A Preview of The Jane Austen Dating Agency: An Uplifting Romantic Comedy, by Fiona Woodifield

The Jane Austen Dating Agency (2020)Happy Valentine’s Day Janeites!

Jane Austen has been attributed as the mother of romance, so in honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s all crack open Persuasion and let Captain Wentworth pierce our soul and Mr. Darcy say to us, “dearest loveliest (insert your name here).”

In celebration of a holiday devoted entirely to romance, we are previewing a new romantic comedy that is Jane Austen-inspired. Debut novelist Fiona Woodifield and I crossed paths on Twitter and I snagged an exclusive excerpt from her new contemporary novel, The Jane Austen Dating Agency.

Fiona’s heroine Sophie is a dating disaster and has a lot to learn before she gets her HEA. I hope you are in the mood for some laughs with that romance today while you wash down Godiva chocolate with a perfectly paired glass of wine.

Many thanks to Fiona and her publisher Bloodhound Books for letting me feature The Jane Austen Dating Agency. I hope you give it a try. It’s very reasonably priced as $.99 and is sure to make you smile.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Does true romance really exist?

Sophie Johnson is young, intelligent and attractive. So, when she lands the dream position of Sales Executive at a leading fashion magazine, it appears she has it all.  But in reality, she hates her job, is sick of her controlling mother and is a dating disaster.

Then she discovers The Jane Austen Dating Agency, an exclusive club for ladies who want to meet real gentlemen and believes her luck has changed. And when Sophie meets Darcy Drummond, she thinks her dreams have come true. That is until she discovers he is arrogant and hard-headed.

So, when Daniel Becks steps into her life, she thinks she’s found the one. But is he really all he seems?

The Jane Austen Dating Agency is for anyone who has ever dreamed of romance and wondered if it really exists.

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Continue reading

Q & A with Midnight in Austenland Author Shannon Hale, & a Giveaway!

Midnight in Austenland: A Novel, by Shannon Hale (2012)We have a special treat in store for you today. Please help us welcome New York Times best-selling author Shannon Hale. She has graciously fit us into her very busy promotional schedule and answered a few probing questions about her new Austen-inspired novel, Midnight in Austenland, and the new movie in production of her first novel in the series, Austenland.

LAN: Thanks Shannon for joining us today to chat about your new Austen-inspired novel, Midnight in Austenland. This is the second time you have taken readers to that special place, Pembrook Park, the Regency-era theme park in Kent, England designed for Janeites. What tempted you to return?

SH: I was writing a screenplay for Austenland with Jerusha Hess and really enjoying returning to the story and the characters. Then when I wrote up a character sheet for my co-writer, I stumbled upon a new story idea. That story became Midnight in Austenland. I was delighted! I’d never thought to return.

LAN: Do any of the original characters from Austenland make an appearance in Midnight in Austenland? If so, can you share who and why you chose them?

SH: Miss Charming, who was a guest in the first book, is still there. The idea made me laugh, so I had to do it. I love writing her dialog, and I felt like her character had more to explore. Mrs. Wattlesbrook, the proprietress, and her handsy husband are there, and Colonel Andrews, whose parlor mystery game created the story that I couldn’t wait to follow.

LAN: There are many interesting and entertaining new characters in Midnight in Austenland, but the standout for me was Mr. Mallery. Can you give us any insight into your inspiration for his character and a preview of your deliciously moody hero?

SH: Thank you! I was thinking about how Jane Austen was in many ways commenting on the gothic romances of her day in her stories, even with Mr. Darcy. I wanted Mallery to start at that place but mixed in a little more Rochester and Heathcliff–a dark hero with a bit more bite. He was fun. I want to say more, but I’m afraid I’d get spoilery!

LAN: Midnight in Austenland is not only a romantic comedy; it is a mystery, with spirited allusions to Jane Austen’s gothic parody, Northanger Abbey. Gothic fiction played an important part in Austen’s creation of Northanger Abbey. Were there any mystery novels or authors that inspired you? Continue reading

Sprig Muslin, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Sprig Muslin, by Georgette Heyer (2011)Guest review by Laura A. Wallace: 

Georgette Heyer’s Sprig Muslin is one of her most entertaining Regency novels.  It is a “road book,” full of adventures, comical situations, and fun characters.

At the outset, I must beg anyone who leaves a comment to avoid spoilers.  New readers should have the pleasure of discovering Amanda’s antics, their consequences, and who feels what for whom, on their own.

Sir Gareth Ludlow is one of society’s best-loved bachelors.  We first meet him calling upon his sister, whose offspring consider his visit to be a high treat:

Watching him, as he contrived, while displaying over and over again for the edification of little Philip the magical properties of his repeating watch, to lend an ear to the particular problem exercising Leigh’s mind, Mrs Wetherby thought that you would be hard put to it to find a more attractive man, and wished, as she had done a thousand times before, that she could discover some bride for him lovely enough to drive out of his heart the memory of his dead love. . . but she had never been able to detect in his gray eyes so much as a flicker of the look that had warmed them when they had rested on Clarissa Lincombe.

Continue reading

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

Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard Blog Tour with Author Belinda Roberts, and a Giveaway

Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard: A Tale of Tide and Prejudice, by Belinda Roberts (2011)Please join us today in welcoming Austenesque author Belinda Roberts for the official launch of her book blog tour of Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard: A Tale of Tide & Prejudice, a new Pride and Prejudice contemporary retelling that was released on June 1, 2011 by Sourcebooks.

Salcombe is a lively, fashionable seaside town on the south west coast of England – the sort of busy place where you turn a corner and whoops!  Excuse me!  Sorry!  After you!  You have had an encounter with a young Mr. Darcy.  They are everywhere, mixed in with young Mr. Bingleys, anxious Mrs. Bennets and shrieking Kittys and Lydias making themselves heard from one end of Fore Street to the other.  So, having spent many happy family holidays ourselves in Salcombe, I suppose it wasn’t so much an inspiration rather, as Mr. Gradgrind in Hard Times would say ‘FACT’ that drew me to write a modern day version of Pride and Prejudice.  Jane Austen’s characters are there, in Salcombe, alive and kicking – or splashing about at any rate!  In my mind the ball gowns of Pride and Prejudice started to be replaced by bikinis, ‘Pemberley’ became a magnificent sixty-two foot yacht, the militia took on the role of lifeguards – it was a book waiting to be written!

What is more, Salcombe has a wonderful Town Regatta each year – a week of events that bring the whole of Salcombe society together.  Assemblies, balls, dances are all there still – but in a slightly different guise.  The famous Netherfield Ball, for instance, could become the equally famous Salcombe Estuary Swim.  At both, society comes together: there is the chance to mingle, to avoid certain people and to search out others – Darcy and Elizabeth could hold their conversation whilst swimming the choppy waters.  The Greasy Pole and Sandcastle Competition, along with the beautiful cliff walks, golden beaches and plenty of opportunities for frolicking about in the sparkling seas offered further wonderful opportunities.  The links seemed perfect and I couldn’t wait to start.

My opportunity came when I went down to Salcombe to accompany my eldest daughter, Sophie, who needed some peace and quiet to write her dissertation on Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande.  This was a serious endeavour.  We both sat at the little kitchen table of our terraced house in Island Street Salcombe, set up our beloved MacBooks and started to write.  I was keen that my book should follow Jane Austen’s original chapter for chapter in plot and characterization as best I could.  The combination of reading Pride and Prejudice, translating it into a modern seaside setting and trying to keep quiet was too much and I kept bursting out laughing – which was not helpful to poor Sophie!  The hardest part was ‘modernizing’ Lydia’s disgraceful behavior, which of course, would hardly be noticed these days. I hope I came up with a suitably sensational solution! Continue reading