Friday, January 18, 2019

Darcy and Deception by Victoria Kincaid ~ Excerpt and Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! I'm delighted to have Victoria Kincaid on the blog today with an excerpt from her new book, Darcy and Deception! Yay! I'm so looking forward to reading this one! 

Victoria is also giving an eBook to one of my lucky readers! Details are at the bottom of the page.




Hi Candy!  Happy New Year and thank you for having me as a visitor.  I have to confess a deep dark secret, although some of my readers may already have guessed it: I like to make Mr. Darcy suffer emotionally.  Of course, it’s all in the service of a happy ending with Elizabeth.  But I think the ending is more poignant if he has suffered for it, enduring doubts and worries.  Perhaps it’s because I like to see him prove his love for Elizabeth.  Perhaps because he’s such a proud man, I like to see him sacrifice some of his pride for the sake of love.  I don’t know for sure.  I do know that the JAFF I like the best has a fair amount of Darcy angst.  The scene below has some of the most intense Darcy suffering in Darcy and Deception.  But, rest assured, there’s a happy ending! 




Darcy and Deception
by Victoria Kincaid


Returning home from Kent, Elizabeth Bennet is still distressed over Mr. Darcy’s insulting marriage proposal. However, her attention is diverted by the local militia commander who asks her to observe Wickham, now suspected of being a French spy. Pretending to be besotted with Wickham, Elizabeth accompanies the regiment when they relocate to Brighton. 

Darcy arrives at Longbourn with the intention of making amends to Elizabeth, only to discover that she is now at Brighton with Wickham. Desperate to save her from the scoundrel, Darcy follows her to the seaside, where he hopes to woo her away from the other man. 

Deception piles on top of deception as Elizabeth attempts to carry out her mission without betraying confidences—or breaking Darcy’s heart. However, the French plot runs deeper than she knows; soon she and Darcy are plunged into the confusing and dangerous world of international espionage. Can Darcy and Elizabeth escape with their lives and their love intact?

Excerpt

     Colonel Forster’s lodgings were on the corner of two streets not far from the beach.  It was not the most fashionable neighborhood but eminently suitable for a militia officer. As Darcy strode up a side street toward the front entrance, he happened to get a glimpse into the garden, where someone had carelessly left the rear gate open.  This provided Darcy with an unobstructed view of…Elizabeth sitting with Wickham on a garden bench.  

     The sight had struck fear in Darcy’s heart, and he had stifled an impulse to remove Wickham bodily from Elizabeth’s vicinity.  Instead, he reminded himself it was an opportunity to gather more information about Wickham’s intentions.  Even while berating himself that such devious activities were beneath him, Darcy had stolen closer, peering through a hole in the fence.   

     What he saw nearly made him toss up his accounts on the dirt of the back alley.  Elizabeth and Wickham sat side by side on a wrought iron bench before a low rose bush, facing a weeping willow tree.  However, neither appeared to be appreciating the garden’s beauty.  Wickham spoke with great animation, although Darcy could not discern the words.  Elizabeth regarded him with rapt attention, a soft smile on her lips.  Worse, she clung to one of Wickham’s hands with both of hers while he gesticulated vigorously with the other. 

     The sight sickened Darcy, and yet he could not tear his eyes away.  In the weeks since he had seen Elizabeth, he had done his best to convince himself that his memories exaggerated her beauty.  But in truth, memory had not done Elizabeth justice.  Soft, dark curls fell around her face, and the faintest tinge of pink colored her cheeks.  Her deep emerald gown echoed the sea green color in her eyes.  Darcy would gladly have admired her all day. 

     However, he did not like the besotted expression on her face.  Darcy would have given his entire fortune if she would direct such an expression of adoration at him.  Seeing it bestowed upon such an unworthy recipient was…provoking another bout of nausea.  

     The low murmur of feminine voices alleviated Darcy’s anxiety that the pair was alone.  Solitude would give opportunities for many kinds of mischief, but the colonel’s wife and a few women were nearby.  However, Wickham behaved as if they were unchaperoned, taking Elizabeth’s hand and brushing it with his lips.  

     Pressing his eye to the hole in the fence, Darcy clenched his fists until his knuckles turned white.  More than anything he wanted to race into the garden and wipe Wickham’s cocky smile from his face with a well-placed right hook.  But a violent reaction would only provoke sympathy for Wickham and confirm Elizabeth’s worst opinion about Darcy. 

     Even as Darcy observed, Elizabeth laughed—a high shrill sound he had never heard her make.  Nor had he ever glimpsed such adoration on her face.  She always spoke to Darcy with an arch and teasing manner, with glances full of cleverness and understanding.  

     Why was her manner so different with Wickham?  How was it possible?  Was Wickham the one she wanted?  Had she rejected Darcy because of her infatuation with the militia officer?  Perhaps she was so besotted with the man that she simply had not believed a word of Darcy’s letter. 

     Darcy’s stomach threatened rebellion once more, and he focused his thoughts on not disgracing himself—the better to avoid a sense of grief that threatened to engulf him and drag him to the bottom of the ocean.  If Wickham were the one she wanted, if she were infatuated with the man, then it was possible she was not the person Darcy believed her to be.  His heart contracted painfully.  He had not thought it possible to feel worse after her rejection in Hunsford, but this sight was proving him wrong.  

     Additional activity in the garden drew Darcy from his musings.  Wickham whispered in Elizabeth’s ear while she simpered and edged closer to him on the bench.  His smile held a hint of a smirk.  She was completely fooled, and he knew it; he was enjoying the charade.  

     I have been a fool.  Well, that was not news—not since Hunsford.  But now he was recognizing new depths to his foolishness.  Not only had Darcy deceived himself about Elizabeth’s feelings, but he had also mistaken her character—and even her judgment.  

     Why was she so blind to Wickham’s lies?  Surely she had burned Darcy’s letter.  Damnation! 



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FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks! 


About the Author

Victoria Kincaid is the author of several popular Jane Austen variations, including The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth, Pride & ProposalsMr. Darcy to the Rescue, When Mary Met the Colonel, and Darcy vs. Bennet. All of her books have been listed in Amazon’s Top 20 Bestselling Regency Romances.  The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth was nominated for a Rone award and Pride and Proposals was recognized as a top Austenesque novel for 2015 by Austenesque Reviews.

Victoria has a Ph.D. in English literature and has taught composition to unwilling college students. Today she teaches business writing to willing office professionals and tries to give voice to the demanding cast of characters in her head.

She lives in Virginia with an overly affectionate cat, an excessively energetic dog, two children who love to read, and a husband who fortunately is not jealous of Mr. Darcy.  A lifelong Austen fan, Victoria has read more Jane Austen variations and sequels than she can count – and confesses to an extreme partiality for the Colin Firth miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice.


Connect with Victoria



* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

It's giveaway time! Victoria is graciously giving away one e-copy of Darcy and Deception to one of my lucky readers! 

Thank you so much, Victoria!




  • One person will win an e-copy of Darcy and Deception.
  • To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below.
  • Rafflecopter will randomly select the winner.
  • Open Internationally!
  • Last day to enter the giveaway is Jan. 25th, 2019 at 11:59 PM Pacific time. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Many thanks to Victoria for visiting with us today! It is always a pleasure to have her here! And a big THANK YOU for having a giveaway with me! 

So, friends, do you like to see Darcy squirm a little before he has his happy ending with Elizabeth? Lol! Let us know what you think! 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

I Could Write a Book Audio Release!

Hello, my friends! Woohoo! Exciting news! I Could Write a Book is now available in audio!



 


I Could Write A Book
by Karen M Cox

“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever and rich…” 

Thus began Jane Austen’s classic tale set in an English village two hundred years ago. Yet every era has its Emmas: young women trying to find themselves in their own corners of the world. 

I Could Write a Book is the story of a self-proclaimed modern woman: Emma Katherine Woodhouse, a 1970s co-ed whose life is pleasant, ordered, and predictable, if a bit confining. Her good friend George Knightley—handsome, sharp, and sophisticated—has come home to fulfill his destiny: run his father’s thriving law practice and oversee the sprawling Donwell Farms, his family legacy in Central Kentucky horse country. George and Emma have a friendship that has endured since childhood, but now they’re adults with grown-up challenges and obligations. As Emma tries to orchestrate life in quaint Highbury, George becomes less amused with her antics and struggles with an increasing and sometimes unwelcome fascination with the young woman she’s become. 

Rich with humor, poignancy, and the camaraderie of life in a small, Southern town, I Could Write a Book is a charming romance with side helpings of self-discovery, friendship, and finding true love in the most unlikely places. 

I Could Write a Book is narrated by Emily Rahm, a New York City actress who hails from the South, giving Emma a delightfully understated and authentic flair, and rounding out the cast of Highbury characters with wit and charm.

Available now on Amazon, Apple Books, and Audible.

FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks! 

About the Author

Karen M Cox is an award-winning author of five novels accented with history and romance: 1932, Find Wonder in All Things, Undeceived, I Could Write a Book, and Son of a Preacher Man, and a novella, The Journey Home, a companion piece to 1932.  She also loves writing short stories and has contributed to four Austen-inspired anthologies: “Northanger Revisited 2015” appears in Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer, “I, Darcy” in The Darcy Monologues, “An Honest Man” in Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentleman Rogues, and “A Nominal Mistress” in Rational Creatures.

I Could Write a Book is her first audiobook.

Karen was born in Everett WA, which was the result of coming into the world as the daughter of a United States Air Force Officer. She had a nomadic childhood, with stints in North Dakota, Tennessee, and New York State before settling in her family’s home state of Kentucky at the age of eleven. She lives in a quiet little Central Kentucky town with her husband, where she works as a pediatric speech pathologist, encourages her children, and spoils her granddaughter. 


Channeling Jane Austen’s Emma, Karen has let a plethora of interests lead her to begin many hobbies and projects she doesn’t quite finish, but she aspires to be a great reader and an excellent walker—like Elizabeth Bennet.


Connect with Karen


If you would like bits of authorly goodness in your inbox each month (updates, sales, book recommendations, etc.) sign up for her News & Muse Letter. She loves to hear from readers, so don’t be shy. Contact her through social media, her website, or on-line stores.

Emily's Bio:

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Emily Rahm is an actress residing in New York City with her husband, Kendall, and her dog, Monroe. She loves to read, so narrating was a natural extension of her literary affinities and her acting skills. Her favorite movie is The Princess Bride, and her favorite ice cream flavor is Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. You can find her at her website: www.emilyrahm.com , and on Twitter, and Instagram



Congratulations to both Karen Cox and Emily Rahm on the release of this audiobook! Very cool! :) 


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

What Are You Reading? ~ Jan. 16th, 2019

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What are you Reading?  Let me know what your current read is, what you recently finished reading, and what you plan on reading next! 

Hello, my friends! The last few days have been raining here in Southern California! I love the rain! It's perfect for curling up on the couch and reading a good book. If only I could read all day! Now, that would be lovely! :)

Here's my list: 

I'm currently reading The Outlaw's Mail Order Bride by Linda Broday. I'm so fascinated by the thought of mail-order brides, and I love reading about them! I'm sure they didn't really turn out as wonderful as these stories turn out to be. I imagine it was a pretty scary proposition. Anyway, I'm enjoying this one! :)

I'm about 35% finished with Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen. I have to have 50% read by this Saturday for reading group. I should be able to do that. :) 








Recently Finished

I recently finished reading Praying with Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen by Rachel Dodge. I loved it! I didn't get to it daily, so it took me a while to finish. I loved reading Jane's prayers. Rachel broke these down into a 31-day devotional. It's really a lovely book. 

I also finished re-reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling. Of course, I loved it. I had to stop myself from grabbing the next one in the series (which is my favorite!) because I have some books I need to read for review. 



The week before, I finished re-reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling. Loved!








What's next? 

I still need to read The Last Letter by Rebecca Yarros for review. I was going to read this one first, but I looked at my list and saw I needed to review The Outlaw's Mail Order Bride first. :) The Last Letter looks good! I'm excited to start on it!







FTC Disclaimer: Links to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks!

So, tell me, what are you reading? 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Happier in Her Friends Than Relations Blog Tour ~ Guest Post with Jayne Bamber & Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! I'm excited to share this post with you! I have a new-to-me author visiting today, Jayne Bamber. She's here with her new book, Happier in Her Friends Than Relations.

Be sure to read to the bottom of the page. There's a link to Rafflecopter for a chance to win an ecopy of Happier in Her Friends Than Relations!


Sisters & Misters

By Jayne Bamber, Author of Happier in Her Friends Than Relations






I’m excited to be here and share a little bit of background on my new release, Happier in Her Friends Than Relations. The novel is a mash-up of two of my favorite Jane Austen novels, Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility. Both of these classics are built not only on romance, but on the theme of sisterhood, and it is no different in my re-telling. The story focuses primarily on Elizabeth Bennet and Marianne Dashwood, now Marianne Brandon, but their sisters, as well as the sisters of Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley, and Richard Fitzwilliam play a pivotal role in driving this story. 

This post will contain a few vague spoilers to acquaint you with the characters, for those of you that haven’t read the books or seen the movies in a while. A lot of the storyline are different, and a few of the characters are too!

The Sisters…




The Bennet sisters are portrayed by Jane Austen as fairly diverse amongst themselves. Jane, the eldest, is perfection personified, Elizabeth is almost as pretty and far more clever, Mary is bookish and moral, Kitty is thoughtless, and Lydia is spoiled and man-crazy. In Happier in Her Friends Than Relations, Elizabeth remains the same witty heroine we all love, though her sisters are portrayed somewhat differently.






Two of the more frequently ignored younger sisters are given a larger role to play: Mary and Kitty both remain much as they have always been, but are finally paid more attention and provided a chance to grow, while Lydia’s role is diminished (until the sequel!). 






Jane is the most drastically altered sister, and it’s a change I am especially proud of. I show a side of her that has never been seen before: after years of constant praise from her mother, and her inability to wed a rich gentleman, Jane has become a bitter narcissist bent on sabotaging her sisters. 






The Dashwood sisters are more true to their original portrayal in my variation. Sensible Elinor – now Mrs. Ferrars – and bold young Margaret take a back seat to Marianne, who, three years after her marriage, is very much the same emotional drama queen, though perhaps a little wiser. 






Just as in the original, Mr. Darcy’s ingenue sister Georgiana plays a role, first with the outcome of her folly in Ramsgate affecting her brother’s relationship with Elizabeth, and next with her own desire to help the situation. Of course, I put on my twist on things in Happier, with surprising results.






Mr. Bingley’s social-climbing sister Caroline, presented in this variation as his twin (his evil twin!), sets off a chain of events beginning with dissuading her brother from renting Netherfield, leading to a very different first meeting for Mr. Bingley and the Bennets.






I have also given Colonel Fitzwilliam – elevated, in my tale, to the role of viscount – a sister, Lady Rebecca (fan-casted in my head as the fabulous Jenna Coleman). Lady Rebecca is a brash, outspoken, and fearless socialite who befriends both Elizabeth and Marianne, and helps them both achieve their Happily Ever After, though her methods may be a bit unconventional.





The Misters…

It would be an Austen fanfic without some single gentlemen in possession of large fortunes! Though there’s lots of angst along the way, there’s more than one HEA. 






Mr. Darcy is more brooding than ever in Happier. The fallout of Georgiana’s folly in Ramsgate has led to shocking consequences for their family, and a series of tragedies in both his life and Elizabeth’s make it seem as though fate is determined to keep them apart.







Charles Bingley is likewise even more spineless in Happier. Easily manipulated by his sister, he first abandons his plan to lease Netherfield, and then abandons Elizabeth after a short-lived romance between the two.






I’ve upgraded Richard Fitzwilliam from Colonel to Viscount, but he’s still Mr. Darcy’s fiercest ally and number one wingman, when he’s not being wonderfully snarky. He’s a bit more helpful in Happier then in Pride & Prejudice, and he also finds a love interest of his own!






One of Austen’s most charming villains, George Wickham, makes an appearance in Happier in Her Friends Than Relations. This time he has more up his sleeve than just seduction – what could possibly go wrong?






Mr. Collins isn’t exactly a villain, per se, but he’s not Prince Charming either. In Pride & Prejudice he wants to marry one of the Bennet sisters, and in Happier there are fewer obstacles to keep him from getting what he wants….






I’ve written in several original characters to keep things interesting, and characters from Emma, Mansfield Park, and Sanditon make appearances as well. 





Happier in Her Friends Than Relations
By Jayne Bamber

In this angsty fusion of two of Jane Austen’s most beloved novels, Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility, the actions of their sisters cause challenging chain reactions for one of literature’s most celebrated couples....  

Fitzwilliam Darcy is faced with a family crisis of epic proportions after the fallout of his sister Georgiana’s ill-fated elopement in Ramsgate, while his friend Charles Bingley is persuaded to abandon his scheme of renting Netherfield Park.  

Elizabeth Bennet journeys to London to recover her spirits, after Jane’s unexpected marriage changes the sisters’ relationship forever, and the consolation of the Gardiners proves insufficient.  

The bonds of friendship offer Elizabeth a lifeline after a series of tragic events causes her to fear for her future. The support she receives from her new neighbor Marianne Brandon, and snarky socialite Lady Rebecca Fitzwilliam prove she is truly happier in her friends than relations.

Find out the rest of the story by purchasing your copy of Happier in Her Friends Than Relations, available on Kindle now!

Buy: Amazon
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FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks!



~*~

In the excerpt below, we catch a glimpse of Lizzy’s ill-fated romance with Mr. Bingley, the cumulative result of Caroline and Georgiana’s actions prior to the opening of the story. In this scene, Elizabeth has had her second first glimpse of Mr. Darcy, having forgotten her first one, and can’t resist flirting from afar….


     Lady Helen and Mrs. Gardiner turned their attention to obtaining refreshments. Elizabeth looked around and caught Mr. Bingley’s eye; he smiled brightly, clearly eager to join her. She began to wonder if her uncle had perversely distracted the young man for the amusement of seeing him squirm a bit.  
     
     Just then, Lord Hartley took advantage of her aunt’s distraction to lean in close to Elizabeth, and teasingly whispered, “I daresay my friend will be wildly jealous at seeing me address you thus, Miss Bennet, but I felt obliged to do what I can to discomfit him a little, since he seemed rather oblivious to your apparent interest in another of our party.” 
     
     Though his comment was made in good humor, Elizabeth was utterly mortified, and felt herself blushing a deep shade of pink. Lady Rebecca, sensing her friend’s embarrassment, hissed at her brother, “Richard, really!” 
   
     The viscount appeared chagrined, smiling ruefully at Elizabeth as he addressed his sister, “Truly, Rebecca, I am quite put out. I had hoped that once cousin Darcy married, I would get my fair share of attention from the ladies, and it breaks my heart to see that it is not so. Handsome devil, I cannot see how Bingley regards him so very well.” 
     
     Though Rebecca rolled her eyes and gave a great huff of exaggerated indignation, Elizabeth schooled her countenance and offered the viscount what she hoped was a serene smile. He kindly meant to put her on her guard—the attractive gentleman was a married man, hence his dismay at her flirtatious gesture. Moreover, he was an intimate friend of Mr. Bingley, making her momentary interest in him even more inappropriate. It was clever and generous of the viscount to disguise his admonishment so playfully, and Elizabeth felt all the gentility of his effort. “I certainly understand your sentiments, sir,” she replied. 

     Lady Rebecca sighed. “Poor Darcy!” 

     Darcy, Elizabeth furrowed her brow at hearing the name repeated. It was vaguely familiar, just as his face had seemed. 

     “Miss Bennet!” Elizabeth turned to find Mr. Bingley approaching, just as Mrs. Gardiner and Lady Helen rejoined the conversation. “How are you ladies enjoying the performance this evening?” Mr. Bingley’s eyes never left Elizabeth’s as he took his place at her side.  

     Elizabeth flushed with pleasure as she watched him take in her appearance. It was clear he liked her very much. Is he in love with me? Is this what it is like to fall in love? She returned Mr. Bingley’s amorous gaze, trying to sort out what she was feeling. Oblivious to her companions and the silence that had fallen over them, Elizabeth returned Mr. Bingley’s smile, until at last they both began to laugh.  

     Mrs. Gardiner softly cleared her throat. “I believe we are enjoying it very well, indeed,” she replied to Mr. Bingley’s unanswered question. 

     Elizabeth looked back at her aunt. “Oh, yes. I like it very much. The music is simply breathtaking.” 

     “Yes, yes indeed,” Mr. Bingley replied, still grinning at Elizabeth. “Caroline says it is far more refined than seeing a play—but I own I much prefer plays. Saves me the trouble of reading them. Not that I should like to read music, either. That is—I cannot imagine how all you accomplished young ladies manage it.” 

     Lady Rebecca pursed her lips to keep from laughing and gave Elizabeth a playful wink. “Are you possessed of such accomplishments, Elizabeth? I will own I comprehend a great deal in my idea of an accomplished woman.” 

     Elizabeth smirked saucily. “I do play and sing a little, but very ill, I assure you. Of reading plays I have had better success, for I am fond of reading everything my father’s library has to offer. Dare I ask if I have satisfied your requirements?” 

     “It is indeed an accomplishment to improve one’s mind through extensive reading,” Lady Rebecca observed with a tone of great mirth. “However, I find the greater accomplishment to be that of endeavoring to exert one’s influence over those who do not have a taste for such things.” Here she gave Mr. Bingley an arch look, and he responded with a jovial laugh. 

     Mr. Gardiner clapped his young friend on the shoulder. “Come round for dinner some time, if ever you should like to be influenced, young man. I daresay my Lizzy shall make short work of it.” 

     Elizabeth turned away in sudden embarrassment at her uncle’s straightforwardness. She looked to her aunt for assistance, but Mrs. Gardiner merely gave her hand a gentle squeeze and smiled cheerfully at her. Before she knew it, Mr. Bingley had accepted her uncle’s invitation and settled on Saturday next. Her uncle seemed hesitant to presume too much in inviting the Fitzwilliams, but Mr. Bingley adroitly suggested that he should give a dinner for them all the week after that. Not to be outdone, Lady Rebecca announced that she would be happy to hostess at her brother’s house in Belgrave Square, and would send round her invitations as well.  

     The conversation continued in such a manner until it was time to return to their box for the second act, and Elizabeth was equal parts relieved and disappointed when the time came to separate from Mr. Bingley and his friends. Was love supposed to be such a discomfiting mixture of embarrassment and delight?  


~*~

Thanks for joining me on the fourth stop of my blog tour, and a special shout-out to those of you who have been following Happier since the days of posting on AHA and AO3! As a thank-you for all the wonderful support I’ve received, I have started a give-away, and will be selecting a winner after each post on the blog tour! See the full schedule for the blog tour below, and click here to follow me on Facebook for updates on the sequel, coming soon!





Many thanks to Jayne Bamber for stopping by So Little Time... today!

Friends, what did you think? Ooh, I'm not sure I like an evil Jane, but I'm very intrigued by Lady Rebecca! Did any of the other character changes stand out to you? 

Don't forget to click here if you would like to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway to win an ecopy of Happier in Her Friends than Relations! Good luck! 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

A Very Austen Valentine Blog Tour! ~ Guest Post with Robin Helm, Excerpts, & Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! It's my pleasure to have Robin Helm visiting here today as part of A Very Austen Valentine: Austen Anthologies, Bk 2 Blog Tour! Not only is Robin sharing a little about her writing journey, but we also have excerpts from both Barbara Cornthwaite and Laura Hile's stories! Yay!

Plus, the authors are giving away copies of A Very Austen Valentine! Details are at the bottom of the page! 




I was first published in Highlights, a magazine which published the works of school children. I think I was in the second or third grade when my poem about my mother was included in the publication. I've always been a storyteller. My second-grade teacher would often call me to the front of the class to entertain my fellow students with stories I made up on the spot. I usually based the stories on true events and spun wild tales interwoven with facts.

My favorite school classes were tenth grade English (we wrote an essay a day for six weeks), eleventh grade English (we put together portfolios of our short stories, poems, and creative definitions), and senior Advanced Composition (creative writing). The encouragement to write continued into my freshman English class in college. One of my free verse poems was read aloud to the class. It was a riddle, or a “charade” in Regency speak.

I began to write romantic fiction for publication in 2010, and I've published a book every year since I finished that book in 2011. I have four more new releases coming out in the next year, after the newly released A Very Austen Valentine: Austen Anthologies, Book 2, and continuing with More to Love, Lawfully Innocent, Maestro, and A Very Austen Romance: Austen Anthologies, Book 3

(Funny Side Note: Many people have complimented us on the cover of A Very Austen Valentine. We love it, too. After all, we drove the cover designer crazy tweaking it. "Straighten out his pants and the tails on his jacket. Change the color of her dress. Put roses on the arch. Lose the low wall behind her. Are those bushes sticking in her back? Take them out, please. Give us a Regency mansion behind them instead of clouds. Flip the couple. He has a stray hair at the front. Please photoshop it out. Darken his hair. Nope. Lighten it again." All worth it.)

There’s an interesting back story behind how I came to write “I Dream of You,” my offering in the anthology. I was nearly finished writing More to Love with every intention of including it in the collection, but Laura Hile said NO. She said it was a book and deserved its own solo publication. So, I put it aside and began to write Maestro. Guess what? When I was a few chapters in, Laura jumped on that same soapbox again. With about a month until the deadline, and after several sleepless nights, I pulled together shorter works from my first years of writing, rewriting them like a fiend until the idea for “I Dream of You” came together in my mind. I have never written anything that quickly in my life. It literally changed the way I viewed myself as an author. Writing a story doesn’t have to take me a year anymore.

So, why do I write? I credit support and encouragement from my mother, sister, teachers, friends, husband, daughters, readers, and church members. It takes an encouraging tribe to make a writer.




Blurb: 

I Dream of You by Robin Helm 

Newly-married Elizabeth Darcy has a plan: to charm her too-busy husband into desiring her company as much as he did when he was courting her. A series of romantic dreams gives her just the push she needs to put that plan into action. 

Sir Walter Takes a Wife by Laura Hile 

Faced with a lonely future and finding himself strapped for cash, Persuasion’s Sir Walter Elliot manfully decides to marry again. But his careful plans go sadly awry! A lighthearted Valentine mash-up featuring two of Jane Austen's worst snobs. 

My Forever Valentine by Wendi Sotis 

Jane and Charles Bingley have married, even though Miss Elizabeth Bennet remains certain Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy gave his best effort to keep them apart. After Mr. Darcy refused to stand up with Bingley and did not attend the wedding, she despises the gentleman more than ever and finds his company intolerable. How will she endure her visit to Kent if Mr. Darcy turns up everywhere she goes? 

Pretence and Prejudice by Barbara Cornthwaite 

A chance encounter with a handsome stranger forces Elizabeth to resort to subterfuge in order to discover his true intentions. 

My Valentine by Mandy H. Cook 

Little Charlotte was always determined and independent, traits which served her well as she battled a serious childhood illness and later as she took on Polite Society. Will those traits now deprive her of true love? Or would her lifelong Valentine win her heart? 

The Lovers’ Ruse by Susan Kaye 

In this Persuasion alteration, Anne is so altered by Wentworth's love in the summer of 1806, she refuses to give him up when both her godmother and father try to persuade her. “The Lovers' Ruse” follows Frederick and Anne through their whirlwind courtship and their secret engagement. When Wentworth returns for his Annie girl, the cat comes out of the bag.

Buy: Amazon USAmazon UK
Add to Goodreads

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Excerpt from Pretence and Prejudice by Barbara Cornthwaite

Darcy left early the next morning and stopped at midday in a small market town called Meryton. His manservant enquired about a meal at the hostelry on the main street.

“There’s no private room available, Mr. Darcy,” reported the servant, “this not being a main road, and too small a town for Quality to frequent. There is a parlour, though, set apart from the taproom, and they said you can eat your meal there.”

In a few minutes, Darcy was taking a seat near the only window in the rather dark room. It gave him a view of a couple of shops, three houses, and a pretty little church. He remembered his cousin’s words and smiled to think about himself as a clergyman. If he had been the clergyman in this town, say, he would be eating a nuncheon in just this fashion when he travelled. And if he were a poor curate, travel would be done on horseback, not in a carriage. His meal would be simple, as this one was (though the innkeeper had done his best). However, he probably would have someone to converse with as he ate in the taproom—one of the local farmers or tradesmen. He stared out the window in boredom.

A group of young ladies came down the street. They were smartly dressed but not elegant; most likely daughters of a well-off merchant or the local squire. There were three of them, and they paused outside his window.

“Charlotte!” called one of them, and waved to someone across the road.

“Lydia!” said another of the girls reprovingly, and added some remarks that were spoken too softly for Darcy to hear through the window. The young woman called Charlotte came across the road to meet them; she had rather a plain face but an intelligent expression, and she stood conversing with them for a few minutes. If he were that clergyman, Mr. Fitzwilliam—no, what had his cousin suggested? Mr. Williams, that was it—yes, if he were that Mr. Williams, he would probably be looking to this group for a wife. It was not a happy notion. Not one of them caught his attention. One of the older young ladies, the one who had reproved Lydia, had a pretty face, and evidently enough manners that she knew what proper behaviour was. But no, he would not have been tempted to know her better, even if they had been of the same rank.

Excerpt from Sir Walter Takes a Wife by Laura Hile

Because only the elderly use spectacles—so unfashionable! So unsightly!—Sir Walter Elliot made a mistake when he addressed his Valentine card. Alas for him! For the lady who received it is quite different from the one he had mind. 

Long and hard did Lady Catherine stare at the card, with its riot of hearts and roses. A Valentine! At her age! Who would dare to send such a thing?

Its message sent her brows climbing skyward. So love was a link of matchless jewels, was it? The man must be a fortune hunter, whoever he was.

And she possessed treasures men had seen? Well!

Lady Catherine hitched up the neckline of her gown. The nerve!

Whoever this Walter Elliot was, she would soon send him packing—and with a flea in his ear, too! Would she be his Valentine?

“Not in a million years,” she said, rising to her feet. She could not get to her writing desk fast enough. Sir Walter Elliot would soon discover that he was barking up the wrong tree.

  My Dear Sir, she began.

No, this was not right. He was not dear, nor should she use the possessive pronoun my.

My Dear Sir,
While I can appreciate your kindness intelligence in singling me out as your Valentine on Valentine’s Day, I beg leave to inform you that I have no intention of indulging in foolishness inclination for courtship at this time. My life has enough trouble without “falling in love” with an idiotic fool of a man, even one who styles himself a prince. 
Whatever I need done on the estate, I can hire. 

Here Lady Catherine paused. Sir Walter expressed romantic interest, and yet the wording of her reply implied that she could hire—

Botheration! Trust a man—any man!—to take an innocent statement the wrong way. Lady Catherine scratched out the last sentence and continued writing.

Even if I were of an amorous nature (which I am not) I have little desire to take on—

She gave a cackling laugh. Why mince words with a fortune hunter?

—to take on the reformation of yet another gentleman. My late husband would doubtless advise you to move on to a more compliant prospect.
Please accept my sincere wishes for good health and prosperity.
I remain,
Independent of princes and well-content,
The Rt. Hon. Lady Catherine de Bourgh
As she copied out her letter there came a sound—was it laughter? She looked toward the windows, and a movement on the lawn caught her eye. She pushed back her chair and went to investigate. 

Well. Here were not her groundskeeper and his assistant, but those annoying Howell boys. Really, Sir Charles should keep his sons in better order! They were always sneaking onto her estate, as if they had nothing better to do at Fairview Manor. She would write to Sir Charles and offer suggestions. Hadn’t they ponies to ride or dogs to train? Boys needed lessons in shooting, but Lady Catherine would never suggest this. Knowing those two, her windows would be used for target practice!

Back to the desk she went, grinding her teeth. The sight of Sir Walter’s Valentine only fanned her irritation.

Midway through her letter to Sir Charles, however, a new thought occurred. Was Sir Walter Elliot the sender of the Valentine? Or was it a cruel jest designed to taunt her? This was just the sort of thing the Howell boys would do—choose a gentleman’s name and then compose a fraudulent love note!

Yes, and they were running about in her garden and stealing glances at the house. Were they expecting to see a lovelorn reaction? She would give them a reaction. At church she would find them and box their ears!

Lady Catherine now studied the Valentine with new eyes. Of course this was a hoax. As thou, my Catherine, art hale and fine was something no gentleman would say to his ladylove! But a coltish youngster certainly would, laughing at every word.

The postal marks indicated that the Valentine originated in Bath, but Lady Catherine was not born yesterday. The eldest Howell girl was at school there. How simple it would be for her brothers to include her in the ruse!

Perhaps, then, the reply to Sir Walter should be more moderate. Lady Catherine drew forward a fresh sheet of paper.

Dear Sir Walter,
I thank you for the Valentine card and the message it contained.
However, I do not for one minute suppose that you are its true sender. That honour belongs to Masters James and Richard Howell of Fairview Manor, gentleman’s sons with nothing better to do than taunt a poor widow on Valentine’s Day. Doubtless they found your name in Debrett’s and, with flagrant disregard for the havoc it would cause, boldly (and unlawfully) signed your name.
I am writing to warn you. Knowing these two, I am not the only recipient of a Valentine bearing your signature. If you receive a reply from a Mrs. Stuart-Morton or a Miss Kipp, be on your guard! They are husband-hunters of the worst sort—as the Masters Howell (and indeed, all the inhabitants of Hunsford!) know.
When next I see these young rapscallions, I shall certainly give them a piece of my mind. I expect to run them to ground at Sunday service. For once, their prayers for mercy shall be heartfelt!

Cordially,
The Rt. Hon. Lady Catherine de Bourgh


About the Authors

Robin Helm bio

Robin Helm's books reflect her love of music, as well as her fascination with the paranormal and science fiction. 

Previously published works include The Guardian Trilogy: Guardian, SoulFire, and Legacy (a guardian angel protects a supernaturally gifted girl), the Yours by Design series: Accidentally Yours, Sincerely Yours, and Forever Yours (Fitzwilliam Darcy switches places in time with his descendant, Will Darcy), and Understanding Elizabeth (Regency romance).

She contributed to A Very Austen Christmas: Austen Anthologies, Book 1, an anthology featuring like-minded authors, in 2017. A Very Austen Valentine: Austen Anthologies, Book 2  was released on December 29, 2018. A Very Austen Romance: Austen Anthologies, Book 3 is planned for December 2019.

She lives in sunny South Carolina and adores her one husband, two married daughters, and three grandchildren.   



    

Laura Hile bio

Readers are loving Laura Hile's joyous Regency novels. Her signature style—with intertwined plots, cliffhangers, laugh-out-loud humor, and romance—keeps them coming back for more.

The comedy Laura comes by as a teacher. There's never a dull moment with teen students!

Laura lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a collection of antique clocks. 
Her fiction is for everyone, even teens.



Wendi Sotis bio

Wendi Sotis lives on Long Island, NY, with her husband and triplets. While searching for Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s point of view, she became thoroughly enamored with Jane Austen Fan Fiction or JAFF. In early 2010, she dreamed of an idea for a story and hasn’t stopped writing since: Promises, Dreams and Expectations; All Hallows Eve; The Keys for Love; Safekeeping (with just a dash of Austen); The Gypsy Blessing; Foundation of Love (The Gypsy Blessing 2); and A Lesson Hard Learned.

The Marriage Pact, and some of Wendi’s works-in-progress, have branched away from JAFF to Regency Romance (the Loving an Aldridge Series) and Contemporary Romantic Mysteries (the Implicated series). Wendi will also continue bringing Darcy and Elizabeth together again and again in an unusual manner.



Barbara Cornthwaite bio

Barbara Cornthwaite lives in the middle of Ireland with her husband and children. She taught college English before "retiring" to do something she loves far more; her days are now filled with homeschooling her six children, trying to keep the house tidy (a losing battle), and trying to stay warm in the damp Irish climate (also a losing battle). She is surrounded by medieval castles, picturesque flocks of sheep, and ancient stone monuments. These things are unappreciated by her children, who are more impressed by traffic jams, skyscrapers, and hot weather.



Susan Kaye bio

Susan Kaye discovered Jane Austen and writing at about the same time. She leads a quiet life with her husband and dog, Harley. "I don't know a lot, but I do know I've probably spent more time with Frederick Wentworth and Anne Elliot than just about anybody else."




Mandy Helm Cook bio

Mandy Cook was an RN for over ten years, half of which she served in the Navy, living in far-flung places, enjoying experiencing the world while following her calling. Just before she and her handsome Marine were both deployed to different places, they married. They now have three children, ages four and younger.

She previously published The Gifted, using her nursing experience to lend accuracy to her story about an ER nurse who is handed a gift that changes her life forever. Adversity, and a long history of secrets, constantly battle against her natural instinct for truth and justice, but will the truth be worth the dare?




Blog Tour Schedule

01/06 Just the Write Escape; Guest Post, Giveaway
01/07 Margie’s Must Reads; Review, Giveaway  
01/08 So Little Time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway 
01/09 Babblings of a Bookworm; Author Interview/Character Interview, Giveaway
01/10 Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt
01/11 Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, Giveaway
01/12 My Love for Jane Austen; Vignette, Giveaway
01/14 From Pemberley to Milton; Excerpt, Review or Vignette, Giveaway
01/15 My life journey; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway
01/16 My Vices and Weaknesses; Guest Post or Vignette. Excerpt, Giveaway
01/18 Diary of an Eccentric; Review, Giveaway
01/20 Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway
01/21 Austenprose; Author Interview




* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

It's giveaway time! The authors are generously giving away ten eBook copies (open Internationally) and one paperback copy of A Very Austen Valentine: Austen Anthologies, Book 2 (open to US residents only)! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below.

  • Ten people will win an eBook of A Very Austen Valentine. (open Internationally)
  • One person will win a paperback of A Very Austen Valentine. (US only)
  • One prize per winner.
  • Winners will be picked randomly by Rafflecopter.
Good luck!



a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thank you, Robin, for stopping by here today! I remember reading Highlights when I was a kid! I wonder if I read your story! Wouldn't that be something?! :) 

To both Barbara and Laura, thank you for sharing your lovely and humorous excerpts! 

And many thanks to all the authors for the generous giveaway! 

So, friends, what did you think? Please, leave a comment! We'd love to hear from you!
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