Only Mr. Darcy Will Do, by Kara Louise – A Review

Only Mr. Darcy Will Do, by Kara Louise (2011)Guest review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder of Reflections of a Book Addict

Many Pride and Prejudice fans often have “what if” moments.  What if Elizabeth accepted Darcy the first time?  What if they had met previously and were kind to each other?  What if Elizabeth was forced to accept Darcy, knowing he was still very proud?  Author Kara Louise has answered some of these questions and more in her six Pride and Prejudice variation novels.  Only Mr. Darcy Will Do, originally tiled Something Like Regret, is the second of author Kara Louise’s self-published novels to be re-issued by Sourcebooks.  Her first novel Darcy’s Voyage quickly gained her notoriety in the Austen fan fiction world as an incredibly creative variation author.

A year after his disastrous proposal to Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy is returning to Rosings Park for his annual sojourn to his aunt’s grand estate.  During his journey he reflects upon his last visit and wonders what Elizabeth Bennet is doing now.   He has no idea that she is now working as a governess in London for the Willstone Family.  Mrs. Bennet’s worst fears about the entail have come true. Mr. Bennet has died the previous spring and the Collins’ have taken possession of Longbourn, displacing the Bennet ladies and forcing Elizabeth to find work.  Her sister Jane now lives with their Aunt and Uncle Gardiner in London, and Lydia, Mary, Kitty and Mrs. Bennet are residing on the good graces of the Phillips’ in Meryton.

In London Elizabeth often reflects on how different her life would have been had she accepted the proposals of Mr. Collins or Mr. Darcy, acknowledging in her heart that she did the right thing in rejecting them.  She does recall the proposal from Mr. Darcy with sadness, recognizing he might not have been as horrible of a man as she thought.  Her feelings for him soften as she re-reads the “Be not alarmed, Madame,” letter he wrote to her following the proposal.  One evening the Willstones throw a dinner party at which Mr. Bingley and Georgiana Darcy are guests.  Mr. Bingley is shocked to see Elizabeth there as a governess and comes to learn the of Mr. Bennet’s death.  When the party is over Mrs. Willstone’s sister Rosalyn comes to Elizabeth’s room because she is surprised that Elizabeth is acquainted with the Darcy family.  Rosalyn opens up to Elizabeth, telling her that she has been in love with Mr. Darcy her entire life, that from their first meeting she knew he was the man she wanted to marry.  Elizabeth must curb her jealousy and hide her previous dealings with Darcy from Rosalyn for fear that she might lose her job.

Elizabeth soon finds herself thrown into Darcy’s social circle due to his acquaintance with the Willstone’s, which soon results in an invitation for all to Pemberley.  Elizabeth, thinking that Darcy is falling for Rosalyn, tries to tell the family that the invitation is not meant to include her.  They tell her that he specifically invited her as well, thus beginning their journey to Pemberley.  The more time that Elizabeth spends in Darcy’s acquaintance the harder she beings to fall for him.  Her behavior however is checked by Mrs. Willstone as she tells Elizabeth that she is not to join them after dinner, she is after all just a governess.   Will Darcy save her from her dreary life as a governess or is it too late for there to ever be a future between them?

I have to start out first by giving those of you who want to read this novel a quick warning.  You WILL read this book from start to finish in one sitting, so don’t be like me and start it as you’re going to bed.  I didn’t go to sleep until 3:15am, I was that hooked.

I was introduced to Kara Louise with her first novel Darcy’s Voyage and have been anxiously awaiting her next novel.  It couldn’t have come any sooner.  Her writing style is completely captivating.  You become so engrossed in the novel that it’s impossible to put down.  The storyline is so original and so creative.  It’s amazing how asking “what if” to one small section of the story changes the plot entirely.

Even though the plot line is changed, Kara stays true to the characterizations that Austen created. Elizabeth is still strong willed and quick witted while Darcy has checked his pride at the door and just wants to win Elizabeth’s heart.  Bingley and Jane are just as generous and kind as ever, while Lydia is still throwing her virtue all over the place.  Kara introduces many strong and multi-layered new characters that could have been straight from the pages of Austen’s original works, only enhancing the story further.

Creative, engaging and reverent to Austen’s characters, I cannot recommend Only Mr. Darcy Will Do enough.  If you’ve never read anything by this author, then I highly suggest you jump on the bandwagon and read everything she’s written.  There is a rumor going around that Sourcebooks might pick up another of her self-published books, and let me tell you, it would be an incredibly smart move on their part if they did.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

Only Mr. Darcy Will Do, by Kara Louise
Sourcebooks (2011)
Trade paperback (368) pages
ISBN: 9781402241031

2007 – 2010 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose

Announcing the Jane Austen Made Me Do It Short Story Contest

Jane Austen Made Me Do It Short Story Contest 2011 graphicThe Jane Austen Made Me Do It

Short Story Contest Begins

January 1, 2011

In conjunction with the publication of the new anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It, Ballantine Books, Austenprose.com, and The Republic of Pemberley are pleased to announce an online short story contest.  Enter for a chance to win the Grand Prize: publication of your entry in the anthology – a collection of original short stories inspired by the life and works of popular English novelist Jane Austen (1775-1817).  Hosted by the Jane Austen web site The Republic of Pemberley, the contest begins on January 1, 2011. Publication of Jane Austen Made Me Do It is tentatively scheduled for publication by Ballantine in Fall 2011.

Contest Highlights

  • Eligibility: Previously unpublished U.S. residents over the age of 18
  • Entries must be approximately 5,000 words in length
  • Manuscript submission January 1 – February 13, 2011
  • Voting for the Top Ten finalists February 14 – 28, 2011
  • Top Ten finalists announced on March 1, 2011
  • One Grand Prize winner receives $500.00 and a contract for publication in the anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It
  • Grand Prize winner announced Fall 2011 in conjunction with the official release by Ballantine Books (Random House, Inc.) of Jane Austen Made Me Do It

Jane Austen Made Me Do It contains more than twenty best-selling and popular authors who have contributed short stories inspired by Jane Austen, her novels and her philosophies of life and love. From historical continuations of her plots and characters to contemporary spinoffs and comedies, the stories encapsulate what we love about our favorite author: romance, social satire and witty humor. Contributing to the line-up are best-selling authors Karen Joy Fowler (The Jane Austen Book Club), Adriana Trigiani (Brava, Valentine), Lauren Willig (The Pink Carnation series), Laurie Viera Rigler (The Jane Austen Addict series), Syrie James (The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen), Stephanie Barron (Being A Jane Austen Mystery series), and the husband and wife writing team of Frank Delaney (Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show) and Diane Meier (The Season of Second Chances). Many Austenesque authors and others from related genres have also contributed stories to the project. One spot in the anthology remains open for the lucky Grand Prize winner.

The anthology’s editor, Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose.com, is very excited at the prospect of discovering the next star in the burgeoning sub-genre of Jane Austen sequels and inspired books. “Jane Austen has been inspiring writers for close to two hundred years. It seems quite fitting that she should be the witty muse of our anthology and short story contest. Encouraging writing and discovering new talent is in spirit with her true legacy. I am ‘all anticipation’ of what will develop, and am honored to be part of the selection team.”

Visit the official Jane Austen Made Me Do It Short Story Contest web page for official contest rules and eligibility requirements.  Best of luck to all entrants.

“[S]uppose as much as you chuse; give a loose to your fancy, indulge your imagination in every possible flight which the subject will afford.” Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 60

The ‘Happy Birthday Jane’ Blog Tour Begins on December 16th

Please join me and fourteen other Jane Austen bloggers and Austenesque authors next Thursday, December 16, 2010 for a celebratory blog tour, Happy Birthday Jane. Yes. Our dear Jane Austen will be 235 year old! Born on a bitterly cold day on the 16th December 1775 at Steventon Rectory near Alton in Hampshire, England, she would later go on to write six major novels that are considered literary masterpieces and the delight of many readers.

Maria Grazia of My Jane Austen Book Club and Fly High blogs is sponsoring the event, which should prove to be a fitting tribute to our favorite author. There will be posts at each of the blogs in celebration and giveaway prizes. Here is the list of the Happy Birthday Jane blog tour:

  1. Adriana Zardini at Jane Austen Sociedad do Brasil
  2. Laurel Ann at Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog
  3. Vic Sanborn at Jane Austen’s World
  4. Katherine Cox at November’s Autumn
  5. Karen Wasylowski at  Karen Wasylowski Blog
  6. Laurie Viera Rigler at Jane Austen Addict Blog
  7. Lynn Shepherd at her Lynn Shepherd Blog
  8. Jane Greensmith at Reading, Writing, Working, Playing
  9. Jane Odiwe at Jane Austen Sequels Blog
  10. Alexa Adams at First Impressions Blog
  11. Regina Jeffers at her Regina Jeffers Blog
  12. Cindy Jones at First Draft Blog
  13. Janet Mullany at Risky Regencies Blog
  14. Maria Grazia at My Jane Austen Book Club Blog
  15. Meredith at Austenesque Reviews

Visit each of the blogs on the tour and discover Happy Birthday posts and tributes to Jane Austen on  December 16th displaying the lovely Happy Birthday Jane graphic created by Adriana Zardini (JASBRA) just for the occasion. If you leave a comment at any or all of the blogs you will enter a chance to win one of the wonderful gifts we are being giving away:

Books – (1 signed copy):

  1. Willoughby’s Return, by Jane Odiwe
  2. Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler
  3. Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler
  4. Murder at Mansfield Park, by Lynn Shepherd
  5. Intimations of Austen, by Jane Greensmith
  6. Darcy’s Passions: Pride and Prejudice Retold Through His Eyes, by Regina Jeffers
  7. First Impressions. A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice, by Alexa Adams
  8. Jane and the Damned, by Janet Mullany
  9. Bespelling Jane Austen, by Janet Mullany

Other gifts:

  1. Austen bag offered by Karen Wasylowski
  2. DVD of Pride & Prejudice 2005 offered by Regina Jeffers
  3. One package of Bingley’s Tea.  (flavor  “Marianne’s Wild Abandon” ) offered by Cindy Jones
  4. DVD of Jane Austen in Manhattan offered by Maria Grazia
  5. Three issues of Jane Austen Regency World offered by Maria Grazia

The giveaway contest ends on December 22nd, 2010.  Winners will be announced on the My Jane Austen Book Club Blog on December 23rd.

Let the celebration begin. Happy Birthday, dear Jane!

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Jane Austen 101: Fan Fiction Web Sites

Jane Austen Fan Club

Today, there are literally 100’s of Jane Austen prequels, sequels, re-tellings, re-imaginings and inspired by published books. Prior to 1995, there were just a few dozen in print. Why the explosion? Blame it on the incredible popularity of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice mini-series and the availability in our own homes of the Internet. The time and temperament were ripe for Jane Austen mania to sweep in and motivate budding authors to write stories inspired by our witty muse of the modern novel, Jane Austen.

Wondering what Jane Austen fan fiction or JAFF is? Generally, they are fictional stories written by fans of a movie, TV series or book that are either published on the Internet or are developed into a novel in a printed or digital book. If they are on the Internet they are published at fan fiction web sites (JAFF, or Jane Austen Fan Fiction web sites) by chapter installments. Readers can add comments as the story progresses and the writer can continue the story until they choose to end it.

There are generally two levels of engagement for authors of fan fiction: pleasure writers or aspiring novelist. Sometimes they are one-in-the same as budding writers discover that others greatly enjoy their stories and then choose to self-publish as a novel, or submit their story to a publisher for publication. Granted that the road to traditional publication can be quite long and arduous for an aspiring novelist, they can continue to write and publish fan fiction on the Internet to develop their readership. I have also seen some published authors post stories for feedback, or for their online fans. OK, this is getting complicated. An author writes fan fiction of their favorite author and then writes fan fiction of the fan fiction for their fans. Oh my!

Many of our popular Austenesque authors got their start at fan fiction web sites. Off the top of my head I can think of Abigail Reynolds of the Pride and Prejudice Variations series, Pamela Aidan of the Fitzwilliam Darcy Gentleman series, Marsha Altman of the Darcys and Bingleys series and Sharon Lathan of the Darcy Saga series, to name a few. Lately, I have noticed that more and more Jane Austen fan fiction writers are moving from Internet fan boards to the self-publishing medium. This is encouragement enough to opine that the fan fiction boards are producing quality work with great potential.

If you would like to check out current stories by Jane Austen fan fiction authors, I highly recommend these web sites.

Jane Austen Fan Fiction Internet Sites:

Further reading on Jane Austen fan fiction and sequels:

Illustration “The Two Camps of Jane Austen Devotees” by Carl Rose, 1949, New York Times

© 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Bespelling Jane Austen, by Mary Balogh, Colleen Gleason, Susan Krinard and Janet Mullany – A Review

Pairing the Jane Austen and paranormal genre’s is a clever concept that has seen some hits and misses over the last few years. Bespelling Jane Austen is a new anthology offering four novellas from romance authors Mary Balogh, Colleen Gleason, Susan Krinard and Janet Mullany adapting Austen novels with a supernatural spin.

Almost Persuaded, by Mary Balogh

Bestselling romance novelist Mary Balogh uses Persuasion, Jane Austen’s tender love story of second chances as the inspiration for her story about Jane Everett, the unmarried and unappreciated middle daughter of the preening Sir Horace Everett of Goodrich Hall. When Royal Army Captain Robert Mitford returns to England after a serious injury in India, he meets Jane triggering memories of past lives together. They soon discover that they are soul mates who have been fated to love and fail until they overcome the impediments to “conquer all with the power of their love of each other.”

Initially I was intrigued by reincarnation as a clever parallel to a second chance at love; after all, it is the ultimate love match do-over. Besides a deus ex machina in the guise of a hidden metal box with documents from a previous life confirming the heroine’s memories, I was unconvinced that Jane and Robert knewn each other before and were destined for one another. Furthermore, when after only one day’s acquaintance they take a roll in the grass, I was pretty certain that they were trapped in the Austenesque version of the movie Ground Hog Day for many, many lives until they could reach enlightenment and the Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth state of Nirvana.

Northanger Castle, by Colleen Gleason

In this parody of Austen’s parody on Gothic fiction Northanger Abbey, heroine Caroline “Caro” Merrill’s wild imagination sees characters from her favorite horrid novels in every new acquaintance and passerby on the streets of Bath. Armed against vampires preying on the innocent in the Pump Room, Caro carries a large reticule stocked with a silver cross, garlic and a wooden stake. With her new friends siblings Isobel and James Thornton and Ellen Henry and her guardian, the aptly nicknamed Lord Rude, she travels for a moonlight picnic to Blaize Abbey and later to Northanger Castle in hopes of confirming Mr. Thornton’s affections, discovering a maiden locked in tower, or at the very least, an evil vampire. Her imaginings come true, but not as she expected.

Colleen Gleason caught the spirit and burlesque comedy of Austen’s novel perfectly, especially in her heroine Caroline whose obsession with Gothic novels and suspicions of evil doings everywhere mirror Austen’s Catherine Morland beautifully. I loved her play on names by upgrading Northanger to a castle and downgrading Blaize to an abbey! This story could have been sweetened by less modern language and more attention to historical detail. Someone needs to inform Ms. Gleason that they did not dance in the Pump Room in Bath, but took the waters and strolled about the room and socialized, and, the homes in Bath are not called Bungalows, but Terraced Houses. Otherwise, this was an adventure worthy of an Austen heroine in the making.

Blood and Prejudice, by Susan Krinard

Lizzy and Darcy’s love story is given some bite in this contemporary retelling of Pride and Prejudice. The Bennet’s still have five unmarried daughters and financial challenges. The family business Bennet Labs is floundering and under hostile takeover by Bingley Pharmaceuticals. Our spirited heroine Elizabeth Bennet is aptly a bookseller at Longbourn Books and Mr. Darcy a financial advisor to Charles Bingley. Also on staff is attorney George Wickham who has a long history with Mr. Darcy that goes back to childhood from the eighteenth-century – yes – two hundred years. He is a vampire whom Darcy converted without consent. Lizzy favors George’s story of Darcy the baddie and the love/hate story begins with Undead overtones that end just as expected, but not quite; — Darcy’s pride is humbled and Lizzy’s prejudice over vampires is removed, but at what cost?

Krinard has a solid understanding of the original story and characters dolling out a sagacious simile like humor coupons to win over the purist who have their guard up. It almost worked. I was amused at the clever prose but not her modern interpretation of the plot. In this instance, unfaithful adherence to Austen’s narrative would have been a bit more interesting. Retellings are tricky, especially of P&P. It is a story that so many know by heart, line for line, and just placing it in current times and mixing it up with Darcy as a vampire is not enough. Written in the first person from Elizabeth Bennet’s perspective, this change from Austen’s narrative voice would have been so much more interesting if Krinard had chosen Darcy’s view with his struggles as vampire instead of Elizabeth’s as a bystander. The ending left a bad taste in my mouth, literally, as Elizabeth ends up being a vampire’s donor doxy, though one assumes that Darcy was quite pleased with the arrangement.

Little to Hex Her, by Janet Mullany

Emma Woodhouse, Jane Austen’s self-possessed heroine from Emma is given a modern make-over as a witch running the Hartfield Dating Agency, a paranormal dating service in Washington D. C.. Emma is still matchmaker unextraordinaire, paring up werewolves, vampires and elves until it appears someone is trying to sabotage her business when money goes missing and event bookings are canceled. Could it be the spurned elf Mr. Elton whom she rejected, the sexy, but dubious vampire Frank Churchill or her ex-boyfriend Mr. Knightley?

Granted that the “handsome, clever and rich” Emma Woodhouse is not the most sympathetic character to begin with, changing the clever to inexperienced and rich to working girl helped me like this modern Emma in a new way. It also did not hurt that Janet Mullany has to be one of the sharpest knives in the Austenesque drawer writing today. Talk about cutting wit! I laughed out loud at her paring of magical creatures to Austen’s originals. Frank Churchill as a sexy vampire? Harriet Smith as insecure werewolf? George Knightley as a wizard who hates his first name? What no zombies? Thank goodness. Austen might have joked that she created a heroine that “no-one but myself will much like,” but Mullany’s Emma was a delightful quirky surprise.

Modern or contemporary, those stories that succeeded (in my estimation) were the ones that took a chance creatively yet reverently remember its inspiration. I think you will find after reading the four novellas in Bespelling Jane Austen that when it comes to Austen and paranormals, “silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way.

3 out of 5 Regency Stars

Bespelling Jane Austen, by Mary Balogh, Colleen Gleason, Susan Krinard and Janet Mullany
HQN Books (2010)
Trade paperback (377) pages
ISBN: 978-0373775019

© 2007 – 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

New Jane Austen Short Story Anthology Announced Today

Hot off the presses is an announcement today in Publishers Weekly of a new Jane Austen short story anthology to be published by Random House in 2011. The collection will include approximately twenty stories inspired by Jane Austen, literature’s witty muse of the modern novel and astute observer of human nature and the heart.

Readers familiar with Austen inspired paraliterature will recognize many popular authors among the list of those contributing and a few surprises from best selling authors who greatly admire Austen’s works. Contributing to the line-up are best selling authors Karen Joy Fowler (Jane Austen Book Club), Stephanie Barron (A Jane Austen Mystery Series), Adriana Trigiani (Brava, Valentine), Lauren Willig (The Pink Carnation Series) and the husband and wife writing team of Frank Delaney (Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show) and Diane Meier (The Season of Second Chances). Approximately twenty Austenesque authors and others from related genres have already committed to the project including:

Pamela Aidan (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman Trilogy)

Elizabeth Aston (Mr. Darcy’s Daughters, & Writing Jane Austen)

Stephanie Barron (A Jane Austen Mystery Series, & The White Garden)

Carrie Bebris (Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mysteries Series)

Diana Birchall (Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma, & Mrs. Elton in America)

Frank Delaney (Shannon, Tipperary, & Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show)

Monica Fairview (The Darcy Cousins, & The Other Mr. Darcy)

Karen Joy Fowler (Jane Austen Book Club, & Wits End)

Amanda Grange (Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, & Mr. Darcy’s Diary)

Syrie James (The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, & The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte)

Diane Meier (The Season of Second Chances)

Janet Mullany (Bespelling Jane Austen, & Rules of Gentility)

Jane Odiwe (Lydia Bennet’s Story, & Willoughby’s Return)

Beth Pattillo (Jane Austen Ruined My Life, & Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart)

Alexandra Potter (Me & Mr. Darcy, & The Two Lives of Miss Charlotte Merryweather: A Novel)

Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino Bradway (Lady Vernon & Her Daughter)

Myretta Robens (Pemberley.com , Just Say Yes, & Once Upon a Sofa)

Maya Slater (The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy)

Margaret C. Sullivan (AustenBlog.com, & The Jane Austen Handbook)

Adriana Trigiani (Brava Valentine, Very Valentine, & Lucia, Lucia)

Laurie Viera Rigler (Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, & Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict)

Lauren Willig (The Pink Carnation Series)

In addition, a short story contest hosted by the venerable The Republic of Pemberley website will be held to fill one slot in the anthology for a new voice in Austenesque fiction. Further details on submission and manuscript deadlines will be posted here and at Pemberley.com.

And if you were wondering how I know so much about the project, I have been secretly working on it for months and will be the editor. I’m the luckiest Janeite in the world!

Cheers, Laurel Ann

© 2007-2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose