A Preview of The Knight Before Christmas, by Marilyn Brant

The Knight Before Christmas, by Marilyn Brant (2019)Hey-ho-ho Jane Austen fans. How are your holiday festivities and shopping shaping up? My neighborhood has decked their houses with lights and a few Santa’s on the rooves. One even sports a giant green Grinch. Ouch! They could use a good dose of holiday cheer, like watching one of the billion Hallmark Holiday movies airing on TV right now or reading The Knight Before Christmas, Marilyn Brant’s new holiday-themed contemporary romance. We have reviewed several of Marilyn’s previous novels here in the past with glowing results. Her Jane Austen-inspired According to Jane, and Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match are worthy of adding to your shelves.

However, today we are introducing you to her latest release, The Knight Before Christmas. Inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma, she takes the essence of Austen’s nonsensical heroine Miss Emma Woodhouse and her older, wiser neighbor George Knightley and gives them a modern spin. Here is the book description from the publisher and an exclusive excerpt from the author herself for your enjoyment.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

When successful building contractor Austin Knightley returns to his hometown of Crystal Corners, Minnesota, after a decade away, he vows to avoid pampered and popular types like his old high-school crush Emma Westwood—the town’s biggest queen bee and self-appointed matchmaker—only to get swept into a community Christmas project she’s now organizing.

With nods to Jane Austen’s classic novel Emma, this modern heroine may be a little “clueless” in the Midwest, but she’s got gifts to share and plenty to learn from the boy next door, who’s all grown up and handsomer than ever. Even when a snowstorm threatens to derail her plans, she’s determined to figure out how to set things right and save The Knight Before Christmas. This sweet and heartwarming holiday romance is a story that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Continue reading

Matters of the Heart, by Fiona Palmer — A Review

Matters of the Heart, by Fiona Palmer (2019)From the desk of Sophia Rose:

One of the brilliant things about modern retellings is the amusement in discovering the similarities in the characters and scenes to the original while still getting a unique flavor to the story by seeing them in a new setting. Fiona Palmer’s, Matters of the Heart, a modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice set in rural Western Australia strikes a happy balance between complete correspondence to the original and wise alterations to suit the times and keeps it fresh for the readers. The draw of an Australian author and setting for Austen’s classic could not be missed.

The book opens with an introduction to the main character, feisty Lizzy Bennet, her family, and her small town, Coodardy. Lizzy pursues her deep-seated fulfillment in farming and bravely forges ahead using new methods in agriculture and animal husbandry to save the family farm following a few tough years and her dad’s indifference. Lizzy is not immune to other people’s doubts that a mere woman can be a farmer let alone save her family farm which causes her to stick out her chin and resent a certain rich, successful, and handsome farmer’s officious remark. So much for being excited about having the farm next door purchased and new people arriving in the neighborhood, she thinks. Charles might be nice enough and fun to converse with about farm methods, but his sister and best friend are as welcome as a bank foreclosure in Lizzy’s mind.

Matters of the Heart was very much in tune with Austen’s story. That said, it was freshened due to the Australian farm setting, Australian customs, and dialogue with new characters for the reader to engage with whether brand new to Austen or an old fan.

This version of Elizabeth Bennet, the jewel of the story for me, is a woman succeeding in a non-traditional career and is a bright non-conformist like the original. Continue reading

A Preview of Loving Like Jane (Princeton Ladies Book 1), by Connie E. Sokol

Loving Like Jane, by Connie E. Sokol (2019)How many contemporary Austenesque books have you read? If you are like me, my bookshelves and Kindle are packed with stories set in the Regency era with just a few set in modern times. It is a challenge to transport Austen’s characters and plots into contemporary settings. Authors must tweak much of it to fit and that does not always work. I have found that the best bet is to incorporate Austen elements into the story, like Marilyn Brant’s According to Jane, and Karen Doornebos’ Undressing Mr. Darcy. Both authors have excelled at this subgenre of Austenesque fiction in the past.

Adding to this niche is Loving Like Jane, by Connie E. Sokol. What intrigued me about this new novel was that it used the same premise as the successful Austenesque books by Brant and Doornebos. A Jane Austen obsessed heroine gets thrown into a challenging situation and uses her “Austen powers” to work through it to overcome her obstacles in her career and her love life. Here are a book description and an exclusive excerpt from the publisher for your enjoyment.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Allie’s dream of writing a best-selling novel for a top literary agent is finally coming true. Except, she’s already agreed to go on a bucket list Jane Austen Tour for three weeks with her newly divorced aunt and widowed mother. To complicate matters, Allie can’t decide what the Best Novel Ever idea should be, and the first three chapters are due in, what else, three weeks. Determined to buckle down, Allie devotes her time to writing while refusing to engage in the trip’s delights, or gorgeous but enigmatic Beckett, the assistant tour director. Despite her attempts to stay focused, Allie is drawn to Beckett’s quick wit, Jane Austen wisdom, and deciding if his help will further her dreams or get in the way. Join Allie on her inspiring, hilarious, and romantic adventure as she learns how loving like Jane Austen creates unexpected changes that could lead to the life she loves.

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Continue reading

Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer Blog Tour Launch Party — Featuring editor Christina Boyd & Giveaway Prize

Sun-Kissed, edited by Christina Boyd (2015)It is a pleasure to welcome Austenprose reviewer Christina Boyd here today in celebration of the release of her first book, Sun-kissed, a summer-themed short story anthology. Christina has been a contributor here at Austenprose reviewing Jane Austen-inspired books for seven years. In fact, she was my first recruit to the staff in 2008. Christina has an eye for a great story and I always had a hunch that she would make a fabulous developmental editor.

In her first outing, she has whipped up an intriguing summer frappuccino for us. Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer is a new anthology of eight original romantic short stories inspired by the summer season and even Jane Austen. Four of the stories are by popular Meryton Press authors, and four are selections from the short story contest they held this past winter. They are the perfect beach read: light, fun and romantic, and I hope you will give them a try.

♥ Be sure to enter the giveaway contest in celebration of the release of this great new anthology. Contest details are listed at the bottom of the post. Good luck to all!

WELCOME CHRISTINA BOYD

“So each had a private little sun for her soul to bask in; some dream, some affection, some hobby, or at least some remote and distant hope…” —Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles

It’s an honor celebrating at Austenprose the release of Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer. Thanks, Laurel Ann. Having been discovered by you, it seems fitting to commence the blog tour here.

This summer-themed anthology was conceived during autumn 2014 by Meryton Press publisher Michele Reed.  She’d been toying with the notion, working out logistics, and then finally tossed the idea to her authors, creative staff, and subcontractors, like me. During winter 2015, published and aspiring authors alike were invited to submit summer-themed short stories. In the spring, a panel of bloggers, authors, editors, and readers judged each and culled to the Elite Eight—wherein even more panelists gleaned these promising writers to the Final Four…joining four of Meryton Press’s most popular and award-winning authors. There was even a worldwide contest via social media to name this collection. Finally, Sun-kissed, proposed by Australian Sarah Steed and chosen by internet vote, was born. Continue reading

Giveaway Winners Announced for The Harrison Duet

The Harrison Duet, by Syrie James (2014)It’s time to announce the 3 winners of The Harrison Duet, giveaway. The lucky winners drawn at random are:

One digital copy of The Harrison Duet

  • Diane who left a message on Feb 12, 2014

One Muslin Book Bag

  • Schilds who left a comment on Feb 17, 2014

Two Jane Austen Note Cards

  • Donna Holmberg who left a comment on Feb 14, 2014

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by February 27, 2014 or you will forfeit your prize! Mail shipment to US addresses only.

Thanks to all who left comments, and to author Syrie James for her guest blog and great giveaways.

Cover image courtesy of Syrie James © 2014; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2014, Austenprose.com

A Romantic Valentine’s Day Celebration with Author Syrie James: The Harrison Duet & Giveaways

syrie valentines banner

Please help me welcome multi-talented author Syrie James. In addition to her best-selling The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, Syrie has written eight critically acclaimed novels in the historical fiction, romance, young adult, and paranormal genres. Renowned for her spirited heroines, swoon-worthy heroes and romantic plots, who better to chat with us during Valentine’s week, a time when cupid’s arrow is so acute! Her latest release is The Harrison Duet, a combination of two full-length contemporary romance novels which includes: Songbird and Propositions. Originally published years before Fifty Shades of Grey changed the way we think about love affairs, you will be intrigued by their similarities and mesmerized by the Harrison siblings who each find an unexpected love. Two sexy romances in one steamy volume! 

