Austenesque, Contemporary Fiction, Giveaways

Giveaway Winners Announced for Undressing Mr. Darcy

Undressing Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos 2013It’s time to announce the 3 winners of print copies of Undressing Mr. Darcy, by Karen Doornebos. The lucky winners drawn at random are:

  • June7 who left a message of December 04, 2013
  • Ellen Heckler who left a comment on December 03, 2013
  • Marsha Saenz-Jones who left a comment on December 03, 2013

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by December 18, 2013 or you will forfeit your prize! Shipment to US addresses only.

Thanks to all who left comments, to author Karen Doornebos for her guest blog, and to her publisher Berkley (Penguin Group) for the giveaways.

Cover image courtesy of Berkley (Penguin Group) © 2013; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2013,

Austenesque, Book Reviews, Contemporary Era, Reading Challenges

Undressing Mr. Darcy, by Karen Doornebos – A Review

From the desk of Christina Boyd: 

With a title like Undressing Mr. Darcy, author Karen Doornebos’ new release is sure to turn a few heads this holiday season. “Sex sells, even to smart, liberated women, and Mr. Darcy was the smart girl’s pinup boy.” p. 7 And like the novel’s heroine, a master PR rep who has turned tweeting into an #artform, Doornebos has carefully crafted another contemporary romance novel about an ambitious, highly energized, very modern woman who meets a charming Mr. Darcy re-enactor, sure to draw the attention of Janeites and romance readers alike.

When Vanessa Roberts, PR extraordinaire with the perpetually-present smartphone and ever-ready clever social media tweet or posting, takes on a pro-bono job as a favor for her elderly Jane Austen loving aunt, little does she expect promoting the English author of, My Year as Mr. Darcy, to turn her organized world topsy-turvy. When she finally meets Julian Chancellor, who has capitalized on his good looks “as he gives a little historical background on his Regency-era clothing as he proceeds to take it off –down to his drawers” at his book signings, she finds she too, like the throngs of Darcy fans in the audience, is caught by his artful allurements.

When she realizes his incentive for writing his book is to raise money to support the restoration of his ancestral home, coupled with his charm and gentlemen-like behavior, she can’t help herself but start to fantasize about what a fling, nay relationship, with him might be like. As they all attend the Jane Austen Society North America (JASNA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Chicago, while surrounded by Austen lovers fully immersed in the hubbub, Vanessa is busy promoting her author, “Want to tie the knot with Mr. Darcy? He’s in Cravat Tying 101 right now.#JASNAagm #UndressingMrDarcy #OrDressingMrDarcy?” p. 71 Surprisingly amongst all the bonnets and lace, she discovers she might be open to the possibilities of something more to life than constantly being plugged in.

It felt as if some of his Austen quotes were speaking directly to her at times, and it occurred to her that it might be time that she gave the author another chance. Perhaps her aunt had been on to something all these years. Was there something beyond the happily ever after stories and the demure portrait of a woman in a white ruffled cap that popped in Vanessa’s head every time ‘Jane Austen’ was mentioned?” p. 36

As Julian’s clothes come off, the heat turns up. But it’s not just his fine person that captivates her; his endearing friendship with her beloved aunt coupled with his affection and knowledge of all things Austen soon bewitch her body and soul. “‘The conversion has begun. It’s in your blood. Resistance is futile.’ He looked into her eyes and took a step backward. ‘You’re becoming an Austen fan.‘” p. 9

As in life, every dry spell has its flood. And for the lonesome, loveless Vanessa, soon after meeting Julian she meets a handsome, amiable pirate! Turns out HeroCon is happening simultaneously at the same Chicago hotel. Is Chase MacClane a rogue of the highest order or is he the hero in disguise?

Two Austen events later, Vanessa finds herself in England for the celebrated ten-day Jane Austen Festival in Bath. As soon as the plane lands, the consummate media maven posts, “‘Here I am once more in this Scene of Dissipation & vice, and I begin already to find my Morals corrupted.’ Could a girl ask for more? All sorts of sordid things happen in London.” p. 209 But all may not be how it appears. Later as she scampers about London and Bath on a wild, Austen-inspired scavenger hunt, she questions the authenticity of her relationship with Julian, her friendship with Chase, her aunt’s imminent Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and what she is going to do about any of it. “She laughed at her own folly. Folly? Had she ever used that word before? Why did she palpably feel Jane Austen’s presence across the room, near the trio, with folded arms and laughing at her?” p. 214 Doornebos’s storytelling had me biting my bottom lip until the very last, guessing who, if anyone, our fair heroine might choose!

Karen Doornebos, the author of Definitely Not Mr. Darcy, has certainly delivered me good tidings of comfort and joy this holiday season with this latest offering. Because of her concise research of Austen, in concert with the believable dialogue and madcap romantic antics, I am compelled to tweet: “@xtnaboyd Undressing Mr. Darcy is the #perfectstockingstuffer for Austen & Darcy lovers everywhere- regardless who are naughty or nice!”

5 out of 5 Stars 

Undressing Mr. Darcy, by Karen Doornebos
Berkley Trade (2013)
Trade paperback (368) pages
ISBN: 978-0425261392

Cover image courtesy of Berkley Trade © 2013; text Christina Boyd © 2013,

Austenesque, Contemporary Era, Giveaways, Guest Blog

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

Austenesque, Contemporary Fantasy, Paranormal & Gothic Fiction, Giveaways

Giveaway winners announced for Definitely Not Mr. Darcy

Definitely Not Mr Darcy, by Karen Doornebos (2011)70 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win one of three copies of Definitely Not Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos. The winners drawn at random are:

  • Kate who left a comment on September 5, 2011
  • Suzan who left a comment on September 5, 2011
  • Sharon who left a comment on September 8, 2011

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by September 21, 2011. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only.

Many thanks to author Karen Doornesbos for her new book Definitely Not Mr. Darcy, her entertaining blog about it and to all who left comments.

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Book Reviews, Jane Austen Contemporary Inspired Book Reviews

Definitely Not Mr. Darcy, by Karen Doornebos – A Review

Definitely Not Mr. Darcy, by Karen Doornesbos (2011)Review by Aia A. Hussein      

The young bachelor enters a room filled with young ladies, all of whom are eyeing the invitations he holds in his hands, fully conscious that there are not enough invitations for all them.  They straighten their postures and smooth their gowns as their chaperones hold their breaths.  They all listen as the butler recounts the ladies’ accomplishment points from the recent foxhunt expedition and tea party, shares viewer ratings, and explains that a number of them will be eliminated from the competition and sent home.  The bachelor steps forwards and begins to read aloud the names of the young ladies that he has decided will stay.

You’re right in thinking that the above description is of a reality television dating game show but it’s a far cry from anything like ABC’s The Bachelor for the sole reason that it’s not set in the twenty-first or twentieth-century.  In fact, it’s 1812 and Chloe Parker is competing against seven other women for the attention of Mr. Wrightman, heir to the gorgeous Dartworth estate, along with a $100,000 prize.  Thus is the premise of Karen Doornebos’ debut novel Definitely Not Mr. Darcy, which follows a Midwestern, divorced mother with a failing antique letterpress business who decides to participate in a Jane Austen-inspired television documentary only to discover, upon her arrival to the beautiful English countryside, that it has just been transformed into an early nineteenth-century reality dating show.  Rather than return home, Chloe Parker, a lifelong member of the Jane Austen Society, decides to trader her cellular phone for a lady’s fan for a chance to snare the handsome Mr. Wrightman and the much-needed prize money.

Chloe decides to do her best and ignore the constant filming, eager to immerse herself in Regency England life.  She is thrilled to discover that she has a chaperone, a maidservant, and her very own collection of Regency gowns.  The excitement soon fades, however, upon discovering that she is not allowed to use deodorant, can only bathe with water once a week, and can do very little without the permission of her chaperone, to name a few.  More importantly, Chloe finds that the rigid social hierarchy of Regency England goes against everything she believes in.  She is appalled by the treatment of her maidservant, Fiona, and other service staff by their so-called social betters and nurses a well-justified hatred for competitor Lady Grace who never fails to point out that Chloe, cast as an American heiress, doesn’t really belong in English high society.  To top it off, Chloe and her chaperone, Mrs. Crescent, both have a serious interest in winning the prize money: with a failing business and a recently promoted ex-husband who wants to increase his custody rights for their daughter, Chloe needs to rebuild herself while Mrs. Crescent is trying to raise enough money for her son’s surgery.

Even being courted by Mr. Wrightman becomes a point of complication – she is, after all, competing with other women for his attention – because she soon begins to have feelings for another man on set – the younger Mr. Wrightman who is not set to inherit anything from his family’s estate.  Not set to inherit anything and, yet, Chloe finds that he has other attractive features – he’s kind and funny and, besides, there’s something odd about the elder Mr. Wrightman even if Chloe can’t quite put her finger on it at first.  Before Chloe can emerge as a real winner, she must figure out what really matters and what kind of person she wants to be in a society so strictly defined by standards that can seem wholly alien to us now as modern readers.

Definitely Not Mr. Darcy put me in mind of Michael Winterbottom’s film Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, a film-within-a-film that pits eighteenth-century England alongside a twenty-first-century one.  There’s something intriguing about contemporary filmmakers and production crews, with their cellular phones and headsets, moving seamlessly amongst elaborately dressed ladies as they take their tea and politely converse about the weather.  There are numerous texts that transport us back into Regency England, or that stay firmly in the here and now but are obviously inspired by the past, but rarely do we have texts where old world actually coexists with new.  We have an obvious fascination with the past and it’s refreshing to see this fascination manifest itself in creatively modern ways even if we must tread into the world of reality television.  (Although, I’ll be the first to admit, if a reality television dating game show set in Austen’s era actually existed, I would probably watch it.)

This fascination, however, oftentimes goes hand-in-hand with the act of romanticizing and Doornebos is clever enough not to get swept up in the glamour of Regency England without pointing to its downsides as well.  Chloe’s schooling in the ups and downs of life in Regency England is refreshing and a nice counterbalance to all the texts out there that lament modernization at the expense of pretty gowns and strict social decorum.  But Doornebos doesn’t merely point to the lack of deodorant and running water as downsides to that era; strict rules limiting a woman’s mobility and a mock hanging of a young girl, punishment for stealing a loaf of bread, for instance, showcase Regency England’s dark side.  It’s not for nothing that Mr. Wrightman presents invitations during the Elimination Ceremonies for the number of invitations a young woman received during the social season of eighteenth and nineteenth-century England determined which balls she would attend, which young men she would be introduced to, and so forth.  In other words, it determined the very course of her life.

Doornebos’ novel is witty and, most importantly, refreshing but it must be confessed that elements of the plot and some themes are underdeveloped and its twists are predictable.  As stated above, however, it is Doornebos’ first novel and technical weaknesses can easily be forgiven especially in light of its refreshing perspective on a familiar era.  A great escape to the world of ball gowns and breeches, Doornebos gives us a fantasy/reality that will delight those who want a Jane Austen-inspired excursion into Regency England, warts and all.

Aia A. Hussein, a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and American University, pursued Literature degrees in order to have an official excuse to spend all her time reading.  She lives in the DC area and is a devotee of Jane Austen and all things Victorian.

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

Definitely Not Mr. Darcy, by Karen Doornebos
Berkley Trade (2011)
Trade paperback (384) pages
ISBN: 978-0425243824

Cover image courtesy of Berkley Trade © 2011; text  Aia A. Hussein © 2011,

Austenesque, Contemporary Fiction, Giveaways, Guest Blog

Definitely Not Mr. Darcy Blog Tour with Author Karen Doornebos

Definitely Not Mr. Darcy, by Karen Doornesbos (2011)Please join us today in welcoming author Karen Doornebos on her blog tour in celebration of the release of Definitely Not Mr. Darcy, a new contemporary Austen-inspired novel published tomorrow by Berkley Trade.

Thank you, Laurel Ann, for inviting me into your drawing room here, and hosting the beginning of my Grand Tour—my Grand Blog Tour, that is, celebrating the release of my first novel, Definitely Not Mr. Darcy. I’ve been a fan of your blog for years and it’s an honor to be here. (Virtual curtsey.)

Handsome men in breeches. Ballroom dances in empire-waist gowns. Tea parties…

Chloe Parker hopes for all this and more when she joins a documentary film set in Jane Austen’s England. Just like you and I, Chloe is an Austen fan. She has the complete set of “I Love Mr. Darcy, Mr. Tilney, Mr. Knightley, Captain Wentworth, Colonel Brandon” mugs to prove it. She happens to be a single mom, 39 years old, and tends to glamorize the Regency era. What she gets instead of the glam includes:

No cell phones. No deodorant. And no plumbing…

Not to mention the fact that the “documentary” turns out to be a reality dating show set in 1812. Soon Chloe’s up to her stockings (and then up to her stays) in trouble, competing against eight other women to win over the Mr. Darcy of the show. What’s worse, she can’t get the two other men on the set—off her mind!

Yes, you counted right. Definitely Not Mr. Darcy features three possible heroes. Two of them are clad in the Regency breeches, boots, and cravats we all swoon over, while the third looks pretty hot in his blue jeans. But I digress…

Have you ever wished for something, but it doesn’t turn out quite the way you’d expected?

My debut novel Definitely Not Mr. Darcy will make you laugh, I hope, and possibly wince, as Chloe’s romantic perceptions of Regency England crumble around her faster than a well-made scone.

Speaking of scones, living and working in London when I was young(er) did inform this book. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in English Literature (what else?) I bought a one-way ticket from Chicago to London. I landed my first job as a writer, working in the employee communications department at a management consultant firm in Westminster. What an experience that was, to live and work in the city that I had read so much about! I worked for six months and proceeded to travel throughout Europe for six more, until I ran out of money and came home to Chicago, alas. Continue reading “Definitely Not Mr. Darcy Blog Tour with Author Karen Doornebos”