Forget Me Not: The Gents (Book 1), by Sarah M. Eden—A Review

Forget Me Not by Sarah M. Eden 2020From the desk of Katie Jackson: 

I unabashedly admit to gasping with delight when I first heard about a new Georgian-era book series being crafted by one of my all-time favorite historical romance authors, Sarah M. Eden. Then I discovered that the stories begin with none other than the elusive Lucas Jonquil, father of the delightful brothers in the Jonquil Family series. Commence a jubilant pirouette! Forget Me Not is the first book in the new series The Gents that will be centered around six, close-like-brothers friends, supporting each other through life’s varied challenges.

In 1777 Nottinghamshire, Lucas Jonquil has come “face-to-face with the extreme frailty of life.” (3) Grief-stricken, he is determined to leave his family home Lampton Park for untold escapades. His motto: “Don’t forget to live.” (3) Thinking of those he’s lost, he declares, “I mean to have enough adventures for two lifetimes. Maybe even three.” (11)

Julia Cummings, age 12, Lucas’s intrepid childhood playmate at neighboring estate Farland Meadows, relies on him as an older brother and best friend and feels abandoned and betrayed by his sudden departure. Heartbroken and lonely, she turns inward and seeks comfort in her forced isolation. “It didn’t do to set one’s heart on people when all people did was leave.” (8)

After eight years away, Lucas returns home from his travels to discover his sweet little Julia is all grown up. He is thoroughly confused by the unexpectedly cold welcome he receives from the dear friend he’s never forgotten, utterly oblivious to the part he played in it. And then, their well-intentioned parents deliver a shocking blow with a joyful announcement at Lucas’s homecoming ball: Lucas and Julia are betrothed and shall marry by special license within days.

Julia flees. “She had not survived all she had these past years to simply cower and accept the absurdity of other people’s moments of madness.” (36) Lucas attempts to negotiate with his parents, arguing the seeming incompatibility between him and his childhood friend now that they were grown. His father’s opinion on the matter seals Lucas’s future. “This is the match we have chosen for you, son. I know you don’t see it now, but it will be a good one. You will sort out your difficulties so long as you are willing to try.” (43) After Julia’s efforts to reason with her own father fail, she resigns herself to her fate: marriage to a man who does not care for her and will surely leave her again. “She was about to be married, and she had never felt more wretched.” (59) Continue reading

A Preview & Giveaway of Clueless: A Totally Classic Picture Book, Adapted by G. M. Berrow, and illustrated by Heather Burns

Clueless: A Totally Classic Picture Book 2020Its been twenty-five years since Clueless premiered in 1995 and we are still worshiping the creative genius of writer/director Amy Heckerling’s film adaptation of Jane Austen 1815 classic novel, Emma.

This witty coming-of-age teen comedy featured a string of now-famous young actors such as Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Paul Rudd, and Brittany Murphy, eye-popping fashion, and hip 1990’s slang—a combination of Valley-speak and Beverly Hills glitterati. The movie was a big hit with critics and the public and is now considered a cult classic.

If you have young ones in your life or are young at heart, you will be seriously interested in Clueless: A Totally Classic Picture Book. Inspired by Amy Heckerling’s iconic film, this charming children’s picture book is the perfect introduction to the characters, fashion, and vocabulary and has been adapted with the theme of making friends for a younger audience by G.M. Berrow with beautiful illustrations by Heather Burns.

Austenprose is thrilled to preview this adorable new children’s book and offer an exclusive giveaway along with the mini-book, Clueless: Lessons on Love, Fashion, and Friendship, by Lauren Mancuso, created by Amy Heckerling. Check out the details at the bottom of this post to enter. Good luck to all!

Cher and Dionne are the coolest kids at Bronson Alcott Elementary School in Beverly Hills. When a new — very unique, grunge-chic, and possibly clueless — girl named Tai comes along, Cher and Dionne take her under their wings. They tell her how to dress and what hobbies to take up to be a part of their friend group. But Tai really likes skateboarding, baggy clothes, and wants to hang out more with the group of skateboarders. Cher and Dionne try a variety of ways to change Tai, alongside a cast of characters including Murray, Amber, Travis, Summer, Elton, and Miss Geist. But in the end, they realize that people are different and that’s what makes them so cool!

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Who Wants to Marry a Duke: (Duke Dynasty Book 3), by Sabrina Jeffries—A Review

Who Wants to Marry a Duke by Sabrina Jeffries 2020From the desk of Pamela Mingle:

Romance, mystery, and a most intriguing hero and heroine are what you’ll find in Who Wants to Marry a Duke. This is the third entry by Sabrina Jeffries in the Duke Dynasty series and can also be read as a standalone.

We first meet young Marlowe Drake, the Duke of Thornstock, at a ball, where his older half-brother Grey—Duke of Greycourt—warns him about the marriage-minded mamas lurking about. Ignoring this wise advice, Thorn quickly finds himself caught in a compromising position with a young lady.

The lady in question is Miss Olivia Norley. She offers to clean a wine stain from Thorn’s waistcoat and afterward, Thorn steals a kiss. They are seen by Olivia’s stepmother, who unbeknownst to Olivia, blackmails Thorn into offering Olivia marriage by threatening to reveal a secret about his father.

The following morning, Thorn proposes to Olivia with barely disguised contempt. He looked “…like a thief being dragged to the gallows,” so she declines. He doesn’t want to marry her, but her refusal stings, nonetheless. He believes Olivia was party to the blackmail and can’t understand why she would then reject him.

Fast forward nine years. Using a false identity, Thorn has become a playwright, and Olivia, a chemist. (No wonder she knew how to remove that stain!) At a ball hosted by his family, Thorn spots Olivia. He intends to have her thrown out, but relents when he learns that his half-brother Grey has asked her to investigate the suspicious death of his father by testing his remains for arsenic.

Thorn asks Olivia to dance and challenges her on her motives for performing the tests. All she really wants is to establish a reputation for herself. Olivia prefers chemicals to people because they act in predictable ways. The two adjourn to the garden to speak privately, and Olivia reveals she wants to publish the results of her tests. Thorn is horrified. Dukes don’t wish to have their scandals aired in public.

Olivia has fought hard over the years to put Thorn out of her mind and is irritated that she still feels an attraction to him. The inevitable happens, and this time Olivia thinks his kisses “…were as combustible as sweet oil of vitriol and nearly as dangerous.” Again, they’re almost caught, but Olivia dashes from their hiding place and pretends she was merely enjoying the heady scents of the garden. Continue reading

Someone to Romance: The Westcott Series (Book 8), by Mary Balogh—A Review

Someone to Romance by Mary Balogh 2020From the desk of Sophia Rose:

I discovered Mary Balogh’s tender, relationship-driven historical romances by browsing a book shop about a decade ago. The cover of her book merely depicted a landscape, but I recognized the possibilities of a new to me Regency-era author who did indeed pay attention to the details of the historical background of her stories, the social mores of the day, and could still deliver engaging characters and romances.

Someone to Romance is the eighth in the Westcott series. This is Lady Jessica Archer’s story. Jessica watches her cousin Abby with her newborn, a daughter, a loving husband, and a lovely home. She is ashamed of the envy that stabs her especially when Abby had to go through so much to have this. Jessica is determined to participate in the London Season and choose a husband, so she need not feel left out as others get married and have their own lives. Her loved ones want her to choose for love, but she doesn’t believe love is for her. No man has ever stirred more than mild interest in her.  But, at a coaching inn, a bold-eyed man, looking like he is far beneath her, rouses her ire and confounds her at every turn. When other more eligible men come around, it is Mr. Thorne who sparks her interest and she feels a burning curiosity for the mystery surrounding him.

Gabriel Thorne is unhappy that he must return to England after thirteen years away. A terrible, dark event happened, and he was forced to flee his uncle’s home who had taken him in after the death of his parents. He lands in Boston with his mother’s cousin and builds a rewarding new life. Now, duty forces him to return. It occurs to him when he is ousted from the private parlor at a coaching inn for an arrogant duke’s sister that she is just the type of woman he will have to marry now that he is taking the family title and lands back. Only, he doesn’t want ‘a’ wife, he wants Lady Jessica Archer. She boldly dares him to romance her and so he will.

Jessica was a character I had mixed feelings about from the first book in the series and even into the early pages of Someone to Romance. She had several spoiled, rich girl moments and had some naïve notions. Her motivations at the beginning of the book reflected those notions and I was not sure I was going to like her or even care if she found her way to romance. But, getting her perspective and seeing her stumble, become confused, and then start along a new path was worth it. She was more than that spoilt woman and her good points came out as well as a shrewdness that stood her well. Besides, it wasn’t Jessica who naively under-estimates an enemy there near the end. Continue reading

A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt of Schemes of Felicity: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Suzan Lauder

Schemes of Felicity by Suzan Lauder 2020Great news in Austenland, readers. While the pandemic has taken its toll and continues to flourish, we can be grateful that so many housebound writers are working away creating stories for us!

I am happy to share that the fine folks at Meryton Press will be having several novels and novellas rolling out over the next few months and into next year. Huzzah! They are all inspired by the same theme of “Skirmish & Scandal,” and the covers will be designed as a series.

First up is a novella by bestselling Austenesque author Suzan Lauder, entitled, Schemes of Felicity. This Pride and Prejudice inspired short fiction begins at the classic jumping-off point for many variations—the failed first proposal of Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet at Hunsford parsonage. The fallout of the frosty rebuff by Elizabeth is tempered by her later contemplation of his “Be not alarmed, madame…” letter, softening her anger. When the couple is reunited in London, anything might be possible.

We are happy to share an exclusive excerpt from the author for our readers. Enjoy!

A month to find a mate!

Mr. Darcy desires marriage to Elizabeth Bennet, but he ruins any such prospect during his proposal at Hunsford. The resulting general sense of malaise interferes with his usually amicable yet stately demeanour, and his Fitzwilliam relatives resolve that Darcy is lonely—he must be in want of a wife. His cousins convince him to leap into the London Season for one month and partner every lady they select for his felicity.

At Longbourn, chaos erupts as Mr. Bennet undergoes a transformation, and Jane and Elizabeth receive the gift of a month in town to enjoy the Season. Meanwhile, Elizabeth pores over Mr. Darcy’s Hunsford letter and wonders about him, warmed by his words.

It’s only a matter of time before the two meet again in this Pride and Prejudice novella. But will their encounter be a repeat of the earlier disaster, or will they overcome their tenuous history? And can Elizabeth’s credentials pass the stringent criteria of the scheming Fitzwilliam cousins who direct Darcy towards the single daughters of every peer of the realm?

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Q&A and Blog Tour with Rachel McMillan, Historical Fiction Author of The London Restoration

The London Restoration by Rachel McMillian 2020Hello gentle readers. Summer is in full swing here at Woodston Cottage. My hydrangeas, anemones, and roses are blooming. We had a heatwave over the weekend that sent this hot weather wimp inside and under a fan!

Today I am so happy to welcome bestselling author Rachel McMillian to Austenprose for an exclusive interview in celebration of her latest historical fiction novel, The London Restoration, which just released this week.

Rachel is a multitalented writer who is happiest when she is lost in history researching her latest novel. She has written two historical mystery series: the Herringford and Watts mysteries set in 1910 in Toronto, Canada, and A Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries set in 1937, Boston, USA. Recently, she has branched out into nonfiction too with Dream, Plan, and Go: A Travel Guide to Inspire Your Independent Adventure (2020), and her forthcoming A Very Merry Holiday Movie Guide: *Must-See, Made-for-TV Movie Viewing Lists *Inspired New Traditions *Festive Watch Party Ideas (October 6, 2020), which I am really excited to read.

Today we are thrilled to be participating in the blog tour of The London Restoration and offer an exclusive interview with Rachel for Austenprose readers. Enjoy!

London, Fall 1945. Architectural historian Diana Somerville’s experience as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park and her knowledge of London’s churches intersect in MI6’s pursuit of a Russian agent named Eternity. Diana wants nothing more than to begin again with her husband Brent after their separation during the war, but her signing of the Official Secrets Act keeps him at a distance.

Brent Somerville, professor of theology at King’s College, hopes aiding his wife with her church consultations will help him better understand why she disappeared when he needed her most. But he must find a way to reconcile his traumatic experiences as a stretcher bearer on the European front with her obvious lies about her wartime activities and whereabouts.

Featuring a timeless love story bolstered by flashbacks and the excavation of a priceless Roman artifact, The London Restoration is a richly atmospheric look at post-war London as two people changed by war rebuild amidst the city’s reconstruction

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Mr. Malcolm’s List, by Suzanne Allain—A Review

Mr Malcolm's List by Suzanne Allain 2020From the desk of Melissa Makarewicz:

Late one evening I was mindlessly scrolling through Twitter, as one does, when a post caught my eye. “Have you seen “Mr. Malcolm’s List? It’s an Austenesque series with a diverse cast,” asked @ctrichmon. At the mention of Austen, my interest was piqued. I immediately watched the video of Mr. Malcolm’s List on YouTube. Ten minutes later, I was hooked. Suzanne Allain’s debut novel (soon to be a major motion picture) has the biting wit and satirical charm that Austen fans adore. With a hint of Pride and Prejudice undertones, this corset-busting satire sets the old standard for Regency romps spinning on its head.

Mr. Malcolm, a wealthy second son, has decided to guard his heart against all fortune-seeking females. To keep his focus, he has made a list of all the qualities he desires in his future wife. His list includes qualifications such as “amiable, handsome, graceful, educates herself by extensive reading.” Does such a woman even exist?! Taking his time courting women and then moving on to the next one when they do not meet his criteria, he has earned quite a reputation in society. Oblivious to his harsh, calculating behavior, his friend Cassie informs him that he has become known as a “Trifler, a breaker of hearts, a destroyer of young ladies’ dreams.” (2)

Selina is the twenty-two-year-old unmarried daughter of a vicar. Alone after her chaperone dies, she finds herself wishing she had better luck finding a husband. When she receives a letter from her former schoolmate, Julia, she jumps at the chance to go visit her in London in the hopes that it will bring adventure, and possibly love.

Once she reaches Town, Julia informs Selina of her recent romantic rejection by Mr. Malcolm and the injustice he has done to her.

“You see, there is a young gentleman, a Mr. Malcolm, who is widely known for his arrogance. He distinguished me by paying me very pointed attentions, but then humiliated me by withdrawing his suit.” (14)

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