Syrie has kindly shared a brief introduction to this new edition and offered a giveaway chance for three prizes: one digital copy of The Harrison Duet, two note cards from the Jane Austen House Museum at Chawton and one book bag resplendent with all the covers of her books to three lucky winners. The Contest details are listed below.  Continue reading

Finding Colin Firth: A Novel, by Mia March – A Review

Finding Colin Firth by Mia March (2013)From the desk of Christina Boyd:

What Janeite would not stop dead in her tracks when she spies “Colin Firth” in the title of a book? Mia March’s latest offering Finding Colin Firth: A Novel certainly set off all my bells and whistles. The smolderingly sexy British actor not only won our hearts when he emerged dripping wet from Pemberley pond as Mr. Darcy in the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, but he also has an acclaimed career, winning the best actor Academy Award in 2011 for The King’s Speech. Who wouldn’t want to find Colin Firth? But no, dear friends, this is not a “How to” book sharing tips and advice on how to track and successfully have a Firth encounter. Eeesh! It’s a work of fiction about three women unknowingly bound together and whose lives intersect when the actor is slated to film a movie in a coastal Maine town. Daily rumors of Mr. Firth’s arrival fuels fantasy and stirs the excitement in their lives and aspirations. (Just imagining spotting Mr. Firth in my little town sets this fan-girl’s heart racing!)

A year after her mother’s death, (who incidentally was a Colin Firth fan), 22-year-old Bea Crane receives a mysterious letter from her deceased mother, confessing she adopted Bea as a newborn. “…Now that I feel myself going, I can’t bear to take this with me. But I can’t bear to tell you with my final breaths, either, I can’t do that to you. So I’ll wait on this, for both of us. But you should know the truth because it is the truth.” Shocked, Bea tracks down her birth mother to Boothbay Harbor, Maine and decides she must see this unknown woman for herself.

In Boothbay, Bea learns that 38-year-old Veronica Russo is an unmarried waitress-slash-magic pie baker-slash-Colin Firth fan who has only in the last year returned to her hometown. After years of failed relationships, her friends worry she will end up alone.  “…she’d started saying what felt light-hearted but true at the same time, that she was holding out for a man who felt like Colin Firth to her. Her friend Shelley from the diner had known exactly what she meant. ‘I realize he’s an actor playing roles, but I get it,’ Shelley had said. ‘Honest. Full of integrity. Conviction. Brimming with intelligence.  Loyal. You just want to believe everything he says with that British accent of his –and can trust it.’” Having failed to escape haunting memories of her youth, Veronica has come home to confront her past then “maybe her heart would start working the way it was supposed to. And maybe, maybe, maybe, the daughter she’d given up for adoption would contact her.” Now back to those magic pies by Veronica… She calls them elixir pies claiming to cast hope, love or banishment– or anything that conjures up a solution to one’s troubles. “For a heartbroken friend, Healing Pie. For a sick friend, Feel Better Pie. For a down-in –the dumps friend, Happiness Pie. For the lovelorn, Amore Pie.” And they seem to work! On everyone except Veronica. At least so far. Continue reading

Giveaway Winners Announced for Dreaming of Mr. Darcy

Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly (2012)45 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win a copy of Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly.

The winners drawn at random are:

  • Shelly who left a comment on January 1, 2012
  • Sherry who left a comment on January 2, 2012
  • Melanie who left a comment on January 1, 2012

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by January 18, 2012. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only for a print edition and International shipment for an eBook edition.

Thanks to all who left comments, to author Victoria Connelly for her insights into her new novel, and to her publisher Sourcebooks for the giveaway copies.

© 2007 – 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Dreaming of Mr. Darcy Blog Tour with Victoria Connelly

Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly (2012)Happy New Year everyone! What better way to start the new year than with a new Austen-inspired novel by Victoria Connelly? Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, her second novel in her Austen Addicts series, launches today by Sourcebooks. We loved the first in the series, A Weekend with Mr. Darcy, and are so pleased that Victoria has stopped by today to chat with us about her new contemporary novel set in serious Austen territory – Lyme Regis – where part of the plot of Persuasion is set.

