Friday, February 22, 2019

Persuasion: Behind the Scenes Blog Tour ~ Guest post with Diana Birchall, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Hello, friends! I'm thrilled to have Diana Birchall here with us today on the blog! She is one of the authors of the new Austen Variations anthology, Persuasion: Behind the Scenes. I hope you enjoy her guest post and excerpt! And don't forget to enter the giveaway! Details are at the bottom of the page! 

I’m so excited to be here representing the group of authors from the Austen Variations blog, who have teamed together to produce a rich, stuffed-with-stories, new anthology, entitled Persuasion, Behind the Scenes.  Bound together by our common desire to visit favorite aspects of one of the most beloved Austen novels, Persuasion, we have brought a wide range of talents and imaginations to the task. With contributions from some of the finest writers in the Austenesque field, the result is a scintillating cornucopia of Austen fiction!

As Jane Austen has Charlotte Lucas say to Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, “I am not romantic. I never was.” And although Persuasion may be Jane Austen’s most poignantly romantic novel of all, with its autumnal themes of lost and recovered love, it is not the romance to which I am temperamentally drawn. I’ve always loved Jane Austen for her exquisitely elegant writing style, her priceless genius for characterization, and above all, her unmatched wit, which suffuses everything she writes and sets it sparkling.

In the no fewer than fourteen stories I have contributed to this volume, I have focused on some of the more hilarious and grotesque characters in Persuasion, such as silly and conceited Sir Walter Elliot, his cold and selfish oldest daughter Elizabeth, and his whining hypochondriac of a youngest daughter, Mary Musgrove. I love the novel’s actual heroine, Anne Elliot, but feel as Jane Austen said, that she is “almost too good for me.” Nor is Captain Wentworth, so dashing and delightful, someone to make fun of – much as Elizabeth says about Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, “I really cannot poke fun” at him.  I deeply admire this stellar hero and heroine, but find that there’s more material for satire and laughter with the delightfully drawn “monsters.”

But the beauty of this anthology is that there are twelve authors represented, presenting wonderfully different peeks at Persuasion behind the scenes. There’s plenty of romance, as well as sea adventure, scheming, heartbreak, drama, the road to reconciliation, and more!  It will provide many hours of reading, rollicking and relishing in new worlds inspired by Jane Austen.


Here is an excerpt from one of my stories, “Mary Musgrove’s Complaint.”

Anne, who really thought Charles bore very patiently with his wife, disliked anything resembling interference, or being placed in the midst of disputes. Yet she felt decided sympathy for her brother-in-law, and so she resolved to try. A gentle word about her health brought Mary to a fine state of agitation and tirade, giving her an excuse for the most elaborate recitation of complaints her sister had heard yet. “I assure you, my health is very much worse than any body gives me credit for,” she cried. “You who are unmarried can have no conception – no idea. Indeed, I do not know if it is fit for me to discuss such things with a single woman.” 

Anne assured her that there was no unfitness involved. “After all, it is not as if I were a very young girl, Mary, and I am your sister. I think you may tell me any thing you like.” 

“Well! I will tell you this much, then,” Mary paused impressively. “That all the miseries I feel, emanate from the same place.” 

“And where is that?” asked Anne, not without apprehension. 

Mary sat up from the sofa in her urgency. “From my womb!” 

Anne took this calmly. “I daresay that such symptoms are often the case with young married women. Has the doctor been consulted?” 

“Certainly, I had Dr. Black for both confinements, you recall. And with little Walter – well, to be sure he was not little, he was a baby of near nine pounds, and I assure you I felt ripped apart from limb to limb. You cannot possibly imagine how I suffered, and still do suffer.” 

“That is very sad to hear,” said Anne, “but Walter is now two years old. Surely there has been some – healing?” 

Mary shook her head vigorously. “Not a bit of it. Such tears, such miseries, such spasms, as I endured, may never be recovered from, not in a lifetime. You have never endured the unspeakable agony of childbirth, when you lie expecting to die at every instant!” 

“But you have two fine, healthy little boys, and you have always gone on well afterwards.” 

“Yes, but at what cost! Why, between us, I would have you know, every month I virtually exsanguinate.” 

“Why, Mary,” Anne replied mildly, “you know, such courses are what all women must experience; it is women’s lot.” 

“How can you talk of women’s lot? Whatever other women may endure, I am sure that my courses are worse than any one’s!” 

“I am very sorry to hear that, Mary.” 

“We have to pay the laundry-maid double wages, and I never hear the end of it from Charles. He has no sympathy or comprehension of what we women have to go through.” 

Anne did not feel that she was making much headway. 

“I am sure he does feel sympathy,” she assured her sister earnestly. 

“He has a fine way of showing it then. Do you know, Anne, I should not even be speaking of this, but I have started another. It is all Charles’ fault. Deny that, if you can. But oh,” she wrung her hands, “there is no use talking to you. You are not a married woman, and cannot put yourself in my place.”

* * *
About Diana Birchall

Diana Birchall recently retired as a story analyst for Warner Bros Studios, reading novels to see if they would make movies. Reading popular manuscripts went side by side with a lifetime of Jane Austen scholarship, and resulted in her being a pioneer in the field of writing Austenesque fiction. She is the author of Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma and Mrs. Elton in America, both published by Sourcebooks, as well as In Defense of Mrs. Elton, published by JASNA, and hundreds of short stories.  Her plays have been performed in many cities, with “You Are Passionate, Jane,” a two-person play about Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, being featured at Chawton House Library. She grew up in New York City, and now lives in Santa Monica, California with her husband and son, and three cats.

Persuasion: Behind the Scenes

You pierce my soul.  

Before Jane Austen wrote that romantic letter from Captain Frederick Wentworth to Anne Elliot, she crafted a masterful story of heartbreak and longing that still resonates with readers today.  

But what of those scenes that Jane Austen never wrote?  What Persuasion fan doesn't want to listen in on Anne and Wentworth's first courtship, laugh at the follies and foibles of the Elliot family, sail along on Captain Wentworth's harrowing adventures at sea or attend Wentworth and Anne's wedding?  

Twelve authors of Austen-inspired fiction:  Diana Birchall, Marilyn Brant, Jack Caldwell, L.L. Diamond, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Kara Louise, Susan Mason-Milks, Jane Odiwe, C. Allyn Pierson, Mary Lydon Simonsen, and Shannon Winslow collaborated to put this unique collection that fills in "missing" scenes from Austen's classic work, sure to delight any true Persuasion fan.

Buy: Amazon US • Amazon UK • Amazon CA 
Add to Goodreads

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

Tour Schedule

February 13: Austenesque Reviews
February 22: So Little Time...

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

It's giveaway time! The authors of Persuasion: Behind the Scenes are giving away an amazing gift package! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below!

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations to all the authors of Persuasion: Behind the Scenes

It was such a pleasure to have Diana here today! I enjoyed listening to Mary's complaints! I was always of the mind that they were imaginary, but Diana might just be on to something here! What say you, friends?

Monday, February 18, 2019

'More To Love' by Robin Helm ~ Excerpt & Giveaway!

Hello, friends! Robin Helm stops by here today with a very lovely excerpt from her new book, More to Love!  I hope you enjoy it!

Happy news! Robin is also offering one of my readers a chance to win an e-copy of More to Love! Details are at the bottom of the page! 

More to Love
by Robin Helm

"She is tolerable, I suppose, but there is rather too much of her to tempt me."

Overhearing Mr. Darcy’s rude dismissal of her shocks and mortifies Elizabeth Bennet to the core.  

She is living her worst fear, and it galvanizes her into action.  

Soon, the gentleman cannot keep his eyes from her, but can she forgive his thoughtless judgment of her appearance and character?  

Especially since he faces a worthy competitor for her attention? 

Who will win the lady's hand, along with the right to love her through thick or thin?


The gentleman replied gently. “They both received what they wanted from marriage. That is the modern way, you know. Very few wealthy gentlemen or ladies marry for love.”

“Would you?” Her voice was a whisper as she glanced behind her.

Darcy looked puzzled. “Would I marry for love?”

He raised his eyebrows. I have not thought of it. Would I want a woman to marry me for my wealth or station in life but not love me? I do not think so.

He shook his head. “I would not marry without it.”

“But you require more.”

Darcy observed the stubborn set of her jaw. You will not like my answer, but I will always be truthful with you.

“I have familial obligations which I cannot ignore.” He frowned. What an unusual conversation. “What of you? Would you marry a poor man for love?”

She sighed. “I have no thoughts of matrimony at all, Mr. Darcy. I refuse to marry unless my groom and I mutually love one another. From what I have seen in the world, with the exception of my Aunt and Uncle Gardiner, there are very few love matches.”

Elizabeth laughed. “Shall I make a good governess? Or perhaps a companion for an elderly lady? One widow might be easier to manage than six children.”

You will choose a life of servitude rather than marry a man who could provide you with comfort? You laugh, but you know you will have almost nothing when your father dies. You must not refuse an offer that could provide for your welfare. Your spirit will die in such cold confinement.

And yet, his heart wrenched within him at the thought of her married to another man.

The door opened, and they both looked towards the sound.

Mr. Bingley entered, followed closely by Mr. Beckett.

Elizabeth closed the book and rose to her feet. “I must go as well. Jane asked not to be disturbed, for she wishes to sleep. Shall I see you both at dinner?”

“Most certainly,” answered Mr. Bingley. “We came to fetch you and make sure Darcy has everything he requires.”

I would rather she would eat with me, but I cannot detain her. Darcy stifled a yawn. “Perhaps you could bring me a tray after you dine, Bingley. I would like some tea for my throat.”

“I shall send something up with your man while we eat, for Beckett and I hope to hear Miss Elizabeth perform tonight. My sisters and brother will join us for dinner; Caroline and Louisa have already agreed to play for the party. We shall visit you again afterward.”

Elizabeth’s smile faded. “I think I must return to Jane after we dine, Mr. Bingley. I would not wish to leave her alone for too long. Your sisters are quite able to entertain you and Mr. Beckett.”

Darcy noticed Beckett’s expression. He seems to be disappointed. Did he look forward to an evening with Elizabeth?

He had never thought of Beckett as anything other than his physician. Now he studied the man’s face and figure. He is certainly handsome in a way that ladies would appreciate, and he was born a gentleman, though a second son. Odd that he refused a commission in the military or a vocation in the Church, instead choosing to be a physician.

The gentleman sighed. Without a doubt, Bingley’s sisters think he is worthy of their attentions. Otherwise, they would remain in their rooms.

Darcy took comfort in the knowledge that Elizabeth would return to her sister’s chambers following the meal.

She had the chance to spend the evening with Beckett, and she refused. He smirked.

The physician touched Elizabeth’s arm. “Miss Elizabeth,” he began earnestly, “I shall go with you to check on Miss Bennet after we dine. If she still sleeps soundly, will you agree to play for us? I have so looked forward to hearing you, for Bingley told me he has rarely heard anything else that pleased him so much.”

Elizabeth blushed and turned her face up to his with a sweet smile. “I do not enjoy performing in company, sir, but since you have so kindly looked after my sister, I will play for you if she still sleeps when our meal is over. ’Tis the very least I can do, for you have asked nothing else of us.”

Watching the scene play out, Darcy clenched his jaw.

The young physician held out his arm to her, and she accepted it.

As Mr. Beckett led her from the room, Mr. Bingley looked at Mr. Darcy and grinned.

“They make a lovely couple, do they not, Darcy?” he whispered before he followed them and closed the door. “He would be an excellent match for her.”

Darcy glared at the ceiling. Lovely, indeed. Perhaps she will not be in service after all. She will marry Beckett and have a dozen golden children, for he looks as if he loves her already. Why would he not?

The thought should have made him happy, for he truly wished Elizabeth to be loved by a good man and well set up in life.

I admit I want to be the good man she loves. I want to take care of her and our children. Our dark-haired, dark-eyed children, playing on the grounds at Pemberley. I would teach my sons to fish and ride and my daughters to gather flowers for their mother. I would take them into Lambton to meet the townspeople, like my father did Georgiana and me. They would gather around Elizabeth and me as we read them stories. I could push them in the swing that hangs from that big oak tree.

He mourned the children he would never have with her as he turned his face to the wall. Georgiana will marry and move away, and I will be alone.

Though Darcy knew Elizabeth was unsuitable for him in every way that mattered to his family, he longed to feel the silk of her thick hair sliding through his fingers, to bask in the warmth of her smile, to see her green eyes flash, to learn what interested her, and to share her secrets.

“I love her,” he whispered aloud, unable to suppress it any longer. “But I can never marry her.”

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! 

About the Author

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

Her latest publication is More to Love, (Darcy comments on Elizabeth's weight). Previously published works include The Guardian Trilogy: Guardian, SoulFire, and Legacy (Darcy is Elizabeth's guardian angel), 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).

Mrs. Helm is also featured in a series of anthologies with several other like-minded authors. A Very Austen Christmas has been a Best Seller on Amazon in several categories. A Very Austen Valentine was released on December 29, 2018. A Very Austen Romance is being planned for December 2019. 

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

Connect with Robin Helm

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

It's giveaway time! Robin is generously giving away one e-copy of More to Love to one of my readers!! Yay! To enter, please, fill out the Rafflecopter below.

  • One person will win an e-copy of More to Love.
  • To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below.
  • Rafflecopter will randomly select the winner.
  • Open Internationally from Amazon US.
  • Last day to enter the giveaway is Feb. 25, 2019, at 11:59 PM Pacific time.

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Many thanks to Robin for visiting us today with a lovely excerpt and for having a giveaway with me! ❤️

Oh, my! Poor Darcy! That last line, "I love her"..."But I can never marry her." broke my heart! I can't wait to read the rest! 

What about you? What did you think?

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

What Are You Reading? ~ Feb. 6, 2019

* * Post contains affiliate links. * *

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

Hey, friends! I didn't think I was going to post again this week because I have a cold. I felt terrible yesterday, but I'm feeling better today. Not a hundred percent, but enough that I thought I could put this post together!

Currently Reading:

I'm back into Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. My reading group is coming up soon, and I need to have this one finished. I am enjoying it much more than the first time I read it! :)

Recently Finished:

I recently finished reading The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo. It's a cute, fun read about friendship, food, and LA! It's also a quick read. 4 stars.

All I pretty much read in January was Harry Potter. I love those books! I could start rereading them all over again right now. LOL! ;)  -  Instead of listing each book, I'm posting my January wrap-up picture. 

As you can see, I also finished reading The Outlaw's Mail Order Bride by Linda Broday. It was great! I hope to have a review up soon!

What's next? 

I want to read The Last Letter by Rebecca Yarros. I know, I know, I've said this before! But I'm do want to read it. I was just a little obsessed with Harry Potter.

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?

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel ~ Book Review

Hey there, friends! It's release day for A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel! Below you'll find my review. I hope you enjoy it! 

Congrats to Alyssa Sheinmel! 🎉

A Danger to Herself and Others
by Alyssa Sheinmel

Publication Date: Feb 5th, 2019
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 352
Received: From the publisher via NetGalley.
Rating: 4 stars

Only when she’s locked away does the truth begin to escape…  

Four walls. One window. No way to escape. Hannah knows there's been a mistake. She didn't need to be institutionalized. What happened to her roommate at her summer program was an accident. As soon as the doctors and judge figure out that she isn't a danger to herself or others, she can go home to start her senior year. In the meantime, she is going to use her persuasive skills to get the staff on her side. 

Then Lucy arrives. Lucy has her own baggage. And she may be the only person who can get Hannah to confront the dangerous games and secrets that landed her in confinement in the first place.

My Review

A Danger to Herself and Others is a compelling YA story about mental illness. 

It’s the summer before senior year, and Hannah is in California at an intensive study program. Everything is going great until Hannah’s roommate, Agnes, falls out of a second story window playing a game of Truth or Dare, and Hannah finds herself locked in a mental institution. The authorities think she made have been responsible for the accident. They say she is a danger to herself & others, but it wasn’t her fault, and she is sure once the misunderstanding is cleared up they will release her.

The story is told from Hannah’s POV; you’re in Hannah’s head and only see her realities. Because of this there were times I felt things were slightly off or not realistic, but as the story moves along and details are revealed, it starts to become clear, and I understood why things were the way they were.

Things get more interesting when Lucy, who becomes Hannah’s new BFF, is brought to the institution, and Hannah starts focusing on Lucy's problems. Lucy is a ballerina and has an eating disorder. There is an important audition she needs to get to, but she's stuck in the institution. Hannah wants to help Lucy, and it won't hurt if the doctor sees what a good friend Hannah can be, right?

I really enjoyed A Danger to Herself and Others! It was fascinating to see how Hannah perceives her situation. The mind is an interesting creature, indeed! 

FTC Disclaimer: I received an ARC of the story from the publisher for my honest review.

Buy: Amazon • Barnes & Noble
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!

About the Author

Alyssa Sheinmel is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels for young adults, including A Danger to Herself and Others and Faceless. She is the co-author of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl and its sequel, The Awakening of Sunshine Girl. Alyssa grew up in Northern California and New York, and currently lives and writes in New York City. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter or visit her online at

Many thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for my copy of A Danger to Herself and Other

Any thoughts? I'd love to hear from you! 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...