Friday, January 4, 2019

The Avenger Blog Tour ~ Guest Post with Don Jacobson & Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! I'm excited to have Don Jacobson visit the blog today, and so happy to be part of The Avenger Blog Tour

Be sure to read to the bottom of the page for details for the giveaway! 

Austen, #Austenesque, and Active Reading

     Those of us who love all things #Austenesque oftentimes get deeply into the weeds as we try to divine the “true” meaning and intent of scenic elements that establish the framework upon which both character development and plot rests. Austen forces her readers to be active participants in the development of the story. She liberally sprinkles breadcrumbs, but then allows us to be clever—or not—in assigning meaning to them to create an overarching interpretation.

     A perfect example of this process sees Miss Bingley dragging Miss Elizabeth around the Netherfield parlor. Miss Austen, of course, tells us the reason using Darcy as her avatar for the moment.

       “You can only have two motives, Caroline, and I would interfere with either…
       “Either you are in each other's confidence and have secret affairs to discuss, or you are conscious that your figures appear to the greatest advantage by walking. If the first, I should get in your way. If the second, I can admire you much better from here.” (Pride and Prejudice, Ch. 11).

     Knowing that of which Austen has already advised us, Caroline holds Elizabeth in disdain and would have no secrets to share with the Bennet woman.   Miss Austen, therefore, lays a forced choice in front of us. Our only conclusion can be that the walk, suggested by Miss Bingley, was meant to entice Darcy with…no wait, not “their,” but rather, Caroline’s…beauty. 

     And, while Austen leaves us with the impression that Caroline is attractive, the Bingley sister was certainly tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt Darcy. After all, she had been in his company for multiple Seasons. Neither her figure nor her money had attracted his attention. Her effort here, therefore, underlines Austen’s positioning of her as being a somewhat pathetic, clueless figure, not understanding that she was offering Darcy an implicit comparison between her physical charms and Elizabeth’s.

     But, at no point does Austen insert herself in the narrative to tell readers about the nature of Caroline Bingley. We can assemble the clues ourselves.

     In The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament, I use a variety of expository devices to portray useful information, set character traits in place, and establish underlying elements that make subsequent action or narrative logical. I have studiously tried to emulate, if not her language stylings, much of her structural technique. The Lady truly had an interesting literary toolbox!

     Consider, for instance, a narrative exposition made in Chapter III…when the Right Rev. Richard Fitzwilliam is contemplating a note left on the doorstep of his temporary rectory at Stromness, about one month after the end of World War II. There he had sought peace from his PTSD after years serving behind enemy lines.

       Yet, his calling to serve the Lord was of such strength that he could not become a hermit. However, he recognized that he could never voluntarily avail himself of his connections to immerse himself in one of the preferred parishes where aristocratic rectors most often were installed. He had no patience for diocesan politics. The Rt. Rev. Richard Fitzwilliam could only stomach so many teas at fusty bishopric palaces where smarmy clerics sought to curry favor and gain patronage. St. Mary’s here in the blustery Orkneys was the best living for him…and was the only such refuge open, the rectory in Bude, Cornwall, long unavailable, having been filled by a twenty-five-year man: himself a refugee from the 1914 cataclysm.
       Richard’s family, though, would not let him crawl into a hole in the heather and pull the shrubs in after him. 
       Lady Anne, in her latest letter, offered that she had accepted Richard’s excuse that his parish duties had made it impossible to attend the traditional Five Families’ grandes vacances at the reopened Deauville Beach House. Then she slyly had set her piton in the tiny logical crack his summertime demurral had provided. 
       “Perhaps my son,” she gently wheedled, …
       Richard smiled as he imagined the irresistible gaze of those caramel eyes, wide in feigned innocence, rising from her supremely laid, cream-colored notepaper, focused on him.  
       “…who is a minister of the Lord, would find it in himself to attend the October dedication of his Grandmother’s marker in the tiny burial ground behind the Dune and deliver a eulogy to the great lady.” 

     I have always imagined this 20th Century iteration of a Fitzwilliam male to be a combination of both Darcy and the Colonel, with a fully-formed sense of duty to God, Country, and Family. These paragraphs allow readers to understand “The Preacher” (his nom de guerre) without my commentary telling them how he was shaped.  Likewise, he is a man who understands that women are not bits of fluff to be ignored. He would shortly encounter another strong and resourceful woman whom he had loved but had assumed dead. The missive in his milk box is from her, and he is suspicious of her motives. Yet, he can do nothing but play the hand he was dealt. 

       T’is to be a game of chess, however, and not checkers. And, so he went to meet her.
       However, that space [where they were to meet] had one fatal flaw that Richard could turn to his advantage; all thanks to a drink-befuddled farmer who last September stumbled in the steeply angled meadow that bordered upon the slope leading to the lip! 
       T’was one of those rare fall days when the prevailing gusts blew off-shore rather than on. When old MacGregor tangled his brogans and ended up face down in the browned sward, his freshly-charged pipe, knocked from between the few teeth he had left in his ancient head, set ablaze the golden dry fodder waiting to be cut and baled. With the easterlies raging, the entire hillside had been turned to ash in moments.
       Then t’was easy work for the winter’s melt and the spring rains to loosen the denuded soil on this least-loved of silage patches. The pebbly glacial leavings now covering the eroded brae were as stable as a child’s bag of aggies, always shifting in a perpetual motion determined to fly across the trail and down to the Cambrian scree piled on the shore. Any person seeking to plant a foot on this surface, loosely bound with the thinnest of clayey mud, would end up tumbling out-of-control.

     Fitzwilliam realized that he must meet the sender of the note…and that t’was likely that the writer, long missing in the hands of the SS, would pose mortal danger. As he approached the rendezvous, his mind turned to the context of the meeting, as neither party had communicated to one another prior to that moment…in fact for over a year since her (yes, a woman!) betrayal to the Gestapo. From Chapter IV…

        Fitzwilliam narrowed his eyes but did not break his rolling gait lest he alert Rose. This place would have been where he would have prepared his own ambush if he had been so inclined. Here, in the thirty-odd feet after the path had cut through a small rise to then swing around a large piece of Norway, a most noticeable glacial detritus poking up from the brackish heath, rested all elements necessary to provide ideal conditions for an assassination rather than a conversation. Thus, the final piece in his understanding of her urgency to speak with him slid into place.
       She has no interest in exploring my thoughts on the status of rationing, to be sure. T’is to be wet work.* If I recall correctly, Rose found a hatpin to serve up a near bloodless murder.
       The Preacher never broke stride, knowing that if he gave the slightest whiff of awareness, his quarry—yes, the hunted now is seeking to be the hunter—would vanish, only to try again in a time-and-place of her, not his, choosing.

     Again, readers can further understand the character of Fitzwilliam. Although a man of god, he is also, himself, a trained killer.

     We finally move from narrative to action as the attack, long telegraphed, is finally undertaken. The woman’s body is under the control of her alter-ego Rose, however, the dominant personality, Eileen, is conscious and able to exert a minute influence over the action.

       Fearful that what she would do would prove insufficient, but even more fearful of inaction, Eileen dipped her hands into the translucent, rippling streams flowing in front of her. Her intervention slowed their passage from the sky-blue irises exposed to the wind and dust howling on the hillside. Akin to a photo flipbook interrupted in its smooth page-after-page snapping, that wonderfully agile brain, that in earlier times—before—had been her home, paused in its processing, freezing on the last complete image. The lag was momentary, but enough.
       In that unseen fraction of a sliver of a moment, Fitzwilliam continued to move across the field of play; not far, but enough.
       This fluctuation, this stutter of sight, led Rose to miss the center of her target. Where the steel tipped javelin of her body should have driven itself home directly between Fitzwilliam’s shoulder blades, Eileen’s fiddling with her optic signals changed reality. The delay was not much more than a half a heartbeat, but it caused her to leap at what she thought was the bullseye when it was really the next outer ring.
       Rather than burying itself at the base of Fitzwilliam’s skull, her hatpin scoured a furrow in his right trapezius before snagging in the collar of his bridge coat.
       As for her target, Richard’s sixth sense alerted him that the moment of greatest danger had been upon him. Perhaps t’was a change in air pressure or the pattern of the wind disturbed as her body sliced through the air toward him. Whatever warned the Preacher, he had the slightest opportunity to flinch, to hunch his shoulders. Even so, his muscles, quick as his war-honed senses were, had only begun their upward movement when a ripping pain on the right side of his neck snapped his senses. Then muscle memory took over.
       As Rose’s weight slammed into his back. Fitzwilliam quickly used his six-foot frame to transfer her forward momentum into an over-the-shoulder throw which flipped the slight woman above and around his rotating body. She landed flat on her back; her head closest to his feet. The impact stunned her but did not render her unconscious.
       The SOE man above supine figure knew that she would take advantage of the slightest opening. Chivalry and human feelings vanished in the glare of Mars ascendant. 
       He finished his move with a fierce right-hand jab to her jaw that snapped her head to the side and put both Rose and Eileen to sleep.

     By now we have more than enough evidence to understand that the former Lieutenant Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam was a man of uncommon bravery and skill as well as faith and, perhaps, compassion. He also dealt with a woman in a 20th Century manner…rather than the patriarchal style of the Regency. This nascent egalitarianism between the sexes is a theme which runs through much of the Bennet Wardrobe.

     T’is my hope that readers of The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament will enjoy the elements which demand that they be active readers, engaging with the history created within the Bennet Wardrobe Universe. I look forward to your comments and, later, your reviews.

* “Wet” is the term adopted by espionage “firms” to describe assignments where the target was to be killed.

The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father's Lament
by Don Jacobson


Bennet looked at his wife’s swollen lips, softly bruised from several deeply loving kisses, and her flushed complexion, as alluring when gracing the countenance of a woman of four-and-forty as that of a girl of nine-and-ten. He was one of the lucky few to have fallen in love with the same woman at both ages. 

 Thomas Bennet, Master of Longbourn, had always counted himself amongst the few educated gentlemen of his acquaintance. But, he had to travel over 120 years into the future to discover how little he knew about the woman sharing his life. 

Once again, the amazing Bennet Wardrobe proved to be the schoolmaster. Tom Bennet’s lesson? Mrs. Bennet had been formed especially for him. Yet, t’would be the good lady herself who taught him the power of the Fifth and Sixth Loves: Redemption and Forgiveness

Fanny Bennet also would uncover deep wells of courage and inspiration as she stood by her man’s side in the bleak years after World War II. Together they would lead their descendants in pursuit of the beast who had wronged every member of the Five Families.

Buy: Amazon
Add to Goodreads

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! 

The Bennet Wardrobe series stands alone… 

The Avenger takes us on a new journey through The Bennet Wardrobe – an alternate universe rising from Don Jacobson’s vivid imagination and based upon the immortal Pride and Prejudice. The Avenger is another important step leading to the culmination of this enchanting trip: one that has drawn us into its reality to travel side-by-side with richly sketched characters. Each book has left us wanting more. 

The Bennet Wardrobe series stands alone as a unique result of originality focused on beloved characters as they move—and grow—through surprising plotlines.

Lory Lilian, author of Rainy Days

Meet the Author

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years.  His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio.  His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards.  He has previously published five books, all non-fiction.  In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series—The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey, novel that grew from two earlier novellas. The Exile is the second volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series.  Other JAFF P&P Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” and “The Maid and The Footman.” 

Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations.  As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing.

He is a member of JASNA-Puget Sound.  Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective (see the internet, Facebook and Twitter).

He lives in the Seattle, WA area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Ms. Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty pound cat, Bear.  Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the JAFF world, Don also enjoys cooking; dining out, fine wine and well-aged scotch whiskey.  

His other passion is cycling.  Most days from April through October will find him “putting in the miles” around the Seattle area (yes there are hills).  He has ridden several “centuries” (100 mile days).  Don is especially proud that he successfully completed the AIDS Ride—Midwest (500 miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-A-Wish Miracle Ride (300 miles from Traverse City, MI to Brooklyn, MI).

Connect with Don Jacobson

Blog Tour Schedule

12/28 Babblings of a Bookworm; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
12/29 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl; Review, Giveaway
12/30 My Love for Jane Austen; Guest Post, Giveaway
01/03 My Vices and Weaknesses; Author Interview, Giveaway
01/04 So Little Time…; Guest Post, Giveaway
01/05 My life journey; Review, Excerpt Giveaway
01/02 More Agreeably Engaged; Character Interview, Giveaway
01/08 Diary of an Eccentric; Guest Post, Giveaway
01/09 From Pemberley to Milton; Excerpt, Giveaway

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

It's giveaway time! Don Jacobson is giving away four eBooks of The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father's Lament! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

List of books in The Bennet Wardrobe series:

The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey
Henry Fitzwilliam’s War
The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Epoque
Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess
The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn
The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament

Thank you, Don, for your generosity in this giveaway and for your wonderful guest post which was so intriguing! One of my favorite secondary characters is Colonel Fitzwilliam. I'm so happy you have featured him here (or at least his WWII  counterpart)! 

Well, my friends, what do you think? Are you intrigued by this excerpt? I need to know more about this Rose/Eileen and her relationship with Richard Fitzwilliam! 


  1. Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam, my favourite P&P male character makes an appearance, oh good

    1. A bit of a different Colonel (that's why I made him a lieutenant colonel)...and the original's great-great-great grandson! But, I pulled some of the Old General's traits and applied them to this Richard!

  2. I am intrigued by Richard Fitzwilliam and Rose/Eileen and look forward learning more about them.

    1. Be sure to read the biographical note at the front of the book!

  3. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I needed a new binary to drive the darker aspects of the Avenger story line...while also affirming the Fifth and Sixth Love drivers that run throughout the book.

  4. It's interesting that so many people are writing stories based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I am enjoying The Guardian trilogy by Robin Helm.

    1. Robin Helm's work is impressive! The #Austenesque genre is massive. I do hope you will dive into the Wardrobe. Sequence is a s follows: The Keeper: Mary Bennet's Extraordinary Journey, Henry Fitzwilliam's War, The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Epoque, Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess, The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn, and The Avenger. There are two main novels yet to come, however, we are at 460,000 words and counting.

  5. Robin Helm's work is impressive! The #Austenesque genre is massive. I do hope you will dive into the Wardrobe. Sequence is a s follows: The Keeper: Mary Bennet's Extraordinary Journey, Henry Fitzwilliam's War, The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Epoque, Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess, The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn, and The Avenger. There are two main novels yet to come, however, we are at 460,000 words and counting.


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