Book Previews, Jane Austen, Nonfiction

A Preview of Two New Books featuring Martha Lloyd, Jane Austen’s Second Sister

Have you ever read a book and felt an immediate infinity to the author—like they were your best friend and had written the book just for you? It doesn’t happen very often for me, but it did when I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time many years ago. I had to discover who Jane Austen was and what she was like. When I learned that Martha Lloyd was her best friend, I was immediately jealous. Who was this Martha, and why did my Jane consider her, “…the friend & Sister under every circumstance.”?

Two new books will illuminate  a lot. Martha Lloyd’s Household Book, is a copy of the actual book compiled and written by Martha that she used in the Austen household when she lived with them, and Jane Austen’s Best Friend: The Life and Influence of Martha Lloyd, by Zöe Wheddon reveals what it was like to be Austen’s friend and why Martha was a truly a remarkable person worthy of Jane’s friendship. Continue reading “A Preview of Two New Books featuring Martha Lloyd, Jane Austen’s Second Sister”

Book Reviews, Historical Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction, Regency Era

The Barrister and the Letter of Marque: A Novel, by Todd M. Johnson—A Review

From the desk of Sophia Rose:

Crusaders come in all shapes and forms and some don’t even realize they are such a person until they face down injustice at the expense of reputation, career, and even life to see a wrong is righted.   The Barrister and the Letter of Marque by Todd M. Johnson, a historical mystery that balances Regency backdrop with legal thriller, contains a crusader that captivated me from page one.

A Regency period barrister, William Snopes, who champions the commoner in his clever and cunning way finds himself faced with a conundrum. Does he take a case that goes against his principle of never representing someone from the upper classes and particularly a case that has far reaching ramifications for all involved or tell the desperate woman, Lady Madeleine, he cannot?

To help make up his mind, he has his well-trained, staunch junior barrister, Edmund, his solicitor, and other reliable sources help him determine if the lady is telling the truth about her cousin, his ship, his crew, and goods being seized by the Crown for piracy because the Letter of Marque he was carrying Continue reading “The Barrister and the Letter of Marque: A Novel, by Todd M. Johnson—A Review”

Austenesque, Book Reviews, Regency Era

Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words, by Shannon Winslow — A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

In a November 1814 letter to her niece, Jane Austen wrote that “nothing can be compared to the misery of being bound without love.” She had brilliantly illustrated her point with many unenviable couples in her novels serving as warnings of what her protagonists should strive to avoid. Likewise, readers found in her most famous story, Pride and Prejudice, a hero dutifully resigned to such misery and a heroine determined to evade it. Prolific Austenesque author Shannon Winslow explores that hero’s path from misery to love in her latest Pride and Prejudice adaptation, Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words.

Fitzwilliam Darcy believes that he is destined to fulfill his familial duty by securing a society-approved mate for himself and proper mistress of Pemberley—and by choosing prudently, hoping for mutual respect at best, and knowing that love was neither desirable nor wise. “My early years had taught me, again and again, that to love was to suffer pain. To love was to surrender a part of oneself, to give the object of that love power over one’s life – power to wound or to destroy, either by accident or with intent.” (189) Therefore, Darcy resolutely heeds his late father’s advice by discreetly selecting a decorous lady from a suitably wealthy and consequential family, ever mindful of his family’s expectations and his own responsibilities. “To choose the wrong path, to be careless of the way, to neglect minding every step, was to invite calamity of a kind most painful and permanent.” (171) Continue reading “Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words, by Shannon Winslow — A Review”

Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, WWII Era

In Royal Service to the Queen: A Novel of the Queen’s Governess, by Tessa Arlen—A Review

There is something about royalty that is so fascinating to me. What would it be like to be born into a world of privilege and power? How do they live? Who are their friends? What are their secrets?

The British royal family is my favorite, so I jumped at the chance to read In Royal Service to the Queen, by Tessa Arlen. Based on actual events and real people, the story is told from the perspective of governess Marion Crawford. Her charges were the royal Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose Windsor. What she experienced while working for and living with the royal family could give me an insider’s view of the dreams, disappointments, and triumphs of the famous family. Telling this story in a fictionalized account is a tremendous challenge. Daunting, really. I was curious to see if Arlen could pull it off.

Marion Crawford was a young Scottish woman when she accepted a summer job in 1931 as the governess to Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, the two young daughters of the Duke and Duchess of York. This would evolve into a permanent position in the household of the second son of King George V who would later become king when his brother Edward abdicated the throne to marry the twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. We briefly touch upon this critical time in the life of Bertie and his wife Elizabeth who never expected to be elevated to the highest position in the land. Continue reading “In Royal Service to the Queen: A Novel of the Queen’s Governess, by Tessa Arlen—A Review”

Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Historical Romance, Victorian Era

Inventing Vivian, A Victorian Romance: The Blue Orchid Society (Book 2), by Jennifer Moore — A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

In 1837, a sheltered yet determined 18-year-old became Queen Victoria and ushered in an era of immense transformation. Increased educational and employment opportunities for women and an overall increase in literacy cracked open the previously elite worlds of journalism and literature and scientific invention in exciting new ways. It was a time when a lady bluestocking might finally earn the chance to collaborate with other intellectuals as an admired and respected equal. Master storyteller Jennifer Moore has created a lovely and well-researched representation of this unique era in the latest tale from The Blue Orchid Society series, Inventing Vivian.

During a fateful meeting in a library sanctuary while escaping the unwelcome pressures of a ballroom, science-minded inventor Miss Vivian Kirby had made a pact with four other remarkable young ladies to form the Blue Orchid Society and to achieve their private ambitions with each other’s support and encouragement. Vivian was thrilled by the thought that her dream “was actually achievable. And the difference, she realized, was that she had the support of people like herself.” (237) Continue reading “Inventing Vivian, A Victorian Romance: The Blue Orchid Society (Book 2), by Jennifer Moore — A Review”

Book Reviews, Historical Fantasy, Paranormal & Gothic Fiction, Victorian Era

John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness and Shadow, by Mimi Matthews—A Review

From the desk of Sophia Rose

Reader, I must confess that I went into this book totally blind. No blurb, no captions, and a mere glance at the cover. This is because I spotted the title and the author, and it was all over. I needed a gender swapped Jane Eyre-Dracula mash up to quench my insatiable curiosity and wonder over such a combo. Some authors might have difficulty pulling off such a feat, but I did not have a doubt in the world that in Mimi Matthews’ capable hands that John Eyre would dazzle.

John Eyre arrives at his new place of employment on a cold, rainy, and foggy night. He barely catches a glimpse of the new Yorkshire countryside or Thornfield Hall. His mind is weighed down by the past and his head aches dreadfully.  He craves the laudanum that he has been using to dull his memories and pain. But it is not long before natural curiosity for his peculiar new charges, his absent employer, and his new surroundings rouse him. Thornfield Hall might be remote, creak with odd noises, and the Yorkshire environs bleak, but John Eyre starts to settle in and feel a modicum of peace. Then Mrs. Rochester arrives.

Mrs. Rochester is changeable, direct, capable, and very much in charge. He senses there is great mystery from this well-traveled world-weary woman. She challenges him and his notions of women, and the world he has barely experienced in his humble circumstances. His very stolidity and sureness Continue reading “John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness and Shadow, by Mimi Matthews—A Review”

Austenesque, Author Interviews, Book Previews, Post WWII Era

Interview & Giveaway with the Author of The Jane Austen Society, Natalie Jenner

Cover of the paperback edition of The Jane Austen Society (2021)Happy Friday, dear readers! In anticipation of the paperback release of one of my favorite novels of 2020, I have re-read The Jane Austen Society, by Natalie Jenner. Like Austen’s novels, I have picked up on new insights into the characters and themes and see the story in a new light. I highly recommend a re-read and envy those who will be discovering the story for the first time.

The paperback edition released this week on July 6th and it is packed with exciting extras:

  • A map illustrating the town of Chawton and the homes of the characters
  • A Reader’s Guide which includes:
  • A Conversation with Natalie Jenner,
  • An Exclusive Author Essay: Prescribing Jane Austen for Difficult Times
  • Recommended Reading
  • Reading Group Questions

For those unfamiliar with the novel here is a description from the publisher and a link to our review.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Continue reading “Interview & Giveaway with the Author of The Jane Austen Society, Natalie Jenner”

Austenesque, Book Previews, Historical Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction

A Cover Reveal & Excerpt of Jane and the Year Without a Summer: Being a Jane Austen Mystery (Book 14), by Stephanie Barron

Happy Monday, dear readers! I have great news to share today. Bestselling historical mystery author Stephanie Barron has a new “Being a Jane Austen Mystery” in the queue.

Jane and the Year Without a Summer arrives on February 8, 2022, marking the fourteenth novel in the popular series. Set in Regency England, the series is based on actual events and people in Austen’s life and times. Inspired by the author’s life-long admiration of Austen and her writing, Barron’s skill at channeling her voice and the historical detail is nonpareil. Here is a description of the book, the big cover reveal, and an exclusive excerpt from the novel.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

May 1816: Jane Austen is feeling unwell, with an uneasy stomach, constant fatigue, rashes, fevers and aches. She attributes her poor condition to the stress of family burdens, which even the drafting of her latest manuscript—about a baronet’s daughter nursing a broken heart for a daring naval captain—cannot alleviate. Her apothecary recommends a trial of the curative waters at Cheltenham Spa, in Gloucestershire. Jane decides to use some of the profits earned from her last novel, Emma, and treat herself to a period of rest and reflection at the spa, in the company of her sister, Cassandra. Continue reading “A Cover Reveal & Excerpt of Jane and the Year Without a Summer: Being a Jane Austen Mystery (Book 14), by Stephanie Barron”