A Holiday by Gaslight: A Victorian Christmas Novella, by Mimi Matthews – A Review

Holiday by Gaslight Matthews 2018 x 200What better way to get yourself into the holiday spirit than with a Victorian-themed Christmas romance. Set in the Dickensian London of the 1860s, and in Mr. Darcy territory of Derbyshire, A Holiday by Gaslight, by Mimi Matthews offers everything that a Victorian-era Christmas love story should. A snowy Palladian country manor house to set the idyllic scene: holiday traditions of bringing family and friends together to celebrate by decking the halls, sleigh rides, and yule logs—all culminating in a Christmas ball. Mix in a dutiful daughter of a baronet whose ill-founded assumptions of her suitor result in her rejection of their courtship, and you have a second chance love story reminiscent of North and South (1855). Like Elizabeth Gaskell’s classic tale of social division and misconception, the hero and heroine of this novella have both pride and prejudice.

Pressed by her family’s sinking finances into courting a prosperous cotton merchant below her social standing, Sophie Appersett and Edward “Ned” Sharpe’s relationship was doomed from the start. She does not want to marry, and he, after being raised in an austere household does not know how to woo a lady, relying on a stuffy etiquette manual for advice. No matter how much it would please her father to marry him, she thinks him too taciturn and dull and does not suit her expectations of a future husband. He, on the other hand, overlooks her family’s grasping need for her to marry money and only sees her fine character. When she calls it off, he seems unmoved at the loss. She is relieved. Her father is furious.

Placing her doubts and her pride in her pocket, Sophie ventures out to his Fleet Street business attempting to offer an olive branch of reconciliation. Would he, his family, and his business partner attend the Appersett Christmas holidays at the family estate in Derbyshire? She reasons that they could be honest with each other and give the courtship a second chance. Ned is doubtful, and his judgmental mother even more so – yet how could they pass up the opportunity of ten days in the country at the home of a baronet? Continue reading

A Jane Austen Christmas: Regency Christmas Traditions, by Maria Grace – Preview & Exclusive Excerpt

Regeny Christmas by Maria Grace 2014 x 200Austenesque author Maria Grace has written five Regency-era novels inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, notably the Given Good Principles series and Remember the Past: …only as it gives you pleasure. Writing period accurate novels requires extensive research, so it seems only logical that Maria should turn her hand to nonfiction. Her latest book, A Jane Austen Christmas, focuses on Regency-era holiday traditions. Here is a preview and exclusive excerpt for your enjoyment.   

PREVIEW (from the publisher’s description) 

Many Christmas traditions and images of ‘old fashioned’ holidays are based on Victorian celebrations. Going back just a little further, to the beginning of the 19th century, the holiday Jane Austen knew would have looked distinctly odd to modern sensibilities.

How odd? Families rarely decorated Christmas trees. Festivities centered on socializing instead of gift-giving. Festivities focused on adults, with children largely consigned to the nursery.  Holiday events, including balls, parties, dinners, and even weddings celebrations, started a week before Advent and extended all the way through to Twelfth Night in January.

Take a step into history with Maria Grace as she explores the traditions, celebrations, games and foods that made up Christmastide in Jane Austen’s era. Packed with information and rich with detail from period authors, Maria Grace transports the reader to a longed-for old fashioned Christmas.  

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Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Calendar, by Jane Odiwe – Preview & Exclusive Excerpt

Mr Darcys Christmas Calendar by Jane Odiwe 2014 x 200I have often thought of Pride and Prejudice as the ultimate fairy tale. While it does not have the traditional folkloric fantasy figures such as dwarves, fairies or giants, Jane Austen did create iconic romantic characters that have become prototypes for modern writers and a plot that includes the perfect happily-ever-after ending. It is easy to see why we want to return to that fantasy and live in the era with her characters again and again through new stories.

