A Preview & Giveaway of The Gentleman Spy (Serendipity & Secrets Book 2), by Erica Vetsch

The Gentleman Spy, by Erica Vetsch 2020Hello readers. Are you in the mood for a total escape during these challenging times? Then, bring on The Gentleman Spy, the next Regency-era novel in the Serendipity & Secrets series by bestselling historical romance author Erica Vetsch.

Even if you have not read The Lost Lieutenant, the first book in the series, you can jump right into this stand-alone Regency historical filled with intrigue, history, and swoon. I promise—there is great conflict and plenty of twists in the plot to keep you turning pages into the wee hours of the night.

And for those who just can’t get enough of the characters in the Serendipity & Secrets series, next up is a bonus novella in Joy to the World: A Regency Christmas Collection, a trio of novellas by Vetsch and fellow authors Carolyn Miller and Amanda Barratt (available October 13, 2020). Then, the last installment of the series, The Indebted Earl, the story of Marcus Haverly’s younger sister, Sophie, will arrive on shelves in March 2021. That should set you up for some time.

I am happy to share a preview of The Gentleman Spy with a book description from the publisher and an exclusive excerpt selected by the author for Austenprose readers. Please check out the amazing giveaway chance for a prize pack listed at the bottom of the post with a link to enter. Good luck to all!

He only wanted a duchess for a day–but she’s determined to make it a marriage for life

When his father and older brother suddenly pass away, the new Duke of Haverly is saddled with a title he never expected to bear. To thwart the plans of his scheming family, the duke impulsively marries a wallflower. After all, she’s meek and mild; it should be easy to sequester her in the country and get on with his life–as a secret agent for the Crown.

But his bride has other ideas. She’s determined to take her place not only as his duchess but as his wife. As a duchess, she can use her position to help the lowest of society–the women forced into prostitution because they have no skills or hope. Her endeavors are not met favorably in society, nor by her husband who wishes she’d remain in the background as he ordered.

Can the duke succeed in relegating her to the sidelines of his life? When his secrets are threatened with exposure, will his new wife be an asset or a liability?

London, England

February 1, 1814

“This is your last chance, Charlotte. If you don’t find a husband this Season, you’re finished. Your father won’t impoverish himself further, and I can’t say I blame him. Three Seasons on the Marriage Mart really is the outside limit.”

Lady Charlotte Tiptree looked up, one tendril of hair twined around her index finger. Her concentration broken, she tucked a slip of paper into her book on Roman history to mark her place and forced herself to return to the nineteenth century. “I’m sorry, Mother. Were you speaking to me?”

“You’re the only other person in the drawing-room, are you not? Please put that down and pay attention. Why must I always drag your nose out of some tome or other? If your father catches you reading again, I don’t know what he’ll do.” Mother shook her head, her hands fluttering. Moth­er’s hands always fluttered, especially when she was agitated. “And sit up like a proper lady. I don’t know what your posture will become if you con­tinue to lounge like a sultan. It’s as if we didn’t go to great expense to see you become a lady. What did they teach you at that finishing school?”

Refraining from rolling her eyes—another gesture that would get her a scolding—Charlotte pulled her legs off the arm of the deep chair and put her feet on the floor. It had taken an age to get into a comfortable reading position, and now all that effort was wasted. She smoothed her plain gray skirt. The dress was serviceable and chaste, covering her from neck to ankles, but nothing about it was pretty. None of her clothes were really pretty, her father feeling such fripperies an unnecessary expense. He could pinch a shilling until the King’s profile cried. And as for the finishing school, it was more of a prison on a barren wasteland in Dartmoor. Run by an impover­ished gentlewoman with no sense of humor, the Hitchin’s School for Young Ladies was an academy so obscure, Charlotte had been one of only a hand­ful of students, and none of those with social aspirations or titled family.

It had been less expensive than sending her to Switzerland with other girls of her rank.

Plastering a pleasant, slightly vacant expression on her face—the aspect Mother thought all young ladies should wear—Charlotte put her feet primly together and straightened her shoulders. “What is it you’d like to speak about?” Though she knew. It had been the topic of many a tedious conversation throughout the summer, the fall, and over the interminable holidays.

Mother exhaled, her features relaxing into kinder lines. “I don’t mean to nag, but you must face the truth. If you don’t change your ways, you’re going to wind up a spinster. You’re nearly there now. Your father has spent all the money he intends to in order to see you prepared to take your place in society. What kind of a thank-you will it be if you squander your last opportunity? You’re not getting any younger, and there will be many fresh faces in the ton again this year. If you don’t put yourself out to be agreeable, to be the sort of woman a peer is looking for in a wife . . .” She gripped her fingers in her lap.

Something hovered on her lips, and Charlotte tensed. Mother rarely hesitated when Father wasn’t present, so whatever it was must be momentous.

Mother took a deep breath, as if fortifying herself. “Your father has instructed me to inform you that if you are not engaged to be married before Easter Sunday, he will have no choice but to send you to live at Aunt Philomena’s in Yorkshire.” Tugging her handkerchief from her sleeve, she waved it as she talked, the scent of her lavender sachets filling the air. “Phi­lomena broached the subject herself, and he’s latched on to the idea. I tried to talk him out of it, but he’s adamant. He says your lack of a husband is your own fault and that becoming Aunt Philomena’s companion would be fitting punishment for your behavior over the last two years.”

Charlotte’s mind went blank. This was a new twist. Father had occa­sionally made vague statements as to her future, but nothing this definite . . . or dire.

Aunt Philomena. She winced.

To be accurate, she was Charlotte’s great-aunt on her father’s side. Having just endured the Christmas holidays with her at the Tiptree estate in Essex, the thought of a life sentence as her companion drained the blood from Charlotte’s head.

Surely this was an idle threat? Her father couldn’t be so unfeeling, could he?

Chapter 1, pages 13-15

  • “If you’re a fan of Regency romance, this is definitely a series worth checking out.” —Fiction Aficionado
  • “Danger, romance, and secrets!!! Such a good story!!! I cannot wait for the next book in this series!!!” —Bring Up Books
  • “I inhaled The Gentleman Spy in 24 hours. It was that good! Beautiful romance and with a wonderful social justice thread.” —bestselling author Cara Putman

Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award-winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate.

Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.

A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST  | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS 

The Gentleman Spy (Serendipity & Secrets Book 2), by Erica Vetsch
Kregel Publications (July 28, 2020)
Trade paperback & eBook (304) pages
ISBN:  978-0825446184

The Gentleman Spy prize pack

Follow this link to enter a chance to win the giveaway pack for The Gentleman Spy

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | INDIEBOUND | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS 

Cover image, book description, & excerpt courtesy of Kregel Publications © 2020; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2020, Austenprose.com

Bronte’s Mistress: A Novel, by Finola Austin—A Review

Brontes Mistress by Finola Austin 2020From the desk of Molly Greeley:

The mystique of the Brontë sisters hasn’t lessened in the years since they wrote their extraordinary novels. Their brother Branwell is remembered by history less for his literary talents than for his notorious addictions, and for the alleged affair he had with his pupil’s mother, Lydia Robinson. In Brontë’s Mistress, Finola Austin explores this affair from Lydia’s perspective with both compassion and a good writer’s capacity to empathically—and mercilessly—depict her characters as fully-realized people, at both their best and their worst.ë

Lydia is the original Mrs. Robinson, and not only in name: a mother of five, trapped in a marriage with a cold and unaffectionate man, unfulfilled by the narrow role deemed socially acceptable for women, and desperate for love and attention, she finds herself drawn to her son’s tutor, the handsome, poetic, and much-younger-than-she-is Branwell Brontë.

Their affair is passionate, sweeping Lydia away from the dullness of her everyday life. She revels, at first, in Branwell’s capacity for love, and in his willingness to speak of things most people in her circles of acquaintance never would, and his unconventionality frees Lydia to express her own.

He “railed against convention, society, religion, talking about us but not about us, redirecting his fire towards the legal and spiritual strictures that kept us apart… I joined him, dancing closer and closer to the precipice and uncovering aspects of my nature I’d never thought8 to expose to the light, delighting in our shared, secret, impotent rage.” (121).

But soon enough, Lydia comes to see Branwell’s many flaws, and as his behavior becomes increasingly erratic, his vices more obvious, she becomes fearful of the whispered rumors about them that have already begun circulating. She worries, of course, about the servants’ talk, but also about Branwell’s literary sisters—with whom she has something of an obsession and who, she fears, might put the story of their brother’s affair in their work. Continue reading

A Preview & Giveaway of Jane Was Here: An Illustrated Guide to Jane Austen’s England, by Nicole Jacobsen, Devynn Dayton, & Lexi K. Nilson

Jane Was Here 2020Hey-ho Janeites! Do you have plans for the weekend? While international and local travel is restricted during the pandemic, would you like to visit Jane Austen’s England from the safety of your armchair?

It is great to know that we can still visit Jane Austen country via Jane Was Here. This copiously illustrated travel guide takes us to all of the hot spots in Austenland: London, Chawton, Bath, Lyme Regis, and the Peak District. Authors Nicole Jacobsen and Devynn Dayton have planned out a delightful itinerary illustrated by Lexi K. Nilson.

There are several tour guides available in print for those who would like to plan their pilgrimage to England to walk in Jane Austen’s footsteps. This guide is different: you can use it like Austen-culture flashcards skimming through the different homes, stately manor houses, seaside and mountain areas in which Jane traveled herself, featured in her novels, or in the TV and movie adaptations. The unique, colorful, and whimsical illustrations complement the locations and facts, inspiring the reader to research the areas further.

Here is further information to entice you to explore this clever, insightful homage to our favorite author. Please check out the giveaway chance to win a copy at the end of the post. Good luck to all.

Jane Was Here is a whimsical, illustrated guide to Jane Austen’s England – from the settings in her novels and the scenes in the wildly popular television and film adaptations to her homes and other important locations throughout her own life.

Discover the stately homes of Basildon Park and Ham House and the lush landscapes of Stourhead and Stanage Edge. Tread in Jane’s footsteps as you explore her school in the old gatehouse of the ruined Reading Abbey; her perfectly-preserved home in her Chawton cottage, where she spent the last eight years of her life; or her final resting place in Winchester Cathedral.

Whether you want to take this book as your well-thumbed guide on a real Austenian pilgrimage of your own, or experience the journey from the comfort of your own living room, Jane Was Here will take you – with a tone as wry as Jane’s itself – on an enchanting adventure through the ups and downs of the world of Jane Austen. Continue reading

Tempted: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Nicole Clarkston—A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

Most variations of Jane Austen’s classic novels are set in England, in the same Regency time period as the original stories. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to discover that this new Pride and Prejudice variation—Tempted, by prolific Austenesque author Nicole Clarkston—takes place in a unique time and multiple locations.

In July 1900, we are introduced to an American Elizabeth Bennet, born and raised on a ranch in Wyoming and recently wed to Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam, cousin of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and second son of the Earl of Matlock. Elizabeth’s amenable yet annoying cousin Billy Collins has escorted her and her sister Jane from America to London so that she may present herself to the colonel’s parents, Lord and Lady Matlock. Colonel Fitzwilliam, a cavalry officer, had been sent to Wyoming as a special envoy of Her Majesty’s Army—and someone with a good eye for horseflesh—in search of horses for the military. While on his mission in Wyoming, the colonel was called to the Boer War in South Africa and married Elizabeth shortly before he departed. There are mysterious circumstances surrounding their hasty marriage, and Elizabeth soon discovers that the colonel’s family is completely unaware of her existence and refuses to receive her as his wife. Instead, she is met by Mr. Darcy, serving as a family representative, who bears unwelcome tidings about her new husband.

“He could not form his own words, so at last, he opened the letter and read a portion of the excruciating print. ‘…We regret to inform you that Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam of the 4th Battalion of the Derbyshire’s has been listed as Missing in Action….’” (117)

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Rebellion at Longbourn: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Victoria Kincaid—A Review

Rebellion at Longbourn by Victoria Kincaid 2020From the desk of Sophia Rose:

What is left to a woman when by law she is at the mercy of an incompetent, oafish cousin? Why, a quiet rebellion, of course!

Victoria Kincaid has authored many lively Pride and Prejudice variations and retellings over the years which I have thoroughly enjoyed. While respecting Jane Austen and her works, Ms. Kincaid infuses her latest, Rebellion at Longbourn, with strong entertainment value and a shout for human injustice.

After Mr. Bennet passes away in the prime of his life, his daughter Elizabeth discovers that life is not fair, and justice is not just when women and dependents have no recourse. By law, her family’s estate of Longbourn must go to a male heir, which is their odious cousin Mr. Collins. In addition, her sister Lydia’s thoughtless elopement has destroyed the reputation of her entire family.

As she watches her nincompoop cousin Mr. Collins take over her family estate and proceed to run it into the ground, their very survival is now in jeopardy. The income from the harvest is not enough to sustain Collin’s extravagant expenditures, so he pulls from the estate resources resulting in less for the workers and the dependent Bennet family.

After Mr. Collins refuses to listen to good advice about running the estate, Elizabeth has had enough. She realizes that what Collins’ ignorance does not know will benefit others. So, she sets out to make things right on the estate and assuages her conscience that what she and others do behind his back is still benefiting him, so they are not stealing or taking advantage. Continue reading

A Preview & Blog Tour with A Dash of Romance (Romantic Encounters: An Anthology Book 1), by Paullett Golden

A Dash of Romance by Paullett Golden 2020Hey-ho Janeites! Please help me welcome historical romance author Paullett Golden to Austenprose today in celebration of the release of her new anthology, A Dash of Romance, the first book in her new Romantic Encounters series.

The anthology contains a novella set in 1795 Devonshire, England, the love story of Percival Randal and Abigail Walsley, two dreamers who enter into a marriage of inconvenience for both of them. Also included is a special bonus collection of flash and short fiction—all stand-alone stories. This is a series that the author intends to produce annually.

If you are in the mood for short and sweet romances for light summer reading, look no further. In addition to a book description, we are happy to share an exclusive excerpt selected by the author to whet your appetite.

This is the last stop on the official blog tour, so please visit the previous blogs for additional excerpts, interviews, and reviews. Enjoy!

With quills and fantasies, they write their future.

Percival Randall lives an uncomplicated life of luxury, as he likes it. Not even an ultimatum requiring marriage can tip the scales. A conniving young lady who compromises his name to force a betrothal, however, is an impediment to happiness Percival must confront.

Abigail Walsley dreams of publishing novels rather than marrying dashing heroes. An unexpected proposal and a subsequent Banbury tale tumble her into a betrothal with a man she has never met. Following her dreams proves a challenge with a marriage of inconvenience on the horizon.

This is the love story of Percival and Abigail, two dreamers who write their love story one scene at a time.

From second chance romances to mistaken identities, experience A Dash of Romance in this collection of one short novel and fourteen bonus flash fiction pieces.

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Bringing Down the Duke (A League of Extraordinary Women, Book 1), by Evie Dunmore—A Review

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore 2019From the desk of Melissa Makarewicz:

An estate with rolling green hills, fountains, and flower gardens… a dashing duke rides up to sweep me off my feet onto his horse as we ride off into the sunset…and, or at this point, of what feels like day 5,879 of stay at home, I would settle for a trip to the bookstore. Happily, I didn’t need to make a trip out because I had Evie Dunmore’s debut novel, Bringing Down the Duke, on my shelf waiting for me to give it a reread.

When I saw this historical romance novel popping up everywhere on social media last year, I knew it was a book I had to read. I mean, who doesn’t love to daydream about a handsome duke with a swoon-worthy British accent. When I saw it was a story about a young woman attending Oxford in 1879, I could not hit the one-click purchase button fast enough.

Annabelle Archer is a bluestocking through and through. She knows too many languages and is too opinionated to be considered a marriageable young lady. Plus, at her age, she is all but put on the shelf and considered a spinster. She has resigned herself to a life of caring for her extended family and dedicating herself to her studies. When she learns that there is a possibility to attend school, she yearns to have an independent life away from her demanding relatives who have taken her in and put her to work as a free nanny to their children.

Sebastian has been steady his whole adult life. After being thrust into the role of Duke at the young age of nineteen, he has worked tirelessly to restore the family name and fortune. Queen Victoria views him as one of her most trusted inner circle and with good reason. Running the multiple estates that he inherited as the first son and restoring their profitability would break a lesser man. But not Sebastian Devereux, nineteenth Duke of Montgomery. He always accomplished what he sets his mind to, no matter the cost. Nothing will stop him from restoring Montgomery Castle, an estate that his father lost in a bet. Continue reading

Say Yes to the Duke: The Wildes of Lindow Castle (Book 5), by Eloisa James—A Review

Say Yes to the Duke by Eloisa James 2020From the desk of Pamela Mingle:  

The Wildes of Lindow Castle is a Georgian romance series penned by the elegant writer, Eloisa James. Say Yes to the Duke, the fifth entry in the series features Viola Astley, whose mother is married to the Duke of Lindow. By her own reckoning, Viola is “…the opposite of a Wilde…timid, tongue-tied, and fairly useless.”

At her first ball, an apprehensive Viola retreats to a corridor used mainly by servants. She accidentally comes upon a couple having a liaison. When the man realizes he and his lover are no longer alone, he accuses the woman of arranging for a witness so he’ll be forced to marry her. He speaks cruelly, and long after the incident Viola continues to feel “…a wave of horror at the memory of the man’s scathing voice and his brutal strength.” From then on, she’s petrified of social situations and avoids them.

The brute in question turns out to be the Duke of Wynter, Devin Lucas Augustus Elstan, the hero of the story. Living mainly in the country, he shuns society and declines to attend parliamentary sessions. Raised in isolation by parents who despised each other, the duke was educated at home. His father was known for challenging nearly every man he came in contact with to a duel. At first, this seems merely quaint, but we later find out that he was abusive to Devin.

When Viola comes of age, her parents insist she have a debut season along with her beautiful and flamboyant stepsister Joan. She’s dreading the ball that will mark her first official appearance in Society. Across town, Devin tells his cousin Otis that he intends to find a bride during the Season. Devin knows of the Wildes, and Otis enlightens him further. Continue reading

A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt of A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby (Rogues and Remarkable Women Book 1), by Vanessa Riley

A Duke, The Lady, and A Baby by Vanessa Riley 2020Diversity within historical romance has been a heated topic lately covered in major media. The controversy with RWA has stirred up a lot of emotional discussions, and hopefully positive change toward including a wider range of authors and characters of ethnic and sexual orientation in the romance genre.

A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby is a big step in the right direction and I am happy to shine a spotlight on it and its author Vanessa Riley today. She is a very talented novelist who has been writing historical romance with diverse characters for several years. Her research is impressive, and her plots and characters are compelling and “swoothy” (swoon-worthy).

Here is an exclusive excerpt from A Duke, the Lady, and A Baby, the first book in her Rogues and Remarkable Women series which is receiving rave reviews and prominent media coverage. I am thrilled to share that the book lives up to the hype. Enjoy!

Created by a shrewd countess, The Widow’s Grace is a secret society with a mission: to help ill-treated widows regain their status, their families, and even find true love again—or perhaps for the very first time . . .

When headstrong West Indian heiress Patience Jordan questioned her English husband’s mysterious suicide, she lost everything: her newborn son, Lionel, her fortune—and her freedom. Falsely imprisoned, she risks her life to be near her child—until The Widow’s Grace gets her hired as her own son’s nanny. But working for his unsuspecting new guardian, Busick Strathmore, Duke of Repington, has perils of its own. Especially when Patience discovers his military strictness belies an ex-rake of unswerving honor—and unexpected passion . . .

A wounded military hero, Busick is determined to resolve his dead cousin’s dangerous financial dealings for Lionel’s sake. But his investigation is a minor skirmish compared to dealing with the forthright, courageous, and alluring Patience. Somehow, she’s breaking his rules, and sweeping past his defenses. Soon, between formidable enemies and obstacles, they form a fragile trust—but will it be enough to save the future they long to dare together?

Continue reading