About Katie Jackson

I am the eagle-eyed historical romance editor, proofreader, beta reader, and book reviewer behind Regency Proofreading. Growing up in the Arizona desert, I dreamed of lush English landscapes and bygone times of lords and ladies. An ardent admirer of authors, I am an enthusiastic Janeite, proud Ravenclaw, and introverted mother of clever and inquisitive sons. Visit me at my website! RegencyProofreading.com

Dangerous Magic: A Pride & Prejudice Variation (Mr. Darcy’s Magic Book 1), by Monica Fairview — A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

The world of Austenesque stories has expanded exponentially in recent years, and now enthusiasts of Jane Austen fan fiction (JAFF) can treat themselves to fantasy versions of their beloved novels. There’s even a delightful new Facebook group dedicated to the subgenre: Fantasy Reads for Austen Fans. Bestselling author Monica Fairview is the latest creator in this whimsical realm with her imaginative Pride and Prejudice variation, Dangerous Magic.

Fitzwilliam Darcy has the weight of the Kingdom on his shoulders. As an elite and formidable Royal Mage, he is destined to help save England by winning the war against Napoleon and his ever-increasing army of French mages. “Darcy wondered if there had ever been a moment in his life when he could have forged his own path. He had always been guided by duty, honor, and good principles, and he had never thought to question their hold on his life.” (17) Trained from childhood as a true-blooded mage at the exclusive Royal Academy, Darcy is well-versed in the textbook spells—but they’re not strong enough, and England is on the verge of being overtaken. Darcy needs to Bond with a Janus Twin—an equally powerful mage, thus doubling their magical strength—if the Kingdom has any chance of surviving Napoleon’s attack. But such mages are exceedingly rare, and time is running out.

Elizabeth Bennet has been raised in the countryside, instinctively developing her magical skills without any formal training and only vaguely aware of the war being fought on English soil. Her life changes dramatically on the day the Royal Mages arrive to enlist her services for King and Country. “Conscripted. A heavy sense of dread had lodged inside Elizabeth, along with a prickling of fear. What if she had to be in a battle? What if they sent her to fight in France?” (95) Although she is not a true-blooded mage, she is extraordinarily talented, and she has become their last, best hope for saving England from the French.

The challenging circumstances escalate when it’s decided that, due to the extensive amount of training time they must spend together, an unmarried man and woman cannot form a magical Bond as Janus Twins without utterly ruining the woman’s reputation, and therefore, Darcy and Elizabeth will be forced to marry for the benefit of the war effort. Darcy is bitter. “An insignificant young lady, from an insignificant family, and an even more insignificant village? …All I can hope for is that she is at least tolerably pretty.” (54) Elizabeth feels trapped. “Serving as a mage for a few years was one thing. Being bound to a stranger for a lifetime with no possibility of escape was quite another.” (249)

Sparks fly—literally—and the volatile situation becomes ever more dire as they fight with each other, as well as against mysterious forces determined to keep them apart, and the French mages continue to hunt for a battle. When the dust settles, will Darcy and Elizabeth reign victorious?  

This book was an absolute page-turner from start to finish. My only complaint is that it felt like it ended too soon—mostly because I read it so quickly and couldn’t put it down—and I want to read a sequel posthaste. Imagine my delight when I discovered that this book, although easily a stand-alone story, is the first in a series and a sequel is, in fact, forthcoming. The story was so immersive and had such a cinematic feel to it that I wish I could see a film adaptation. The creative yet believable world-building was enhanced by beautifully descriptive explanations of the magic used. It was fascinating to see the wealthy, upper-class ladies and gentlemen working together with a real purpose, instead of their usual leisure pursuits. I also enjoyed the apt depiction of Janus, the Roman god with two faces, representing beginnings and transitions. Our courageous Lizzy was her usual obstinate, headstrong self, with some impressive magical talents making her a truly accomplished young lady. Taciturn Darcy was just as proud and prejudiced as ever, with the added bonus of his role as an esteemed Royal Mage to make him that much more dutiful to tradition and reluctant to change. Their fiery interactions were, dare I say, magical. 

Dangerous Magic is an enchanting tale that will charm both Austen enthusiasts and fantasy fans in equal measure.     

