Otherwise Engaged: A Regency Romance, by Joanna Barker — A Review

Otherwise Engaged by Joanna Barker 2020

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

Regency romances have their fair share of obstinate, headstrong girls, yet it is always a delight to discover another less-than-perfect heroine. Especially when “pictures of perfection, as you know, make me sick and wicked,” as the incomparable Jane Austen once wrote. Joanna Barker’s Otherwise Engaged is one such Regency romance with an imperfect heroine getting herself into unladylike scrapes and earning our respect along the way.

Continue reading “Otherwise Engaged: A Regency Romance, by Joanna Barker — A Review”

Someone to Romance: The Westcott Series (Book 8), by Mary Balogh—A Review

Someone to Romance by Mary Balogh 2020From the desk of Sophia Rose:

I discovered Mary Balogh’s tender, relationship-driven historical romances by browsing a book shop about a decade ago. The cover of her book merely depicted a landscape, but I recognized the possibilities of a new to me Regency-era author who did indeed pay attention to the details of the historical background of her stories, the social mores of the day, and could still deliver engaging characters and romances.

Someone to Romance is the eighth in the Westcott series. This is Lady Jessica Archer’s story. Jessica watches her cousin Abby with her newborn, a daughter, a loving husband, and a lovely home. She is Continue reading “Someone to Romance: The Westcott Series (Book 8), by Mary Balogh—A Review”

A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt of Fair Weather Enemies, by Sawyer North

Fair Weather Enemies by Sawyer North 2020I am dogged in my pursuit of new books. I subscribe to Publisher’s Marketplace. I read publishers quarterly catalogs. I read Advance magazine. However, the path to discovering a new book is sometimes fortuitous—by chance rather than by design. Such was the case with author Sawyer North. Our serendipitous introduction on Twitter makes his debut historical romance novel, Fair Weather Enemies, all the sweeter because of the journey.

Seriously, what Janeite would not want to follow @MrDarcyExplains? Check out his description of himself:

“I write Regency romance. I’m a man. Weird, I know. My wife is just happy we read the same stuff now. But she’s cooler. #ReadARegency

His tweets are witty and funny too. Continue reading “A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt of Fair Weather Enemies, by Sawyer North”

A Preview of How to Rescue a Rake, by Jayne Fresina

How to Rescue a Rake by Jayne Fresina 2016 x 200Please help me welcome author Jayne Fresina today to Austenprose.

Jayne’s third book in her Book Club Belles series, How to Rescue a Rake, has just been published by Sourcebooks Casablanca.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, this new Regency romance features heroine Diana Makepiece whose life and troubles resemble Austen’s Anne Elliot in many respects. Here is a description of the book from the publisher:

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Nathaniel Sherringham has returned to Hawcombe Prior a changed man. Gone is the reckless rake who went out on a limb to propose to Diana Makepiece three years ago. Now Nate’s mysterious new wealth has the town’s rumor mill spinning. To stir things up (and get Diana’s attention), Nate boldly announces his plans to marry “any suitable girl” under the age of 25.

Diana, now 27 and still single, is acutely aware of Nate’s return. When her mother suggests a trip to visit a cousin in Bath, Diana leaps at the chance to escape the heartbreak and regret she can’t help but feel in Nate’s presence…and avoid his irritating charade to find a bride.

But for Nate, Diana has always been the one. He might just have to follow her to Bath and once again lay his heart on the line to win her attention-and her heart.

GUEST BLOG

Here to tell us more about her inspiration for the Book Club Belles series, and her love of Jane Austen is author Jayne Fresina.

TAKING A LEAF OUT OF JANE’S BOOK…

I have been an Austen fan since I first read Pride and Prejudice when I was fifteen. It was a recommendation by my English Literature teacher at school because a BBC production had just started airing on Sunday evening TV and she suggested we might want to read the book too.

It was love at first read.

After that, I worked my way through each of her books, greedily absorbing every word (checking the dictionary for a few of them) and learning about that strange world of manners and morals, balls and carriage rides, parasols, and fine prospects. It was wonderful to escape from the dreariness of this teenager’s life, in a cold, rainy Northern England town in the 1980s. So I owe a huge debt of thanks to that teacher — Ms. Jones — who, with her big shiny glasses and bubbling enthusiasm for all things Austen, made me a convert.

Many years later, when I finally became a published author, I flirted with the idea of writing another version of Pride and Prejudice, but there were a lot of other authors who had the same idea and the results were not always well-received. Was there room for yet another Austen-inspired book? Was it superfluous? Were people tired of all that?

I didn’t want to upset Austen fans, of course, by doing anything that might be seen as insulting to Jane or her characters. (“Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?” – Lady Catherine de Bourgh squawks in my ear) But I really wanted to create a tribute of my own to Jane and her stories. I kept putting it off, but the idea always crept back in, poking away at me. It’s a very dodgy business taking on something like that and I spent quite a long time deciding how I might do it in a way that would add to the story, not just purloin the plot or the characters.

Finally, as I was reading an Austen biography one day and looking at a sketch of a Regency-era lending library, I came up with the idea of a Book Society – a small group of young ladies reading Austen’s works when they were first published. Wouldn’t it be fun, I thought if their lives begin to follow the plot of whichever book they are reading? They certainly had more chance of meeting a “real” Captain Wentworth, Mr. Darcy or Colonel Brandon than anyone living today.

For one thing, men just don’t dress that way today. Sigh! Not since Elvis has there been a man who could carry off a good sideburn!

I sent the series proposal to my editor at Sourcebooks and she loved it. And so the idea for the Book Club Belles was born. Justina and Catherine Penny, Diana Makepiece, Lucy Bridges and Rebecca Sherringham were soon sketched out in my mind and then filled out on paper. As young ladies living in Austen’s time, her books are a form of escape for them too, just as they once were for me — and as they continue to be for so many readers, old fans and new.

I thought it was important that the books have a sense of humor, so I kept them light-hearted and not too “angsty”. As I wrote I was very conscious of staying as true to the period as possible. The ladies of my book society, however, are considerably more rebellious and daring than Miss Austen’s heroines — a sign of these times, I’m afraid. Hopefully, Jane can forgive me for that!

After all, Mr. Darcy is now remembered by many as Colin Firth walking out of his lake in a rather fabulous wet shirt— a state of undress in which the real Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy would never be caught. Whenever I watch that scene (drool over it, maybe more accurate), I wonder what Jane Austen would think of all this— of how beloved her characters have become to so many generations of readers (and watchers now too). What would she think of all these TV adaptations and movies? What would she make of all these books influenced by her work?

I can’t help thinking she’d be laughing. Once she got over the shock of Mr. Darcy’s impromptu swim and delightfully bedraggled wet curls.

Yes, it’s a chancy business taking on the work of an author like Jane Austen and giving the story a new twist, but I think she would agree that, if a little fresh treatment brings more readers to her books and introduces them to that wonderful world, all the better!

AUTHOR BIO

Jayne-Fresina 2016 x 150Jayne Fresina sprouted up in England. Entertained by her father’s colorful tales of growing up in the countryside, and surrounded by opinionated sisters, she’s always had inspiration for her beleaguered heroes and unstoppable heroines. She lives in upstate New York. Learn more about the author at www.jaynefresinaromanceauthor.blogspot.com, follower her on Facebook as Jayne Fresina and on Twitter as @JayneFresina.

How to Rescue a Rake (Book Club Belles Society #3), by Jayne Fresina
Sourcebooks Casablanca (2016)
Mass market paperback & eBook (384) pages
ISBN: 978-1402287824

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

Cover image courtesy of Sourcebooks Casablanca © 2016; text Jayne Fresina © 2016, Austenprose.com

The Lure of the Moonflower: A Pink Carnation Novel, by Lauren Willig– A Review

The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig 2015 x 200All good things must come to end. And so it seems must my favorite historical romance series, The Pink Carnation—offering us its twelfth and final installment, The Lure of the Moonflower. *deep sigh*

For eleven novels author Lauren Willig has enchanted us with Napoleonic spies, romance and laughter. It has been an amazing ride while it lasted. Now with one last fling ahead of me, I started to read (and listen to the audio edition) this new novel. Pushing aside my deep lament, I came to the realization that I am a sappy sentimentalist. Honestly, how could I not be? I had been duly “Pinked”.

It is very fitting that this final book in the series focuses on Miss Jane Wooliston – the Pink Carnation herself, the infamous English spy who gave “the French Ministry of Police headaches” and “who had caused Bonaparte to gnash his molars into early extraction…” Let’s hope I have teeth by the end of the book. Continue reading “The Lure of the Moonflower: A Pink Carnation Novel, by Lauren Willig– A Review”

A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt of The Lure of the Moonflower: A Pink Carnation Novel, by Lauren Willig

The Lure of the Moonflower, by Lauren Willig (2015)It is release day for one of my favorite Regency-era series: The Pink Carnation, by Lauren Willig. Her latest and last installment is The Lure of the Moonflower.

As you all gasp in shock over my last statement—yes—it is the last book in the series, now totaling 12 novels.

This week, we are honored to be among a group of select bloggers celebrating the release of The Lure of the Moonflower. Here is an excerpt and a chance at a giveaway of the novel. Details are listed at the bottom of the post. Just leave a comment to qualify.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

In the final Pink Carnation novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, Napoleon has occupied Lisbon, and Jane Wooliston, aka the Pink Carnation, teams up with a rogue agent to protect the escaped Queen of Portugal.

Portugal, December 1807. Jack Reid, the British agent known as the Moonflower (formerly the French agent known as the Moonflower), has been stationed in Portugal and is awaiting his new contact. He does not expect to be paired with a woman—especially not the legendary Pink Carnation.

All of Portugal believes that the royal family departed for Brazil just before the French troops marched into Lisbon. Only the English government knows that mad seventy-three-year-old Queen Maria was spirited away by a group of loyalists determined to rally a resistance. But as the French garrison scours the countryside, it’s only a matter of time before she’s found and taken.

It’s up to Jane to find her first and ensure her safety. But she has no knowledge of Portugal or the language. Though she is loath to admit it, she needs the Moonflower. Operating alone has taught her to respect her own limitations. But she knows better than to show weakness around the Moonflower—an agent with a reputation for brilliance, a tendency toward insubordination, and a history of going rogue.

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT

To set the scene….  It’s 1807 and Jane Wooliston, aka the Pink Carnation, is on the trail of the missing queen of Portugal, with orders to find her before Napoleon does.  But to do so, she needs the help of Jack Reid, the agent known as the Moonflower.  He speaks the language; he knows the terrain.  She doesn’t.  But Jane doesn’t like losing control, so she decides to even the odds by having them travel in a way which gives her the upper hand: disguised as French soldiers, she an officer, and Jack her servant.

She doesn’t count on her “servant” sharing her tent….

“Daydreaming, Lieutenant?” Jack Reid let the flap of the tent fall back down behind him as he walked in as though he owned it.

“What are you doing here?” Hastily, Jane yanked her jacket back around her shoulders. As befitted an officer, the shirt beneath was made of fine linen. Too fine.

Jack tossed his hat onto her cot, where it spattered rainwater on her blanket. “We made less than five miles today. At this rate we’ll make Porto by spring.”

“Don’t be absurd. I’m sure we’ll pick up speed tomorrow.” Jane snatched the hat off the bed and thrust it back at him. “Don’t you have somewhere else you need to be?”

“The mule is settled and Moreau’s servant is short a week’s pay. Dice,” Jack explained helpfully, as he plucked Jane’s cloak from its peg and began rolling it into a makeshift pallet.

“How nice for you,” said Jane, with heavy sarcasm. Heaven help her, she was beginning to sound like him. She set her hands on her hips. “What are you doing?”

“Insurance.” Jack removed a pair of pistols and placed them by the side of the pallet. “Not to mention that it’s drier inside than out.”

He plunked himself down on Jane’s cloak, smiling seraphically up at her.

Jane blinked down at him. She hadn’t thought about where he would sleep. She had assumed, if she had thought of it, that the officers’ servants would have their own accommodations.

The tent felt very small with Jack Reid in it.

Jane narrowed her eyes at him. “You can’t bunk with one of the other batmen?”

“And leave you unprotected?”

There, at least, she was on firm ground. Jane reached beneath her pillow. “I have my own pistols.”

“Try not to point them at me,” said Jack, and settled back, using his camp bag as a pillow. “Would you mind blowing out the lantern when you’re done prinking? I don’t like sleeping with a candle lit.”

Neither did Jane, but that was beside the point. “What about ‘go’ and ‘away’ don’t you understand . . . Rodrigo?”

Jack propped himself up on one elbow. The lamplight picked out the strands of copper in his dark hair, dancing along the lines of his muscles beneath the folds of his shirt.

“Are you going missish on me, princess?” There was a dangerous glitter in his amber eyes. “Because if you are, tell me now and we can abandon this whole bloody charade.”

The profanity, Jane had no doubt, was deliberate and designed to shock. “If this is an attempt to provoke me, I can assure you, it will be quite unavailing.”

“‘Quite unavailing’?” Jack collapsed back on his camp bag, rolling his eyes up at the roof of the tent. “Forget what I said about not pointing those things at me. Put me out of my misery and shoot me now.”

Jane resisted the urge to direct a short, sharp kick to the side of the Moonflower’s head. “No one asked you to join me.”

“Didn’t you?” retorted Jack mockingly. “I don’t remember being given much choice in the matter. Master.”

“In my tent,” Jane amended, glaring at him.

It was too cold to strip down entirely, but she’d intended at least to remove her boots before seeking her bed. Jane regarded the recumbent figure on the floor—on her cloak—with tight lips. Missish, he had called her.

If she could endure his presence in her tent, he could bear with her wet feet.

Jack rolled onto his side, looking up at her with an expression of feigned innocence. “Need help with that?”

“I can manage,” said Jane, with as much dignity as she could muster while hanging half upside down. These boots had been designed with a valet in mind. Either that or the leather had shrunk in the rain.

The first boot came off with a pop, nearly conking her erstwhile batman in the head.

Jack dodged out of the way. “Apparently not,” he said, and before Jane could stop him he had gripped the other boot by the heel. “Relax, princess. Consider this a basic instinct for self-preservation.”

“I thought you had rather a well-developed instinct for that,” said Jane tartly. Empires could rise and fall, but the Moonflower always seemed to land on his feet.

“If I did, would I be here with you?”

The boot came off easily in his hands, leaving Jane’s leg bare but for her silk stockings, rather the worse for wear. Jack Reid’s fingers ran along her calf, his thumb digging into the tight muscles, massaging them.

Jane froze.

So did Jack Reid. He snatched his hand away as though burned.

Jane drew her leg back, tucking it behind the other. She could feel the tingles all the way up her shin. “Thank you. For your help with the boot.”

Jack Reid rocked back on his heels. “This is only the beginning, you know.” He looked up at her, his eyes dark in the uncertain light. “I’m your manservant. I live in your tent. I see to your, ahem, needs. You’re going to be seeing a lot of me, princess.”

Jane pressed her eyes briefly shut. Of course. Another ploy, another stratagem. She ought to have known.

“We’re not going back to Lisbon,” said Jane flatly.

“Suit yourself.” Jack shrugged, burrowing down into Jane’s cloak and tipping his hat down over his nose. From beneath the brim, she heard him murmur, “It’s going to be a long march.”

AUTHOR BIO

Lauren Willig headshot 2015Lauren Willig is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of the Pink Carnation novels, set in the Napoleonic Era. Before becoming a full-time writer she received a JD from Harvard Law. She resides in New York City.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

The Lure of the Moonflower: A Pink Carnation Novel, by Lauren Willig
New American Library (2015)
Trade paperback, eBook & Audio (528) pages
ISBN: 978-0451473028

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

GIVEAWAY

Enter a chance to win one paperback copy of The Lure of the Moonflower, by Lauren Willig by leaving a comment about the Pink Carnation series or your interest in this last novel in the series by 11:59 pm PT, August 12, 2015. The winner will be announced on Thursday, August 13, 2015. Shipment is to US addresses. Good luck to all.

Our Reviews of The Pink Carnation Series

Cover image courtesy of NAL © 2015, excerpt Lauren Willig © 2015, Austenprose.com

Q&A with Patrice Kindl, Author of A School For Brides

A School for Brides, by Patrice Kindl 2015It is a rare delight in reading to discover a new author that you feel could become one of your most cherished favorites. When “every feature works,” I am revved up and ready to share my excitement.

Such is the case with Patrice Kindl, who until a review copy of A School for Brides landed on my doorstep last month was entirely unknown to me. Further research revealed that this new release was a companion novel to her first in the Lesser Hoo series, Keeping the Castle. Set in the Regency period both novels share many of the same characters, paralleling the same time frame, but from a different perspective. Better and better.

Before diving into A School for Brides I decided to power through an audio recording of Keeping the Castle. It knocked my bonnet off. If I could describe Kindl’s writing in one sentence, I would say that it is a skillful blending of Jane Austen’s genius with social satire, Georgette Heyer’s exuberant humor and Dodie Smith’s poignant romance. Continue reading “Q&A with Patrice Kindl, Author of A School For Brides”

Blog Tour of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, by Julie Klassen

Award-winning historical romance author Julie Klassen tours the blogosphere February 16 through March 2, 2015, to share her latest release, The Secret of Pembrooke Park. 

Klassen’s eighth novel is a Gothic romance, a “gem for Regency and inspirational readers alike.” — Bookpage, introducing us to Miss Abigail Foster, a heroine in the making who travels to an ancestral manor where she discovers a past tainted by family secrets, rumors of hidden treasure and the surprise of an unexpected romance. Continue reading “Blog Tour of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, by Julie Klassen”

Prelude for a Lord: A Novel, by Camille Elliot – A Review

Prelude for a Lord Camille Elliot (2014)From the desk of Katie Patchell:

In the Regency era, the only acceptable musical instruments a woman was allowed to play were the harp and piano, and if she played any other, particularly a violin, she would be looked down upon in society and considered unfeminine. But in Camille Elliot’s recent debut novel, Prelude for a Lord, the heroine defies conventions and plays this beautiful but forbidden instrument, which stirs her heart, makes her forget her past and society’s censure, and ultimately, entangles her in a web of romance, mystery, and danger.

At the age of twenty-eight, Lady Alethea Sutherton has accepted her fate: that she will never marry, and will always be looked down upon by society as an eccentric. With her height, striking (rather than classical) features, and her unconventional country ways, she is whispered about by the Continue reading “Prelude for a Lord: A Novel, by Camille Elliot – A Review”

The Unexpected Earl, by Philippa Jane Keyworth – A Review 

The Unexpected Earl , by Philippa Jane Keyworth (2014)From the desk of Katie Patchell: 

Imagine the scene: A woman and man meet in the entryway to a glittering ballroom—full of dancing couples, flickering candles, and the faraway strains of violins. The couple locks eyes, and with that meaningful, tension-filled glance, the man bends down and kisses the woman’s glove.

This seems to be the opening scene of a promising new romance, does it not? But this is not truly the beginning of a romance, but the finale that is six long years overdue. Or is it? In The Unexpected Earl, Philippa Jane Keyworth’s latest Regency novel, readers discover a story of second chances, romantic entanglements, and the rediscovery of true love that is reminiscent of Jane Austen’s beloved novel, Persuasion.

Julia Rotherham is prepared to play the various roles of a wallflower, dutiful sister, and old maid at her beautiful younger sister’s coming-out ball. Everything goes according to plan until she comes face to face Continue reading “The Unexpected Earl, by Philippa Jane Keyworth – A Review “

The Earl Next Door, by Amanda Grange – A Review

The Earl Next Door by Amanda Grange 2012 x 200From the desk of Katie Patchell:  

A lesson learned from the works of Jane Austen is that the rake never saves the day and never gets the girl. Mr. Wickham, Willoughby, Henry Crawford, John Thorpe, and Mr. Elliot are all fine examples of this rule. While Mr. Darcy, Colonel Brandon, Edmund Bertram, Henry Tilney, and Captain Wentworth all perfectly fit their roles as heroes, I’ve lately experienced some niggling doubts about these so-called rakes. Was Willoughby really so horrible, or were his actions the result of a lack of maturity and guidance? Would Henry Crawford have been faithful if Fanny had given him encouragement? This leads to a deeper question–What would happen if the rake DID get the girl? And what if he really wasn’t a rake at all—what if he was the hero in disguise? Those questions are explored and answered in The Earl Next Door (originally published as Anything but a Gentleman) by Amanda Grange, the author of the well-known series of diaries from the perspectives of Jane Austen’s heroes. Continue reading “The Earl Next Door, by Amanda Grange – A Review”

Desperate Measures: A Regency Short Story, by Candice Hern – A Review

The Regency Romance Reading Challenge (2013)This is my sixth selection in the Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013, our celebration of romance author Candice Hern. We will be reading all of her traditional Regencies over the next nine months, discussing her characters, plots and Regency history. Make haste! You can still join the reading challenge until July 1, 2013. Participants, please leave comments and or links to your reviews for this month in the comment section of this post.

My Review:

Unrequited love can force a girl into desperate measures—a scheme that Lydia Bettridge’s brother Daniel has concocted—and she is uncertain will work. Before the most important ball of the Season, he will procure his friend Philip Hartwell to sweep her off her feet in front of the object of her affection making him wild with jealousy. But when Philip is detained from the ball and unknowingly asks the object of her affection Geoffrey Danforth to be the swain who sweeps, Lydia is thrown for a loop. NO—he was to be the jealous lover, not the one to make her lover jealous! Thankfully Geoffrey does not know who the object of the game is and Lydia is not going to tell him! But now everything is topsy-turvy. How was she going to make him think of her as a beautiful, desirable young woman and not the little sister of his best friend? It does not help that he is so eager to play the part, especially since he has never singled out any woman in his life and will draw the attention of Society by playing the “mooncalf” with her. He was determined to make everyone in the room believe that he was madly in love with her, and he did, even Lydia! It was totally glorious—except that it was not real. Pressed to reveal whom Geoffrey is to make jealous, Lydia picks the first man she sees, the infamous rake Lord Tennison. Shocked, he tries to warn her off, but Lydia claims she needs excitement in her life. Always the obliging gentleman, Geoffrey promises to play the part to the nines and have Tennison falling at her feet before the night’s end. Continue reading “Desperate Measures: A Regency Short Story, by Candice Hern – A Review”

Website Built with WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: