A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt of In Plain Sight: A Pride & Prejudice Variation, by Don Jacobson

In Plain Sight by Don Jacobson 2020I am happy to welcome Austenesque author Don Jacobson to Austenprose today to celebrate the release of his latest novel, In Plain Sight. Don is a prolific writer publishing seven novels in his Bennet Wardrobe series and additional Jane Austen-inspired variations. He has also contributed to the North and South Anthology, Falling for Mr. Thornton.   

In Plain Sight is a Pride and Prejudice variation that might surprise you. When I first read the book description my eyebrows shot up—and then I read that Nicole Clarkston was the editor and that explained a lot. She is also a popular writer who can push the envelope of the norm, so it seemed like an author and editor match made in P&P variation heaven.

Meryton Press has kindly supplied an exclusive excerpt selected by the author to pique your interest. In Plain Sight is now available to purchase. You will find the links to the different retailers at the bottom of this post. Please leave a comment and share what you think of this creative premise.

When Fitzwilliam Darcy’s father slides into an early grave, his son is forced to take on Pemberley’s mantle. Brandy numbs his pain, but Darcy’s worst inclinations run wild. After tragedy rips everything away, he spends years finding his way back: a man redeemed by a woman’s loving understanding.

Elizabeth Bennet is afflicted with a common Regency ailment: observing the world about her but not seeing those beneath her notice. Then a clarifying act shatters the propriety that has denied her heart the transcendent love she craves.

In Plain Sight explores Jane Austen’s eternal love story by flipping social roles on their heads. From their first encounter, Elizabeth Bennet and the convict known as “Smith” must overcome their prejudices and breakthrough their pride. Only then can they share the treasure hidden in plain sight.

Darcy had the lead as he flew between Pemberley’s gateposts. Wickham’s nags were lagging as Darcy’s matched grays, nostrils flared, spun onto the Derby Turnpike and pointed the curricle toward Lambton.

The wind nipped Darcy’s nose and ears, cutting through the alcoholic haze that had wrapped him in its warming arms. He realized how foolhardy it had been to succumb to Wickham’s taunts and accept his wager. After two bottles of brandy, it had seemed a reasonable proposition. For him, twenty-five pounds was barely pocket change, but for Wickham…well, George all but broke a leg racing out to the stables to set the boys to harnessing.

A small corner of Darcy’s mind, a part not involved in managing the ribbons, contemplated why he had acted so rashly. Four months ago…before Papa…he never would have behaved like this. His barriers were gone. In shyness, Darcy had fallen back on the familiar: George Wickham.

Darcy had rationalized compromising his integrity—my good regard, once lost, is lost forever—by arguing that, as long as Wickham was imbibing brandy in Pemberley’s parlor, he could not be victimizing Lambton. Darcy had also applied Wickham’s favorite lubricant, guineas, to purchase a congenial drinking partner.

At no point in the past three months had Darcy altered his behavior, not even when the earl and countess appeared at Pemberley’s door demanding to take Georgiana to “visit her cousins.” He realized that he could not manage a girl-child, not in his state. Thus, her removal struck him as wise, doing that which he could not and admitting that the family was broken by his father’s death. He had found a way, though, to pull himself together, and to bid his sister a happy farewell. Ten-year-old Georgie, filled with innocent excitement at a sojourn in Matlock, was none the wiser. Once the door closed, Darcy crawled deeper into the green bottle.

There was a part of him that wished to destroy a world that had taken his father before his time and, failing that, himself.

Now, in the dark of a Derbyshire night, Darcy was in the middle of his most foolhardy effort to throw off responsibility’s heavy yoke.

Wickham’s curricle responded agilely to its master’s experienced driving. Since leaving Cambridge, Wickham had been lining his pockets with the ready so easily gambled away by the ton’s dissolute sons. His edge over Darcy sprouted from dozens of races just like this.

As the two curricles approached the bottleneck where Lambton’s High Street looped off the turnpike, Wickham began to draw even. Darcy over-steered on the hard-left turn, which allowed George to slide by on the right and gain a full length. However, the master of Pemberley was not to be outdone by his old playmate. Once the road straightened between the shops and stores, Darcy whipped the grays into a final burst of speed.

He pulled up to Wickham. At that moment, George looked over and flashed a toothy grin before throwing his head back and laughing at Darcy.

That was a fatal error.

As he turned his attention once again to the dirt fairway before him, a look of horror reshaped Wickham’s features.

There in the byway was the solitary figure of a man struggling to get out of the way of the speeding vehicles.

Tomkins did not have a chance.

Neither did Darcy nor Wickham.

Wickham instinctively hauled his team hard left. However, the die had been cast. The most Wickham could do was spare Tomkins death beneath iron-shod hooves. However, the metal rim of the right wheel was sure to catch the one-legged man who lay sprawled in the dirt, clawing hand-over-hand, trying to escape.

He screamed as the wheel slashed across his living leg.

George’s turn, however, also doomed the two curricles.

In a flash—and before Darcy could react—Wickham’s swerving carriage veered into his lane.

Wheels clashed and locked together. Spokes splintered. Nearly two tons of equine flesh slammed into one another. Neither driver could protect himself from the impact or the oaken javelins that broke free as the curricles disintegrated.

Darcy climbed out of the darkness into a world through which the faces of a milling crowd flickered. At some level, he became aware of an angry murmuring, but the dampness that seeped into his eyes prevented any deeper understanding. What remained were the shrieks of sheer agony that would haunt him to the end of his days.

All he knew was that the vacant eyes staring back at him from a face that rested upon bleeding torso bent at an impossible angle had lately belonged to George Wickham. What Darcy did not apprehend at this moment was that Wickham had, through the expedient of breaking his neck, escaped the fate awaiting Darcy.

Chapter 2, pages 17-20

  • “Don Jacobson has created a moving tale that reimagines one of the most beloved romances ever! He carries the themes of pride, prejudice, and forgiveness through the text beautifully. An original tale laced with historical details. You’ll love it!” —Elaine Owen, author of Duty Demands
  • “…a revelation and a shock to the system at certain points!…I can only say a huge congratulations on this new book, Don!” —Interests of a Jane Austen Girl
  • “…Don Jacobson is a natural storyteller.” —From Pemberley to Milton

Don Jacobson is an Emmy nominated writer in news and features for advertising, television, and radio. He has published seven novels in The Bennet Wardrobe Series along with Of Fortune’s Reversal” (2016), The Maid and The Footman (2016), Lessers and Betters (2018), and contributed a short story in the anthology, Falling for Mr. Thornton: Tales of North and South (2019).

Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations. As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization, and Research Writing. He is a member of the Austen Authors Collective and JASNA. He lives in Las Vegas, NV with his wife, Pam.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | BOOBUB | GOODREADS

In Plain Sight: A Pride & Prejudice Variation, by Don Jacobson
Meryton Press (June 12, 2020)
Trade paperback & eBook (412) pages
ISBN: 978-1681310381

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | INDIEBOUND |  GOODREADS 

Cover image, book description, & exclusive excerpt complements of Meryton Press © 2020, text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2020, Austenprose.com

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)

Continue reading

Q&A and Giveaway with Historical Romance Author Nicole Clarkston

Tempted by Nicole Clarkston 2020I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend. I am happy to report that I am making progress in the Weed War in my garden now that the weather is cooperating.

Today I am thrilled to welcome a popular Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell variations author to Austenprose. Nicole Clarkston has published sixteen novels and short fiction stories in the last five years. That is a phenomenal number. She certainly knows how to keep her many fans happy.

I have read several of Nicole’s books and listened to many of them on audiobook, my preferred way to experience a story. My favorites of her many offerings are the prequel, The Courtship of Edward Gardiner, inspired by a minor character in Pride and Prejudice, and her short story, “Mischances,” in the Falling for Thornton anthology. Clarkston is a superb historical romance author with a real talent for creating surprising plots, and tension-filled romance.

Nicole’s latest novel Tempted, a Pride and Prejudice variation, just released last week. Here is a book description and an interview with the author who has kindly offered a fabulous giveaway chance for three lucky readers to win a copy of Tempted and two additional copies of her books. Just check out the details of the giveaway chance at the end of the post. Enjoy!

Running from her past, stumbling into the unknown, and drawn to a future she cannot have.

Elizabeth Bennet left all she loved behind when she accepted Colonel Fitzwilliam’s hand. Dragging her sister Jane, her cousin Billy Collins, and a horrible secret along with her, she leaves her home and family in the United States and sets sail for England… and safety. Expecting to meet her new husband when he returns from the Boer front, she is shocked to learn that not only does his family not believe her, but Richard has gone missing.

Fitzwilliam Darcy is only doing his duty. Trying to learn the truth of what happened to his cousin, while sheltering the woman who claims to be Richard Fitzwilliam’s wife, he encounters more than he bargained for. She is ill-prepared for life in his world, and her independent ways threaten to defeat her before she has even begun. Unfortunately, she is close to defeating him, as well. Pledged to marry another, but honor-bound to do all he can for Fitzwilliam’s wife, his equanimity and fortitude are tested whenever she is near.

When news of Fitzwilliam finally comes, it brings both grief and complications. Surprises, possibilities, and agonizing choices… Will Darcy and Elizabeth find a path to love? Or will new revelations and the shadows of the past tear them apart before they are even together?

From the author of These Dreams and NefariousTempted is a deliciously nuanced tale of longing and trust. With good people in impossible places, close-knit families, and secrets working in the dark, Darcy and Elizabeth have to fight every step for their future. Continue reading

A Timely Elopement: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Joana Starnes—A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

For a Pride and Prejudice enthusiast, there is nothing quite like an unusually talkative and passionate Mr. Darcy to pique one’s interest. And it becomes particularly intriguing when the story is told almost exclusively from his perspective. Ironically, it is perhaps his most blundering speech that is mercifully interrupted in this variation, A Timely Elopement, from master storyteller Joana Starnes.

The tale begins in the parlor at Hunsford Parsonage near Rosings Park in Kent with the only two occupants; a visibly agitated Mr. Darcy and a startled and wary Elizabeth Bennet. Darcy has been at Rosings with his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam to visit their aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh and their cousin Anne, while Elizabeth visits her friend Charlotte Lucas, newly married to Elizabeth’s cousin and one-time suitor, Mr. Collins, Lady Catherine’s parson.

Darcy’s unexpected and ardent marriage proposal to Elizabeth is fortunately interrupted just before he manages to insult her with his ungentlemanlike manner, although she cannot forget that morning’s revelation from an unwitting Colonel Fitzwilliam that Darcy’s intervention had ruined her sister Jane’s chances for happiness with his friend Charles Bingley. Colonel Fitzwilliam barges in at that fortuitous moment to announce, “We have reason to fear that Anne has eloped. To own the truth, with Wickham.” (Kindle 82) Shock settles over the group as they consider the dire situation of Anne de Bourgh, known only as a sickly but wealthy heiress, possibly eloping with George Wickham. Lady Catherine later exclaims, “All saints preserve us! A steward’s son! What was the girl thinking?” (Kindle 496) Unbeknownst to her, he was the same fiend who had attempted to elope with Darcy’s sister Georgiana, also a wealthy heiress, from Ramsgate the previous summer. Thus, Darcy ceases his proposal just after confessing his love for Elizabeth. He briefly apprises her of the previous situation between his sister and Wickham before hurrying off to search for Anne, unaware that his aunt is about to summon his ladylove to accompany her to London for the same purpose. Continue reading

Being Mrs Darcy, by Lucy Marin—A Review

Being Mrs Darcy, by Lucy Marin 2020From the desk of Katie Jackson:  

In Regency-era novels, which are popular for their promotion of proper behavior and swoon-worthy romantic declarations, forced-marriage tropes spice up the angst and the inevitable, slow-burn romances that result. It is satisfying to read of gentlemen doing the right thing, marrying not for love but as their duty to protect a lady’s reputation, and it is equally satisfying to observe the couple’s meandering journey to an ultimate love match. As a Pride & Prejudice enthusiast, my curiosity was piqued when I discovered this forced-marriage situation between two beloved characters, in a location only referred to in hindsight in the original story. Pride and Prejudice variations are like choose-your-own-adventure stories that take readers through various what-if scenarios, making them ponder how a single decision might entirely change the destiny of their characters. Debut author Lucy Marin reveals an unusually bleak beginning for Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy in her Pride & Prejudice variation, Being Mrs Darcy.

This variation’s prologue opens on the August morning of Elizabeth’s forced marriage to Darcy, as they are traveling from Hertfordshire to London with his sister, Georgiana, and cousin, Sterling. Darcy is brooding, and “Elizabeth’s sense of dread grew with each successive mile they travelled.” (Kindle location 25) The situation worsens when they arrive at Darcy House. “Only the housekeeper and butler greeted them, and Elizabeth tried not to feel the slight; the entire household should be there to meet their new mistress.” (Kindle location 37) Darcy himself merely goes through the motions of his duties, dining with her and spending a short time in her company afterward, although almost entirely in silence. Elizabeth knew “he was unhappy about the marriage and despised her, as he had shown repeatedly in the six weeks of their acquaintance.” (Kindle location 58) She ends her wedding day in hopeless tears, haunted by her single fateful decision on a July night in Ramsgate that marked the point of no return. Continue reading

Thaw, by Anniina Sjöblom—A Review

Thaw by Anniina Sjöblom 2019Epistolary novels were all the rage in the late eighteenth century prior to and during Jane Austen’s early writing career. One does not run across novels written in letters very often today. The fact that characters do not meet face-to-face is restrictive and can be a challenge to readers.

Thaw, by Anniina Sjöblom harkens back to Austen’s first epistolary format before she re-wrote Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice. Not only is it a novel written entirely in letters, but it is also told in the first-person by one character—Elizabeth Bennet—and is a variation on Austen’s classic tale. With all of these unconventional restrictions and plot changes, one does not know what to expect. If this complex hook is not enough to get your attention, dear reader, then you are not paying attention.

The story begins with a letter by Elizabeth to her sister Jane from London on Christmas day. It is one month after the ball at Netherfield and Elizabeth is married to Mr. Darcy. Their marriage, however, is not the HEA that we imagined after Austen’s classic tale, but a patched-up business due to a devastating scandal. While walking near a frozen pond, Elizabeth’s misstep lands her in the icy waters. Injured and freezing, Mr. Darcy rescues her and returns her to her family, but not before a local resident witnessed the mishap and is telling a different story. Elizabeth’s reputation is ruined, and Darcy, being an honorable man, agrees to marry her. Neither is happy about the forced marriage, yet agree that they must marry.

So, there is no longer three-quarters of the story that Austen wrote. Just jump straight to Elizabeth as Mistress of Pemberley writing long missives to her Aunt Gardiner and her sister Jane about her miserable existence as the wife of a surly, disagreeable man. That is the big leap-of-faith part for readers in this variation. You will need to disarm reproof and just go with it. Continue reading

A Preview of Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match: A Pride & Prejudice Variation, by Kelly Miller

Mr. Darcy's Perfect Match, by Kelly Miller (2020)I am happy to share a new Austenesque novel with you all today. It is inspired by one of our favorites of Jane Austen’s canon.

Devoted readers of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice are familiar with the story’s critical peaks and valleys—the emotional rise and fall of its narrative. One point that has always intrigued me is after Mr. Darcy’s failed first marriage proposal to Elizabeth Bennet in Kent. Afterward, she returns home to her family in Hertfordshire, and he to London; and then disappears off the page for eight chapters. Austen keeps the story focused on her heroine Elizabeth leaving the reader to wonder what Mr. Darcy is doing and feeling for several months until the couple is reunited again in the summer at Pemberley.

Many Austenesque authors have given us their take on this gap. In Amanda Grange’s Mr. Darcy’s Diary,  and Maya Slater’s, The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice is retold from the hero’s perspective in which those three months that Austen leaves open to the reader’s imagination are happily revealed. In Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match, a new Pride and Prejudice variation by Kelly Miller, we are given another alternative to Mr. Darcy’s journey back to Elizabeth Bennet. All of Austen’s characters are here, yet the players have been moved around on the chessboard in a different manner. Here is a description of the book and an exclusive excerpt to give you an inkling of the tone and writing style.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

When secrets are revealed and a family agenda works against him, can Fitzwilliam Darcy recover his damaged spirits and find happiness?

Following his disastrous proposal to Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy returns to London from Kent broken-hearted and dejected. One bright spot penetrates his sea of despair: his sister, Georgiana, has finally recovered her spirits from the grievous events at Ramsgate the previous summer. She has forged a new friendship with Miss Hester Drake, a lady who appears to be an ideal friend. In fact, Lady Matlock believes Miss Drake is Darcy’s perfect match.

Upon Elizabeth Bennet’s arrival at the Gardiners’ home from Kent, she finds that her sister Jane remains despondent over her abandonment by Mr. Bingley. But Elizabeth has information that might bring them together. She convinces her Uncle Gardiner to write a letter to Mr. Bingley providing key facts supplied to her by Mr. Darcy.

When Mr. Bingley discovers that his friend and sisters colluded to keep Jane’s presence in London from him, how will he respond? Given the chance, will Darcy and Elizabeth overcome their past misunderstandings? What will Darcy do when his beloved sister becomes a hindrance toward winning the lady he loves?

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Continue reading

A Preview of Strong Objections to the Lady: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Jayne Bamber

Strong Objection to the Lady, by Jayne Bamber (2019)Pride and Prejudice variations are the most popular Austenesque books in print. There are thousands of them now. I kid you not. While the genre can credit Abigail Reynolds as a pioneer in the Darcy and Elizabeth redux, there are always new authors with new stories breaking into the throng to add to the mix.

Jayne Bamber is one of those new additions to the pack. She is certainly prolific. She published four Pride and Prejudice variations last year. One assumes that she had them squirreled away and brought them out in a flurry of industry. Her latest, Strong Objects to the Lady, is part variation and continuation. You will find familiar settings at Rosings Park and Hunsford Parsonage in Kent and beloved characters created by Jane Austen sent off in new directions. Here are a book description and an exclusive excerpt for your enjoyment.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A tale of…Intrigue & Inheritance… Meddling & Manipulation… Sisterhood & Self-Improvement…

When Lady Catherine de Bourgh learns of Mr. Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth Bennet, her wrath sets in motion a series of events at Hunsford Parsonage which embroil Darcy and Elizabeth in a family fracas that grows more complicated daily.

The shades of Rosings Park are soon polluted by the shocking transformation of its new mistress and her guests, as well as secrets of the past and schemes for the future.

Appearances and alliances shift amidst the chaos wrought by a well-intentioned house party, and Darcy and Elizabeth must finally face their feelings for one another despite mounting obstacles and misunderstandings of every kind.

Set chiefly in Kent and spanning the short space of just a month, this stand-alone variation begins the morning after Mr. Darcy’s failed proposal at Hunsford. From there, chaos quickly erupts and the lives of three strong young women tangle together in a day-by-day journey of growth, sisterhood, and ultimately romance, in the wake of tragedy.

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Continue reading

Mr. Darcy’s Rival: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Kara Louise – Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway

Mr Darcy's Rival by Kara Louise (2015)We are very happy to welcome Austenesque author Kara Louise to Austenprose today to introduce you to her latest novel, Mr. Darcy’s Rival. Kara has several Jane Austen-inspired novels in print including Only Mr. Darcy Will Do, Pirates & Prejudice, and Darcy’s Voyage. I hope you enjoy this exclusive excerpt and enter a chance to win a copy of the book. Details are listed at the bottom of this post.

WELCOME KARA

Thank you, Laurel Ann, for allowing me to come and share my new book, Mr. Darcy’s Rival, with your readers. To begin, I thought I would give you these two definitions.

Mr. Darcy: (from Wikipedia) Fitzwilliam Darcy, generally referred to as Mr. Darcy, is one of the two central characters in Jane Austen‘s novel Pride and Prejudice. He is an archetype of the aloof romantic hero, and a romantic interest of Elizabeth Bennet, the novel’s protagonist… well, I think we know the rest. Continue reading