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-styled 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. 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 snow storm, 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 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. 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