At Home with Mr. Darcy (Austen Addicts Book 6), by Victoria Connelly – Preview and Exclusive Excerpt

At Home with Mr. Darcy (Austen Addicts Book 6) by Victoria Connelly (2014)Austenesque author Victoria Connelly’s next installment in her contemporary Austen Addicts series has just been released by Notting Hill Press. At Home with Mr. Darcy marks her sixth book following: A Weekend with Mr. Darcy (2011), Dreaming of Mr. Darcy (2011), Mr. Darcy Forever (2013), Christmas with Mr. Darcy (2013) and Happy Birthday, Mr. Darcy (2013). Each of the novels and novellas continue the story of original characters that endearingly resemble Austen’s in some small way or another.

PREVIEW (from the publisher’s description)

The Austen Addicts are back!

It’s summer and renowned actress, Dame Pamela Harcourt, has organised a treat: the first Purley Hall Jane Austen holiday – to the home of Mr Darcy no less.

With Katherine and Warwick, Robyn, Doris Norris and the rest of the gang, it’s going to be a trip to remember. But then a hardened journalist and non-Janeite, Melissa Berry, joins the party. Fearing a stitch-up, the friends rally together, hoping to convince Melissa that the only way is Austen…

At Home with Mr Darcy is the sixth title in the bestselling Austen Addicts series.

Continue reading

Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Bet, by Marilyn Brant – A Review

Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Bet, by Marilyn Brant (2014)From the desk of Katie Patchell: 

Why is it that Jane Austen’s novels, particularly Pride and Prejudice, have had so many continuations, sequels, and contemporary versions based off of the originals? It’s not just the fact that her books are classics—after all, you don’t see many contemporary versions of Jane Eyre. Or Dickens. How many modern versions of Oliver Twist have you read lately? Don’t get me wrong—the brooding hero, quiet governess, gothic mystery, and melodrama are characters and themes loved by many fans, but there’s just something about Jane Austen’s wit, happy endings, realistic romance, and down-to-earth heroes and heroines that transcends space and time. Whereas Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist (and countless other classics) can only be updated with difficulty because of their two-dimensional characters and highly improbable circumstances, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion, etc. have complex characters facing realistic issues, and can be updated to virtually any situation, generation, or social class.

In Marilyn Brant’s latest contemporary reimagining, Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Bet, the story focuses not on Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, but rather on the often-overlooked secondary characters in Austen’s original, Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley, as they participate in the perfect bet—the bet of true love! Continue reading

Undressing Mr. Darcy Book Launch with Author Karen Doornebos and Giveaway!

Undressing Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos (2013)Please join us in celebration of the launch of author Karen Doornebos’ second novel, Undressing Mr. Darcy, published today by Berkley Trade.

Karen has joined us to chat about her inspiration to write her new book, a humorous contemporary romance inspired by the chemistry between Jane Austen’s characters Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Her publisher, Berkley, has also generously offered a giveaway chance for a paperback copy of Undressing Mr. Darcy to three lucky winners. Just leave a comment with this blog post to enter. The contest details are listed below. Good luck to all. 

Thank you for joining us Karen.

Inspiration for Undressing – shall we say – a flame? 

Laurel Ann asked me to talk a bit about my inspiration for Undressing Mr. Darcy. Full disclosure: when I was researching Regency male clothing for my first novel, Definitely Not Mr. Darcy, I hit upon an English website called The History Wardrobe that did a show called Undressing Mr. Darcy. It seems a “Mr. Darcy” would disrobe down to his drawers while a woman lectured about his articles of clothing.

Wow. What more could a Darcy fangirl ask for?! I never saw the show and it’s now defunct, but my imagination started clicking and it wasn’t long until I came up with: Continue reading

Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match, by Marilyn Brant – A Review

Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match Marilyn Brant (2013)From the desk of Kimberly Denny-Ryder

In reading a large variety of Pride and Prejudice variations, I’ve come to expect works of all shapes and sizes. What I didn’t expect, however, was a work that centers on an online dating site.  Such is the premise of Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match by Marilyn Brant. Sure, we’ve seen modern adaptations on the beloved original, yet this is a new twist that adds another dimension to the story between the Lizzy and Darcy that we all cherish. How would this timeless love story survive in a world governed by digital matchmaking?

The last thing that Beth Ann Bennet wants to do is end up on a dating site, but much to her chagrin, here she is. As a social worker studying sex-based stereotypes, she signs on to Lady Catherine’s Love Match Website under a pseudonym in order to get a firsthand account of said stereotypes. She is surprised, however, when she meets Dr. William Darcy through the site. He has his own secrets, however, as he too is signed up for the dating service under false pretenses. In order to settle a bet and win funding for a new clinic he is building, Darcy agrees to sign on to the site and find a match. Now that they have met, both agree that it would be in their best interests to stay apart, yet there seems to be an invisible force that draws them to each other, making that original promise much harder to keep. Although they both assume that the site will give them a superficial and fleeting glance at a relationship, what they actually encounter is something much deeper and more personal. What will happen once they come to find that this meeting is not what they originally intended, but something much more involved indeed?

At first blush, I found the idea behind this story to be intriguing and fresh. Always up for a new take on the P&P variation genre, I was excited to see what Brant had in store. I was surprised to find that the storyline between Darcy and Elizabeth seemed to be swapped somewhat with the plot between Jane and Bingley, but this didn’t seem to detract from the flow of the work at all. In fact, it made me read faster. After a while, the old Darcy and Elizabeth I’ve come to know and love made their appearance, as the story made a course correction and we came back into familiar territory. When this was coupled with references to Roman Holiday and high tea, I began to feel like I was reading a book that was a greatest hits of all the things I love in life. Brant couldn’t have done a better job at pulling me into the story and keeping me hooked until the end. I loved how her work was different enough that I felt really out of my element at first, but then brought back to the themes of compassion, forgiveness, and love that really hold Darcy and Elizabeth together. This was an amazingly smart move that left me more than satisfied at the end of this work. In fact, I liked this book so much that I delayed watching the season 3 premiere of Downton Abbey!! (This is a huge deal) In all, if you’re up for a new and exciting change in the P&P variation world, I strongly suggest that you give this a try. Who doesn’t love a fresh look at our Darcy and Elizabeth?

5 out of 5 Stars

Pride, Prejudice, and the Perfect Match, by Marilyn Brant
White Soup Press (2013)
eBook (167) pages
Nook: BN ID: 2940016076669
Kindle: ASIN: B00AYLN5TI

© 2013 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose

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

Hidden Paradise, by Janet Mullany – A Review

Hidden Paradise, by Janet Mullany (2012)From the desk of Christina Boyd.

Austenesque and romance writer Janet Mullany dives headfirst into erotica genre in her latest release, Hidden Paradise.

Warning:  Dear readers, please avert your eyes if your genteel sensibilities are offended by a romance novel that might be classified in the same arena as Fifty Shades of Gray.

Disturbingly, the book opens in the throes of a ribald sex scene – without even a “how do you do” – only to be awoken by a phone call from a friend in England! Thusly, we are finally introduced to the recently widowed Louisa Connelly, Jane Austen expert, who is to be the honored guest at Paradise Hall, an English resort and spa, catering to the Austen enthusiast.  Hmmmmmm? Sound vaguely reminiscent of Shannon Hale’s bestseller, Austenland?  However, dressing up in authentic Regency-style clothing and experiencing everything Austen in a real Georgian country manor – similarities end there.  For one, Paradise Hall is no secret, exclusive get-away as the proprietors are most assuredly determined in getting the word out to potential guests… Enter Mac Salazar, handsome, lusty journalist whose middle name just happens to be Darcy!

Although, it has only been a few months into her mourning, Lou escapes her Montana ranch, and accepts to give a trial run of the place and give her Jane Austen stamp of “authenticity” for her friends and proprietors, Peter and Chris. Moreover, she hopes to encounter her late husband’s shade in the very place they had once planned to visit together.  But almost within the first few hours of being on the property, she realizes that this experience might be a bit more eye opening than she first expected when she secrets upon a couple coitus a la vache.  And she stays to watch! Later when she is formally introduced, it doesn’t take Einstein to surmise Mac Darcy Salazar is the resident lothario, noting that his historically accurate britches betray his virile reflex constitutionally inclined to passion.  “‘It’s an interesting concept, time travel with no chance of getting stuck in the past, or treading on a bug and changing the course of history.’  ‘It’s a very sexy period.’  She was halfway down another glass now and the room was beginning to take on a subtle, mellow glow that was half sunset, half alcohol. ‘Mainly because in popular culture, of course.  People say there’s no sex in Austen.  They’re wrong.  Her books are full of sex, but it’s all subsex.  Subtext.’ ‘That’s the champagne talking.’” p. 40.   Lou, willing Paradise Hall as all fantasy and nothing more, is determined what better place to satiate her own pangs of lust. And loneliness. It just so happens that Mac happens to be charming.  Smart.  And unbeknownst to the world around him, in search of something more substantial than romp after romp.

And what would a Georgian country manor be without a handsome footman, or three?  The story is full of romance: guests with other guests, guests with employees, employees with employees – all of accommodating morals; the occasional menage et trois; and an abundance of modern sense and sensuality.  “Look, Lou, was that it? A quick snog?”  “You know where my room is.”  The worlds tumbled out of her mouth before she could stop herself.  It all seemed so uncomplicated, all of the sudden – she liked him, she desired him, and in a week or so she’d go back to the States and he’d go to Cambridge at the end of the summer.” p. 99.  The “Upstairs Downstairs” style narration, told from the different characters’ points of view, flows seamlessly and keeps you turning pages.

Just as I thought that this was your basic run of the mill, decadent Harlequin fluff, Mullany would throw a story twist or two, derailing my predictions and re-igniting my interest.  Under the floorboards of this ancient house, amidst centuries of dust, Lou unearths the words “Passion” and “Inconstancy” – two words written in Austen’s own hand that are certain to rock the literary world and change everything we know or have surmised about our dear Jane.  And another discovery, that just as poignantly changes all she has known and loved!

Hidden Paradise is a well-developed story from beginning to end with lots of steam for the wanton reader. My feminine sensibilities were not despoiled in any way by the reading of this lascivious romance.  However, some of you who choose to yield to this amusing, amorous tale might prefer to either cover the book with a plain brown wrapper or simply turn back the cover. I however just told my loved ones, “Avert your eyes…  Nothing to see here.”  Blush-blush. I think if you enjoyed Linda Berdoll’s Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife, then I am confident you can manage the adult content in Hidden Paradise – perfect fireside indulgence for these brisk, autumnal days.

4.5 out of 5 Steamy Stars

Hidden Paradise, by Janet Mullany
Harlequin (2012)
Trade paperback (320) pages
ISBN: 978-0373777198

© 2012 Christina Boyd, Austenprose

Compulsively Mr. Darcy Blog Tour with Author Nina Benneton, & Giveaway!

Compulsively Mr. Darcy, by Nina Benneton (2012)There are a lot of Mr. Darcy novels out there. Hundreds, in fact. Some are retellings of his side of Pride and Prejudice. Others continue his life at Pemberley after his marriage to Elizabeth Bennet, but, a new Mr. Darcy novel released today has an entirely new twist!

Please join us today in welcoming author Nina Benneton on the first stop in her blog tour in celebration of the release of her debut novel, Compulsively Mr. Darcy published this month by Sourcebooks. Nina has generously shared with us some insights on creating the novel, and offered a giveaway to three lucky readers.

I wish to thank Laurel Ann and Austenprose for inviting me to guest blog today.  It’s an honor.

“There’s no one to touch Jane when you’re in a tight place.” – Rudyard Kipling, “The Janeites” 

Reading and rereading Jane Austen’s works have gotten me out of a few “tight places” in my life.

To quote Lee Siegel in his article, A Writer Who is Good for You, (Atlantic Monthly, January 1998) “…few authors are at the same time so quietly fearsome and so intensely consoling.”

So quietly fearsome and so intensely consoling. That’s exactly how I experience Jane Austen’s works.  As Siegel and the WWI soldiers in Kipling’s “The Janeites” did, I, too, have always found Austen’s writing soothing. Siegel’s words expressed better than I could my reason:  “Austen’s sentences operate inwardly at once—they go into a quiet corner of the mind and out into the busy world.”

I love Austen’s stories for her characters. In particular, her secondary characters. Mrs. Norris in Mansfield Park, General Tilney in Northanger Abbey, Mr. Woodhouse in Emma, Mrs. Jennings in Sense and Sensibility, Sir Walter Elliot in Persuasion, and of course, Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice.  For years, the quirks of Austen’s secondary characters held me captive as a faithful reader. Their foibles and follies appealed to a particular defect in my own personality: my tendency toward irreverence. Austen’s heroes/heroines protagonists and antagonists and their so-called romance were simply plot devices to showcase how funny Sir Walter Elliot, Mr. Woodhouse and Mrs. Jennings were.

At first, Austen’s novels were not romance novels for me. To really escape from tight places, and to get that heart palpitating, swooning, shivering read of a romance, I read genre romance novels. Novels that weren’t assigned by high school English teachers. Novels with covers of women with bosoms more bodacious than mine. Novels with covers of men with hair longer than mine.

Then, during a particular “tight place” period a few years ago, on a shelf in my library, I stumbled across Jane Austen sequel books.

Be still my heart.

I read. I palpitated. I swooned. I shivered.

I searched for more of these stories, on shelves and then online. My space was no longer tight. My mind was no longer quiet. My soul was pierced by the romance of Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennet.

Mr. Darcy’s cropped locks, a la Brutus, replaced Fabio’s mullet. Miss Bennet’s spencer, demure yet still saucy, replaced bodacious bosoms.

Inspired by these writers’ interpretations of Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennet’s romance, I dipped my nib into ink.

A modern interpretation of Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennet’s romance appealed to me. To take beloved, iconic characters and infuse my own irreverent contemporary interpretation, while staying true to the joyful spirit of Austen’s work: what audacious challenge! To go to town on secondary characters: what bliss!

A collision of coincidences gave birth to the beginning setting of Compulsively Mr. Darcy. I’d discovered the addictive nature of reading tabloids at the same time I discovered the addictive nature of Jane Austen sequels.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had just adopted a Vietnamese orphan. What must that been like for the locals to have these rich and famous people come to adopt one of their own?

That’s just like the Netherfield gang arriving in Hertfordshire. The comic potential of Bingley & Darcy and company coming to Vietnam to adopt a trendy Hollywood baby sparked my muse.

I had some familiarity with international adoption and had traveled to Asia and to Vietnam a few years earlier for a visit, I had emotional geography—memory of the cacophony of noises as soon as one left the airport, memory of the zany sight of people riding bikes carrying chickens and pigs, memory of the hilarious sight of a ninety-pounds cyclo driver taxiing an American tourist three sizes his weight through dust-filled streets.  Emotional geography is essential for a writer because the setting is truly another character in any story. I decided to begin the story in Vietnam.  The city of Da Nang replaced Hertfordshire as the setting. Netherfield became Net Thi Phen resort. Marble Mountains replaced the woods at Rosings.

How to interpret and develop the heroine?  From repeated readings of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, what struck me about her Elizabeth Bennet was how quick-to-judge she was, how assured she was in her snap judgment of people. I knew I wanted to explore that aspect of her characterization.

But how to get her to Vietnam? What would she be doing there?  She needed to be more than a tourist. She needed a local, an “expat.”

Write what you know.

I had a classmate, Lisa, who grew up in a nice suburb near Berkeley, California. Lisa went to Africa to work with orphans afflicted with AIDS, and I’ve always admired her for that. Before going to Africa, Lisa had never even traveled beyond the hundred-mile radius of Berkeley (the center of the world to us Berkeley gals!).  Lisa was the smartest girl in the class, and the most innocent, tender-heart person I knew. She’s still there. Lisa is Elizabeth.  It’s fitting. I had to use her as inspiration for my Dr. Elizabeth Bennet.

I didn’t have a specialty for Dr. Elizabeth Bennet until an obsessive-compulsive Mr. Darcy came fully fleshed to me one day. It was sheet-and-blanket laundry day at home, and it occurred to me that, if I were traveling, I wouldn’t have to wash the sheets. My mind jumped to how well and how often hotel sheets were actually washed, at home and abroad, whether at the Super 8 motel near my home or in the four-star resorts in Asia.  From my repeated reading of Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy, I had an impression of an alpha male who liked to be in control.  I decided my hero Mr. Darcy would be control-freak who’d bring his own sheets to hotels.

If my Mr. Darcy was an OCD control-freak, then my Dr. Elizabeth Bennet had to be an infectious disease doctor who’s impulsive as heck to yin his yang.

And that was how Compulsively Mr. Darcy came to be written.

Author Bio:  Nina Benneton was on her way to save the world and earn a Nobel Prize in something, anything, when her own Mr. Darcy and a bevy of beautiful children interrupted her plans. She woke up one day and saw she was too obsessive about alphabetizing her spices and searching for stray Barbie shoes. She turned to writing.

Her debut novel, Compulsively Mr. Darcy, earned a Best Book review from Long and Short Review, “Hands down…a must read for lovers and fans of classic romance.”  Fresh Fiction Review called it a “tenderly written novel.”  Publishers Weekly wrote, “Die-hard fans of everything Austen will enjoy this update of her classic tale.” Visit Nina at her website: Nina Benneton; Facebook: as Nina Benneton; Twitter: as @NinaBenneton; and at Austen Authors.

Giveaway of Compulsively Mr. Darcy

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Compulsively Mr. Darcy, by Nina Benneton by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about this new retelling of Pride and Prejudice, or which character in the original novel you love or hate, by 11:59 PT, Wednesday, February 15, 2012. Winner announced on Thursday, February 16, 2012. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

Compulsively Mr. Darcy, by Nina Benneton
Sourcebooks (2012)
Trade paperback (352) pages
ISBN: 978-1402262494
Nook: ISBN: 978-1402262500
Kindle: ASIN: B006IBFYGU

© 2007 – 2012 Nina Benneton, Austenprose

Jane Austen Made Me Do It, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress – A Review

Jane Austen Made Me Do It , edited by Laurel Ann Nattress 2011Guest review by Christina Boyd

“It is only a novel… or, in short, some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language.”  Northanger Abbey, Volume 1, Chapter 5

Jane Austen Made Me Do It, Original Stories Inspired by Literature‘s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart is a collection of twenty-two original Jane Austen-inspired stories including contributions from best-selling authors Pamela Aidan, Stephanie Barron, Carrie Bebris, Laurie Viera Rigler and Lauren Willig.  Editor Laurel Ann Nattress, and blog mistress of Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog, has assembled her dream team of authors and for this anthology asking them to “stay within the theme of exploring Austen’s philosophies of life and love by reacquainting readers with characters from her novels or introducing original stories inspired by her ideals.  From historical to contemporary to young-adult fiction to paranormal, five of the major novels and Austen’s life are featured in this anthology,” p. xiv.  In addition, one story by a previously unpublished author, Brenna Aubrey, was picked as Grand Prize winner via a contest hosted by the Austen fan site Pemberley.com.  With such a significant range in this compilation, surely one would agree, “One cannot have too large a party.  A large party secures its own amusement.”  Emma, Volume 3, Chapter 6

On my first reading of this anthology, I must admit that I singled out my favorite authors first.  Yes, yes. I realize out of order was not how the editor intended it to be read, but, “One man’s way may be as good as anothers, but we all like our own best.”  Persuasion, Volume 2, Chapter 1.  So of course, for me, I began with “Jane & the Gentleman Rogue,” by Stephanie Barron. What can I say? You had me with the title. Anything that has more of the Gentleman Rogue must be 5 stars. This was a terrific “fragment of a Jane Austen Mystery” chocked full of treason and breathless intrigue, that Barron surely knocked out of the park!

Another stand out was “Letters to Lydia” by Maya Slater.  In the spirit of Jane Austen’s much studied remaining correspondence, these are letters from Pride and Prejudice’s minor character Maria Lucas, the younger sister of Mrs. William Collins, nee Miss Charlotte Lucas to Elizabeth Bennet’s youngest and wildest sister, Lydia Bennet. Loved, loved, loved how I could truly hear Maria’s voice as she recounts a supposed secret Love Affair and tryst between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet– and how she unwittingly “helped them along.” (Bonus points for Mr. Collins’ lisp!)

“Jane Austen and the Mistletoe Kiss,” by Jo Beverley was a definite favorite. Flowing with Austen-like brilliance, this tale about a genteel, but impoverished, widow and her three daughters who have an amiable, rich neighbor who often meet was CHARMING from beginning to end.  Anytime there is a clear, happy ending, preferably resulting marriage, I am bound to be enchanted!

I was totally caught unawares by the cleverness in “What Would Austen Do?,” by Jane Rubino & Caitlen Rubino-Bradway.  A contemporary story about a teenage boy who inadvertently signs up for a Country Dance for Beginners class (and not the “Boot, Scoot, Boogie” kind of country dance!) and must learn how to make the most of this summer experience.  Fortunately, his keen wit and willingness to read Austen’s novels helps him  befriend the new girl in town.  Just loved! ALL OF IT! Fantastic– a teenage hero quoting Austen appropriately and with a terrific moral ending?  Even better, the authors biography states that they are currently developing “What Would Austen Do?” into a full length novel!

But, “All Merit you know is comparative,” Catharine.  In such a large collection of works there is bound to be a slight disappointment or two. While reading “Me and Mr. Darcy, Again,” a short extension of the novel, “Me and Mr. Darcy,” by Alexander Potter, I suffered not just a little discomfort with the idea that a now married Mr. Darcy is wandering outside heroine Emily’s hotel at night, staring up at her room, still carrying some sort of torch for her. In the end, Mr. Darcy does act honorably, and even charitably, in bringing about a happy resolution, but its conclusion was rather “vague.” But I liked the story, despite myself.  “A fondness for reading… must be an education in itself.” Mansfield Park, Volume 1, Chapter 2

I was somewhat under-whelmed by Pamela Aidan’s “The Riding Habit” as the now married Mr. Darcy seems to steam roll wife Elizabeth into riding, an activity she somewhat fears and takes no joy in. I also found it strangely odd that the pinnacle riding accident would bring about such a comparison to an upcoming ball and how she can surely expect the support of her loved ones around her.  Indeed?  Don’t get me wrong: Aiden’s writing style, language and cadence is pitch-perfect as ever.  Beautiful even. I simply found the story disjointed from the Darcy and Elizabeth she wrote so well of in her awe-inspiring, tremendously popular trilogy, Fitzwilliam Darcy, GentlemanHowever, “One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.”  Emma, Volume 1, Chapter 9

Still, there are a surfeit of solidly entertaining, easy to love stories.  Syrie James’ highly amusing “Jane Austen’s Nightmare” is just that!  While sleeping, our dear Jane is beset with characters from her novels, all with complaints on how she has represented their person. I particularly delighted in how the dream inspires her to write Persuasion.

One of the stories inspired by Persuasion is Margaret C. Sullivan‘s “Heard of You.”  I found this smart telling of how Admiral Croft and the former Miss Sophia Wentworth met as exciting at sea, as it was in the ballroom; making me sigh in all the right places!

“The Chase” by Carrie Bebris did not disappoint! Her depiction of a riveting and historic sea battle had me on the edge of my seat; truly captivated by this insight of how Jane Austen’s brother Frank became post-captain.

Laurie Viera Rigler offers the wickedly satirical and campy “Intolerable Stupidity” that imagines a courtroom drama where Mr. Darcy sues authors of Pride and Prejudice spin-offs for how they have sketched his character.  Of course, the honorable Lady Catherine de Bourgh presides!

The anthology opens with an introduction by the editor, Laurel Ann Nattress, as she pays deference to Jane Austen as well as the many novels, sub-genre and films Austen has inspired.  Nattress shares how she came to love Austen’s work in the ‘80s and how Austen has since catapulted to “megastar status” by means of “her strongest catalyst: the Internet and a wet shirt.” p. xii.  Also, I took particular delight in the Readers Guide where the 22 contributing authors selected their favorite Austen quote. It was as if taking a stroll down memory lane with a dear friend. Reading groups and book clubs will find the Questions and Topics for Discussion pages beneficial.

The Austen Legacy continues to grow and this collection of wonderful short stories is a brilliant tribute.  Janeites and historical fiction readers alike will inhale this book!  But with a dream team of Austen inspired writers under the deft editing skills of Laurel Ann Nattress, how could this be anything but a grand slam!  “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”  Northanger Abbey, Volume 1, Chapter 14

Authors included: Lauren Willig • Adriana Trigiani • Jo Beverley • Alexandra Potter • Laurie Viera Rigler • Frank Delaney & Diane Meier • Syrie James • Stephanie Barron • Amanda Grange • Pamela Aidan • Elizabeth Aston • Carrie Bebris • Diana Birchall • Monica Fairview • Janet Mullany • Jane Odiwe • Beth Pattillo • Myretta Robens • Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway • Maya Slater • Margaret C. Sullivan • and Brenna Aubrey, the winner of a story contest hosted by the Republic of Pemberley

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
Ballantine Books (2011)
Trade paperback (446) pages
ISBN: 978-0345524966

Christina Boyd lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her dear Mr. B, two youngish children and a Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Bibi.  She studied Fine Art at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Salisbury University in Maryland. Although life has taken her on a merry adventure through a myriad of careers including modeling, flight attending, marketing & sales, owning a paint-it-yourself ceramic studio… she has for the last nine years created and sold her own pottery line from her working studio. Albeit she read Jane Austen as a moody teenager, it wasn’t until Joe Wright’s 2005 movie of Pride & Prejudice that sparked her interest in all things Austen.  A life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, Christina has read and owns well over 200 Austen inspired novels… and cannot comprehend the neglect of the collection in such days as these.  Visiting Jane Austen’s England remains on her bucket list.

© 2007 – 2011 Christina Boyd, Austenprose

Giveaway Winners Announced for Persuade Me

Persuade Me (Darcy & Friends 2), by Juliet Archer (2011)53 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win a copy of Persuade Me, by Juliet Archer. The winners drawn at random are:

  • Luthien who left a comment on September 16, 2011
  • Jenny the Librarian who left a comment on September 16, 2011
  • Stella (Ex Libris) who left a comment on September 16, 2011

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by October 5th, 2011. Shipment worldwide.

Many thanks to Juliet Archer for her great blog on her new novel Persuade Me and to all who left comments. I for one am very curious to meet a modern-day Captain Wentworth.

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Persuade Me (Darcy & Friends 2), by Juliet Archer – A Review

Persuade Me (Darcy & Friends 2), by Juliet Archer (2011)Guest review by Jeffrey Ward

Author Juliet Archer has undertaken the daunting task of re-writing Jane Austen’s classic novels with a modern and contemporary twist. Her first novel in the series, The Importance of Being Emma (2008), was warmly embraced. Now, Persuade Me is the second offering in her Darcy & Friends series.  Reading Persuade Me was like gazing with admiration at any one of my six grandchildren.  There before me are reminders of some of the best-loved features of my own children but lovingly arranged fresh and new. As I began the 341 page odyssey I thought to myself “What can possibly be so entertaining and compelling about a story that you already know the outcome of?”

First, Archer has wisely chosen to drape her updated story on the framework of what this reviewer considers Miss Austen’s greatest love story.  The faithfulness and accuracy to which she closely marks her contemporary story line to Jane Austen’s original is quite astonishing.

Second, it is my conviction that a reader who perchance has never read any of Jane Austen’s works would consider Persuade Me as a stand-alone story of remarkable strength, humor, emotion, suspense, and depth-of-feeling. It is also a testament to the author’s writing skill that we read greater insights into the character and feelings of the hero which are somewhat absent in the original.

The Author sets the stage with Dr. Rick Wentworth, (Capt Frederick Wentworth) an eminent marine biologist who has been working in Australia for the past ten years and still struggling to forget his first love: Anna Elliot.  He has published a best-selling book on his research and is returning to England for a book-signing tour.  It is inevitable that he once again encounters Anna Elliot who is a lecturer in Russian studies at Bath & Western University. She treats her noble heritage with more contempt than pride because it was the threatened reputation of her titled family that forcibly separated the lovers a decade ago. They finally meet again at Uppercross, the home of Rick’s sister, Sophie Croft.  Rick tries not to remember but cannot help himself….

Her voice – and the years crumbled away … He was jumping over the rocks to be with her and she was saying ‘Careful, Rick.’  She never shouted, never had to; he always heard her, as if his brain was tuned to a special frequency … Other memories intruded.  On the boat, just the two of them.  His voice, strangely hesitant: ‘My grandmother used to say – if you can’t be good, be careful.’  And her laugh, soft and seductive, like her skin against his: ‘Well then, we’d better careful, hadn’t we?’ page 89

Anna Elliot (Anne Elliot) is the middle daughter of Sir Walter Elliot, the eighth Baronet of Kellynch, and her deceased mother, Princess Irina Grigoryevna Petrova, a descendent of the Russian aristocracy.  Her present situation parallels Rick’s in that she is also living in the past with what might have been…

“Somewhere deep down was another Anna, the one she’d been at eighteen during that summer in France.  The one Rick Wentworth had coaxed into being, then left to shrivel and die.  And she hadn’t really looked at another man since.  Oh she’d tried; at Oxford there’d been a few boyfriends, but they simply couldn’t compare.  It was like warming yourself on a radiator when you were used to basking in the sun.  She’d grown accustomed to it now, this quiet longing for another life.” page 34

Juliet Archer honors the legacy of the original novel by respectfully maintaining what I believe to be the original artistic intent of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. ALL the unforgettable content is gloriously revisited in Persuade Me:  The story line with its melancholy mood, sense of longing, and anticipation, the characters, the anecdotes, the locations….EVERYTHING is in there down to the minutest detail!  Revisit Kellynch and its environs, Bath, Uppercross, Lyme Regis and the Cobb.  Relive the situations: the party at the Musgrove’s, the walk in the country, the nephew firmly attached to Anna’s neck, the accident on the  Cobb, the encounter at the theater in Bath, the emotional dialogue between Anna and Ben (Capt Harville) and finally the letter….yes, that wonderfully soul piercing LETTER!  Every single one of the people in Persuasion lovingly reappear in Persuade Me: Sir Walter Elliot and his daughter Elizabeth in all of their excessive vanity, Lady Russell, the Crofts, Mrs. Clay, the Musgroves, Mrs. Smith, Benwick, Harville, Lady Dalrymple, the adorable Musgrove nephews, William Elliot, and best of all – Anna & Rick.

Is Persuade Me a “new old story” or an “old new story?”  Whatever you consider it, I hope I have “persuaded” you to add this impressive offering to your stack of must-reads.

 5 out of 5 Stars

Persuade Me (Darcy & Friends 2), by Juliet Archer
Choc Lit (2011)
Trade paperback (416) pages
ISBN: 978-1906931216

Jeffrey Ward, 65, native San Franciscan living near Atlanta, married 40 years, two adult children, six grandchildren, Vietnam Veteran, degree in Communications from the University of Washington, and presently a Facilitator/designer for the world’s largest regional airline.  His love affair with Miss Austen began about 3 years ago when, out of boredom, he picked up his daughter’s dusty college copy of Emma and he was “off to the races.”

© 2007 – 2011 Jeffrey Ward, Austenprose

Persuade Me (Darcy & Friends 2) blog tour with author Juliet Archer

Persuade Me (Darcy & Friends 2), by Juliet Archer (2011)Please join us today in welcoming author Juliet Archer on her blog tour in celebration of the release of Persuade Me, the second book in her Darcy & Friends contemporary series published today in the UK by Choc Lit.

I’m thrilled to be here at Austenprose – thank you, Laurel Ann, for inviting me and ‘hi’ to everyone out there!

By the time you read this, I’ll be at the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath. My burning question is – will it rain, so that Captain Frederick Wentworth can offer me his umbrella? Because, weather permitting, I’m doing two guided walking tours of central Bath, visiting the places that Austen made famous in the original Persuasion and some additional ones that I’ve used in my contemporary version, Persuade Me. We’ll be going to Milsom Street (where the fictional Molland’s is located), the Pump Room, the Theatre Royal (I’ve substituted a play there for Austen’s concert at the Assembly Rooms), the Royal Crescent Hotel, and so on.

Which leads to another question: what inspired me to modernise Persuasion? I can give you the answer in two words – Captain Wentworth. Man of action, man in uniform, striding about the English countryside with a pierced soul and an almost broken heart – what more could we wish for, especially when he’s brought to life on the small screen by Ciarán Hinds or Rupert Penry Jones?

You see, although I have every intention of updating Pride & Prejudice, for the moment my focus is on Austen’s other novels. And I know there are plenty of readers who are looking for occasional distractions from Mr Darcy. I’ve already updated Emma (The Importance of Being Emma (2008)) and PersuasionNorthanger Abbey‘s next.

However, I reserve the right to ‘darcify’ a hero if I think he needs it. Take Mr Knightley – the man on the page, rather than the portrayals on film. Old enough (technically) to be the heroine’s father, lurking around for twenty-one years without any sign of interest in the opposite sex, then winning Emma over with the immortal line, ‘God knows, I have been a very indifferent lover’!

I wanted to keep Knightley’s essential character, of course; but he needed to have more obvious attractions for the modern reader – who may or may not know Austen’s original. So I gave my Knightley a makeover: cut the age difference between him and Emma; boosted his sex appeal by introducing a glamorous girlfriend; and, to justify Emma’s apparent inability to fancy him for most of the novel, fabricated an episode in their past, where he unthinkingly humiliated her in a big-brotherly fashion.

With Wentworth, on the other hand, it was simply a case of bringing him bang up to date. I suppose the modern equivalent of the Napoleonic Wars would have been Iraq or Afghanistan, but I gave my Dr Rick Wentworth a different career completely. Still sea-related – he’s a marine biologist – and one that takes him to the other side of the world from England: Australia, the only place where he can study those tiny, beautiful sea dragons in the wild. In Persuade Me, it’s his passion for marine conservation that’s brought him fame and fortune, thanks to the media’s fascination with hunky scientists.

After many years, Rick’s back in England – but only to promote his book and open his sister Sophie’s new garden centre. He has no plans to look up Anna Elliot, the girl who ditched him at the insistence of her disapproving family.

And then, unexpectedly, their paths cross …

Well, you know the rest! But this is Jane Austen for the 21stcentury, with fresh insights into the hearts and minds of her heroes. The same characters now have to cope with mobile phones, the Internet and far more liberated attitudes to social and sexual interaction. Yet some things never change: the vanity of Sir Walter Elliot, 8th Baronet; the wilfulness of Louisa Musgrove; Anna’s quiet longing for another life.

My publisher Choc Lit – ‘where the heroes are like chocolate – irresistible!’ – has 3 copies of Persuade Me to give away worldwide. To have a chance of winning, please leave a comment saying what you like, or dislike, most about Persuasion.

And I’d love to hear what you think of Persuade Me. Just drop me an email – juliet@julietarcher.com – or post a review on Amazon.

Thank you for listening – it’s been lovely ‘chatting’ with you!

Juliet Archer

Author Juliet Archer (2011)Author Bio:

Juliet Archer is a 19th-century mind in a 21st-century body. Actually, some days it’s the other way round. She’s on a mission to modernise all six of Jane Austen’s completed novels, in a series called ‘Darcy & Friends’.

Her debut novel was The Importance of Being Emma, inspired by Austen’s Emma and a desire to give Mr. Knightley a makeover. It was shortlisted for the 2009 Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance. The second novel in the series, Persuade Me, will be published on 15th September, 2011, and she is currently writing the next retelling in the series, Northanger Nights.

Juliet was born and bred in North-East England and now lives in Hertfordshire, Pride & Prejudice country. Unlike Anne Elliot in Persuasion, she resisted well-meant advice and married young, before graduating from the University of Nottingham with a First in French and Russian. A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Jane Austen Society, her non-writing career has spanned IT, acquisitions analysist, copy editing, marketing and project management, providing plenty of background for her novels.

Visit Juliet at her website Juliet Archer, on Twitter as @JulietArcher and on Facebook as Juliet Archer.

Grand Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Persuade Me by leaving a comment stating what you like or dislike most about Jane Austen’s original novel Persuasion by midnight PT, Wednesday, September 28th, 2011. Winners to be announced on Thursday, September 29th, 2010. International shipment. Good luck!

Persuade Me (Darcy & Friends 2), by Juliet Archer
Choc Lit (2011)
Trade paperback (416) pages
ISBN: 978-1906931216

© 2007 – 2011 Juliet Archer, Austenprose

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star, by Heather Lynn Rigaud – A Review

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star, by Heather Lynn Rigaud (2011)Guest review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder of Reflections of a Book Addict

When you think of Rock ’N’ Roll, two things besides music come to mind: sex and drugs.  Now think of Rock ‘N’ Roll and throw in the characters of our beloved Pride and Prejudice.  Yes, you read that right, Pride and Prejudice plus sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.  Such is the premise for Fitzwilliam Darcy: Rock Star, the innovative, contemporary retelling of P&P by author Heather Lynn Rigaud.

Fitzwilliam Darcy is the guitar god of Slurry, a rock band that also includes singer Charles Bingley and drummer Richard Fitzwilliam.  The three have a reputation of being hard partiers that enjoy a steady rotation of women, as well as being extremely difficult to work with.  A week before the next leg of their tour they are scrambling to find a new opening act when they come across Long Borne Suffering, a girl rock group consisting of sisters Elizabeth and Jane Bingley, as well as drummer Charlotte Lucas.  The girls sign on to be the new opening act and begin touring with Slurry.  Charlotte and Richard begin a very casual sexual relationship while Charles and Jane fall head over heels in love.  Elizabeth and Darcy are on the outs, as they don’t get along due to Elizabeth overhearing some nasty remarks Darcy made about the three girls.  Friendship happily ensues amongst both groups (with the exception of Darcy and Elizabeth), and creates an enjoyable touring experience for the groups.  All is well until the girls find success and begin recording videos with director George Wickham.  Wickham starts to show attention to Elizabeth, which makes Darcy realize that he has to tell her his true feelings, as well as the truth about what Wickham really is.  He fears that the missteps from the beginning of their relationship are already strikes against him, and he’s nervous that Elizabeth won’t reciprocate how he feels.  Will Elizabeth ever know Darcy’s true feelings?  Will the relationship between the two destroy the camaraderie that has formed between the bands?  Will there be any happy endings for Charles, Jane, Charlotte, and Richard?

Reader, take note: there is a LOT of sex in this book.  If you’re able to go into reading the book knowing that it’s going to be a super steamy novel, then I’m sure you can find pleasure in the storyline.  I think the plot of the novel was strong enough to have stood on its own, but I guess sex is part of rock ‘n’ roll, and was included accordingly.  Sex aside, the plot of the book is actually quite enjoyable.  It really did take the story Austen wrote and make it modern and contemporary.  The idea of making both Elizabeth and Darcy guitar virtuosos, and having them connect on a musical level before they could connect on a personal level was very intriguing.  It added a dimension to their characterizations that was really believable as many musicians find their passion for music to be a catalyst in their personal lives.

I have to be honest and say that I disliked some of the character changes that went on in the book. (spoilers ahead)  Richard Fitzwilliam is a legitimate sex addict and Charlotte Lucas is an S&M freakazoid.  Those two things were a little bit hard to swallow, and skewed the previous views I had of both these characters in my mind.  The decision to make George Wickham a pedophile really creeped me out.  All of the changes that Rigaud made were made on such an extreme level that the storyline became way too over the top for me.

While the concept and plot behind Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star was incredibly innovative, as a veteran Austenesque reader I found the changes were too drastic and unbelievable from the original and took away from the pleasure I expected in reading this novel.

3 out of 5 Stars

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star, by Heather Lynn Rigaud
Sourcebooks (2011)
Trade paperback (432) pages
ISBN: 978-1402257810

© 2007 – 2011 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose