Mr. Darcy’s Bite Blog Tour with author Mary Simonsen, & Giveaway

Mr Darcy's Bite, by Mary Simonsen (2011)Halloween season is upon us, and that includes paranormal novels arriving to get us in the mood for the spooky holiday. Please join us today in welcoming author Mary Simonsen on her blog tour in celebration of the release of Mr. Darcy’s Bite a new paranormal Pride and Prejudice-inspired story published on October 1, 2011, by Sourcebooks. Mary has kindly shared her insights into her inspiration and research for our readers.

Hi Laurel Ann. It’s always good to be back on Austenprose, but today is especially significant. Not only do I have a new release, Mr. Darcy’s Bite, but today is my birthday. It’s one of those big ones that end in a zero. I won’t say how old I am, but I’m reading Social Security brochures.

I thought I might begin by sharing an excerpt from the prologue of Mr. Darcy’s Bite: The story opens with fourteen-year-old Darcy being bitten by a wolf in the Black Forest:

William retreated, but from a distance, the wolf followed him. With his heart pounding in his chest, he finally reached the road and could see the men working on the carriage. Before going in search of his father, he took one last look down the road and saw the wolf standing in plain view. Because of the full moon, the road was lit up as if it were daytime, leaving the female lupine completely exposed. Without thinking, William waved to her, and it was only then that she returned to the woods. The only conclusion he could draw was that she had wanted to make sure he was safe. But what kind of wolf did that?

You asked me to write about my inspiration for penning a werewolf novel. I had two motivations. The first was that I wanted to write a short story for Halloween for a fanfiction site where I posted most of my stories, and it was appropriately titled “Mr. Darcy on the Eve of All Saints Day.” But the response was so great that I just kept writing. Before I knew it, my short story had become a full-length novel. It shows what a little encouragement can do.

My second motivation was to respond to another Darcy werewolf story. Although I applauded the author for creating a dark atmosphere, her Darcy and Elizabeth were not mine. In the first place, Darcy did not tell Elizabeth he was a werewolf before marrying her, and because of the threat of exposure, he had separated his bride from her family by bringing Elizabeth to a castle far, far away from Longbourn. In my mind, Darcy would not have done either of those things. So with a sword (actually computer) in hand, I set about righting the wrong. Continue reading “Mr. Darcy’s Bite Blog Tour with author Mary Simonsen, & Giveaway”

A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt of Mr. Darcy’s Undoing: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:

Today we are celebrating the release of a new Pride and Prejudice inspired novel, by bestselling author Abigail Reynolds. Mr. Darcy’s Undoing was published by Sourcebooks this week and is a variation on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The publisher has kindly shared an exclusive excerpt from the novel for our readers.

Enjoy!


BOOK DESCRIPTION

What could possibly make a proper gentleman come completely undone?

What if Elizabeth Bennet accepted the proposal of another before she met Mr. Darcy again?

In Abigail Reynolds’ bold and playful retelling of the Austen classic (originally self-published as Without Reserve), a devastated Mr. Darcy must decide how far he is willing to go to win the woman he loves. Consumed by jealousy, he knows that winning her will throw them both into scandal and disgrace, but losing her is unbearable. Mr. Darcy is going to have to fight for his love, and his life…


EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT

Darcy was cautiously pleased with how the evening was progressing. Although the degree of shock with which Elizabeth had greeted him had not been promising, she had agreed to dance with him, spoken with him with an air of comfort, and even teased him a little, if he was not mistaken. He had ached for her from the moment he saw her, standing by her sister with her back to the door, and the exquisite plea­sure of touching her hand as they danced had only reinforced his desire to win her. He could not quite bring himself to dance with another woman so quickly, so instead determined to demonstrate his attention to her reproofs by conversing with her family. Unfortunately, the only member of her family then available was her mother. Taking a deep breath, he approached Mrs. Bennet, giving her his compliments and enquiring after her well-being.

His reception was initially cold and ceremonious, but he persisted in his civility, just keeping himself from rolling his eyes at some of Mrs. Bennet’s ridiculous manners. Soon, however, the compliment of having such a man’s attention outweighed her former anger towards him, and she began to take advantage of the opportunity to tell him all the news of the neighbourhood.

“My sister Phillips’ eldest son married last spring to Harriet Letsworth, and that was quite the occasion,” she said. With pride, she added her coup, “And you have no doubt heard, Mr. Darcy, of my daughter’s engagement.”

Darcy’s wandering attention snapped back to her at these words. Miss Bennet engaged? Bingley would be devastated, especially if the look on his face when he danced with her was anything to judge by. This was a disaster; it would certainly make matters more difficult for him with Elizabeth as well. He cleared his throat, trying to mask his reaction, and said, “Miss Bennet is engaged? No, I have not had the pleasure of hearing the news.”

“Oh, no, not Jane!” replied Mrs. Bennet distractedly, her eyes travelling with satisfaction toward the figure of Mr. Bingley. “No, it is Lizzy who is to marry Mr. Covington—ah, yes, he has just arrived. My daughter Lydia is unfortunately not with us tonight; she is visiting Colonel Forster’s wife in Devonshire.”

Darcy was struck by a sharp shock of pain and disbelief at her unexpected words. His Elizabeth, promised to another man? It could not be! The possibility had never so much as crossed his mind that she might look on some other man with favour—that she might refuse him again, yes, but marry another, and so quickly? How could this have happened? His eyes sought her out involuntarily where she stood conversing with several acquaintances, and the taste of bile rose in his throat. He forced himself to say, “I do not believe that I am acquainted with Mr. Covington.” But I know enough about him already to wish he had never taken the first breath of life! he thought darkly. “Not know him?” cried Mrs. Bennet disbelievingly. “Mr. Covington is master of Ashworth House, and a fine gentle­man. Surely you must have met him last autumn, Mr. Darcy? There he is now.” With an embarrassing want of propriety, she pointed across the room to a well-built gentleman perhaps a few years younger than Darcy, with a handsome enough countenance though no particular claim to style, but fitting well into the company at hand. As Darcy watched with bitter jealousy, he approached Elizabeth and greeted her warmly, raising her hand to his lips.

Darcy’s eyes were fixed on Elizabeth, who welcomed the interloper with a somewhat absent smile, continuing her conversation and apparently including him without particular effort. Elizabeth, he thought despairingly.

Mr. Covington’s late arrival had not come as a surprise to Elizabeth; she knew he was quite busy at this season, and she was just as happy he had been absent during her dance with Darcy. She could not help but wonder what Darcy was thinking, if he had noticed the two of them together, and whether he was thanking heaven for his narrow escape. As Mr. Covington took her hand for the next dance, she braved a glimpse in his direction.

One look at his face told her something was terribly wrong. She saw her mother chatting away to him while he appeared oblivious, looking directly at Elizabeth. The realization suddenly hit her that he had not known of her engagement, that this was news to him; and a sudden wave of nausea passed over her. How cruel he must think she had been with her arch looks and teasing during their dances! She might not care for him, but he had been making a pronounced effort to be civil, and he did not deserve to be treated so. And what would Mr. Covington think if he knew she had been dancing with a gentleman who had loved her ardently and wanted to marry her? She felt heartily ashamed of herself, without quite knowing why.

Mr. Covington noticed her hesitation. “Are you well, Miss Bennet?” he asked with concern, noting her pallor.

Elizabeth swallowed. “Yes, quite well, sir,” she said. “Please, let us continue.”

End of excerpt…

I hope you enjoyed this visit with Darcy and Elizabeth!  I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have about Mr. Darcy’s Undoing or my other books.


AUTHOR BIO

Abigail Reynolds is a lifelong Jane Austen enthusiast and a physician. Originally from upstate New York, she studied Russian, theater, and marine biology at Bryn Mawr College before deciding to attend medical school. She began writing Pride and Prejudice variations in 2001 to spend more time with her favorite characters. Her most recent releases are What Would Mr. Darcy Do? and an anthology of Pride and Prejudice stories, A Pemberley Medley.  Abigail is a lifetime member of the Jane Austen Society of North America and lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of wild animals masquerading as pets.  Her hobbies include beading, reading, and finding time to sleep. 


BOOK INFORMATION

  • Mr. Darcy’s Undoing: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds
  • Sourcebooks (2011)
  • Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook (352) pages
  • ISBN: 978-1402240942
  • Genre: Austenesque, Regency Romance

ADDITIONAL INFO | ADD TO GOODREADS

We received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image, book description, excerpt, and author bio courtesy of Sourcebooks © 2011; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2011, austenprose.com.

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”

Jane Austen Made Me Do It Short Story Contest Winner Revealed!

Jane Austen Made Me Do It, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress (2011)88 Austen-inspired stories were narrowed down to the Top Ten finalists last March in the Jane Austen Made Me Do It Short Story Contest. One lucky winner was chosen and announced yesterday. My congratulations go out to Brenna Aubrey, a talented new voice in Austenesque fiction.

A contest to win one of four copies of Jane Austen Made Me Do It is open until midnight September 5, 2011. Leave a comment on the post announcing the opening of the JAMMDI website. An additional contest to win one of ten copies is also currently running on Goodreads, ending September 9, 2011, so make haste and head on over and leave a comment or a request to enter the contests.

Cheers

Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Murder Most Persuasive Blog Tour with Author Tracy Kiely

Murder Most Persuasive: A Mystery, by Tracy Kiely (2011)Please join us today in welcoming author Tracy Kiely on her blog tour in celebration of the release of Murder Most Persuasive: A Mystery, a new Persuasion-inspired mystery novel published today by Minotaur Books.

Murder, Jane Austen, and Me  

I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was little. That’s not to say that I was one of those child prodigies who effortlessly create witty/insightful/touching tomes at a tender age, and land on the couch with Ophra. Far from it. In fact, here’s a little sample of one of my earliest works that proves my point quite nicely. It was my first (and, thankfully, only) attempt at poetry. Ready? Here goes:

The rain comes down

Upon the ground

Will it ever stop?

I’ll get the mop.

See, what I mean? But, despite my rather shaky start, I still loved the idea of being a writer. As the years went by, I narrowed that down to being a mystery writer. Growing up, I spent a great deal of time reading Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, and watching Alfred Hitchcock movies. I loved the twisty, deviously clever plots of Christie, the sublime wit of Austen, and the “average man caught in extraordinary circumstances” themes of Hitchcock.

Anyway, when I began to think of writing my own mystery, I realized it would have to include those elements. As I struggled to come up with something in the way of a viable storyline, the characters of Pride and Prejudice kept swirling around in my head. It dawned on me that while there is no murder in Pride and Prejudice, there are plenty of characters who certainly inspire murderous thoughts. I began to wonder, what, if after years of living with unbearably rude and condescending behavior, old Mrs. Jenkins up and strangled Lady Catherine? Or, if one day Charlotte snapped and poisoned Mr. Collins’ toast and jam? I realized that most likely no one would be surprised had Jane written these plot twists into follow-up versions of her books as these characters were exactly the sort of odious creatures that would be bumped of in a mystery novel.

But, I didn’t want to write a period piece, and I definitely didn’t want to take over existing characters and try and make them my own. It’s not that I don’t enjoy reading other authors who do exactly that. It’s just as Dirty Harry once said in one of his movies, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”  I know mine, and recreating Elizabeth and Darcy is not one of then.  So, I instead I tried to figure out a way to work in the themes and personality clashes of Pride and Prejudice into a modern-day mystery. Continue reading “Murder Most Persuasive Blog Tour with Author Tracy Kiely”

Georgette Heyer Birthday Bash Celebration with Laura Wallace & Sourcebooks!

Georgette HeyerQueue the paper streamers and party hats – today, Tuesday August 16th, is Georgette Heyer’s 109th birthday! We are celebrating the Queen of Regency Romance in style with a great guest blog from our resident Heyer enthusiast Laura Wallace and a ton of fabulous giveaways from Sourcebooks. So put on your best party frock and dancing slippers and let the merriment begin!

Welcome Laura:

When I was about twelve years old, I received a mysterious box for Christmas from one of my aunts.  It was an ordinary flat shirt box, but it was heavy.  I opened it to find a rather tattered collection of paperback books.  The spines were broken, the pages dog-eared, the covers occasionally torn, and the pictures on the covers were of rather dreadful-looking females in high-waisted dresses in atrocious colors with ´60s hairstyles.

With many years´ hindsight looking back, I was not, perhaps, quite as enthusiastic as I ought to have been.  But I wasn´t at all disappointed.  I was a great reader, and while I hadn´t yet discovered Jane Austen, I had discovered Victoria Holt and similar gothic novels (in the quaint, mid-20th century sense of the word) which would today probably be marketed as young adult fiction.  So I was not at all daunted by this large box of what appeared to be historical fiction.  This was, it turned out, my aunt´s well-loved Georgette Heyer collection, which she was passing along to me.  I don´t remember what she said.  I don´t remember which novel I read first, or how long it took me to get around to it.  I don´t remember much about them, except that once, a few years later, I went searching through my Heyer books looking for the one about Catherine Morland, who was duped by that jerk John Thorpe who drove off with her when she had promised to take a walk with her friend Miss Tilney and her brother, and hurt their feelings.  I never did find it, until I read all of Austen´s novels (some of them for the first time) many years later when I made the acquaintance of Colin Firth´s Mr. Darcy.  But by the time I graduated from high school, I was devoted to Georgette Heyer.

I still have all those old paperbacks, which are now truly falling apart.  I never passed them along to my own niece because she was uninterested.  (She eventually returned most of the ones I tried to give to her, including Heyer, Austen, and Holt-I guess I impressed on her too much how precious they were to me.)  A few of them are still on my shelf as my only copy of that particular novel, though most have been replaced.  The rest are in a protective box.

Later, on something called BITNET, I discovered both Austen-L and the Georgette Heyer Mailing List, the latter of which was run by Eileen Kendall.  There I found like-minded readers who loved these authors and whose discussions of their books enriched my enjoyment and appreciation of them.  Although I love many other authors, I have never found any to equal their elegance of prose, gentle manners, and exquisite settings.  Both Austen and Heyer literally changed the way I feel about words and about literature, and even about the world.  Reading them makes me want to write novels.  (I am still attempting to do so.)  Reading them makes me study history and even genealogy.  Reading them makes me collect books about Regency England and much of the preceding and following centuries. It makes me spend hours studying in academic libraries, and sometimes makes me wish I´d majored in history, or gone back to school for a Ph.D. in history.  It makes want to write biographies of Regency-era people as well as novels.  It certainly was the genesis for my website on the British system of noble titles.

Reading Austen and Heyer led even to my falling in love with the portraiture of Sir Thomas Lawrence, which I collect avidly in electronic images, books, and prints, and to the study of other portrait artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and to the study of costume.  It placed Beethoven and Mozart in a particular context and enriches my enjoyment of both playing and listening to them, as well as seeking out other composers of the era (and I was a music major, so I didn´t exactly lack context for them).

I could go on, but I think you get the picture!

So, to celebrate Georgette Heyer´s birthday, I give thanks for her life and for her work, which gives me so much pleasure so frequently, and impacts my own world almost every day.  I know there are others like me among her legions of fans who value her work for all the reasons she herself valued it:  for the meticulous research, the exquisite language, the wit and humour, the memorable characters, and the wonderful world she created that we can go back to again and again, always certain to find something beautifully wrought and something that is new.  And most of all, perhaps, always certain to find pleasure and inspiration.  Happy Birthday, Miss Heyer!

Laura A. Wallace, is a musician, attorney, and writer living in Southeast Texas.  She is a devotee of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer and is the author of British Titles of Nobility:  An Introduction and Primer to the Peerage (1998).

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Heyer Laura. We all have our own personal Georgette Heyer stories, or you should have if you have not discovered this great author yet.

Grand Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one of the three Heyer ‘Novel Packs’ that have been generously donated by Sourcebooks. Share your favorite Georgette Heyer story with us such as: Who recommended her to you? What was the first novel you read? Which novel is your favorite? Who is the most swoon worthy hero?  To qualify, leave a comment by midnight PT, Wednesday August 24th. Winners to be announced on Thursday, August 25th. Shipment to the US and Canada only. Good luck to all.

Heyer Pack #1

  • Bath Tangle
  • The Reluctant Widow
  • The Grand Sophy
  • Regency Buck
  • The Convenient Marriage

Heyer Pack #2

  • The Black Moth
  • The Masqueraders
  • False Colours
  • Black Sheep
  • Lady of Quality

Heyer Pack #3

  • Sylvester, or the Wicked Uncle
  • Charity Girl
  • Cousin Kate
  • The Foundling
  • The Talisman Ring  

Remember – in celebration of Georgette Heyer’s birthday, Sourcebooks is also offering all 46 of the Heyer’s books that they publish in eBook format for $1.99 from August 15-August 21 ONLY.

Stock up. These great prices may never happen again.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2011 Laura A. Wallace, Austenprose

The Darcys of Pemberley Blog Tour with Shannon Winslow

The Darcys of Pemberley, by Shannon Winslow (2011)Please join us today in welcoming author Shannon Winslow on her book blog tour in celebration of the release of The Darcys of Pemberley, a new Pride and Prejudice sequel just published by Heather Ridge Arts.

What a thrill it is for me, a first-time author, to be kicking off the launch of The Darcys of Pemberley with a guest post on Austenprose! Thank you, Laurel Ann, for inviting me to share a little about my journey and about the book itself.

You might call me a “late bloomer.” That term certainly applies to my writing career and even to my acquaintance with Jane Austen, the latter becoming the inspiration for the former. Shame on my high school English teachers for never introducing me to the author of what is now unquestionably my favorite novel: Pride and Prejudice! Instead, I have an impulse buy at Costco about seven years ago – a certain video with the handsome face of Colin Firth on the front – to thank for it.

I was in love. No other way to explain it. And not just with Colin Firth. I loved the story of Pride and Prejudice, and soon all Jane Austen’s novels. I bought and watched all the associated videos. I reread all the books. But then what? I was still hungry for more Jane Austen.

Aha! I discovered a Pride and Prejudice sequel at the library, and another at the book store (I had no idea then that there were many more). Alas, the two sequels I found weren’t really what I was looking for after all. They didn’t satisfy me. They didn’t answer all my questions. What happens after the wedding, I wondered? How would Elizabeth and Darcy deal with the first major crisis in their marriage? Does Georgiana have a secret love … or a secret admirer? What trouble will Wickham get into next? Does Lady Catherine ever get her comeuppance? And perhaps most perplexing of all, how could Charlotte bear her life with Mr. Collins! Continue reading “The Darcys of Pemberley Blog Tour with Shannon Winslow”

Jane and His Lordship’s Legacy: Being a Jane Austen Mystery (Book 8), by Stephanie Barron – A Review

Jane and His Lordships Legacy, by Stephanie Barron (2005)It is 1809, a significant year in the life of our esteemed authoress Jane Austen. After close to five years of being shuffled about England between relatives, the three unattached Austen ladies: widower Mrs. Austen and her two unmarried daughters Jane and Cassandra are given permanent refuge by Jane’s elder brother Edward Austen Knight in the village of Chawton. They will live at Chawton cottage the former residence of the recently deceased steward of Edward’s vast estate there. Still privately grieving the tragic death of her dear friend Lord Harold Trowbridge (The Gentleman Rogue) nine months prior, Jane arrives in the village to find an uneasy welcome to the Squire’s family. It appears that the villagers are unhappy that the widow of Edward’s former steward was asked to vacate the cottage in favor of his family, and more seriously, Edward as an absentee Squire has been remiss in his duties since the death of his wife Elizabeth the previous year.

Within hours of Jane’s arrival at the cottage, she receives an unexpected visit from contemptuous Mr. Bartholomew Chizzlewit, attorney to the family of His Grace the Duke of Wilborough. Performing his duty as the family solicitor, he deposits on Jane’s dining-parlor floor a curiously carved chest announcing that she is listed as a legatee in Lord Harold’s Last Will and Testament. His bequest (should she agree) is that she accepts his personal papers and diaries, “a lifetime of incident, intrigue, and conspiracy; of adventure and scandal; of wagers lost and won,” and write his life story! After the Duke of Wilborough’s family contested the legacy in a London court and lost, they are bitter about the arrangement and hold it against Jane. Not only is this startling news, the thought of reliving the Gentleman Rogues life, far before she met him, and then through his entire life as a spy for the British government, is both curious and painful to her. When the huge chest is removed into the cottage’s cellar, another startling discovery brings Jane’s first day at Chawton to a scandalous close. A body of a man lies rotting and rat eaten on the floor.

Jane’s brother Henry arrives the next day and the inquest into the mysterious death begins by the local authorities with Jane and Henry in assistance. After Lord Harold’s trunk is stolen, Jane is convinced that it contains information that someone did not want her to discover. Could the theft be linked to the Wilborough family trying to cover up their son’s notorious life? Or, could it be the newcomers to the neighborhood, Julian Thrace, a young London Buck who is rumored to be the illegitimate heir apparent to the Earl of Holbrook vast wealth, and his half-sister Lady Imogen, the Earl’s acknowledged heir? Or, is the dead body in the cellar a personal vendetta by the bitter Jack Hinton, eager to make trouble for the Austen family? He claims to be the rightful heir to the Knight family estate of Chawton that Jane’s brother Edward inherited. There are suspects and motives, suppositions and accusations galore for our observant and clever Jane to ponder and detect before she solves the crime.

One chapter into the eighth novel in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery series and I am totally convinced that Jane Austen is channeling the actual events of her life through author Stephanie Barron. She has so convincingly captured her witty, acerbic, and penetrating voice that I am totally mesmerized. Like Jane, I am still grieving the tragic death of her secret crush Lord Harold. Reading his letters and journals was like bringing him back to life. Delightful torture for those Gentleman Rogue fans such as myself. This mystery was very well-plotted and fast-paced, but Barron really shines with her incredible historical details and the fact that in this discriminating Austen-obsessed mind, no one will ever be able to match her unique ability to channel my favorite author’s voice so perfectly.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

This is my eighth selection in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011, as we are reading all eleven mysteries in the series this year. Participants, please leave comments and or place links to your reviews on the official reading challenge page by following this link.

Grand Giveaway

Author Stephanie Barron has generously offered a signed hardcover copy of Jane and His Lordship’s Legacy to one lucky winner. Leave a comment stating what intrigues you about this novel, or if you have read it, who your favorite character is by midnight PT, Wednesday, August 24, 2011. Winner to be announced on Thursday, August 25, 2011. Shipment to US addresses only. Good luck!

Jane and His Lordship’s Legacy, Being a Jane Austen Mystery (No 8), by Stephanie Barron
Bantam Books, 2005
Mass market paperback (384) pages
ISBN: 978-0553584073

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Sass & Serendipity Blog Tour with Author Jennifer Ziegler

Sass and Serendipity, by Jennifer Ziegler (2011)Please join us today in welcoming young adult fiction author Jennifer Ziegler for the official launch of her book blog tour of Sass & Serendipity a new Sense and Sensibility-inspired YA novel that is releasing tomorrow, Tuesday, July 12, 2011, by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (Random House).

Growing up, I found great comfort in reading Jane Austen.  I can’t remember exactly when I discovered her, but it was sometime during my high school years.  From a purely literary standpoint I would have to say that Pride and Prejudice is her masterwork, but Sense and Sensibility has always been my favorite.

I adored the characters of Elinor and Marianne, and, being a sister myself, I could really relate to their relationship – especially the way they were so different and yet still fiercely devoted to each other.  I realized that sisterhood today wasn’t all that different from sisterhood two centuries ago, and I started to wonder when somebody would do a modern retelling – something that would stay true to the themes and moods of the book.

And here is where I make a confession:  I think, in some ways, Jane Austen wrote YA.  Before anyone tosses tomatoes at me, please allow me to explain…

Austen’s books centered around young women on the verge of adulthood.  They are nearly ready to leave the nest and take their spot in the world – and in the Regency era, the best landing of all would be that of a happy marriage to a good and prosperous man.  Standing on this threshold of life is the emotional setting for all young adult novels.  Teens are caught between the insular world of the childhood home and that of society at large.  Even if they don’t strike out on their own at the end, they have surely become more “adult” by the final page.

Austen never makes the search for a proper husband the point of her stories.  In every case the main character needs to go through some significant growth first.  Whether it’s Elinor learning to trust her feelings as much as her intellect, Marianne coming out of her fantasies and into her senses, Elizabeth learning not to judge too prematurely, Emma learning not to meddle in other people’s lives, and so on, Austen makes sure her heroines recognize and overcome character flaws in order to earn their happy-ever-afters.  Such maturation is central to young adult literature, as it is with all good character-based fiction.  However, in YA, the age of the protagonists is key.  Teens and early twenties don’t know as much about the world or themselves quite yet.  Because of this, the problems they face are brand new, but also – and this is critical – their emotions are brand new.  This is first love, first heartbreak, first crushing disillusionment.

Thus, when I really stopped to consider it, I realized that any retelling of an Austen novel would almost have to be a young adult book in order to stay true to these themes and arcs.  At that point it was a quick hop from “Someone should do an update of Sense and Sensibility” to “Yes … and why not me?”

Of course, it was a daunting suggestion.  Me update Austen?  Would I give the original source material the proper care and reverence?  The answer was no.  I mean, I knew I would do my best, but I also knew that I couldn’t duplicate Austen’s prose.  My writing style is just too different.  I also knew that the scope of the book would have to be changed – favorite scenes and characters would have to go.  An exact retelling, with faithful character match-ups and plot recreations would be impossible.  Any attempt would end up a mess.

So, to avoid disappointing Austen fans, my fans, and myself, I decided early on that my novel would pay homage to Sense and Sensibility without being a strict retelling.  It was the feel of the book – the themes of sisterly bonds, romance, and identity – that inspired me to update it in the first place, so that is where I would start.

Ironically, to be true to the tone and premise of her book, I had to stay far away from it.  In fact, I avoided all things Austen while drafting the novel (a huge sacrifice for me).  I didn’t want to be tempted toward replication, so instead, I worked from memory – the storylines, moods, and ideas that had made an indelible impression on me.

The result was Sass & Serendipity, a story of two sisters living in modern, small-town Texas, and their run-ins with romance, economic hardships, societal pressures, and each other.  It was tough to write – but fun.  I really enjoyed getting to “play Austen.”

And now that the book is out, I’ve gotten the best endorsement ever:  my sister, Amanda, loves it.  I hope others will, too.

Author Jennifer ZieglerAuthor Bio:

Jennifer Ziegler is the author of Alpha Dog and How Not to be Popular. Born in Temple, Texas, as a child she also lived in Anchorage, Alaska and then returned to the Lone Star state to attend the University of Texas, where she earned degrees in journalism and English. While there she fell in love with Austin and its many cool hangouts, music venues, swimming holes, and hip people. Upon graduation, she decided to settle there, working as a freelance reporter, editorial assistant, and middle school language arts teacher. Jennifer also met a cute musician guy named Carl and the two got married. Visit Jennifer at her website, or Facebook, and follow her on Twitter as @ZieglerJennifer.

Giveaway of Sass & Serendipity

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Sass & Serendipity by leaving a comment answering what intrigues you most about reading a Sense and Sensibility-inspired young adult novel or which character in the original novel is your favorite, by midnight PT, Wednesday, July 20, 2011. Winners to be announced on Thursday, July 21, 2010. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

Sass & Serendipity, by Jennifer Ziegler
Delacorte Books (2011)
Hardcover (384) pages
ISBN: 978-0385738989

© 2007 – 2011 Jennifer Ziegler, Austenprose

Mr. Darcy’s Secret Blog Tour with Author Jane Odiwe – and, a Glorious Giveaway

Mr. Darcy's Secret, by Jane Odiwe (2011)Please join us today in celebration of Mr. Darcy’s Secret, a new Pride and Prejudice continuation by author Jane Odiwe. Known for her historical accuracy and witty humor, Jane is the author of two previous Austen-inspired novels, Lydia Bennet’s Story and Willoughby’s Return. This is her first Pride and Prejudice-inspired novel.

Welcome Jane…

Thank you, Laurel Ann, for inviting me as a guest onto your blog today to talk about Mr. Darcy’s Secret. I am thrilled to be here!

When I started writing my novel, although I knew that I wanted to write about Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship, I also knew that I wanted very much to tell Georgiana’s story. If you remember from Pride and Prejudice, poor Georgiana almost suffered the same fate as Lydia did with Mr. Wickham. Georgiana fell for the latter’s charms, and even consented to an elopement. Fortunately for her, Mr. Darcy arrived on the scene to forestall Wickham’s plans to gain Georgiana’s money, as well as her heart. Georgiana is seen very much as the victim, especially when we learn that she is quiet, accomplished, and shy. In Mr. Darcy’s Secret, I wanted to see if Georgiana might be brought out of herself. I’d wondered if her shyness resulted from her experience with Wickham. After all, if she’d suffered a painful experience like that, learning that men outside her close circle were not to be trusted, perhaps that might account for some of her timidity.  Once bitten, twice shy, is the saying that comes to mind.

As with all my books, I like to take the heroines on a journey, so I’m afraid it’s not plain sailing for Georgiana all the way. However, I wanted to find happiness for this amiable heroine even if she is torn for a while between duty and desire. Here’s a little extract; I hope you enjoy it.

Mr. Thomas Butler, the son of Mrs. Gardiner’s friend is one of the new landscape gardeners. When he is invited to draw up some plans at Pemberley for a new feature in the grounds, Georgiana is keen to take a peep at him from a distance but feels far too shy to be introduced again.

Georgiana knew that Tom Butler had arrived, for she had been watching for him after breakfast from the safety of her sitting room, which afforded a splendid view of the drive and the little bridge crossing the stream, over which all visitors must come. She was thinking about how she might start another drawing on a completely new subject and considering how unnecessary it was to go and introduce herself to Mr Butler again. After all, he was here to do some work for her brother and he would be completely taken up with that. Georgiana positioned two vases of varying heights with a Chinese bowl into a suitable arrangement and was just sharpening her pencil with the knife she used specially for the purpose when there came a rapid knock upon her door. Continue reading “Mr. Darcy’s Secret Blog Tour with Author Jane Odiwe – and, a Glorious Giveaway”

UPDATED! Download Free Jane Austen-inspired eBooks on her Birthday, December 16, 2010

Sourcebooks Jane Austen Birthday Banner 2010

Update 16 December 2010: 1:00 pm PT

Breaking News:

Sourcebooks has extended the one day offer through 17 December 2010.

Next Thursday, December 16th is Jane Austen’s 235th birthday and Sourcebooks, the world’s leading Jane Austen publisher, is throwing a huge one-day-only birthday book bash. They will be offering ten of their best Austen-inspired novels for FREE. Yep. That’s right. FREE!

Anyone with a digital eReader, or free application on their computer, or blackberry, or iPhone, or Android, or iPad can download the books. Just go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc. online on December 16th and download away! (I highly recommend Barnes & Noble’s free Nook applications if you do not already own an eReader like me! You can read the eBooks on five different electronic devices ) Continue reading “UPDATED! Download Free Jane Austen-inspired eBooks on her Birthday, December 16, 2010”

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Event & Novel Introduction: Day 1 Giveaway

Welcome

Over the next month we will be delving into Jane Austen’s most popular work, Pride and Prejudice by celebrating our origins, the novel, without any paranormal or mythical creatures mashed into it. Included with the event will be a group read, guest blogs on history, culture, plot, characterization, movie and book reviews and its burgeoning legacy, the sequels. Be sure to check out the complete event schedule and mark your calendars.

Novel Introduction

Considered a masterpiece of world literature by scholars and critics, Pride and Prejudice is equally appreciated by the general reading public often topping international polls of the “the most loved” or “favorite books” of all time. Numerous stage and screen adaptations continue to remind us of its incredible draw to the modern audience and reaffirm its value financially and culturally. Its hero and heroine Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet may be the most famous romantic couple short of Romeo and Juliet. Its plot, characters and style have been widely admired, often emulated but rarely equaled. High praise indeed for a novel written almost two hundred years ago by a clergyman’s daughter raised in the English countryside of Hampshire, home schooled by her father and unexalted in her lifetime. If Pride and Prejudice is the long shot of literature, then we are the lucky owners in the winner’s circle.

First published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice was Jane Austen’s second novel after Sense and Sensibility in 1811. Written between 1796 and 1797, when Jane was not one and twenty, the edition we see today was not her first concept. Originally called First Impressions it was written in the epistolary format popular with contemporary novels such as Fanny Burney’s Evelina. Jane’s father Rev. George Austen was so confident in his daughter’s work that he pursued publication contacting one of the leading publishers Cadell & Davies in London only to have the manuscript returned by post unopened. After the success of Sense and Sensibility, Austen would make extensive revisions “lopping and cropping” the manuscript, retitling it and presenting it to her current publisher Thomas Egerton. He paid her £110 for the copyright. That was the only money she would ever earn from her most popular work. It is estimated that 20 million copies of it have been sold world-wide to date.

Set in the country village of Longbourn in Hertfordshire, the story revolves around the Bennet family and their five unmarried daughters. They are the first family of consequence in the village, unfortunately the Longbourn estate is entailed by default to a male heir, their cousin Mr. William Collins. This is distressful to Mrs. Bennet who knows that she must find husbands for her daughters or they shall all be destitute if her husband should die. Mr. Bennet is not as concerned and spends his time in his library away from his wife’s idle chatter and social maneuvering. The second eldest daughter Elizabeth is spirited and confident, wanting only to marry for love. She teases her eldest sister Jane that she must catch a wealthy husband with her beauty and good nature and support them. The three younger sisters Mary, Catherine and Lydia hinder their sister’s chances for a good match by inappropriate and unguarded behavior.

When Mr. Bingley, a single man of large fortune, moves into the neighborhood with his fashionable sisters he attends the local Meryton assembly ball and is immediately taken with beautiful Jane Bennet. His friend Mr. Darcy is even richer with a great estate in Derbyshire, but is proud and arrogant giving offense to all including Elizabeth by refusing to dance with her. She overhears him tell Bingley that she was only tolerable and not handsome enough to tempt him. This amuses and annoys her enough to repeat it to her friends and family. The whole community declares him the most disagreeable man, eaten up with pride.

Elizabeth and Darcy continue to cross paths and she challenges his contempt with impertinence. He is intrigued. She is indifferent. When the militia regiment arrives at Meryton, Elizabeth is introduced to the handsome Lieutenant Wickham who quickly reveals Mr. Darcy’s ill treatment of him, ruining his future. This only confirms Elizabeth’s prejudices against him. Jane and Bingley’s blossoming relationship seems to be a certain match in Mrs. Bennet’s view. As she brags about it to her neighbors, Elizabeth’s friend Charlotte Lucas is not so sure, advising her that Jane should show more affection than she feels. The Bennet’s cousin Rev. Collins arrives with the design of marrying one of the Bennet daughters. He is an odious, pompous man who extols upon the condescension of his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh and his comfortable arrangement as her pastor on her estate in Kent. He proposes to Elizabeth and she is appalled, refusing him. Mrs. Bennet will never speak to Lizzy if she does not marry Mr. Collins. Ironically, her father will not speak to her if she does, winning the argument and saving Elizabeth from certain misery.

Then, as abruptly as Mr. Bingley arrived in the county, he and his party depart for London with no immediate plans to return. Jane is heartbroken, Elizabeth puzzled and Mrs. Bennet despondent. Elizabeth is pleased that Mr. Darcy is gone, but saddened for her sisters loss of Bingley. What could it all mean? Elizabeth suspects Mr. Darcy and Bingley’s snobbish sisters have influenced his decision. The Bennet’s are not refined or rich enough for their society and they have separated them. Surprisingly, Charlotte Lucas reveals that she and Mr. Collins are to be married. Impossible declares Elizabeth who is told by her friend that she is not romantic like her. Elizabeth now realizes that marrying only for love might mean not marrying at all.

List of Characters

Reading Resources

We hope that you can join us during ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ as we discover the delights of one of Jane Austen’s most witty and romantic novels. We can guarantee absolutely a whole month of P&P madness sans zombies, vampires, werewolves, sea monsters, mummies, androids, trolls, angels, demons and any other paranormal or mythical creatures that are even thinking about appearing in a Jane Austen mash-up, prequel, retelling or sequel.

If you would like to join in the group read it’s time to read (or recite from memory) the first seven chapters. Be prepared to express your opinions decidedly. You can check out the event schedule and join in the group read of the novel which begins tomorrow, June 16th. Laurel Ann is also in a spring cleaning frenzy and culling her overflowing Austen bookshelves, so swag will run amuck.

We promise that no natural beauty will be counteracted by an awkward taste. ;-) Cross our heart and swear upon our Old Manor House edition of The Novels of Jane Austen, edited by R. Brimley Johnson (1906).

Laurel Ann

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ Day 1 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Penguin Classics edition Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about the novel, or which is your favorite quote by midnight, Saturday, July 24th, 2010. Winner will be announced on Sunday, July 25th. Shipment to continental US addresses only. Good luck!

Upcoming Event Posts

Day 2 – June 16 Group Read: Chapters 1-7
Day 3 – June 18 P&P Publishing History
Day 4 – June 19 Group Read: Chapter 8-14

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