Happy Valentine’s Day Janeites!
Jane Austen has been attributed as the mother of romance, so in honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s all crack open Persuasion and let Captain Wentworth pierce our soul and Mr. Darcy say to us, “dearest loveliest (insert your name here).”
In celebration of a holiday devoted entirely to romance, we are previewing a new romantic comedy that is Jane Austen-inspired. Debut novelist Fiona Woodifield and I crossed paths on Twitter and I snagged an exclusive excerpt from her new contemporary novel, The Jane Austen Dating Agency.
Fiona’s heroine Sophie is a dating disaster and has a lot to learn before she gets her HEA. I hope you are in the mood for some laughs with that romance today while you wash down Godiva chocolate with a perfectly paired glass of wine.
Many thanks to Fiona and her publisher Bloodhound Books for letting me feature The Jane Austen Dating Agency. I hope you give it a try. It’s very reasonably priced as $.99 and is sure to make you smile.
Does true romance really exist?
Sophie Johnson is young, intelligent and attractive. So, when she lands the dream position of Sales Executive at a leading fashion magazine, it appears she has it all. But in reality, she hates her job, is sick of her controlling mother and is a dating disaster.
Then she discovers The Jane Austen Dating Agency, an exclusive club for ladies who want to meet real gentlemen and believes her luck has changed. And when Sophie meets Darcy Drummond, she thinks her dreams have come true. That is until she discovers he is arrogant and hard-headed.
So, when Daniel Becks steps into her life, she thinks she’s found the one. But is he really all he seems?
The Jane Austen Dating Agency is for anyone who has ever dreamed of romance and wondered if it really exists.
We walk slowly towards the sales floor. Mark scrutinises me with his intense blue eyes, pulling his tousled blond hair back with his hand. He’s making me nervous staring like that.
‘You need an escape, a distraction, darling. You’re young and single yet you have mal de vivre. Why aren’t you out partying?’ He shrugs comically. Everything Mark does is exaggerated, as though he’s playing a part on the stage.
‘Mal de vivre?’
‘You’re just too serious, like you’re carrying the burden of the world on those shoulders. All work and no play can make life pretty damn boring.’
I smile sheepishly. ‘Yeah, I know, but by the time I get home I’m tired and you know, blah blah.’ I try to defend myself, aware it sounds like empty excuses. Mark’s a total party animal, always out at some premiere or other. I don’t know how he does it. He’s got to be ten years older than me but he seems to have boundless energy. He’s the kind of guy who appears to know everyone in the room within about two minutes of being there, and is often in someone or other’s photo looking tanned and fabulous. Mark’s life seems so relaxed and above all, fun.
‘As you aren’t going to help yourself, it’s a good job I have the cure for your ennui right here, darling.’ Mark waves a smart- looking envelope at me.
I open it and pull out a very elegant embossed card. It’s an invitation for the GQ Grooming Awards at the Royal Opera House. There’s an awards dinner, dress code formal of course.
‘Sounds very nice,’ I say noncommittally. ‘Are you going then?’
‘Yes of course, and you, darling, are coming with me.’
‘Yes, you, Cinderella, are coming to the ball. Well, not a ball
exactly but it’ll be a pretty amazing night.’
‘Yours truly has been given an extra ticket. Tim’s busy that evening with Fashion Week stuff so who better to come with me than you?’
‘Sounds fun,’ I say carefully, trying not to sound too ungrateful or unenthusiastic.
‘Fun… fun, darling?’ Mark leaps about, gesticulating, causing those around us to stare and tut at the noise. ‘It’s the social event of the year! Half these snotty cows would do anything to get in. In any case, you’ll so want to go when you know who’s going to be there! Look at the invitation again.’
I peer at the card, unseeing until I suddenly spot, written in small print at the bottom, ‘Sponsored by Drummond Associates’.
‘Oh,’ I blush, ‘do you think he’ll be there?’ I ask shyly, referring to Darcy Drummond of course.
‘You bet he will, so no more playing hard to get,’ Mark scoffs. ‘Now, we just need to talk about what you’re going to wear, darling.’
I guess it sounds a bit sad stalking a man I’ve only seen in a photo once, but I have been spending rather a lot of my waking and sleeping hours thinking about Darcy Drummond. I’ve googled him a couple of times too, perhaps more than a couple – in the name of research of course. And to go to an awards ceremony, dress up in something stylish and maybe appear on TV. It’s a hard job but someone’s got to do it.
Anyway, I hate to admit it, but I’ve often secretly thought Mrs Bennet was kind of right to send Jane to Netherfield on horseback, so she had to stay overnight. Pushy yes, but it put Jane right under Bingley’s nose and without her knowledge, it brought Lizzie even more to the attention of Mr Darcy. They had some pretty snappy and electrically charged exchanges during that stay at Netherfield.
More to the point, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, I still hope that maybe one day, I – like Jane Austen’s heroines – can create my own happy ever after.
- “Fiona Woodifield has a good grasp of people and her writing has an effortlessness about it that makes for easy reading.”—Jan’s Book Buz
- “…debut author Fiona Woodifield draws us into a world full of quirky characters with a decidedly modern twist.”—Bookish Biker
Fiona Woodifield is a romantic comedy writer. The Jane Austen Dating Agency is her debut novel. She has a BA in Combined Arts from Durham University and an MA in English. As a child, Fiona spent many happy hours reading each and every book she could get hold of and has always wanted to write novels ever since. She has also written non-fiction articles for magazines on diverse subjects from Jane Austen to dogs!
Fiona obviously loves writing, looking after her daughters (with the result she has begun to sympathise with Mrs Bennet), spending time with friends and family, walking her dogs, dancing, visiting stately homes (imagining she lives in them of course) and escaping into a book whilst consuming a worrying amount of chocolate.
The Jane Austen Dating Agency: An Uplifting Romantic Comedy, by Fiona Woodifield
Bloodhound Books (January 31, 2020)
Trade paperback & Ebook (320) pages
Cover image, book description, excerpt, & author bio courtesy of Bloodhound Books © 2020; Text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2020, Austenprose.com