When I first came up with the idea of a trilogy about Jane Austen addicts – with each book set in an Austen location – I was particularly excited about using the setting of Lyme Regis for the second book, Dreaming of Mr. Darcy (titled The Perfect Hero in the UK).  I love Dorset and have visited Lyme Regis many times and, of course, you can’t set a book in Lyme without referencing Persuasion if you’re a Jane Austen fan so I thought it would be enormous fun to set the book around the shooting of a new film version of Jane Austen’s final book.

In Persuasion, Jane Austen talks about how beautiful the countryside around Lyme Regis is and I wanted to include this in my novel too. I was lucky enough to spend time in Lyme Regis whilst writing the book and this was invaluable to me as a way of getting the details right and I found a gorgeous old manor house in the Marshwood Vale which stood in for Sir Walter’s home in the film adaptation.

I love writing in situ if I can and I spent a very cold day on a windswept beach at Charmouth writing the scene where my heroine, Kay Ashton, goes fossil-hunting with shy screenwriter hero, Adam Craig.  I’ll never forget how numb my fingers were but I was determined to get my page filled!

I also walked along the famous Cobb and found the steps from which Louisa Musgrove would have leapt.

I really enjoyed writing Kay’s story.  She’s a little like Jane Austen’s Emma Woodhouse the heroine of Emma because she’s a terrible match-maker, and she’s a bit like Catherine Morland, the heroine of Northanger Abbey too because she’s a romantic and finds it easy to get carried away.  She’s an Austen addict extraordinaire and loves painting and is working on her first book – The Illustrated Darcy – when we first meet her.

There are two heroes in Dreaming of Mr. Darcy.  I knew the actor playing Captain Wentworth in the movie version being filmed – Oli Wade Owen – would be dashing and would sweep Kay off her feet but there is also the quietly-spoken Adam, whom Kay just doesn’t seem to notice at first because she’s busy match-making him to Gemma – the actress playing Anne Elliot.

One of my favourite characters in the book is Adam’s outspoken grandmother, Nana Craig.  She has a love of colour and a hatred of the acting profession since her husband ran off with an actress several decades ago.  Nana Craig was a lot of fun to write and I love the scene where Oli ends up half-naked in her front room (but I’m not going to give too much away here!)

I have had such fun writing my Austen addicts’ trilogy and I hope you all enjoy the second part, Dreaming of Mr. Darcy.

Author Victoria Connelly (2011)About the author:

Victoria Connelly’s first novel was promoted in Germany to celebrate World Book Day and was adapted into a TV movie. Her second novel was published as a lead title in the UK and chosen as a “hot pick” in Closer magazine. Her new trilogy is her first foray into Jane Austen related fiction. Connelly lives in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, Springer spaniel and ex-battery chickens. Visit Victoria at her blog, on Facebook and as @VictoriaDarcy on Twitter.

Giveaway of Dreaming of Mr. Darcy

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Dreaming of Mr. Darcy by leaving a comment answering what intrigues you most about reading a Persuasion-inspired contemporary novel or what characters you would like to see Victoria write about next, by midnight PT, Wednesday, January 11, 2012. Winners to be announced on Thursday, January 12, 2012. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly
Sourcebooks (2012)
Trade paperback (368) pages
ISBN: 978-1402251351

© 2007 – 2012 Victoria Connelly, Austenprose

Giveaway Winners Announced for Sass & Serendipity

Sass and Serendipity, by Jennifer Ziegler (2011)Huzzah! 39 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win one of three copies of Sass & Serendipity, by Jennifer Ziegler. The winners drawn at random are:

  • Blaire who left a comment on July 14, 2011
  • Stacey Graham who left a comment on July 11, 2011
  • Heather who left a comment on July 12, 2011

Congratulations ladies. To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by July 27th, 2011. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only.

Thanks to author Jennifer Ziegler for her great blog on her new Sense and Sensibility inspired Young Adult novel Sass & Serendipity, and to all who left comments!

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose