Nine Ladies:  A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Heather Moll — A Review

Nine Ladies by Heather Moll 2021For Jane Austen fans the possibility of meeting their favorite author or living in one of her novels is the ultimate fantasy. While time-travel is not available to us, creative and imaginative stories are. Recent books such as The Jane Austen Project and the Austen Adventures series have given us in-person meetings with Jane Austen during her early nineteenth-century life. In Nine Ladies, Heather Moll’s latest release, we experience the awe-inspiring ingenuity of Diana Gabaldon’s time-travel Outlander series combined with the classic hate at first sight love story of Jane Austen’s famous novel Pride and Prejudice, but with a twist.

In 2011 Elizabeth Bennet has returned to England after decades to attend to her estranged father, leaving her mother and elder sister Jane back in America. While touring the Derbyshire countryside, she unknowingly steps into an ancient stone circle called the Nine Ladies and awakens 200 years in the past at Pemberley, the country manor house of Mr. Darcy.

Aware of the power of the stones, and of other visitors from the future, the Darcy family has guarded their secret and dealt with those few who have appeared over the centuries. Taking authority Darcy presents the puzzling and outspoken new traveler with a plan. He will hide her until she can return through the stones during the next solstice in three months’ time.

After spending months alone with her dying father, Elizabeth will not be imprisoned in an outbuilding on the Pemberley estate and rejects his plan. Instead, she offers her own solution. She will stay at Pemberley with him by becoming a fictitious distant relative of the housekeeper Mrs. Reynolds. Darcy begrudgingly agrees, though as time advances both are challenged by their decision and their growing attraction to each other: Darcy by the convoluted story he must spin to keep her and Pemberley safe, and Elizabeth with the trappings of nineteenth-century life, the attitudes toward women—and especially the information that she knows about the bleak future facing the Darcy family and the estate. Continue reading

Austenprose’s Best Austenesque & Historical Books of 2020

Pop Art Jane Austen

Happy New Year dear readers!

While I am not shy about kicking 2020 to the curb, it was not a total bust for those of us who enjoy reading. Publishers and indie authors continued to supply us with a fabulous selection of choices in the Austenesque, historical fiction, romance, and mystery genres.

Of the 75 books that were reviewed here last year by our dedicated staff, several were outstanding and will remain favorites. Here is a list of our highest-rated and most cherished of 2020. Follow each link to read the full review.

 BEST AUSTENESQUE HISTORICAL NOVEL

  1. Miss Austen, by Gill Hornsby (5 Stars)
  2. Murder at Northanger Abbey, by Shannon Winslow (5 Stars)
  3. Fortune & Felicity, by Monica Fairview (5 Stars)
  4. The Other Bennet Sister: A Novel, by Janice Hadlow (5 Stars)
  5. Tempted, by Nicole Clarkston (5 Stars)
  6. Rebellion at Longbourn, by Victoria Kincaid (5 Stars)
  7. Being Mrs. Darcy, by Lucy Marin (5 Stars)
  8. The Rogue’s Widow, by Nicole Clarkston (5 Stars)
  9. A Timely Elopement, by Joana Starnes (4 Stars)
  10. Two More Days at Netherfield, by Heather Moll (4 Stars)

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A Haunting at Havenwood: Seasons of Change (Book 6), by Sally Britton—A Review

From the desk of Katie Patchell:

It’s that time of year again: when days shorten, and the once-warm breeze transforms into a blustery wind. Now is the season where, regardless of uncertain global events, we settle into the familiar routines of planning family holidays and awaiting the ghostly specters that rise from book’s pages (or knock on the door, asking for chocolate) around All Hallow’s Eve. While telling Dickensian spooky stories around a fire may be a tradition from the past, the thrill of meeting ephemeral visitors is an experience that isn’t solely possessed by Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge. Regency novelist Sally Britton has created her latest tale — A Haunting at Havenwood — as an homage to all things Gothic, mysterious, and romantic.

“For the first time, Louisa had an opportunity to make up her own mind. The idea both thrilled and unsettled her.” (Chapter 6, Location 864)

Louisa Banner’s life changed three years ago when her loving father died, leaving her solely to her mother’s cuttingly ambitious care. It is turned on its axis, however, when Louisa is calmly told that they have no money left. As a result, she is to live with her father’s aunt, a woman she has never met. It isn’t being virtually penniless that hurts Louisa; her pain is because her mother has unemotionally and secretly planned her removal from their home for weeks. On arriving at her great-aunt’s doorstep, Louisa is faced with an unexpected recipe for happiness featuring three entirely unlooked-for ingredients. They are: one very lovable great-aunt, one intriguing buried treasure, and one mysterious gentleman named Erasmus who Louisa feels is, quite possibly and against all her no-nonsense ideas, a ghost.

“It is only once in a lifetime, if at all, that a man meets someone who changes everything.” (Chapter 17, Location 2436)

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A Preview of Tempt Me: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Julie Cooper

Tempt Me by Julie Cooper 2020Fall is here and Halloween is just around the corner as the next holiday to celebrate. To get in the mood I always like to re-read Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen’s Gothic parody, and a new Austen-inspired Gothic fiction. This year it will be Tempt Me, by Julie Cooper. It is a Pride and Prejudice variation with a paranormal twist. Get ready to meet vampire Darcy, again.

The vampire concept is not new to the Janeite fan fiction world. Austenesque authors have been putting this paranormal slant on Mr. Darcy (for good reason) since Amanda Grange’s, Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, was released in 2009. There have been others along this theme too: Pulse and Prejudice: The Confession of Mr. Darcy, Vampire, by Colette L. Saucier, Vampire Darcy’s Desire: A Pride and Prejudice Adaptation, by Regina Jeffers, and recently, Darcy’s Clan, by Lari Ann O’Dell. I see you rolling your eyes. Stop that. Darcy as a vampire is so sexy—a moody hot mess of uncontrollable desire.

I have not read this author before, but I was won over by the beautiful cover (I am so shallow. I do judge a book by its cover!) and the creative storyline. Austenprose is the last stop on the Tempt Me blog tour so let’s check it out. Here is the description from the publisher and an exclusive excerpt selected by the author. Enjoy!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single vampyre must be in want of a wife. Someone biddable, her memories easily expunged to allow for strange, inexplicable deeds and baffling circumstances. A tractable creature, of average intelligence, willing to attend to the business of producing heirs and keep out of all else. A girl easily moulded, incurious, indifferent, and demanding nothing beyond access to his fortune.

Fitzwilliam Darcy knows exactly who he needs. He can fix on the hour, the spot, the look, and the words which laid the foundation for an obsession he rejected. But ten years later, at an assembly in an obscure village in Hertfordshire, he finds himself in the middle once more.

His needs are unalterable. But can he resist the one woman he truly wants?

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In the Shadow of Croft Towers: A Novel, by Abigail Wilson — A Review

Shadow of Croft Towers by Abigail WIlson 2019

From the desk of Katie Patchell: 

The highwayman: A mysterious figure riding on cloudless nights, a man whose purpose goes beyond treasure for wealth’s sake. There’s something about the highwayman that captures our imagination and has done so for centuries. Is it his inevitable strength and beauty (if he’s the novel’s hero)? Is it because he’s misunderstood by those who know him within the pages, so our sympathy reaches out? Or is it because he’s a figure in the vein of Robin Hood, a romantic symbol of a freer, wilder, more dangerous age? In Abigail Wilson’s 2019 debut, In the Shadow of Croft Towers, a masked highwayman appears once again, this time with gray eyes narrowed in laughter behind his mask, and a quest in his heart for something stronger than diamonds but as insubstantial as the mist: The truth. 

“I often wonder what my life would have been like if I had never learned the truth. I wouldn’t have set off as I did for Croft Towers. I never would have met him.” (1)

Sybil Delafield is well-educated but an orphan, and in a world tailored for men, her opportunities to make a way for herself are limited. When her mysterious benefactor’s funds run out and a strange message arrives to seek answers about her parentage at the unknown Croft Towers, Sybil sees no reason to decline the seemingly random offer to work as companion to the owner of the very same Croft Towers. In fact, she welcomes it. Even a highwayman – especially one smokey-eyed, confusing specimen who refuses to harm or steal anything from the carriage yet makes them all stand in the rain as he searches for something – cannot stop her from finding out once and for all who her parents are.

Unfortunately for Sybil, more questions – not answers – materialize at Croft Towers. Why is it that the charming Mr. Cantrell attaches himself to her, despite her low status? What is the secret that tortures Mrs. Chalcroft and why does she ask Sybil to deliver secret letters under cover of darkness? And why, oh why, does Sybil find herself in the same house with her employer’s moody godson, the man who only she knows is the highwayman?

When rumors of a traitor to the Crown swirl around the foundations of Croft Towers, Sybil must decide who to trust in a house where everyone has their own hidden past that they’d risk everything to protect. In the process, she might even find out who she is and where she came from…if she manages to stay alive, that is. Continue reading