Austenesque author Jane Odiwe has written two Austen-inspired novels with strong fantasy elements: Project Darcy and Searching for Captain Wentworth. She has a particular talent for time-slip novels where a modern heroine, like her fairy tale compatriots—Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella or Belle in Beauty and the Beast—are touched by a magic that changes their lives, setting them on a course of discovery and romance. Her latest is a novella, Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Calendar, is set during the holiday season in modern day and Regency England. Jane has generously supplied an exclusive excerpt of her new work. I hope you enjoy it.

PREVIEW (from the publisher’s description)

A novella for the Christmas holidays – Lizzy Benson visits Jane Austen’s house in Chawton, and buys a special advent calendar in the gift shop, but strange things start to happen when she opens up the first door and finds herself back in time with all the beloved characters from her favourite book, Pride and Prejudice. As she finds herself increasingly drawn into an alternate reality, Lizzy discovers not only is Mr Darcy missing from the plot, but Jane Austen has never heard of him. All Lizzy can hope is that she can help to get the story and her own complicated love life back on track before Christmas is over!

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Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas: Being a Jane Austen Mystery – Virtual Book Launch Party with Author Stephanie Barron

Jane and the Twleve Days of Christmas by Stephanie Barron 2014 x 200We are very excited to welcome Austenesque author Stephanie Barron to Austenprose today for the virtual book launch party of her new novel, Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, the twelfth installment in the fan-favorite Being a Jane Austen Mystery series.

Ardent readers of Austenprose will remember that I am a huge fan of this fabulous series featuring Jane Austen as a sleuth – so much so that we celebrated  2011 with the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge, including all eleven novels in the series to date. It was great fun only dampened by the possibility that the eleventh mystery, Jane and the Canterbury Tale, might be the last in the series. Imagine my delight when I heard the news that Soho Press would be publishing the next mystery!

The three year wait was torture, but now Stephanie Barron’s darling child has arrived in grand style. We are so thrilled that she has honored us with this fabulous guest blog revealing her inspiration to write the novel based on actual history, and Jane Austen of course.

DESCRIPTION (from the publisher)

Christmas Eve, 1814: Jane Austen has been invited to spend the holiday with family and friends at The Vyne, the gorgeous ancestral home of the wealthy and politically prominent Chute family. As the year fades and friends begin to gather beneath the mistletoe for the twelve days of Christmas festivities, Jane and her circle are in a celebratory mood: Mansfield Park is selling nicely; Napoleon has been banished to Elba; British forces have seized Washington, DC; and on Christmas Eve, John Quincy Adams signs the Treaty of Ghent, which will end a war nobody in England really wanted.

Jane, however, discovers holiday cheer is fleeting. One of the Yuletide revelers dies in a tragic accident, which Jane immediately views with suspicion. If the accident was in fact murder, the killer is one of Jane’s fellow snow-bound guests. With clues scattered amidst cleverly crafted charades, dark secrets coming to light during parlor games, and old friendships returning to haunt the Christmas parties, whom can Jane trust to help her discover the truth and stop the killer from striking again?

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Mr. Darcy’s Christmas, by Elizabeth Aston – A Review

Mr. Darcy's Christmas, by Elizabeth Aston (2012)The holiday season is greatly anticipated in my home. I love decorating my tree with my collection of glass ornaments and baking my favorite treats such as my golden fruit cake.

To add to the festivities there are always new Christmas themed books available for those who love to escape into another holiday wonderland. If, that happens to be a Jane Austen-inspired Christmas, then so much the better.

In the past, we have been treated to a holiday escape at Pemberley with Mr. & Mrs. Darcy with: A Darcy Christmas; A Christmas at Pemberley; and recently Christmas with Mr. Darcy. Imagine my delight when I learned last week that the renowned Austenesque author Elizabeth Aston had released her own Pride and Prejudice-inspired novella, Mr. Darcy’s Christmas! It only took me 15 seconds to purchase and download it to my NOOK and I was reading it. And—what a treat it is…

As the newly engaged Georgiana Darcy travels home with her brother by carriage from London to Pemberley to celebrate the holiday with his family, she reflects upon her safe choice of a fiancé, Mr. Moresby, and the man that she passed by, the dashing but dangerous Captain Daunton. Safe is a place that she craves to be after her near-fatal elopement five years ago with George Wickham, the son of her deceased father’s steward. Wickham had later proved that he was indeed a scheming cad when he had eloped with Mr. Darcy’s wife Elizabeth’s younger sister Lydia. Mr. Moresby’s prudential views might be stifling, but he was a man of rank and high regard, enough of a catch to attract the attention of Caroline Bingley, who is bitter over his choice of bride. When she learns from her maid of Georgiana’s almost elopement from Ramsgate at age fifteen, she uses this scandalous information to drive a wedge between Mr. Moresby and his new fiancé. Continue reading

Christmas with Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly – A Review

Christmas with Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly (2012)From the desk of Jeffrey Ward: 

I’m going to tell on myself.  I’m a sniveling, sentimental sucker for a good Christmas story.  It is only October and I’ve only devoured two of them so I’m way behind my normal seasonal curve.  Thank heavens for author Victoria Connelly, who sensing a good thing, has smartly thrown together ALL of the heroes and heroines from her Austen Addicts trilogy:  A Weekend with Mr. Darcy, Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Darcy Forever.

Thus, her follow-up novella, Christmas with Mr. Darcy, is like a recipe for a classic Christmas pudding:  combine growing romances, friends, family, a spectacularly decorated manor house, a sudden snowstorm, mysterious criminal activity, full-throttle Jane Austen trivia, and then sit back and savor a large helping.  Catch up with Katherine and Warwick, Kay and Adam, Dan and Robyn, Mia and Gabe, Sarah and Lloyd, et al, as they are invited to the hostess and distinguished actress Dame Pamela Harcourt’s inaugural Jane Austen Christmas conference.

Along the way, we meet Higgins, Dame Pamela’s endearing and watchful butler, Benedict, Dan’s ‘neer-do-well’ older brother, (who invites himself) Mrs. Soames, (“Oh dear, who invited her?”) sweet Doris Norris,  sisters Roberta and Rose, adorable Cassandra, (Dan and Robyn’s infant daughter) and a mustachioed gentleman who none of the invitees can seem to quite recognize.  The author even manages to insert references to her own brood of beloved hens!

Victoria Connelly paints the holiday-decorated splendor of Dame Pamela’s grand Purley Hall while she builds anticipation by bouncing from one guest to another as they excitedly prepare for the journey to the conference. Continue reading

Jane Austen-inspired Holiday Stories

Tis the season to ring in the holiday spirit, and what better way to do so with than with a Jane Austen-inspired Christmas story? Here is a selection of novels and short stories from the past year that you might consider cozying up to with hot tea and festive holiday cookies on a cold evening after a long, hard day of shopping!

Christmas at Pemberley, by Regina Jeffers (2011)Christmas at Pemberley, By Regina Jeffers

The Darcy’s and the Bennet’s cordially invite you to a Christmas at Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Holiday Sequel.

Darcy has invited the Bennets and the Bingleys to spend the Christmastide’s festive days at Pemberley. But as he and Elizabeth journey to their estate to join the gathered families, a blizzard blankets the English countryside. The Darcys find themselves stranded at a small inn while Pemberley is inundated with refugees seeking shelter from the storm.

Without her brother’s strong presence, Georgiana Darcy tries desperately to manage the chaos surrounding the arrival of six invited guests and eleven unscheduled visitors. But bitter feuds, old jealousies and intimate secrets quickly rise to the surface. Has Lady Catherine returned to Pemberley for forgiveness or revenge? Will the manipulative Caroline Bingley find a soul mate? Shall Kitty Bennet and Georgiana know happiness?

Written in Regency style and including Austen’s romantic entanglements and sardonic humor, Christmas at Pemberley places Jane Austen’s most beloved characters in an exciting yuletide story that speaks to the love, the family spirit and the generosity that remain as the heart of Christmas. Read our review.

Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy: Pride and Prejudice meets A Christmas Carol, by Barbara Tiller Cole (2011)Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy: Pride and Prejudice meets A Christmas Carol, by Barbara Tiller Cole

A Jane Austen/Charles Dickens crossover story, Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy takes the best of both classics and spins them into a delightful Holiday treat!

F. E. Darcy has fallen into pitiful self-loathing and sorrowful angst-ridden despair; all of this due to his belief that he has lost forever the chance to marry the only woman he has ever loved—Elizabeth Bennet. Seeing her son in such a state, the Ghost of Anne Darcy reaches out to him; informing him that three ghosts would visit him and give him hope. Will these Spirits provide him with the courage to try again to win the esteem of his one true soul mate?

Barbara Tiller Cole, an Atlanta native and the writer of the popular book White Lies and Other Half Truths, presents this family friendly classic—a delightful combination of the best of her two favorite authors, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Barbara credits her parents with fostering a love for both of these authors. Each Christmas, Barbara’s father would sit and read Dickens classic A Christmas Carol to the family. Her mother consistently challenged her to improve her mind by extensive reading, Jane Austen style. This book is dedicated to the memory of Cliff and Jeanne and the season they loved the best. Read a review.

Christmas with Miss Austen (Holiday Extravaganza), by Laura BriggsChristmas with Miss Austen (Holiday Extravaganza), by Laura Briggs

Julia Allen is a waitress by day, painter by night, and…a famous 1800s authoress on weekends?

Moonlighting as Jane Austen for a historical open house is a strange hobby for a contemporary artist, but Julia loves the role–until she falls asleep and gets locked inside after all the visitors are gone! Rushing home from the dark, historical mansion, she collides with a stranger in the snowy park, and discovers later her shortcut cost her the rare copy of Austen’s Northanger Abbey borrowed from a friend’s treasured collection.

Book historian Eliot Weston thinks he imagined the Regency-era figure, but the book he finds in her wake proves otherwise. The first edition of Jane Austen’s novel is authentic and incredibly rare, but he fails to find any trace of its owner. Reminders of the unusual encounter keep popping up, however, like the pretty modern artist eager to buy an identical volume. Coincidence? Or Divine intervention making it clear this is anything but an ordinary Christmas for these two hearts? Read a review.

Pemberley Celebrations - The First Year, by Kara LouisePemberley Celebrations – The First Year, by Kara Louise

Join Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy in this compilation of short stories as they celebrate the holidays and special events in the first year of their marriage. Beginning with Christmas, the decorations are being put up, but it has not been a joyous holiday at Pemberley for many years. Can Elizabeth bring back the Christmas Spirit? There are three other Christmas stories, as well as stories about a New Year’s Eve Ball, a Valentine’s Day Mystery, an Easter Visit, and several others that will entertain you throughout the year. Read a review.

A Darcy Christmas: A Holiday Tribute to Jane Austen, by Sharon Lathan, Amanda Grange and Carolyn Eberhart (2010)A Darcy Christmas: A Holiday Tribute to Jane Austen, by Amanda Grange, Sharon Lathan and Carolyn Eberhart

Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Wish You a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Share in the magic of the season in these three warm and wonderful holiday novellas from bestselling authors.

“Christmas Present,” by Amanda Grange

“A Darcy Christmas,” by Sharon Lathan

“Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Carol,” by Carolyn Eberhart

Read our review.

The Mischief of the Mistletoe: A Pink Carnation Christmas, by Lauren WilligThe Mischief of the Mistletoe: A Pink Carnation Christmas, by Lauren Willig

Despite her dear friend Jane Austen’s warning against teaching, Arabella Dempsey accepts a position at a girls’ school in Bath, just before Christmas. She hardly imagines coming face-to-face with French aristocrats and international spies.

Reginald “Turnip” Fitzhugh-often mistaken for the elusive spy known as the Pink Carnation-has blundered into danger before. When Turnip and Arabella find their Christmas pudding yielding a cryptic message, they are launched on a Yuletide adventure. Will they find poinsettias-or peril?

2011 RITA Winner for Regency Historical Romance. Read our review.

Wishing a very merry holiday season to all my readers and Janeite friends.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

Woodston Cottage

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose