Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Maria Bertram's Daughter Blog Tour ~ Excerpt & Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! I'm happy to welcome Lucy Knight here to So Little Time...! She is here with an excerpt from her new book, Maria Bertram's Daughter. What a fantastic idea for a story! To follow that thread of what might have happened to Maria after running off with Henry Crawford. Interesting!

Maria Bertram's Daughter
A Mansfield Park Sequel
by Lucy Knight


She could be mistress of Mansfield Park. But is that what she wants? 

An unwanted child—conceived in circumstances her mother would rather forget—Dorothea Henrietta Rose grows up solitary and neglected with her dissatisfied mother and unpleasant great-aunt Norris. Raised without the knowledge that her mother is her mother or that their occasional visitor, Sir Thomas Bertram, is her grandfather, she is forbidden ever to set foot in Mansfield Park. 

Dorothea hopes for a happier life when sent away to school, but her difficulties are not over. She is obliged to make her way in the world as a governess and, thus, encounters human frailty, hypocrisy, good, and evil in her travels throughout England. 

She meets the Crawfords—Henry and Mary (now Lady Drumroth)—and inevitably does the one thing she must not do: unwillingly makes herself known to the inhabitants of Mansfield Park.

Thank you so much, Candy, for hosting me on my blog tour. This excerpt is short but extremely crucial. I love that it shows that my heroine, Dorothea, who is often so self-contained that she appears passive, is actually prepared to assert herself when she feels it is necessary. This action has many unforeseen consequences and I hope your readers will be left wanting to know what happens next! 


     “However, as it turned out, John was not to leave. Mr Allbright put him to work teaching the boys more of the practical skills so beloved of Mrs Edgeworth, so Dorothea saw him only at mealtimes when they ate with the family, and they had few opportunities for conversation. John continued to cast searching and ardent glances towards Dorothea, who was grateful for the fact that she was sitting next to Mrs Allbright and not closer to the pining swain. He hung about looking moody and disconsolate, and the atmosphere became strained between them. Eventually, she decided that she could not endure it any longer without speaking to him.

     One day while the little girls were engaged with their music teacher, an old lady who came up from the village once a week to coax the girls to make a pleasant sound on the pianoforte—at which attempt she was so far unsuccessful—Dorothea slipped away to the workshop that had been set up in an unused part of the stable block. She knew John would be alone because she heard the boys begging their father for a morning’s fishing at breakfast and saw them setting off across the lawn with their fishing rods shortly thereafter.

     John was alone, tidying up and putting new edges on the tools blunted by the careless schoolboys. He flushed as Dorothea entered.

     “Oh,” was all he said. He looked uncomfortable.

     “Mr Greenwood—” Dorothea began.

     “John,” he said quickly.

     “I feel we need to clear the air between us.”

     “I do not know what you mean,” said John hastily.

     “Oh yes, you do know what I mean. All this staring and looking like a dying codfish.”

     “You know, then?” He had turned pale.

     “I do not know what I know,” said Dorothea, who was determined not to admit what she thought she knew. Heaven knew she was not vain (though she knew she looked well now that the good food and fresh air at the Allbrights’ had filled out her figure and rosied her cheeks), but to suggest that she suspected a man of romantic leanings would sound like vanity indeed.”

This exchange between my young heroine and the handsome engineer who has been employed to build a Panorganon is about to precipitate a crisis. What is a Panorganon, you ask? Obviously, you need to read the book to find out, but I will just let you know that it was recommended by Maria Edgeworth as a useful aid to teaching the principles of mechanics to children. 

In addition to the crisis, this crucial conversation will lead to rediscovery of things that were thought lost, and, eventually, to some extraordinary revelations. 

I hope that has whetted your appetite? 

Buy: Amazon US (paid link) • Amazon UKAmazon FR

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!

About the Author

Lucy Knight grew up in Whitby, North Yorkshire, now a tourist
town but until recently a small and historic port which was known for shipbuilding, fishing (including whaling) and having an important Abbey. During her life she has moved around a great deal both in England and on the continent of Europe; she now lives in a tiny hamlet lost in the French countryside with two rescue dogs, two rescue chickens, an unknown number of bees and eight sheep. 

Lucy has two children and three grandchildren, all of whom live in England.

Lucy has only recently begun to write historical fiction but she enjoys it so much she can’t stop! Her background is in comedy and drama, so there will always be some jokes and plenty of dialogue. 

When she is not writing, Lucy teaches English and French, and she love to take long walks with her dogs during which she revels in the birds, butterflies, trees and flowers which are so abundant in her part of France. 

Connect with Lucy Knight

Maria Bertram’s Daughter Blog Tour Schedule

April 12 So little time… (you're here!)

Tour Giveaway

It's giveaway time! Meryton Press is giving away 6 eBooks of Maria Bertram's Daughter by Lucy Knight.

Enter through the Rafflecopter below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations to Lucy Knight on the release of Maria Bertram's Daughter!

Many thanks to Janet Taylor @ More Agreeable Engaged for organizing and including me in this blog tour!

So friends, does this book sound wonderful to you? Please leave us a comment!

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Death of a Dandy by Riana Everly ~ Blog Tour ~ Guest Post, Excerpt, & Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! I have the lovely Riana Everly visiting the blog with her new book, Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery

The Moral Concerns About Acting

Thank you for hosting me on this stop along my blog tour for my latest mystery, Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery

In this book, the third in the Miss Mary Investigates series, the story takes place within the world of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, which might be her least-known novel. For those with only a passing knowledge of the work, here is a ridiculously brief summary. Poor relation Fanny Price is sent to live with her wealthy cousins, the children of Sir Thomas Bertram, baronet, at Mansfield Park. Most of the story takes place when she is around eighteen. Her eldest cousin, Tom, is determined to mount a performance of a popular play, and invites several young people from the neighbourhood to participate. There is a great deal of flirting and moral indignation, and eventually Fanny and Edmund get married. There is a great deal more to the story, but for the purposes of my novel, it is the play that takes centre stage (if you’ll pardon my pun).

Fanny is quiet and reserved but has firm ideas of what is proper
and what should be avoided. And acting in a play, she asserts, is quite inappropriate for people of good moral fibre. Edmund, who is to become a clergyman, initially feels likewise, but is convinced into participating by charming neighbour Mary Crawford.

But what, exactly, is wrong with putting on a play? After all, these days we idolise actors and many people from all walks of life dream of making it in Hollywood or New York.

But sentiment has changed over the years. For one thing, there was a big difference between reading plays at home for personal entertainment in a world pre-movies or pre-television, and performing in public. To spend quality time with the family while pronouncing the great words of Shakespeare (or a tamed-down version to protect the sensibilities of the ladies) was acceptable, even in the finest of homes. But to put oneself on display before others was quite a different matter.

There were, to be certain, many edifying plays available at the time, but many (the fun ones!) involved topics that were quite scandalous for the time. Flirtation, infidelity, and other inappropriate behaviours were exactly the things that drew audiences. Even Hamlet, alluded to by Tom Bertram in his plea to Edmund, involves the quasi-incestuous relationship between Hamlet’s mother and uncle.

How many a time have we mourned over the dead body of Julius Caesar, and to be’d and not to be’d, in this very room, for [father’s] amusement? 

But even here, Edmund is not convinced, seeing the Bard’s plays more as a means to learn rhetoric than as vehicles for performance.

It was a very different thing. You must see the difference yourself. My father wished us, as schoolboys, to speak well, but he would never wish his grown-up daughters to be acting plays. His sense of decorum is strict.”

In acting out a play like Lovers’ Vows, the characters dress up, possibly wear cosmetics, touch, embrace, fight, and caress each other, all most unsuitable for ladies of quality. One can see why Fanny would be so opposed to being involved in such a production.

Furthermore, acting was a profession, a task undertaken for
money, and actresses often found their patrons expected more than a note at the back of the program or an extra bow after the first performance. Even great artists of the stage like Mrs. Sarah Siddons were not considered entirely respectable, for all that she was a favourite of King George III and Queen Charlotte.

At one point in my novel, Fanny produces a volume of Thomas Gisborne’s work, An Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex (1797). Gisborne’s sentiments are echoed in Fanny’s own, and to a degree in Edmund’s, as he writes:

… yet what is even then the tendency of such an amusement? To encourage vanity; to excite a thirst of applause and admiration of attainments which, if they are to be thus exhibited, it would commonly have been far better for the individual not to possess; to destroy diffidence, by the unrestrained familiarity with the persons of the other sex, which inevitably results from being joined with them in the drama; to create a general fondness for the perusal of plays, of which so many are unfit to be read; and for attending dramatic representations, of which so many are unfit to be witnessed.

Because this is such an important part of Mansfield Park, I have included the play in my mystery. Here is an excerpt from Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery.

*. *. *. 

     “If Mr. Lyons wishes to take the case, I am certain my family will forgive my absence for a few days longer. However, I am loath to intrude upon Mr. and Mrs. Meldola’s hospitality for more than the short time they had expected.”

     “To that, Miss Bennet, you need have no fear,” Meldola offered. He had the expression of a man who dearly wished to laugh, but dare not. He most certainly did not look like a man anxious to return to his place of business. Alexander believed his friend was enjoying himself. 

     This hospitality was welcome; there were issues, however, which he could not raise at the moment. Later, he would speak with his friend, and then with Mary. That latter conversation was one he dreaded, and he determined to put it off for as long as possibly he could. A lump threatened in his throat at the thought, and he swallowed around it.

     Instead, hoping for a reprieve from what he must say later, he turned to Edmund Bertram. “You have mentioned sisters; how many have you? Who else is at Mansfield Park?”

     To his surprise, Mr. Bertram turned a rather unbecoming shade of red. Whatever could bring about this reaction? Alexander reached across the table for the notebook Mary had been using to record the replies to last night’s notes and turned to a new page. “Everything you say will be held in the strictest confidence, Mr. Bertram. However, if you wish for my assistance in this matter, I must have information. If there is something you wish Miss Bennet not to hear…”

     “No, no! Nothing like that.” Mr. Bertram sputtered. “It is… that is, we are… Oh, dash it! We are engaged in preparing a theatrical performance”

     “A play?” Mary’s voice held the intimations of a suppressed chuckle. “But that is a fine endeavour. There is no need for concealment. At Longbourn, my family’s estate in Hertfordshire, we often spend a winter’s evening reading through Hamlet or Lear or one of the comedies, with the unsuitable sections removed, of course.”

     “Er, well, yes, Miss Bennet, but we have not chosen one of the Bard’s plays, neither are we merely reading it, but acting it out like players on a stage. It is one matter for men to engage in such affairs, but my sisters… ladies! This borders on the disreputable.”

     “Surely there can be no harm in a simple amusement in the privacy of your house,” Mr. Meldola soothed. “Reading, even acting out a scene, is hardly the same thing as setting yourself up as an actress on the public stage.”

     “There can surely be no harm,” Mary added in her most prim voice, “in such a pastime, as long as one is not exposing himself to the eyes of the neighbourhood. Although acting can be seen as the entryway to less salutary pursuits, at home, with one’s own family, there can be no danger.” 

     Alexander could almost see her searching her mind for some quote from the sermons she used to read so assiduously.

     Bertram cleared his throat and shifted in his chair. “Well, you see… Here is the problem. Tom, my brother, set off to invite some of our neighbours to come as an audience…” He ran a hand across his brow.

Death of a Dandy
A Mansfield Park Mystery
by Riana Everly


The worlds of Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park meet when Mary Bennet lands in the middle of her third adventure with handsome investigator Alexander Lyons. 

The two friends are travelling back to Mary’s home after a visit to the Darcy family at Pemberley when their journey is interrupted by the news that Tom Bertram, the heir to Mansfield Park, has disappeared. Alexander is asked to take the case, and he and Mary find themselves as guests at the estate. The house is abuzz with activity as plans go ahead for a fox hunt and the performance of a play, and Mary sees intrigue in every interaction between the beautiful residents of Mansfield Park and their sophisticated guests. 

When the hunt ends in tragedy with the discovery of a body, Alexander’s involvement grows even deeper, but every clue leads to even more questions. The more Alexander digs, the more it seems this death might involve people much higher up than he can reach. And the biggest question of all is who, exactly, was the intended victim of what is surely murder most foul? 

Mary and Alexander find themselves hard at work to unravel a web of secrets and dark goings-on that enshroud the elegant estate of Mansfield Park. But Alexander is hiding a secret of his own, one which he knows will forever doom any possible future for him and Mary. 

Will they solve the mystery before somebody else dies? And will any hearts remain unbroken if they succeed?
Buy: Amazon (paid link) • Books2read
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

Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back. 

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

Riana’s novels have received several awards and citations as favourite reads of the year, including two Jane Austen Awards and a Discovering Diamonds review.

Connect with Riana Everly

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

Riana Everly is giving away five eBooks of Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery. She has set up a Rafflecopter draw, but for anybody who cannot use the link, please email her with your name and preferred email address, and she will add you manually to the list for the draw. Her email is riana.everly@gmail.com

Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations to Riana Everly to the release of Death of a Dandy! Thank you for visiting us here today!

Friends, what do you think? Please leave any questions or comments you have for Riana Everly below!
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