5 out of 5 Stars

  • Dangerous Magic, A Pride & Prejudice Fantasy, by Monica Fairview
  • White Soup Press; 1st edition (March 15, 2021)
  • Trade paperback & eBook (242) pages
  • ASIN: B08W4CFT4Y

AMAZON | GOODREADS

Disclosure of Material Connection: We received one review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review We only review or recommend products we have read or used and believe will be a good match for our readers. Austenprose.com is an Amazon.com affiliate. We receive a modest remuneration when readers use our links and make a purchase. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Cover image complements of White Soup Press © 2021; text Katie Jackson © 2021, Austenprose.com

Mr. Darcy’s Persuasion: An Austen-inspired Tale of Pride, Prejudice and Persuasion, by Cass Grafton and Ada Bright — A Review

Mr Darcys Persuasion by Cass Grafton and Ada Bright 2021From the desk of Katie Jackson:

In Jane Austen’s final complete novel, Persuasion—published six months after her untimely death—the heroine, Anne Elliot, is influenced by her prideful father, a baronet, to break off an engagement with Captain Frederick Wentworth, who was considered a poor match due to his low social status and lack of wealth. Similarly, in Austen’s earlier novel, Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is the prideful man causing heartbreak over his disapproval of an undistinguished family. The consequences of such prejudiced persuasion collide spectacularly in Mr. Darcy’s Persuasion by prolific writing duo Cass Grafton and Ada Bright.

Mr. Darcy is in denial. In a letter to his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, he insists, “Despite your suggestion to the contrary, no young lady has caught my attention.” (152) Yet he flees Hertfordshire posthaste following the ball at Netherfield hosted by his friend Mr. Bingley, whom he has advised to avoid a growing attachment to Miss Jane Bennet. All the while, Darcy knows his own hypocrisy as he likewise advises himself to avoid the undeniable attraction he feels toward Jane’s younger sister, Elizabeth. He acknowledges that the Bennet family is far beneath the notice of a wealthy gentleman landowner such as he, thus he removes himself from danger and warns his smitten friend to do the same.

Miss Elizabeth Bennet holds a grudge, knowing that interference has led to her beloved sister’s heartbreak and now may lead to an even worse fate. In a happy twist of fate, however, she becomes acquainted with Miss Anne Elliot and is soon delighted by the diversion of an invitation to join her new friend for a fortnight’s visit to the Elliot family’s estate, Kellynch Hall in Somersetshire. Elizabeth finds Anne to be “a genteel lady, a little older than I, but we appear to have much in common. I find I like her very well.” (235)

For the benefit of his sister’s health and to avoid a harsh winter at Pemberley in Derbyshire—as well as to escape his memories of a certain bewitching young lady—Darcy travels south, hopeful of warmer weather in Somersetshire, where he has leased a property for the winter from Sir Walter Elliot. He is, therefore, rendered speechless when he discovers “Elizabeth Bennet. The woman he thought he had relegated to the past sat across the room from him, as alluring and unattainable as she had ever been, and raising inexplicable emotions in Darcy that he struggled to conceal, let alone comprehend.” (1457) Continue reading

A Captain for Caroline Gray: Proper Romance Regency, by Julie Wright — A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

An outspoken bluestocking lady in Regency England, unless independently wealthy, was most likely to be shunned by Society into involuntary spinsterhood and poverty. Suitable husbands were difficult enough to come by, but for a lady with a clever mind and vibrant opinions, her options were fewer still. Desperation led many a spurned lady onto a ship bound for India in search of Englishmen with lower standards and plentiful wealth. That long and arduous journey is depicted in author Julie Wright’s latest Proper Romance, A Captain for Caroline Gray.

Miss Caroline Gray’s unconventional education at the behest of her well-meaning parents had included “politics, science, and literature” (99) and none of the silly arts of flirtation that might have secured her future. Consequently, she had endured three London Seasons where the gentlemen “all liked her well enough before she opened her mouth. Conversation with her led them from interest to wariness. And when they’d discovered that she was often found at public lecture courses on physics, their wariness turned to outright disdain.” (182)

Living with her widowed mother on the family estate, Caroline is not prepared for the sudden news that her cousin—her father’s heir—has decided to marry and claim his inheritance, thus displacing Caroline and her mother. Her future looks bleak indeed as her mother asks if she wishes to see herself passed around by their relations like an unwanted parcel, a perpetual nursemaid or caregiver, husbandless and childless. The reality of their economic situation was that “all of her prospects hinged on marrying. Without marrying, she had no possibilities. No prospects. No choices.” (168) Caroline berates herself for her inability to make a match but quickly realizes that she could have been nobody but herself. And “did she truly want to cheat some man out of genuine happiness by making him believe her to be what she was not?” (210)

