suggest what I ought to write next. I hope it will make you laugh.—Which reminds me. To-night, we are to drink tea with

It ended there—a fragment, unfinished, and unsigned.

Hands trembling, I read the letter a second time, and a third. There was only one person who could have written that letter; one person, and she happened to be one of the most famous and beloved authors of all time: Jane Austen. That she was my personal favorite author—that I had studied her life and work in detail, and that she had inspired the topic of my never-completed dissertation—only added to my astonishment and excitement.

If this was authentic—and I felt in my bones that it was—then I had come upon something extremely rare and valuable. Jane’s sister Cassandra, shortly before her death, had burned most of her correspondence with Jane, or expunged those parts she preferred to keep private, before giving them as mementos to her nieces and nephews. Some 161 letters survived and had been published—and I was certain this was not among them. This was something new.

End of excerpt. Be sure to join us on December 31 for all of the festivities!!!

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, by Syrie James
Berkley Trade (2012)
Trade paperback (432) pages
ISBN: 978-0425253366

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose