The Dancing Master, by Julie Klassen – A Review

From the desk of Katie Patchell: 

Dancing—one of the first things that come to mind when imagining the Regency era. Ballrooms, white gloves, dashing men and beautiful women, weaving in invisible patterns across the floor, surrounded by fragrant flowers and glowing candelabras. But where do these heroes and heroines learn that beautiful and necessary skill? The answer:  Dancing masters – the men who mixed with those in the highest circles, but were not their social equals. This group of men has been in the shadows of Regency fiction…until now, in Julie Klassen’s latest novel, The Dancing Master. In this romantic novel, the focus shifts from the dancers on the dance floor to the teacher behind the dance. Continue reading “The Dancing Master, by Julie Klassen – A Review”

Mr. Darcy’s Diary (Audiobook), by Maya Slater, read by David Rintoul – A Review

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress: 

Ever wonder if a book you read several years ago and loved still stacks up? I did and was tempted to revisit one of my favorite Pride and Prejudice sequels, Mr. Darcy’s Diary, in audiobook for my summer listening. Read by Mr. Darcy himself—well not quite—but close, the narrator is British actor David Rintoul who portrayed Mr. Darcy in the 1980 BBC mini-series of Pride and Prejudice. After a second pass, “my affections and wishes are unchanged” and I am incorporating my original review (slightly amended) and finishing with my impression of this audio version.

If Jane Austen thought that her novel Pride and Prejudice was too light, bright, and sparkling and wanted shade, then author Maya Slater has made up for any deficit by crossing over to the “dark side” in writing Continue reading “Mr. Darcy’s Diary (Audiobook), by Maya Slater, read by David Rintoul – A Review”

Mr. Darcy’s Diary: A Novel, by Amanda Grange – A Review

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:

In 2005 author Amanda Grange gave Pride and Prejudice fans what they had been craving for centuries—Jane Austen’s classic story retold entirely from the perspective of its iconic romantic hero—Mr. Darcy. It was certainly not the first novel to explore this concept, but Mr. Darcy’s Diary remains, after many other attempts, the best in a very crowded field of Darcyiana.

I first read Darcy’s Diary eight years ago when it was released in the UK. I paid a fortune for the first Continue reading “Mr. Darcy’s Diary: A Novel, by Amanda Grange – A Review”

Mercy’s Embrace: The Lady Must Decide, Elizabeth Elliot’s Story (Book 3), by Laura Hile – A Review

From the desk of Christina Boyd: 

There is something so satisfying about reading the third book in a trilogy. We have become personally entrenched in the characters and we know that important events will be resolved soon.  Book 3, The Lady Must Decide, of author Laura Hile’s Mercy’s Embrace series does not disappoint; resolving some plot lines and leaving others open for possibilities.

In this delightful continuation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, our heroine Miss Elizabeth Elliot realizes the time has come for her to forge her own future.  With exceedingly shameful reminders of her father’s Continue reading “Mercy’s Embrace: The Lady Must Decide, Elizabeth Elliot’s Story (Book 3), by Laura Hile – A Review”

Mercy’s Embrace: So Lively a Chase, Elizabeth Elliot’s Story (Book 2), by Laura Hile – A Review

From the desk of Christina Boyd: 

Author Laura Hile’s So Lively a Chase, Book 2, in her lovely Mercy’s Embrace trilogy, continues with Miss Elizabeth Elliot struggling to manage her feckless, frivolous father and dwindling finances, all the while contriving to make a most propitious match for herself.  In this follow-up to Jane Austen’s Persuasion, our unlikely heroine Miss Elizabeth Elliot, painfully aware of her dangerous situation of being put “on-the-shelf” and no fortune of her own is conflicted.  Should she accept the hand of a fleshy, bungling yet obscenely rich suitor who she is certain she could easily lead by the nose, or follow her heart’s devotion with an obscure man into a humble, common existence? Continue reading “Mercy’s Embrace: So Lively a Chase, Elizabeth Elliot’s Story (Book 2), by Laura Hile – A Review”

Mr. Darcy’s Undoing: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review

From the desk of Christina Boyd: 

In her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Mr. Darcy’s Undoing, Abigail Reynolds offers a fanciful story, replete with anguish and raw emotion, exploring another possible road not taken by Jane Austen herself.

Not long after Miss Elizabeth Bennet returns home to Longbourn from her visit to the Collins’ at Hunsford Parsonage in Kent – and that poorly executed marriage proposal from Mr. Darcy – she boldly decides to take responsibility for her mother and sisters happiness. Since the wealthy Mr. Bingley has departed without proposing to her sister Jane, she agrees to an engagement with a childhood acquaintance, a very gentlemanly Mr. Covington of Ashworth House. But as fate would have it, Mr. Darcy returns to Continue reading “Mr. Darcy’s Undoing: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review”

What Would Mr. Darcy Do, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review

What Would Mr. Darcy Do, by Abigail Reynolds (2011)Guest review by Christina Boyd

Hard on the heels of Kara Louise’s Only Mr. Darcy Will Do and Mary Simonsen’s The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy, comes another Pride and Prejudice “what if” from P&P variations pioneer, Abigail Reynolds. What Would Mr. Darcy Do is her latest re-imagining to be re-issued by Sourcebooks. Part of her Pemberley Variations series, it was first self-published in 2007 as From Lambton to Longbourne, and explores roads not taken in Jane Austen’s, Pride & Prejudice.

In Austen’s masterpiece, Fitzwilliam Darcy comes upon a distraught Miss Elizabeth Bennet just moments after she has received news of her youngest sister Lydia’s supposed elopement with Darcy’s nemesis George Wickham – and by that, the ruining of her family and all of the daughters chances for good marriages. After she shares as much to Darcy, he leaves.  “…she saw him go with regret; and in this early example of what Lydia’s infamy must produce, found an additional anguish as she reflected on that wretched business.” Pride & Prejudice, Chapt. XLVI. However, Abigail Reynolds takes that tragic moment at the Lambton Inn and gives desperate resolve to both Elizabeth and Darcy allowing them to speak their hearts. Elizabeth declares, “…despite this unfortunate ending, these days in Lambton are ones I will always remember with pleasure.” p.7. Continue reading “What Would Mr. Darcy Do, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review”

Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister, by C. Allyn Pierson – A Review

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress: 

It’s tough being a teenager, even if you are the handsome, accomplished and wealthy Georgiana Darcy. Your parents are dead and you have dull Mrs. Annesley for a companion. Being painfully shy and having an older brother like Fitzwilliam doesn’t help matters much either. His standards are incredibly high. He “cannot boast of knowing more than half a dozen [young ladies], in the whole range of [his] acquaintance, Continue reading “Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister, by C. Allyn Pierson – A Review”

Scouting for Georgette Heyer along Hadrian’s Wall with author Helen Simonson

From the desk of Helen Simonson:

In July, my husband, one of our two teenage sons, and I, set out to walk across England.  In seven days we walked eighty-four miles, coast to coast along the new National Hadrian’s Wall Path.  Staying in bed and breakfasts at night, stopping in pubs and tea rooms along the way for meals, we walked grassy pastureland and high open crags, following the path and the wide stone foundations of the Roman wall Continue reading “Scouting for Georgette Heyer along Hadrian’s Wall with author Helen Simonson”

These Old Shades, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Keira of Love Romance Passion

For a truly exceptional read, Regency or otherwise, that makes you giddy with glee you need to pick up These Old Shades, by Georgette Heyer. It’s a delightful story about a cross-dressing female who goes from rags to riches and from unloved to abundantly loved. It’s even a guardian/ward romance! Not to mention the kidnapping sequence and the revenge plot! It’s positively action packed.

The hero is a cross between a dandy-like Corinthian, with his scented handkerchief, heeled shoes, and fan — and — the veriest devil of a man with fierce eyes, keen intelligence, and a merciless thirst for revenge. The heroine is a Nonpareil who can sword fight, capture princes with a flutter of eyelashes, and shock matrons with her language!

What really pleased me is the slightly different formatting. There seemed to be much more dialogue in this novel than in others also by Heyer. In addition, every chapter has a little summary-like heading telling you what you’ll find in the upcoming section. It was very nice and a source of amusement with titles such as ‘Lady Fanny’s Virtue is Outraged’ and ‘Mr. Marling Allows Himself to be Persuaded.’

One of my absolute favorite parts is a reflection of what’s going on between some side characters:

‘I don’t trust him.’

‘Why, I think I do for once.’ Hugh laughed a little. ‘When last I saw Léonie – Léon she was then – it was “Yes, Monseigneur” and “No, Monseigneur.” Now it is “Monseigneur, you must do this,” and “Monseigneur, I want that!” She twists him round her little finger, and, by Gad, he likes it!’

‘Oh, but there’s naught of the lover in his manner, Hugh! You have heard him with her, scolding, correcting.’

‘Ay, and I have heard the note in his voice of – faith, of tenderness! This wooing will be no ordinary one, methinks, but there is a bridal in the air.’

‘She is twenty years behind him!’

‘Do you think it signifies? I would not give Justin a bride his own age. I’d give him a babe who must be cherished and guarded. And I’ll swear he’d guard her well!’

‘It must be. I do not know. She looks up to him, Davenant! She worships him!’

‘Therein I see his salvation,’ Hugh said.

These Old Shades, pp 274

I hardly have the words to describe how awesome that last line is and indeed this whole section. The only thing that could make this story better is more of it! I did not want it to end!

These Old Shades is a must read for Heyer fans and one I would very much recommend for new comers to try first. You will not be disappointed.

Read an excerpt on Scribd

Keira is the webmistress of LoveRomancePassion, a website featuring the latest news, reviews and interviews in the romance world. She’s a longtime romance reader, a new Kindle owner, and a junkie for USA TV shows. She loves marriage of convenience plots and angst ridden breakups that ultimately end up in gooey happily ever afters. You can follow Keira on Twitter as ReviewRomance.

These Old Shades, by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks (2009)
Trade paperback (384) pages
ISBN: 978-1402219474

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 03 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of These Old Shades, by Georgette Heyer (Sourcebooks, 2009) by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about the plot or characters, or if you have read it, which is your favorite character or scene by midnight Pacific time, Monday, September 6th, 2010. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, September 7th, 2010. Shipment to continental US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

Upcoming event posts

Day 03   Aug 04 – Review: The Masqueraders
Day 04   Aug 06 – Review: Devil’s Cub
Day 04   Aug 06 – Review: The Convenient Marriage
Day 05   Aug 08 – Review: Regency Buck

Celebrating Georgette Heyer   •   August 1st – 31st, 2010

Chatting with Monica Fairview, author of The Darcy Cousins – and a glorious giveaway

Please welcome author Monica Fairview as she stops by to chat with us during her blog tour in celebration of the release of her new novel The Darcy Cousins, a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Thank you for having me here on your blog, Laurel Ann. It’s one of my favorite places to visit. 

The Darcy Cousins focuses on Mr. Darcy’s shy and naïve younger sister Georgian’s coming ‘out’ into Regency society and her first experiences with romance. What intrigued you about her situation or personality to continue her story? 

Georgiana is a very secondary character in Pride and Prejudice, and of course we only see her through Elizabeth’s eyes. Elizabeth (as usual) gets it all wrong and expects Georgiana to be arrogant and obnoxious. This is one of the last mistakes she makes in the novel. Georgiana has three roles in Pride and Prejudice. The first is to show the extent of Wickham’s villainy. The second to reveal what a good brother Darcy is, and the third (more minor) that Miss Bingley wasn’t exaggerating when she said that Darcy’s sister is very accomplished. Apart from that, she doesn’t have much to say for herself. I wanted to discover what it was like to be Darcy’s sister, and through her, I wanted to find out who Fitzwilliam Darcy was when he wasn’t admiring Elizabeth. But Georgiana emerged as an independent character, quite able to hold her own in spite of her shyness. I was very glad to see that happening. 

We are also introduced to Clarissa and Frederick Darcy who arrive from America to visit their British cousins and brother Robert Darcy who we met in your first sequel The Other Mr. Darcy. Clarissa and Frederick do not quite conform to the social strictures of polite society in Regency England. I sense a sly wink at American brashness vs. British traditionalism. Is this an Austenesque gentle reproof or is Monica having fun with her story? 

I wonder whose side Jane Austen would take? I have my own theory (not backed by anything concrete, I concede, just an instinct) that of the two sisters, Jane Austen was the closest to Marianne in Sense and Sensibility, while Elinor was like Jane’s sister Cassandra. In some ways, I had that novel in mind when I wrote Georgiana’s and Clarissa’s story, though they are quite different personalities. Other than that, the sly wink is there, of course. I straddle both continents, having been born in one and lived a large part of my life in the other, so I love playing the two cultures against each other. Though the reality is always more complex, as Clarissa’s Puritan background indicates.

Austen’s character Lady Catherine de Bourgh plays a significant role in The Darcy Cousins. I must commend your eye-rolling interpretation of her officious and imposing personality. How did you place yourself in her regal shoes and visualize her dialogue and behavior? 

Eye-rolling? I love that! To be honest, I studied Lady Catherine’s way of speaking until I knew everything she said practically by heart, then I improvised from there. To me understanding Jane Austen’s characters is much like acting. I learn the lines, then I fill in the silences, then I flesh out the characters. I loved playing Lady Catherine. She is such a wonderful character. 

This is your third Regency-era historical novel. Your historical references are quite impressive and really support your characters personalities and their physical environment. What is your process for researching an historical novel? Did you discover anything surprising? 

Apart from studying the characters, I do a lot of initial research because you have to take into account the events that occur during the time period of the novel. I even did my best to research the weather to make sure, for example, that I didn’t have the characters picnicking on a day that was notoriously rainy. I then included any relevant external events in the novel as I mapped it out. As I go along, I am often interrupted by specific things I need to look up though I don’t always end up including them. Yes, there’s always a lot of research involved when I write.

One of your rewards for researching is discovering pieces of information that you didn’t expect. For example, I didn’t know that the famous Turner sunset colors were due to a volcanic eruption that sent particles into the atmosphere and made the sunsets very dramatic. I knew about the volcano, not about Turner. 

If you could plan a tea with Jane Austen, who else would you invite in your soiree and what would you ask her? 

I would love to initiate a dialogue between Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen. I would ask Charlotte to explain herself. I never liked her disparaging remarks about Jane Austen. In that context, I’d like Ms. Austen to expand on what she means about the narrow bit of ivory because of course, you have to take everything she says with a grain of salt. I can see her laughing as she wrote that – contrasting what she did with the wide sweep of what was then called “the romance”, which was really the epic. I think there will be “a monstrous deal of stupid quizzing” at that tea party, but I hope there’ll be some very witty conversation, too.  

What is next in your writing career? Do you have another novel in the works? If so, can you give us a brief preview? 

I do have another novel in the works, but it isn’t an Austenesque novel. I can’t say much more since it’s still in the initial stages. I do plan to return soon to the world of Austen, though, since I have a lot of unfinished business there. I have to take care of Clarissa Darcy as well as Frederick, at the very least. And there are other irons in the fire…

Thank you for joining us today Monica. I hope you finish your new novel quickly so you can return to entertain us with the further exploits of Clarissa and Frederick Darcy.

The Darcy Cousins, by Monica Fairview
Sourcebooks, Inc. (2010)
Trade paperback (432) pages
ISBN: 978-1402237003

Publishers description: 

A young lady in disgrace should at least strive to behave with decorum…

Dispatched from America to England under a cloud of scandal, Mr. Darcy’s incorrigible American cousin, Clarissa Darcy, manages to provoke Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. Collins, and the parishioners of Hunsford all in one morning!

And there are more surprises in store for that bastion of tradition, Rosings Park, when the family gathers for their annual Easter visit. Georgiana Darcy, generally a shy model of propriety, decides to take a few lessons from her unconventional cousin to the delight of a neighboring gentleman. Anne de Bourgh encouraged to escape her “keeper” Mrs. Jenkinson, simply…vanishes. But the trouble really starts when Clarissa and Georgiana both set out to win the heart of the same young man…

About the author: 

Literature professor Monica Fairview loves teaching students the joys of reading. But after years of postponing the urge, she finally realized that what she really wanted to do was write.  The author of The Other Mr. Darcy and An Improper Suitor, the American-born Ms. Fairview currently resides in London. For more information, please visit


Enter a chance to win one of two copies of The Darcy Cousins by leaving a comment revealing which character in Pride and Prejudice you would like to see featured in a sequel, or any hints for a plot line for Monica to inspire her to write a sequel for her two American Darcy cousins Clarissa and Frederick! Contest ends on Friday, April 23rd, 2010 at midnight Pacific time. Winners announced on Saturday, April 24th, 2010. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses. Good luck to all.

Cover image courtesy Sourcebooks © 2010; text Monica Fairview & Laurel Ann Nattress,

Mr. Darcy’s Diary: A Novel, by Maya Slater – A Review

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:

If Jane Austen thought that her novel Pride and Prejudice was too light, bright, and sparkling and wanted shade, then author Maya Slater has made up for any deficit by crossing over to the ‘dark side’ in writing her re-telling of the story entitled Mr. Darcy’s Diary. Not only are we privy to Fitzwilliam Darcy’s most intimate and revealing secrets, we see the story of Pride and Prejudice told wholly from the male perspective, and gentle readers, be prepared. It’s a man’s world in Regency England, and dare I say, Fitzy is no saint! Continue reading “Mr. Darcy’s Diary: A Novel, by Maya Slater – A Review”

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