The Rose Girls, by Victoria Connelly – A Review

The Rose Girls, by Victoria Connelly (2015)From the desk of Katie Patchell: 

One crumbling manor house. Three estranged sisters. And a garden full of roses. All of these and more are ingredients in The Rose Girls, the latest novel by Victoria Connolly, author of the currently six-book Austen Addicts series. While not a book connected to Jane Austen’s novels or the Regency period, The Rose Girls is a story that shares timeless themes from Austen’s own masterpieces: the importance of family, forgiveness, healing, nature, and love.

After the news that her mother recently died of cancer, Celeste Hamilton is called back home to Little Eleigh Manor and Hamilton Roses, the family rose business, to support her two sisters. Still recovering from a divorce and memories of a painful childhood, Celeste plans only on spending a few weeks at her old home to sort through things and comfort her sisters, before escaping with her dog, Frinton, to somewhere much better and (hopefully) memory-free. On arriving back at her family home, Celeste realizes her responsibilities are much more than she bargained for. Little Eleigh Manor desperately needs repairs, and she’s the only sister willing to sell possessions to keep the house from (quite literally) falling down around them.

Supported by her sister Gertie, resented by her other sister Evie, and hearing the echoes of her mother’s past verbal abuse in her ears as she wanders Little Eleigh Manor’s halls, Celeste is surprisingly comforted by the forgotten beauty of the roses her family has grown and sold for years. With her beloved sisters distant and hiding their own secrets, and a friendly, perceptive, and surprisingly young art auctioneer interested in more than just family paintings, Celeste finds reasons to put off her escape for a few more weeks—and with her two sisters, a few roses, and a lot of love, forgive the past and change the future. Continue reading

At Home with Mr. Darcy (Austen Addicts Book 6), by Victoria Connelly – Preview and Exclusive Excerpt

At Home with Mr. Darcy (Austen Addicts Book 6) by Victoria Connelly (2014)Austenesque author Victoria Connelly’s next installment in her contemporary Austen Addicts series has just been released by Notting Hill Press. At Home with Mr. Darcy marks her sixth book following: A Weekend with Mr. Darcy (2011), Dreaming of Mr. Darcy (2011), Mr. Darcy Forever (2013), Christmas with Mr. Darcy (2013) and Happy Birthday, Mr. Darcy (2013). Each of the novels and novellas continue the story of original characters that endearingly resemble Austen’s in some small way or another.

PREVIEW (from the publisher’s description)

The Austen Addicts are back!

It’s summer and renowned actress, Dame Pamela Harcourt, has organised a treat: the first Purley Hall Jane Austen holiday – to the home of Mr Darcy no less.

With Katherine and Warwick, Robyn, Doris Norris and the rest of the gang, it’s going to be a trip to remember. But then a hardened journalist and non-Janeite, Melissa Berry, joins the party. Fearing a stitch-up, the friends rally together, hoping to convince Melissa that the only way is Austen…

At Home with Mr Darcy is the sixth title in the bestselling Austen Addicts series.

Continue reading

Happy Birthday Mr. Darcy: Austen Addicts Vol. 5, by Victoria Connelly – A Review

Happy Birthday Mr Darcy by Victoria Connelly 2013 x 200From the desk of Christina Boyd:

The Austen Addicts series has evolved through the years into a guilty pleasure for me. Happy Birthday Mr. Darcy is Victoria Connelly’s fifth installment in this contemporary romance series loosely inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The novella reunites us with her original characters from the first in the series, Weekend with Mr. Darcy, and opens a week prior to when Warwick Lawton (Austenesque author who writes under the female nom de plume, Lorna Warwick) is to pledge his troth to his Austen scholar/fiancé, Katherine Roberts.

Katherine is enchanted with the Regency themed wedding plans, her antique Russian engagement ring, and her empire-style gown. She had never seen anything so beautiful. Well, not since Matthew Macfadyen had strode across the dawn meadow in the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. She really didn’t feel worthy of such a dress and it felt like a terrible extravagance to have something so lovely for just one day. Though passionately in-love with her fiancé, not unlike many brides, doubts about the marriage state and how her life is to change loom overhead right up until the wedding hour.

A colorful cast of characters with nods to Austen’s own characters, including Warwick’s marriage-cynic of a sister and his handsome, jovial best man, adds to the wedding festivities. Dame Pamela, a favorite from Weekend with Mr. Darcy, opens her manor home to host the wedding and quips these two Janeites are marrying the same year that Pride and Prejudice celebrate its two-hundredth birth. “Mr. Darcy is doing well for his age,” Dame Pamela said with a little chuckle. “Pleasing women for two centuries is no mean feat!”

It was autumn of 2011 when I first discovered Victoria Connelly. I was in high dudgeon as it was the weekend of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Fort Worth, Texas and I would be missing the festivities. Austenprose blog mistress Laurel Ann Nattress had left me with a copy of A Weekend with Mr. Darcy, the first in the Austen Addicts series, as some consolation; I could not help but commiserate with Kitty Bennet when her sister Lydia left her home at Longbourn for her adventure at Brighton! Although not the thrill of attending an AGM Regency ball, Connelly’s first in her Austen Addicts series was a balm to my battered spirits. Since then, the Austen Addicts series continued: Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, Mr. Darcy Forever, and then the novella, Christmas with Mr. Darcy. Continue reading

Christmas with Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly – A Review

Christmas with Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly (2012)From the desk of Jeffrey Ward: 

I’m going to tell on myself.  I’m a sniveling, sentimental sucker for a good Christmas story.  It is only October and I’ve only devoured two of them so I’m way behind my normal seasonal curve.  Thank heavens for author Victoria Connelly, who sensing a good thing, has smartly thrown together ALL of the heroes and heroines from her Austen Addicts trilogy:  A Weekend with Mr. Darcy, Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Darcy Forever.

Thus, her follow-up novella, Christmas with Mr. Darcy, is like a recipe for a classic Christmas pudding:  combine growing romances, friends, family, a spectacularly decorated manor house, a sudden snowstorm, mysterious criminal activity, full-throttle Jane Austen trivia, and then sit back and savor a large helping.  Catch up with Katherine and Warwick, Kay and Adam, Dan and Robyn, Mia and Gabe, Sarah and Lloyd, et al, as they are invited to the hostess and distinguished actress Dame Pamela Harcourt’s inaugural Jane Austen Christmas conference.

Along the way, we meet Higgins, Dame Pamela’s endearing and watchful butler, Benedict, Dan’s ‘neer-do-well’ older brother, (who invites himself) Mrs. Soames, (“Oh dear, who invited her?”) sweet Doris Norris,  sisters Roberta and Rose, adorable Cassandra, (Dan and Robyn’s infant daughter) and a mustachioed gentleman who none of the invitees can seem to quite recognize.  The author even manages to insert references to her own brood of beloved hens!

Victoria Connelly paints the holiday-decorated splendor of Dame Pamela’s grand Purley Hall while she builds anticipation by bouncing from one guest to another as they excitedly prepare for the journey to the conference.

In spite of a blinding snowstorm, all of the guests arrive safely at Purley Hall and Dame Pamela welcomes the crowd with her trademark warmth, charm, glittering jewels, and stunning gowns.  As the guests settle in, certain valuables begin to disappear without any trace.  At first, most who have suffered loss merely attribute it to forgetfulness or failing to pack correctly for the trip. Continue reading

Giveaway Winners Announced for Christmas with Mr. Darcy

Christmas with Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly (2012)27 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win one of three digital copies available of Christmas with Mr. Darcy. The winners drawn at random are:

  • Felicia who left a comment on October 8, 2012
  • JuneA** who left a comment on October 14, 2012
  • Margaret who left a comment on October 9, 2012

Congratulations to all the very lucky winners! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by October 24, 2012.  Digital download internationally.

Many thanks to author Victoria Connelly for her great guest blog and generous giveaways, and to all who left comments. Happy reading to the winners!

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Giveaway Winners Announced for Mr. Darcy Forever

Mr. Darcy Forever, by Victoria Connelly (2012)40 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win one of three copies available of Mr. Darcy Forever, by Victoria Connelly. The winners drawn at random are:

  • Becky C. who left a comment on April, 01, 2012
  • Krista who left a comment on April 01, 2012
  • Lennette Daniels who left a comment on April 03, 2012

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by April 18, 2012. Shipment of print books to US and Canadian addresses only. Ebook shipment internationally.

A big thank you to author Victoria Connelly for her great guest blog, and to her publisher Sourcebooks for offering the giveaway copies. Congrats to the winners. Enjoy!

© 2007 – 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Mr. Darcy Forever, by Victoria Connelly – A Review

Mr. Darcy Forever, by Victoria Connelly (2012)Review by Jeffrey Ward

Following A Weekend with Mr. Darcy and Dreaming of Mr. Darcy comes the caboose in Victoria Connelly’s “Austen Addicts” trilogy: Mr. Darcy Forever.  Every niche of this contemporary romance is lavishly replete with enough references from Jane Austen’s six novels to sate even the worst addict. This charmer, set in two of Jane’s best-loved locations: South Devon and Bath, is devoid of lurid sexuality or profanity, and sweetly laced with humor.

Sisters Sarah and Mia Castle have always been closer than twins although Mia is almost a decade Sarah’s junior.  Because of their shared love of Jane Austen, Sarah books the actual home used as Barton Cottage from one of the Sense and Sensibility film adaptations as a birthday surprise for Mia.  While there, they encounter a handsome and Willoughby-like visitor who unfortunately drives a wedge of estrangement between the two sisters that stubbornly persists for three years.  Following the unfortunate rift, incredible developments occur that neither would believe possible of the other.

Three years hence, Mia visits her closest friend Shelley who lives in Bath where the two plan to participate in the annual Jane Austen festival, something the sisters formerly did together.  The only thing less wanted than the sisters bumping into each other is encountering the guy who started the whole mess and he is indeed lurking in Bath!

The personalities of the two sisters unfold into likenesses of the Dashwood sisters from Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility: sensible Sarah very much like Elinor and impulsive Mia similar to Marianne. Sarah acts as the mother-figure trying to curb Mia’s often wildly impetuous nature while simultaneously trying to control her own terrible condition.   Sarah suffers from acute Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which has already destroyed her marriage and she struggles hopelessly in its grip.  I was instantaneously attached to this flawed heroine’s plight, identified deeply with her, and hoped so much for her.  Ironically, the most hilarious moments in the entire book involve poor Sarah’s inability to cope with her OCD!

Sense and Sensibility comparisons rise again in the men the sisters encounter while in Bath.  Mia meets Gabe who lives in an adjoining home to her friend Shelley.  He’s a widowed architect and seems too old for her but she craves his company. “She’d always dated men her own age and had never been tempted by the older man, but she was enjoying talking to Gabe.  He was easy to listen to, and she felt like she’d known him for ages.”  Can this be anyone else but Colonel Brandon?

Meanwhile, Sarah timidly explores Bath, and unable to find a spot for lunch, bravely sits on a bench next to a gentleman named Lloyd, a professional media photographer, who is taking pictures of the festival for a magazine.  Acquainting easily, they soon discover they are both list-keepers, “germaphobes,” despise disorder, and neither seems put-off by their confessions.  Is Lloyd vaguely reminiscent of Edward Ferrars? A dramatic moment ensues as Lloyd shows her images in his camera.  ‘As picture followed picture, Sarah’s eyes picked out the image of a young woman she thought she recognized. Could it have been Mia? “Go back!” she suddenly blurted. “Back!” Lloyd looked surprised but scrolled back through the photos. “Stop!” Sarah grabbed the camera from him and zoomed into the figure,’ 

For about half the story, the author switches between past/present and Barton/Bath revealing little-by-little what actually happened between the sisters and the man that bewitched them both.  Initially, I felt lost in the maze of brief chapters that shuttled back and forth between place and time but once I finally understood the author’s intent, I found this technique indeed accentuated the dramatic intensity of the plot.

Finally, for those unfamiliar with Jane Austen or her “fan-fiction” world, don’t be dissuaded from reading this one.  Remove most references to Austen (God forbid) and this book stands just as tall on its own strengths.  The poignant story of two sisters ripped apart and their three-year journey back to reconciliation is compelling enough in its own right.  Then kick it up another notch with the two loveable heroes who gently try to restore the shattered lives of Sarah and Mia and their lost relationship with each other.  Deeply hurt and guarded ever since their tragedy at Barton, can the sisters ever hope to trust their hearts to men again or return the growing affection that Gabe and Lloyd are feeling for them?  Will author Victoria Connelly confirm to us that the right man can indeed become Mr. Darcy Forever?  I hope you understand my meaning when I say the 330 pages just evaporated in my hands as I sought the answer.

4.5 out of 5 Regency Stars

Mr. Darcy Forever, by Victoria Connelly
Sourcebooks (2012)
Trade paperback (336) pages
ISBN: 978-1402251382
NOOK: ISBN: 9781402251399
Kindle: ASIN: B0073KA3HA

Jeffrey Ward, 65, native San Franciscan living near Atlanta, married 40 years, two adult children, six grandchildren, Vietnam Veteran, degree in Communications from the University of Washington, and presently a Facilitator/designer for the world’s largest regional airline.  His love affair with Miss Austen began about 3 years ago when, out of boredom, he picked up his daughter’s dusty college copy of Emma and he was “off to the races.”

© 2007 – 2012 Jeffrey Ward, Austenprose

Mr. Darcy Forever Blog Tour with Author Victoria Connelly & Giveaway!

Mr. Darcy Forever, by Victoria Connelly (2012)Please join us today in welcoming author Victoria Connelly on her blog tour of her third novel in the Austen Addicts series, Mr. Darcy Forever.

We really enjoyed the first two novels in the series: A Weekend with Mr. Darcy and Dreaming of Mr. Darcy and look forward to reading this one too. Each of the novels are contemporary tales inspired by Jane Austen’s novels and characters and have been widely praised.

Today is its publication date and we are celebrating its release with a guest blog with Victoria and a grand giveaway of three copies.

It’s really exciting to see Mr. Darcy Forever hit the shelves.  It hardly seems a minute ago since I came up with the idea for a trilogy about Jane Austen addicts.  I had been visiting many of the Austen locations: Chawton, Steventon, and Winchester in Hampshire, Lyme Regis in Dorset and the Georgian city of Bath.  I’ve always thought they were all so beautiful and I soon realized that I wanted to write about them.

I’ve been a lifelong Jane Austen fan and it amazes me how her work has stood the test of time and how readers are still so in love with her characters and stories, and I really wanted to explore that.  Why are these books is still so important to us today?  Why are we still obsessed with Mr. Darcy and Captain Wentworth?  And can there ever be enough TV and film adaptations?  These were just some of the questions I hoped to answer in my trilogy.

There are lots of books written about Austen’s heroes and heroines – prequels, sequels, and spin-offs – but there aren’t many books written about her fans and that’s what I wanted to do.  I didn’t want to rewrite Austen’s books but I did want to make references to them with, perhaps, the odd gentle nod with my own characters.  Mr. Darcy Forever is the closest book in my trilogy to an original Austen novel because I wanted to examine the relationship between two very different sisters: Sarah and Mia.  Sarah has OCD and likes everything to be in order at all times.  She’s very controlled whereas Mia is impetuous and romantic.  Can anyone guess which Austen novel inspired my two sisters? Continue reading

Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly – A Review

Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly (2012)Reviewed by Kimberly Denny-Ryder

There are many readers in the Jane Austen fan fiction world that appreciate a good, clean love story.  Author Victoria Connelly obviously appreciates them as well, as she publishes contemporary novels that fit those parameters.  Her popular Austen Addicts trilogy seems to have really struck a chord with Austen lovers the world over.  The second book in her trilogy, Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, has a plot influenced by Pride and Prejudice and Emma, with a location taken directly from the pages of Persuasion!

Kay Ashton has struck it rich.  After receiving an unexpected cash windfall, she decides to indulge a lifelong dream of hers to live in the Regency Era world that Jane Austen’s characters enjoyed so many years ago.  Ashton purchases a decrepit bed and breakfast in Lyme Regis, and begins the processes of restoring it to its former glory.  Halfway through the renovation, all of the available rooms are booked by producers of a movie adaptation of Persuasion.  In time, Kay begins to fall for Oli Wade Owen, the actor slated to play Captain Wentworth.  However, a writer by the name of Adam Craig has fallen for Kay despite her feelings for Mr. Owen.   Will Adam ever tell Kay about his true feelings?  When will Kay realize that Oli is hiding a big secret?

It took me a really long time to get into this story, but when I did I connected.  Connelly’s strongest suit as a writer is unquestionably her ability to create uniquely appealing and relatable characters.  Kay is a dreamer- one who creates really vivid imaginings.  Even though she spends a lot of time up in the clouds (much like Emma and maybe a bit like Catherine Morland too?), she still stays rooted to the ground with the rest of us, experiencing amazing new things with Adam.  Adam is that nice guy who girls become friends with, yet never date (he’s got a bit of Darcy, Bingley, and Knightley all thrown in).  He’s kind, considerate, and completely selfless.  The supporting cast of characters (most notable are Oli and Gemma) also have their own character quirks that have been influenced by other Austen characters.  All in all, these characters combine to form a wonderful mix of personalities and traits that Connelly draws from to form the plot.

With this great character description I became extremely invested in the lives of the characters, only to be disappointed in the end.  I felt like so much time had been spent getting to know these characters (300 pages) that I was faced with a very short conclusion.  It left me feeling bereft to be honest!  Gemma’s story was probably my favorite out of the whole novel, and unfortunately it is never really “officially” wrapped up.  This caused a gaping hole in my heart (yes, a gaping hole I have filled by creating my own happy ending for her!).

All in all this was a fun book.  Even with the shortened ending it was still a good, clean love story that any romance reader (Austen fan or not) can enjoy.  Even though the character buildup was met with a shortened ending, you may be able to imagine a more substantial ending if you give it a try.  So, I suggest you pick up a copy and get reading! The Third novel in the Austen Addicts trilogy, Mr. Darcy Forever, will be released April 1st, 2012.

3.5 out of 5 Stars

Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly
Sourcebooks (2012)
Trade paperback (368) pages
ISBN: 978-1402251351

Kimberly Denny-Ryderis the owner/moderator of Reflections of a Book Addict, a book blog dedicated to following her journey of reading 100 books a year, while attempting to keep a life! When not reading, Kim can be found volunteering as the co-chair of a 24hr cancer awareness event, as well as an active member of Quinnipiac University’s alumni association.  When not reading or volunteering, Kim can be found at her full-time job working in vehicle funding. She lives with her husband Todd and two cats, Belle and Sebastian, in Connecticut.

© 2007 – 2012 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose