A Preview & Giveaway of So This Is Love: An Austen-Inspired Regency, by Laura Hile

So This is Love by Laura Hile 2020I am so happy to welcome author Laura Hile back to Austenprose today. Laura is the writer of several Jane Austen-inspired novels and short stories, notably the Mercy’s Embrace trilogy featuring none other than the peevish Miss Elizabeth Elliot from Persuasion, and her humorous fantasy, Darcy by Any Other Name.

Laura has two new books releasing in quickstep: So This Is Love, and A Very Austen Romance: Austen Anthologies, Book 3. Today we are featuring So This Is Love, a Pride and Prejudice-inspired variation involving Charlotte Lucas whose re-imagined story many readers will find much more rewarding than what was originally devised by Jane Austen.

Laura has generously offered a guest blog, an exclusive excerpt, and a giveaway chance! That is the trifecta in book promotion! Enjoy! Please return on August 10th for our review of A Very Austen Romance.

“I am not romantic, you know. I never was.”

Newly escaped from a loathsome engagement of convenience, Charlotte Lucas has no interest in romance. More than ever, she is convinced that no man would—or could—love her. As a companion to an aging aunt, Charlotte’s new life is as predictable as it is circumspect.

But then she is rescued from a robbery by her uncle’s heir, a masterful man who is disastrously handsome. Why has he remained as a guest in the house? Why is he so determined to draw Charlotte out and make her talk? And what of his invitation to visit his home by the sea?

Romance is not on the chart for Captain Jack Blunt. Never again will he be played for that kind of fool! He is ashore only to heal from an injury and see to business, nothing more. And yet the pointed disinterest of his cousin’s pert niece is intriguing. She is forthright, refreshingly honest—and altogether lovely.  She will make a fine wife for one of his officers. But not, of course, for him.

So This Is Love is a joyride of a Regency, bringing whirlwind romance and happily-ever-after to Jane Austen’s staid and practical Charlotte Lucas.

If you love the classic movie The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947) as much as I do, you’ll see the similarities in my new Charlotte Lucas romance, So This Is Love.

Except that in my story, the hero isn’t a ghost; he’s a living man. That’s what we wanted for Lucy Muir in the movie: a true and lasting love with a fascinating man of the sea … who is real.

Ghost is brilliant because it brings together two people who are entirely different: a crusty sea-dog bachelor and a picked-upon, oh-so-proper Edwardian widow. If you haven’t seen the movie, Captain Daniel Gregg has been dead for several years, and he haunts his house by the sea. When Lucy and her young daughter lease it, Lucy and the Captain are thrown together on a daily basis.

From Captain Gregg, Lucy gains the respect that no one else is willing to give. And Captain Gregg now has the family — and the wife — that he longed for in life, but was never able to find. We watch them fall in love and are captivated. Yet we know that they can never share a future together because he is a ghost.

With an eye on The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, I began to build So This Is Love.

In Lucy’s place, I have Jane Austen’s Charlotte Lucas, a young woman who has been pitied by generations of women readers. Like Lucy, Charlotte is hampered by a lack of fortune, and she also seems, well … hopelessly ordinary. As to courtship, Charlotte’s prospects are nil. For example, in So This Is Love, she tells Elizabeth Bennet that the best she can hope for is to marry a widower, in order to care for his children.

But there are no widowers in Meryton. There is only Mr. Collins.

We watch Charlotte make an impossible choice, simply because it is prudent. “No, no!” we want to shout. “The man’s a spineless braggart! Don’t marry him!”

Well.

With two little words, I sent Charlotte’s story spinning from its Pride and Prejudice rails: what if?

What if, when Collins returns to Meryton to negotiate the settlement, his lustful thoughts overpower good sense? What if, before they are married, Collins gets handsy — and something within Charlotte snaps? What if she abruptly ends the engagement?

That’s what we would do in real life, right? We’d kick Collins to the curb!

What if, to escape gossip, Charlotte is sent to live with her father’s sister and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Allen of Wiltshire (of Northanger Abbey fame). Mr. Allen’s heir is also a house guest … and thus we have a perfect opportunity for romance.

Although I intended to use Captain Gregg as a model, Captain Jack Blunt wasn’t having any. For one thing, he is Royal Navy (circa 1812), not merchant marine. And for another, although he has a gentleman’s beard like Gregg, he is blond.

If you’re thinking Chris Hemsworth in Thor, you’re getting the right idea.

Look, if our girl Charlotte is brave enough to give Collins the heave-ho, she deserves to meet a swoony hero, right?

Not for one minute do we believe that her “I am not romantic” statement is true!

Captain Blunt’s house by the sea in Dorset plays the role of Captain Gregg’s Gull Cottage. Cliff House, and the cove it’s built above, almost become characters themselves as Charlotte and Jack share daily walks beside the sea. This book is filled with delicious banter between these two. Isn’t that our favorite thing about romance?

I think you’ll enjoy So This Is Love.

Laura Hile

From Chapter 17, we see Captain Blunt in action, as Charlotte attempts to school him in proper etiquette. Will he comply? Not on your life!

In the dining room, Commander Ord was working with a slate and a stack of place cards. Captain Blunt circled the table with narrowed eyes; he snatched up a card with distaste. “I shan’t sit beside Mrs. Allen, Ord. Put her there, on the windward side of her husband.” Charlotte then saw Jack take her own card and set it beside his place.

“You cannot do that,” she protested. “Mr. and Mrs. Allen have precedence over the others, and most certainly over me. Mrs. Allen ought to sit to your right. On your left should be Mrs. Goodding.”

“The vicar’s wife may stay, but I do not intend to ruin my digestion by having to listen to Mrs. Allen’s idiotic prattle.”

Charlotte stood her ground. “This is proper social usage, Captain Blunt. We are not aboard one of your ships, where you have the freedom to seat your guests any which way. There are niceties to be observed.”

“By whom? This is my house, and in my house I do as I please.”

“Do not blame me when you offend Mr. and Mrs. Allen.”

“Geoffrey won’t care, and there is no pleasing Mrs. Allen. Everything I do offends her.”

When his eyes held that icy look, there was no reasoning with Jack Blunt.

“Jasper,” she told him later, “I cannot sit beside you tonight. Not again. People will begin saying things.”

A frown descended. “What kind of things?  Blast it all, do you mean about you and me? Don’t sell me a dog! I am old enough to be your father.”

“I beg your pardon? Only if you were fathering children when you were Johnny’s age!”

He laughed at her.

“Jack Blunt, you are the most aggravating man!”

“Why, thank you.”

“You are as stubborn as my grandfather!”

His eyes now held a twinkle. “I daresay I am worse. Where ought you to sit, Diana? According to the exacting rules of social precedence?”

She waved her hand. “At the other end of the table, among your lesser officers.”

“With men you do not know and with whom you have little in common? That makes for heavy going when it comes to conversation.”

“As if I am not skilled enough or well-mannered enough to make my way! I’ll have you know that I am able to converse with anyone. And I often do.”

“Egad,” he said, smiling.

Charlotte was not finished. “Often at dinners I am seated apart from my well-born friends. My father might be a newly-made knight, but hostesses do not take that into account when it comes to me. If there is a dull or boring guest, he is sure to be my dinner partner.”

“And you, naturally, make no objection.”

“Why should I? I am the guest, subject to the will of my hostess.”

“Thank you for making my point. You are my guest, and in this you are subject to my will.”

Charlotte ground her teeth. How she longed to stamp her foot at him!

He folded his arms across his chest. “If I must nail your name card to the dining table, so be it.”

“Oh very well. Have it your way. But do not be surprised when people begin linking our names and making horrid insinuations.”

The twinkle was back. “Horrid, eh? You are making my points for me today.”

“I did not mean to insult you, and you know it.”

“I do know it,” he said more gently, with a smile that tore at Charlotte’s heart. “Won’t you rescue me from Mrs. Allen? Please? You, of all people, know what she is like.”

Charlotte’s resolution was in tatters. “You once told me that you are known to be ruthless, Jack Blunt. I can now see why.”

He spread his hands. “Has it taken you all this time to figure that out? And here I thought you were uncommonly perceptive.”

“You, sir, do not fight fairly.”

“I warned you not to underestimate me.”

So This is Love banner

 

  • “The combo of the swashbuckling Jack and the unflappable Charlotte is a pure delight. — Debbie Brown, Goodreads reviewer
  •  “A delightful twist on Charlotte’s story full of hope, heartache, adventure, faith, and love.” — Lorel Kline, Goodreads reviewer
  • “If you have read Pride and Prejudice, and felt that Charlotte got a raw deal, this story is for you!” — Maureen Chritzman, Goodreads reviewer

Encourager. Believer. Author. Teacher. Friend.

By day, Laura Hile teaches at a Christian school. By night—or rather, in the early morning when she can think! —she writes Jane Austen and Regency romance with laughs and happy endings.

The comedy Laura comes by as a teacher. There’s never a dull moment with middle school students! She enjoys gardening (she is a weed warrior!), choral singing, and having coffee with friends.

Laura lives in Beaverton, Oregon, with her husband and a collection of antique clocks. One day she hopes to add a cat or three.

Other books by Laura Hile: Darcy By Any Other Name and the Mercy’s Embrace trilogy. She is a regular contributor to the A Very Austen anthology series.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

Author Laura Hile has generously offered two Kindle eBook copies of So This is Love as a giveaway to Austenprose readers who live in the US. To qualify, leave a comment with this post stating what intrigues you about So This is Love, or why you think Charlotte Lucas’ claims of being not a romantic are true or false. The giveaway ends at 11:59 on July 5, 2020. The winners will be announced on this post on July 6, 2020 and contacted via email.

WINNERS ANNOUNCED

  • Lorijohnston1 – who left a comment on June 29, 2020
  • Dung – who left a comment on July 1, 2020

Congratulations to the winners!

So This Is Love: An Austen-Inspired Regency, by Laura Hile
Independently published (May 29, 2020)
Trade paperback & eBook (325) pages
ISBN:  979-8648709782

AMAZON | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS

Cover image, book description & excerpt compliments of Laura Hile © 2020; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2020, Austenprose.com

43 thoughts on “A Preview & Giveaway of So This Is Love: An Austen-Inspired Regency, by Laura Hile

    • Oh, Mystica, I am so sorry about the USA-only thing.

      Only last week I was talking this over with a customer service representative at Amazon. She promised to pass on my concerns to a development team for consideration … but that does not help us now. Surely Amazon can come up with a way to gift overseas eBooks! As it is, I cannot even offer a gift card so that an international winner can buy her own copy.

      Thanks for your interest in So This Is Love. As for the beautiful cover, I’ve gazed at it far more than is good for my mental health! :D

      Like

  1. Thank heaven Charlotte spurns Mr Collins. She truly deserves better. Some stories have “transformed” Mr Collins, but I much prefer when she finds her happiness elsewhere.
    Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I so agree, maomac. My idea was to bring Charlotte a man who was as different to Collins as possible. Not only is he forthright and intelligent, but he is a little dangerous too. What fun for her!

      Good luck in the giveaway.

      Like

  2. Laura, your books are ALWAYS “Must Reads” for me. So interesting that you took inspiration from The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. It was a favorite of mine too, and so was the TV show in the late 60s (even though they’d turned it into a forgettable sitcom).

    No need to enter me in the book giveaway; I already have it. Loved it! Nice to see Charlotte getting a swoony guy instead of that awful Mr. Collins!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debbie, my association with The Ghost and Mrs. Muir goes way back. I grew up in the greater Los Angeles area. In 1968, our girl scout troop attended a screening for two television shows (because that’s what you did in LA, when you could get tickets): Julia and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

      I was ten. Julia I loved, but I was not so sure about Ghost. I didn’t get it — and the answers to my audience response questionnaire probably reflected that.

      Both series went into production and appeared on the fall television lineup. The really interesting thing is that over that summer I grew. When Ghost came out, I LOVED the pilot episode, and I totally got the charming romantic undercurrent between the Captain and Carolyn Muir. Who knew? Mom and I eagerly watched every episode, even the reruns.

      Later I discovered the classic movie, and I loved it even more than the series.

      I should add that my family collected antiques, so in some ways Gull Cottage resembled our house. It was a place I definitely wanted to live. Our family also had a wooden sailing sloop — Captain Blunt’s Flicka in So This Is Love is the real thing. I have always loved the wooden world of sailing ships, even though our family later upgraded to a more family-friendly fiberglass sailboat.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed So This Is Love, Debbie. I write the kind of story I enjoy reading. It is always such a surprise to me when others enjoy what I write.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ha! I admit, I was a fan of the TV show and watched it every week before I found it was based on a movie. When I finally saw the movie, I realized it had far more depth. The ending just slayed me. Somehow, the TV show didn’t charm me quite as much after that! Sounds like a really cool house you grew up in, too. I wouldn’t mind living in Gull Cottage!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m intrigued by any story that gives Charlotte center stage and without Mr. Collins! And if Captain Jack Blunt resembles Chris Helmsworth, sign me up!

    Sounds like a great read! I adored A Darcy by Any Other Name so I’m sure this one will be a delight as well.

    Thank you so much for the opportunity!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Chris Hemsworth thing gave my cover designer fits, Lori. So This is Love was meant to be a novella for one of our A Very Austen anthologies. I was safe using Hemsworth because I wouldn’t need a cover — and why not give our Charlotte a truly swoony romantic interest, right?

    The story quickly got out of hand, growing in both length and depth … not to mention becoming just plain fun as a romance. Oh my goodness, I had a tiger by the tail. We did the best we could for the cover. Regency models don’t usually sport a seaman’s braid and gentleman’s beard. :D

    Thanks for your interest, Lori. Good luck in the giveaway.

    Like

  5. The Ghost & Mrs. Muir is a favorite of mine. While Lucy does not find love in the living world, Lucia does find her heart’s companion with Capt. Gregg for eternity. Capt. Gregg fully loves her, and for the woman she really is, not society’s narrow definition of a “Proper Woman.” Forever young, forever in love, forever with the person you love and who loves you.
    An interesting premise to apply to Charlotte. Confined by the world’s strict parameters for a woman, and not considered a beauty in Regency times, Charlotte still deserves better than what she got in P&P. Intelligent, literate, practical, determined, Charlotte does deserve a man equal to her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joyce, you are absolutely spot on. The love and respect Captain Gregg offers are what I had in mind for our girl Charlotte. Thanks for sharing your insights and for entering the giveaway too. Good luck!

      Like

    • Well, of course they don’t want to fall in love, right? It would be no fun if they thought otherwise. The question is, who will weaken and be the first to fall headlong into love?

      You need to win to book to find out! Good luck in the giveaway, dacybennett.

      Like

  6. I loved “A Darcy By Any Other Name”, and I loved watching the television version of “The Ghost and Mrs Muir” when I was a kid. I also love to read stories where Charlotte finds her HEA. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of Laura’s latest! I’d love to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Pam. I’m so glad to know that you enjoyed The Ghost and Mrs. Muir as much as I did. No matter how I tried to make Captain Blunt conform to Captain Gregg’s type, Jack firmly wrested the tiller from my hands and went in another direction. He is his own man, ha. I think you’ll like him.

      Good luck in the giveaway!

      Like

  7. I love this! I love the Ghost and Mrs. Muir!! (Both the movie and the old series) And, I’ve always believed Charlotte deserved better than Collins!!!
    I even read all of Love Suffers Long, And Is Kind on the Fan Fic blog, lo, those many years ago… (I loved it! Tho I wish there had been more about Anne and James)
    I can’t wait to read this book! It sounds wonderful!

    As far as answering questions, I know Charlotte is pragmatic and sensible, but I think she hides her romantic heart behind that, because at her age, In regency times, she’s given up the hope for romance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • taswmom! Love Suffers Long and is Kind !!! Does that bring back memories or what?

      LSL represents my very first efforts as a writer (co-written with Susan Kaye in 1999-2000), and boy did I learn a lot. For one thing, I had to craft exciting episodes to keep readers coming back for more. For another, I had to sell them on a new romance for Anne — with a man who was perceptive, intelligent, and a sincere friend to Anne, but not particularly handsome. A tall order!

      I’ve toyed with the idea of taking my half of the story and reworking it into a Regency romance without any ties to Austen … because (sigh) James Benwick. As much as we adore him, readers want an Austen-centric ending for Anne, so the names will need to change. Perhaps some day.

      Thanks for entering the giveaway, taswmom. Good luck!

      Like

    • I would love to read it if you do change the names and re-write it. I was so sad that I didn’t get more of their story. Persuasion is actually my favorite Austen story.
      I knew it was a long time ago, but 20 years! Wow!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Generations of women have been cheering our Charlotte on! You go, girl. Get a better ending for yourself!

      This was a fun romance to write.

      The tricky part, of course, is that someone must marry Collins; someone with ties to Elizabeth. She has got to visit Hunsford to become reacquainted with Darcy, and thus end Pride and Prejudice the way we want. Dear oh dear.

      Good luck in the giveaway, Sophia Rose!

      Like

  8. I love stories where Charlotte has a HEA with someone other than Collins. She deserves better than a silly and pompous husband. I believe she would find herself more open to romantic notions if she had a chance to do so. Congratulations on the release and thanks for the giveaway ( I live in US).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate, almost every woman can sympathize with Charlotte’s impossible choice. Jane Austen chose to remain a spinster, and we get it.

      Thanks for entering the giveaway. Good luck!

      Like

  9. Laura, I didn’t realize you teach at a Christian school. I attended Delaware Co. Christian School third grade through 12th in Newtown Square, PA.

    As you know I loved this romance and will add my recommendation that others read it also. Don’t include me in any giveaway.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have a lot of freedom in a small Christian school.

      For example, some years back ago a handful of high school guys begged for a fiction writing class. (They knew I had taught one years before.) So, for two days a week during my lunch break, six guys and I had class. We commandeered one of those tiny classrooms older church buildings have, and we were off and running.

      For a textbook, I collected articles on writing from the web, things I’d saved to encourage and educate myself. For the students, it was enough that I was a published writer, and I was teaching them.

      “Someone has to write the novels and the movie scripts and the screenplays for the next generation,” I told them. “It might as well be you.”

      They wrote stories from various genres (I don’t need to tell you that their favorite was Chick LIt), and I replicated the fan fiction forum experience by reading their finished work aloud. I corrected grammar as I read, and I put in the voices. How they laughed and laughed — in delight, not mocking the writer. The wonder these guys experienced, as they discovered that they could be funny, that their classmates enjoyed their work and wanted more, was something else.

      Two years later, the same guys were back, asking for a second year of fiction writing. So there went two more lunch breaks. By this time, word had gotten round, and between the two classes I had almost as many high school students as I had in my regular 7th grade class.

      It’s funny, I always had more guys than girls in my classes. I read a lot of war stories! And side-splitting chick lit …

      One day we hope to bring back high school fiction writing as an elective. But maybe not during my lunch break! :D

      Liked by 1 person

      • That is so interesting. I never had that choice while in school. I really could have used more of a guidance counselor to steer me where my talents lay rather that what my head thought would be good. Years after college I want back to college and got an El Ed teaching certificate – should have done that to start with. You do need your lunch break but I bet those men won’t forget your sacrifice. Take care, stay safe.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I too came to teaching in my 40s (although I had taught home school classes and Sunday school for years before that).

          It’s so great that you found your niche and were able to teach, Sheila. You can look back at those years in the classroom with a smile, because you did indeed follow your calling.

          I went looking around and found a blog article that one of my students wrote about his experience. That Isaac. He ignored his considerable computer skills and stubbornly majored in English. He is now a professional copywriter for a tech firm here in Portland.

          I might not be able to post a link here, but this gives you a look at what I do in real life. Isaac used my writing name, Hile. My actual name is Lyons, but there is an American model named Laura Lyons who, uh, does not always wear all her clothes! So I chose a pen name. :D

          Influences and Inspirations

          Like

  10. I do love that Charlotte has an opportunity to find love. I think she said that quote because she didn’t have many options to meet eligible men in Meryton and her dowry if any is not significant. I can see her reluctance to be romantic given her circumstances and with Jane & Elizabeth as “competition” within the neighborhood she felt she didn’t have what it takes to gain a husband.

    Can’t wait to read it! Congrats on the release!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Dung,

      This story was written for the pure joy of it. I brought to Charlotte a swashbuckling hero that any one of us would like to meet. Will she fall hopelessly in love? Well, sure. It’s a fun ride.

      Good luck in the giveaway!

      Like

  11. Hello there,
    I am so excited to read this wonderful book. I am over the moon that Miss Charlotte gets a swoon worthy gentleman. She is so deserving of a a man that is compatible to her.
    I am in the states, so please add me to this delightful giveaway 🌸

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gwendalyn, thanks for coming by to toss your name into the giveaway hat. Oh my, did I have fun with this story. The hero is pretty much the opposite of Mr. Collins — and we’re cheering her on. Our girl Charlotte is in for many surprises.

      Good luck in the giveaway!

      Like

    • Robin, I am astonished at the response to him.

      Okay, so I fell in love with Jack as I wrote him, but still. According to the reviews on Amazon, the man has become this summer’s book boyfriend. How fun is that?

      Like

  12. Pingback: Guest Blog & Giveaway of As Only Mr. Darcy Can: A Pride and Prejudice Regency Romp, by Laura Hile | Austenprose - A Jane Austen Blog

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