An opportunity arises in the form of an offer from her mother’s acquaintance. Mrs. Barritt’s third son has a purchased commission as a captain in the army is making his own fortune in India, and is looking for a pretty and proper English wife. She will pay half of Caroline’s passage to India in exchange for Caroline’s obligation to spend some time with her son, Captain Nicholas Barritt. Caroline is determined “to pretend she felt some excitement. She would pretend to thrill at the adventure of it all. She would pretend that her heart was not breaking at the thought of leaving her family and her beloved England.” (192) Continue reading

The Price of Pride: A Pride & Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds — A Review

The Price of Pride by Abigail Reynolds 2020From the desk of Katie Jackson:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that unbridled pride can result in unintended consequences. Much to the dismay of those who realize it too late, it often requires an event of heart-wrenching significance to stir them from their self-righteous stupor. But what sobering fates will befall them due to their untimely awakening? Prolific and bestselling Austenesque author Abigail Reynolds explores the uncertain destinies of two such prideful characters in her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, The Price of Pride.

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy had returned home to Pemberley in Derbyshire a broken man following the stunning refusal of his marriage proposal to Miss Elizabeth Bennet at Hunsford parsonage in Kent. “The four months since then had not been enough to begin to erase the traces of her from his heart. Instead, losing her had only deepened his feelings for her, the woman he loved so passionately but could never have.” (33)

In an effort to prove himself to be a better person than the arrogant, unfeeling gentleman he had been, Darcy reaches out with an olive branch to his younger brother Andrew, who had been disowned by their father many years before under mysterious circumstances. Now a clergyman and active abolitionist, Drew warily accepts Darcy’s offer of the generous living at the parsonage in Kympton. Darcy “was determined to change, to become a better man, one who could be worthy of a woman like Elizabeth.” (52)

In a cruel twist of fate, Drew arrives at Pemberley bringing glad tidings of his own unexpected betrothal. Although envious of his brother’s happy news, Darcy wishes him well, wanting only to repair the estrangement that has plagued the brothers for far too long. And then … Drew unknowingly informs him that the bride-to-be is a lady formerly acquainted with Darcy. “It could not be. Drew, engaged to Elizabeth? How was such a thing possible. How had his brother even met Elizabeth? Why had she never mentioned him? But all the questions in the world could do nothing to calm the agonizing pain ripping through him.” (77) Continue reading

The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh (A Pride and Prejudice Novel), by Molly Greeley — #BookReview, #HistoricalFiction, #GothicFiction, #JaneAusten, #Austenesque, @MollyJGreeley, @WmMorrowBooks

The Heiress by Molly Greeley 2021From the desk of Katie Jackson:

In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Miss Anne de Bourgh is known only as the sedate and sickly shadow of her mother, Lady Catherine’s, condescending and loudly opinionated character. The heiress of Rosings Park in Kent, Miss de Bourgh was intended from infancy—as a favorite wish of both her mother and her aunt—to marry her first cousin, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley in Derbyshire, thereby uniting two grand fortunes and estates. But when Mr. Darcy ultimately marries that obstinate, headstrong Miss Elizabeth Bennet instead, what is to become of Miss de Bourgh? This is one of many questions explored in Molly Greeley’s fascinating second Pride and Prejudice variation, The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh.

Anne de Bourgh was a wretchedly inconsolable infant. Her parents and nurse were therefore quite thankful for the medical intervention when the local doctor prescribed a dose of sleep-inducing laudanum and declared that she would always possess a delicate constitution. Consequently, Anne spends her formative years receiving twice-daily doses of her magic drops that keep her in a permanent state of lethargy. “My medicine turned me stone-heavy, a breathing statue, eyelids drawing down despite all my best efforts and thoughts drifting like milkweed fluff.” (118)

Under her mother’s formidable thumb, Anne drifts through her days in a stupor, confined to the house and gardens, wearing only what her mother selects, eating little but what her mother approves and her weak appetite allows, not permitted to dance or sing or play an instrument, and restricted from learning or reading too much. All are convinced that she is far too frail to do much of anything at all but simply exist. “If I had a shell like the snail, I thought, I would tuck myself back inside of it, away from their branding pity. I felt at once all-too-visible in my fine gowns and gaudy bonnets, and ill-defined as the edges of a ghost.” (316)

Anne is merely a detached observer of her own life, her languorous health slowly turning to vivid hallucinations. Despite her governess’s insistence that she could aspire to be so much more than what she has settled for, “if you did not stun yourself so thoroughly with your medicine” (1171), Anne continues to see herself as she has long been trained to. “Useless, I whispered inside my head, little mortified arrows that pierced my softest inner places. Useless, stupid, useless.” (1188) Continue reading