Austenprose’s Best Austenesque & Jane Austen Era Books of 2015

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What a great year of Austenesque reading! We reviewed 40 fiction and nonfiction books in the Austenesque, Regency or Georgian genre this past year and would like to share our list of what we feel were the most exciting, memorable and rewarding books of 2015. 

Best Austenesque Historical Novels 2015:

  1. Brinshore: The Watson Novels Book 2, by Ann Mychal (5 stars)
  2. Jane by the Sea: Jane Austen’s Love Story, by Carolyn V. Murray (5 stars)
  3. Alone with Mr. Darcy: A Pride & Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds (5 stars)
  4. Pride, Prejudice and Secrets, by C. P. Odom (5 stars)
  5. The Darcy Brothers, by Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Susan Mason-Milks and Abigail Reynolds (4.5 stars)
  6. Suddenly Mrs. Darcy, by Jenetta James (4.5 stars)
  7. Yours Forevermore, Darcy, by KaraLynne Mackrory (4.5 stars)
  8. The Second Chance: A Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility Variation, by Joana Starnes (4.5 stars)
  9. A Will of Iron, by Linda Beutler (4.5 stars)
  10. Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley, by Shannon Winslow (4 stars)

Best Austenesque Contemporary Novels 2015: Continue reading

The Darcy Brothers Virtual Book Launch Party with Authors, Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Susan Mason-Milks and Abigail Reynolds

We are very pleased to welcome Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Susan Mason-Milks, and Abigail Reynolds to Austenprose for the official virtual book launch party of their new novel The Darcy Brothers, released today by White Soup Press.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, The Darcy Brothers is an original variation based on Austen’s classic in which Mr. Darcy has a charming younger brother named Theo who meets Elizabeth Bennet and vies for her affections. Written by five Austenesque authors, you may well ask, as we did ourselves, how they could pool their talents and create one novel together? Abigail Reynolds has kindly supplied a revealing guest blog to share the experience with you.

And, any celebration would not be complete without gifts. Please enter a chance to win one of the four fabulous prizes being offered by their publisher by leaving a comment. The giveaway details are listed at the end of this post. Good luck to all!

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Easy-going Theophilus Darcy is the opposite of his controlled older brother. Where Fitzwilliam Darcy is proud and awkward among strangers, Theo is a charmer. Fitzwilliam took his studies seriously, while Theo was sent down from Oxford for his pranks. Still, the brothers were the best of friends until tragedy and George Wickham tore them apart.

What if Theo were to meet Miss Elizabeth Bennet? Would he charm the young lady’s stockings off… or would he help his brother win her hand? Find out as the two brothers lock horns in this unique Pride & Prejudice variation collectively written by five respected authors.

The Darcy Brothers was first conceived as an interactive group writing project and has developed into a full-length novel featuring the charismatic Theo Darcy.

GUEST BLOG

What’s even better than writing a book? Writing a book with other authors, of course! Group writing projects can be stimulating experiences that can push your writing to a new level, so when I had the chance to join a small group of writers I respected in writing a Pride & Prejudice variation novel, I jumped at it.

My partners were Monica Fairview, author of Mr. Darcy’s Pledge, Cassandra Grafton, author of A Fair Prospect, Maria Grace, author of the Given Good Principles series, and Susan Mason-Milks, author of Mr. Darcy’s Proposal. We had all participated earlier in a much larger group story, a P&P variation where Elizabeth Bennet had a brother, so when we started brainstorming for our new small group project, the next step was obvious – a  story where Darcy had a brother.

I don’t remember who came up with the idea first, but we knew right away it was the right one. The emails started flying fast and furious as we tossed around ideas. Eventually, we landed on the idea of Theo Darcy, two years younger than his brother Fitzwilliam and his opposite in many ways. Theo charms everyone while Darcy is always giving offense. Theo is sociable, witty, playful and full of interesting conversation, with a dry sense of humor. Everyone likes Theo – except his brother. And there’s nothing Theo likes better than poking a little fun of his oh-so-serious elder brother!

But now we had a problem. A big one. We’d created a great character, but also one who happened to be just what Elizabeth Bennet thought she wanted in a man. What was going to happen when they meet? We all know Elizabeth dislikes Darcy in the first half of Pride & Prejudice. What would happen if she started falling in love with his younger brother…and her feelings were returned? Would Darcy try to stop the match, or would he stand back to allow Elizabeth happiness?

Then it got really complicated because it turns out there are long-standing problems between the two brothers. Remember George Wickham (and who could forget him)? When Darcy went off to school and lost interest in Wickham and his hi-jinks, there was another boy for Wickham to attach himself to, a younger, more impressionable boy – Theo.

Needless to say, our dear Mr. Darcy does not react well to this! Especially when Theo decides to follow in Wickham’s footsteps and ‘study’ law. As we all know, Darcy is very good at jumping to conclusions, and not letting little things like evidence get in the way of his prejudices! Add to this a deep, dark secret which the brothers are determined never to discuss, and you have the recipe for the deep rift between the brothers.

By the time we were half-way through the book, we’d half-forgotten the original Darcy didn’t have a brother. Adding Theo to the mix let us explore so many different sides of Darcy, and the contrast between them added focus to the characters. When writing our own stories, we kept forgetting that Darcy didn’t have a brother in the original!

Having the opportunity to work with other writers whose work I admired was a tremendous privilege, not to mention a learning experience! It was exhilarating to have so much creative thinking power available for story dilemmas, and the synergy was unbelievable. The characters we created working together have greater depth, and their dilemmas are more multifaceted.

We quickly adapted our writing styles to work together so there wouldn’t be any big jumps. At first, we started out with one writer doing each chapter, but as the story progressed, we began to work more closely, switching back and forth by scene and discussing each detail in detail. Each of us probably spent almost as much time working on our fifth of this book that we do on a single book of our own!

But the end result is worth it. We’re all very proud of Theo Darcy – and more than a little in love with him! We hope you love him as much as we do.

Best regards, Abigail Reynolds

AUTHOR BIOS

In addition to their collaborative effort in The Darcy Brothers, Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Susan Mason-Milks and Abigail Reynolds between them have published over two dozen Austen-inspired books, including national bestsellers. Monica Fairview (Mr. Darcy’s Pledge) holds down the fort for the team in London while Abigail Reynolds (Alone with Mr. Darcy) supplies cute cat pictures from Cape Cod, Susan Mason-Milks (Mr. Darcy’s Proposal) inspires with views of the Seattle skyline, Maria Grace (Remember the Past) frolics in the Texas bluebells, and British expat Cassandra Grafton (A Fair Prospect) has the critical responsibility of keeping the team supplied with much-needed chocolate from her home in Switzerland.

Look for them at the Austen Variations group blog where they are all founding members.

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Theo Darcy is touring the blogosphere. Follow him as he makes his debut.

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BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

ASK A QUESTION OR LEAVE A COMMENT 

TO ENTER A GRAND GIVEAWAY

In celebration of the official book launch of The Darcy Brothers, enter a giveaway contest for four prizes including three copies of the book (print or eBook) and one grand prize: a selection of Jane Austen-themed items and one copy of The Darcy Brothers (print or eBook). To qualify for the drawing please leave a comment with this post before 11:59 pm PT, Wednesday, February 11, 2015, stating why you would love to read the book, or what characters from Jane Austen’s original novel you hope have been included. The four lucky winners will be announced on Thursday, February 12, 2015. The items will be shipped internationally. Good luck to all!

GRAND PRIZE

Darcy Brothers JA pendant x 400

Jane Austen Silhouette – Sterling Silver Pendant

This charming Jane Austen silhouette pendant was inspired by “L’aimable Jane” – a circa 1810-1815 image of Jane Austen by an unknown artist.  It can also be used as a charm and added to your collection of charms. Handcrafted in Somerset, UK of 925 silver especially for the Jane Austen Centre Gift Shop, the pendant measures 15 mm and is presented in an exclusive Jane Austen Centre antique style box.

Darcy Brothers JA themed giveaway x 400

This Jane Austen themed ensemble includes six stylish postcards with quotes from Jane Austen, an ‘I’d Rather Be At Pemberley’ compact mirror, a hand woven dupion silk bookmark with Jane Austen quote, a pocket-sized edition of Pride & Prejudice, a Jane Austen silhouette pin, a Theo Darcy magnet and one copy of The Darcy Brothers (print or digital).

Our congratulation go out to authors Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Susan Mason-Milks and Abigail Reynolds for the release of their new novel. Many thanks to Abigail Reynolds for her guest blog and to White Soup Press for their generous giveaways.   

  • The Darcy Brothers, by Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Susan Mason-Milks, and Abigail Reynolds
  • White Soup Press (2015)
  • Trade paperback and eBook (398) pages
  • ISBN: 978-0692370308

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | GOODREADS 

Cover image courtesy of White Soup Press © 2015; text Abigail Reynold © 2015, Austenprose.com

Dying to Write: A Patrick Shea Mystery, by Mary Simonsen – Preview & Exclusive Excerpt

Dying to Write by Mary Simonsen 2014 x 20My loyal readers who have followed Austenprose for years know that in addition to Austenesque fiction, I love a good who-dun-it. There are some fabulous Regency-era mysteries featuring Jane Austen and her characters as sleuths including Stephanie Barron’s Being a Jane Austen Mystery Series (12 novels) and the Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mysteries by Carrie Bebris (6 novel and one in the oven). Besides the Elizabeth Parker Mysteries (4 novels) by Tracy Kiely there are very few contemporary mysteries inspired by Austen, so when one hits my radar I am a very happy Janeite.

Mary Lydon Simonsen, author of several fabulous Austenesque historical novels including: Searching for Pemberley, A Wife for Mr. Darcy and Becoming Elizabeth Darcy, also writes a detective series called The Patrick Shea Mysteries. In her latest installment, Dying to Write, she has cleverly blended both Austen-inspired and a contemporary mystery. Today, Mary has kindly offered an excerpt for our enjoyment. 

PREVIEW (from the description by the publisher)

In need of a break from his job at Scotland Yard, Detective Sergeant Patrick Shea of London’s Metropolitan Police, is looking forward to some quiet time at a timeshare in rural Devon in England’s West Country. However, when he arrives at The Woodlands, Patrick finds himself in the midst of a Jane Austen conference. Despite Regency-era dresses, bonnets, and parasols, a deep divide exists between the Jane Austen fan-fiction community, those who enjoy expanding on the author’s work by writing re-imaginings of her stories, and the Janeites, those devotees who think anyone who tampers with the original novels is committing a sacrilege. When one of the conference speakers is found dead in her condo, Patrick is back on the job trying to find out who murdered her. Is it possible that the victim was actually killed because of a book?

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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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The Jane Austen Rules: A Classic Guide to Modern Love, by Sinead Murphy – A Review

The Jane Austen Rules by Sinead Murphy 2014 x 200From the desk of Tracy Hickman:

When author Sinead Murphy chose to title her guide to modern dating The Jane Austen Rules it was guaranteed to generate a certain amount of controversy. In the mid-1990s, a dating guide titled The Rules became famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) for imparting to women “a myriad of tricks and schemes” (14) for finding Mr. Right.

Does Murphy seek to replace one set of arbitrary opinions with another, using Jane Austen’s name as a marketing ploy? Happily Ms. Murphy has not taken this approach. Rather than a narrowly focused “how-to” for dating, she takes readers through the novels of Jane Austen, examining the women and men Austen created and the way their character informs their actions, whether in the pursuit of love or in making other important life decisions.

As such this is not really a dating guide at all; its scope is much wider. In the introduction titled “The Real Thing” Murphy proposes that modern dating guides have a Regency ancestor in the conduct book, full of dos and don’ts for women wishing to succeed in society:

…the Regency conduct book tended to judge a woman by how she conducts herself–that is, by how she acts, by how she seems. The novel, by contrast, was concerned with what women are really like, admitting—perhaps for the very first time—that women too have a fulsome interior life, with thoughts and feelings that are as crucial to get right as the actions that follow from them…And Jane Austen was at the forefront of it all, presenting to the Regency world a host of real women—so determined to do so, indeed, that she invented her very own narrative style, which gives the reader almost unrestricted access to the internal life of her female characters. (4)

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