A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt of Play with Fire: A Pride & Prejudice Variation, by J. Marie Croft

Play with Fire by J. Marie Croft 2020Good morning Janeites! Please help me welcome Austenesque author J. Marie Croft to Austenprose today in celebration of the release of her Pride and Prejudice-inspired novella, Play with Fire.

J. Marie is well known in the Jane Austen fan fiction world having written novels, a novella, and several short stories. She tends toward imaginative Jane Austen variations in a topsy-turvy style, upending our beloved characters’ lives in a way that will make you laugh-out-loud. Play with Fire is no exception. Just imagine, if you will, the occupants of Netherfield Park during Jane and Elizabeth Bennet’s contracted visit joining together to put on a theatrical, and then totally put aside reproof and just run with it.

This novella is part of the Skirmish and Scandal Series being published by Meryton Press. Recently, we featured another novella in this series, Schemes of Felicity: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Suzan Lauder that I recommend checking out. There are also five additional novellas in the queue that you can learn about on their website. There is lots of great reading ahead for Jane Austen variations fans from this publisher.

The author has kindly offered an exclusive excerpt of Play with Fire. Enjoy, and thank you for visiting today.   

Madness! It was nothing but madness from beginning to end, and Darcy was caught up in it.

What do occupants of Netherfield Park do on a dreary Saturday while the Bennet sisters are still in residence and they have nothing at all to do? They take a page from “Mansfield Park,” of course, and decide on a theatrical.

In the process of planning and performing the play, certain participants get more than a little carried away, especially Fitzwilliam Darcy where Elizabeth Bennet is concerned. There might even be a kiss…and a skirmish…leading to a duel.

No one involved in the play had set out with the intention of creating a scandal. None performing in the theatrical began with the aim of ending with blushing faces, or bruised bodies, or blemishes on their reputations.

Blame it on “The Mesalliance.”

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Guest Blog & Giveaway of As Only Mr. Darcy Can: A Pride and Prejudice Regency Romp, by Laura Hile

As Only Mr. Darcy Can by Laura Hile 2020Hey-ho gentle readers. I am happy to welcome author Laura Hile back to Austenprose today in celebration of her next Austenesque novel, As Only Mr. Darcy Can. Laura is a popular novelist in the genre having published several Jane Austen-inspired books. Her last title was So This Is Love which was featured here in on Austenprose in June.

As only Mr. Darcy Can presents Laura’s trademark exuberance and humor. She has subtitled it A Pride and Prejudice Regency Romp so we can look forward to a fast-paced and surprising read.

Laura Hile has generously supplied a guest blog to share her insights on the novel and a giveaway chance for one digital copy. The details of the book and the giveaway are listed below. Good look to all. Enjoy!

What a tangled web!

Mr. Darcy’s departure has solved nothing. He loves Elizabeth Bennet as much as ever—and he has left her vulnerable to Wickham’s lies. Why not send her a warning? Anonymously, of course. He must conquer his obsession, yet he must also do something to protect her.

But when Darcy is dunned for a bill of Wickham’s—an old trick—he sends the magistrate’s men with a warrant. Wickham, however, is nowhere to be found. At the same time, a titled lady appears in Hunsford. Why does she look so familiar? What of her pointed interest in Darcy’s sister? Is there anyone who will believe what Darcy suspects?

Elizabeth has her hands full when she comes to Hunsford. Her army-mad youngest sister causes trouble everywhere! What is more, those cryptic Valentines keep arriving. And then there is Mr. Darcy, a man she is determined to dislike. Why must his suspicions about the unknown lady match hers? Sparks fly as she joins forces with him to discover a truth that is both laughable and treacherous.

As for being at odds with Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth’s heart has other ideas. Will a nonsensical demand ruin what has grown up between them?

As Only Mr. Darcy Can is a feel-good Regency romp, featuring all your friends from Pride and Prejudice. Intrigue, romance, and laughter are waiting for you.

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Cover Reveal and Exclusive Excerpt of The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet: Book 1, by Katherine Cowley

Hey-ho Janeites! It is no secret that Jane Austen fans crave more stories about her beloved characters from Pride and Prejudice. Novels inspired by Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet now number too many to even attempt to count. Next in line in popularity from the Bennet family is middle sister Mary. Surprised? Think again! She is conflicted and complicated in the original and that always makes for an interesting heroine.

Next up in the long line of Mary makeover novels is The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet, by debut novelist Katherine Cowley. However, this novel is not your typical “let’s fix Mary” fare. In this instance, with the help of relatives, Mary meets new challenges that take her away from her family home at Longbourn and make her look outside of her past life while she solves some mysteries.

I am very happy to welcome author Katherine Cowley to Austenprose for the first time. She and her publisher have graciously honored us with the official cover reveal and an exclusive excerpt of this enchanting new novel that releases in April 2021. Drum roll, please…

Isn’t the cover striking? The blue and green tones are lovely. It makes you wonder what Miss Mary Bennet is doing at an ancient stone castle. Let’s find out.      

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A Preview of Pride and Prejudice: The Complete Novel, with Nineteen Letters from the Characters’ Correspondence, by Jane Austen & Barbara Heller

Pride and Prejudice The Complete Novel, with Nineteen Letters 2020 coverLet me ask you a serious question, Janeites. How many copies of Pride and Prejudice do you own? Fess up. Five, ten, twenty—or more than you will publicly admit to?

I fear that I fall into the latter category, having collected new and vintage copies of the classic novel since my teens when my mom gave me my first copy from her library. Since then it has been an uphill battle against my willpower. When a new shiny P&P hits the market, it’s mine.

Imagine my delight then when I spied a new P&P that included nineteen handwritten letters tipped in. WHOA! Pride and Prejudice: The Complete Novel, with Nineteen Letters from the Characters’ Correspondence, by Jane Austen & Barbara Heller contains the full unabridged text and recreated letters that Jane Austen’s characters wrote to each other during the course of the novel designed to look like they just arrived by post in 1813! I kid you not. Physical letters to hold in my hot little hands.

I did not think it was possible to heighten this Janeites’ P&P experience, however, this new edition blew my bonnet off. I want to frame the “Be not alarmed, Madame,” letter from Mr. Darcy and prominently display it in my home. To see his handwriting and signature. SWOON! Thank you very much, Austen Gods.

Here is a preview of this enchanting new edition to further pique your interest. If you are as much of a Pride and Prejudice geek as I am, it will only take about five seconds for you to realize that this book is a brilliant, eye-popping expansion of the beloved classic that makes you feel one step closer to the characters. It was a total thrill for me. Enjoy!

This deluxe edition brings to life the letters exchanged among Jane Austen’s characters in Pride and Prejudice.

Glassine pockets placed throughout the book contain removable replicas of 19 letters from the story.

These powerful epistles include Lydia’s announcement of her elopement, Mr. Collins’s obsequious missives, and of course Darcy’s painfully honest letter to Elizabeth.

  • Nothing captures Jane Austen’s vivid emotion and keen wit better than her characters’ correspondence.
  • Each letter is re-created with gorgeous calligraphy.
  • Letters are hand-folded with painstaking attention to historical detail.

Perusing the letters will transport readers straight to the drawing-room at Netherfield or the breakfast table at Longbourn.

For anyone who loves Austen, and for anyone who still cherishes the joy of letter writing, this book illuminates a favorite story in a whole new way.

  • Step inside the world of Pride and Prejudice, one of the most beloved novels of all time.
  • Great Mother’s Day, birthday, or holiday gift for diehard Jane Austen fans
  • A visually gorgeous book that will be at home on the shelf or on the coffee table

Add it to the shelf with books like What Would Jane Do?: Quips and Wisdom from Jane Austen by Potter Gift, Jane-a-Day: 5 Year Journal with 365 Witticisms by Jane Austen Edition by Potter Gift, and The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things by Paula Byrne. Continue reading

A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt of Accusing Mr. Darcy: A Pride & Prejudice Variation, by Kelly Miller

Accusing Mr Darcy by Kelly Miller 2020We are happy to welcome back Austenesque author Kelly Miller today in celebration of her new novel, Accusing Mr. Darcy. This storyline is a variation of the classic Pride and Prejudice plot and places protagonists Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy is an alternative universe—combining a love story and a murder mystery in the Peak District of northern England.

For those who are familiar with Miller’s previous two novels, Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match (2020) and Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley (2019), you will know of the author’s creative abilities. Great ready for another shake-up.

You will not find familiar characters such as Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Lady Catherine, the younger Bennet sisters, or landmarks such as Longbourn and Rosing Park. Instead, you will be introduced to an entirely new set of characters and residences. Accusing Mr. Darcy propels us into a country house murder mystery. Will it have the traditional earmarks of a country house mystery such as red herrings and twists in the plot? I’m not telling.

The author has generously shared an exclusive excerpt with our readers to give us a glimpse into the setting and characters. Enjoy!

Could Fitzwilliam Darcy harbour a shocking, sinister secret?

Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet count themselves among the many guests of the Kendall family, whose estate lies amidst the picturesque hills, gorges, and rocky slopes of the Peak District in Derbyshire. Elizabeth’s cousin Rose Kendall believes her dashing brother-in-law, Captain James Kendall, is Elizabeth’s ideal match. Rose’s husband, Nicholas, hopes his good friend Darcy—a rich, proud, and taciturn gentleman with a spotless reputation—will fancy one of the other eligible lady guests.

News of a brutal killing at a neighbouring estate sends a wave of shock through the genial group of friends and family. When one of the Kendalls’ guests is attacked, all of the gentlemen become suspects, but the former Bow Street runner tasked with investigating the crime finds the evidence against Mr. Darcy particularly compelling.

In this romantic mystery, the beloved couple from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice cross paths with a ruthless killer. When faced with dire warnings against Mr. Darcy, will Elizabeth heed them or follow the dictates of her heart?

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Her Summer at Pemberley: Kitty Bennet’s Story, by Sallianne Hines—A Review

Her Summer at Pemberley by Sallianne Hines 2020From the desk of Katie Jackson:

In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Kitty Bennet—the fourth of five sisters—has always been something of an enigma. Her father thought her silly, but mostly she was just an easygoing follower, overshadowed by the gregarious personality of her younger sister and the cleverness or beauty of her older ones. Imagine, if you will, a slightly older and more mature Kitty. Three of her sisters have married, and she’s yearning for a new life of her own. On that note begins Kitty Bennet’s story in Her Summer at Pemberley, a Pride and Prejudice sequel by Sallianne Hines.

At nearly 19 years old, Kitty Bennet “was still seen as merely a dimmer version of Lydia. How could Kitty gain respectability and marry well?” (1) “With an indifferent education, a less than respectable fortune, and a family estate entailed away, Kitty’s prospects were bleak at best.” (2)

Forlorn over her seemingly dismal future at Longbourn, she requests and is granted an invitation to visit her older sister, Elizabeth Darcy, at Pemberley.

“This visit would be a new beginning, away from her dull childhood home and the same tiresome people. Kitty was determined to prove herself worthy of a fine future, but she needed assistance.” (5) And assistance soon arrives in the form of a grand ball to be hosted by Darcy and Lizzy in her honor. Kitty will officially make her debut in society on her nineteenth birthday. The Darcys invite all of their dearest friends and neighbors to join in the festivities, and it seems this is the new beginning Kitty had been hoping for. She could finally enjoy the great pleasure of developing loyal and lasting friendships with other genteel ladies and gentlemen. Most importantly, she is finally at liberty to establish a close connection with her own sister Lizzy, as well as Mr. Darcy’s sister Georgiana, and even Mr. Darcy himself. Reliable relationships she never knew she was missing until she’d discovered them. “This was new—having others interested in knowing her, without the interference of a dominating sister.” (38) Continue reading

Georgiana: Pride & Prejudice Continued (Book 3), by Sue Barr—A Review

Georgiana Pride & Prejudice Continued by Sue Barr 2020From the desk of Sophia Rose:

I have been aware of Sue Barr’s work since she released the first book in her Pride and Prejudice Continued series, Caroline. My curiosity was aroused when she chose to continue Austen’s classic story with the memorable side character and didn’t hesitate to redeem Caroline Bingley and give her a chance at happiness in an unlikely place. Then it was Kitty Bennet’s turn in book two, Catherine, who fell hard for a man who was not what he seemed. And, here we have the third book, Georgiana, with Mr. Darcy’s little sister stepping out of the shadows of her past and becoming the current heroine.

Georgiana is recovered physically and emotionally from her youthful mistake with George Wickham, but now that she is on the cusp of her presentation and entrance into London society, she wonders if she is truly ready or if she will be fooled again. If only Max Kerr, Duke of Adborough, the kind gentleman who put her at ease and made her feel they belonged, felt the same way about her as she did for him. Their families are friendly, and she knows they could be happy. Instead, she hears nothing from Max and now must face a London season of discovering the difference between those who would pursue her for her fortune. She has her family around her, but the danger still circles and, in the end, after a painful, winding road, can she let trust grow and forgiveness heal so she can find love with the right man.

Georgiana was a story that I read out of order and from which I still found great enjoyment. I had no trouble doing so because the early chapters caught the reader up on the two previous books and the news of the family. However, it is something of a series spoiler because it shares what happened with the earlier couples to a certain extent. So, if a reader likes to get all the surprises and story as it happens, then it is best to start at the beginning with Caroline.

As to the story, the first half was gently paced, sweet, and rather predictable. Georgie was an adorable heroine and easy to like and wish well. She wants to be done with her past and have the love and friendship she sees in her brother’s marriage and those of her friends. She knows she can have that with Max but is not certain he sees her the same way. Max’s perspective alternates with Georgiana’s so the reader does know what Max is thinking and it’s all going on swimmingly toward a rapid conclusion even if there are sharks in the water after Georgie’s fortune and match-making mamas intent on Max as a future son in law. Continue reading

A Preview of Tempt Me: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Julie Cooper

Tempt Me by Julie Cooper 2020Fall is here and Halloween is just around the corner as the next holiday to celebrate. To get in the mood I always like to re-read Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen’s Gothic parody, and a new Austen-inspired Gothic fiction. This year it will be Tempt Me, by Julie Cooper. It is a Pride and Prejudice variation with a paranormal twist. Get ready to meet vampire Darcy, again.

The vampire concept is not new to the Janeite fan fiction world. Austenesque authors have been putting this paranormal slant on Mr. Darcy (for good reason) since Amanda Grange’s, Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, was released in 2009. There have been others along this theme too: Pulse and Prejudice: The Confession of Mr. Darcy, Vampire, by Colette L. Saucier, Vampire Darcy’s Desire: A Pride and Prejudice Adaptation, by Regina Jeffers, and recently, Darcy’s Clan, by Lari Ann O’Dell. I see you rolling your eyes. Stop that. Darcy as a vampire is so sexy—a moody hot mess of uncontrollable desire.

I have not read this author before, but I was won over by the beautiful cover (I am so shallow. I do judge a book by its cover!) and the creative storyline. Austenprose is the last stop on the Tempt Me blog tour so let’s check it out. Here is the description from the publisher and an exclusive excerpt selected by the author. Enjoy!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single vampyre must be in want of a wife. Someone biddable, her memories easily expunged to allow for strange, inexplicable deeds and baffling circumstances. A tractable creature, of average intelligence, willing to attend to the business of producing heirs and keep out of all else. A girl easily moulded, incurious, indifferent, and demanding nothing beyond access to his fortune.

Fitzwilliam Darcy knows exactly who he needs. He can fix on the hour, the spot, the look, and the words which laid the foundation for an obsession he rejected. But ten years later, at an assembly in an obscure village in Hertfordshire, he finds himself in the middle once more.

His needs are unalterable. But can he resist the one woman he truly wants?

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Tempted: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Nicole Clarkston—A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

Most variations of Jane Austen’s classic novels are set in England, in the same Regency time period as the original stories. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to discover that this new Pride and Prejudice variation—Tempted, by prolific Austenesque author Nicole Clarkston—takes place in a unique time and multiple locations.

In July 1900, we are introduced to an American Elizabeth Bennet, born and raised on a ranch in Wyoming and recently wed to Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam, cousin of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and second son of the Earl of Matlock. Elizabeth’s amenable yet annoying cousin Billy Collins has escorted her and her sister Jane from America to London so that she may present herself to the colonel’s parents, Lord and Lady Matlock. Colonel Fitzwilliam, a cavalry officer, had been sent to Wyoming as a special envoy of Her Majesty’s Army—and someone with a good eye for horseflesh—in search of horses for the military. While on his mission in Wyoming, the colonel was called to the Boer War in South Africa and married Elizabeth shortly before he departed. There are mysterious circumstances surrounding their hasty marriage, and Elizabeth soon discovers that the colonel’s family is completely unaware of her existence and refuses to receive her as his wife. Instead, she is met by Mr. Darcy, serving as a family representative, who bears unwelcome tidings about her new husband.

“He could not form his own words, so at last, he opened the letter and read a portion of the excruciating print. ‘…We regret to inform you that Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam of the 4th Battalion of the Derbyshire’s has been listed as Missing in Action….’” (117)

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