Sunday, December 17, 2023

"Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord" by Celeste Connally ~ My Review

 Hello, my friends! It's been a while since I've posted a review. This is more of a mini review, but I thought I'd post it anyway. 😃

Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord
by Celeste Connally

Publication Date: November 14th, 2023
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Pages: 304
Received: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher.
Rating: 5 stars

Book Description

Bridgerton meets Agatha Christie in Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord, a dazzling first entry in a terrific new Regency-era mystery series with a feminist spin. 

When Lady Petra Forsyth’s fiancé and soulmate dies just weeks ahead of their wedding, she makes the shocking proclamation—in front of London’s loosest lips—that she will never remarry. A woman of independent means, Petra sees no reason to cede her wealth and freedom to any man now that the love of her life has passed, nor does she intend to become confined to her country home. Instead, she uses her title to gain access to elite spaces and enjoy the best of society without expectations. 

But when ballroom gossip suggests that a longtime friend has died of “melancholia” while in the care of a questionable physician, Petra vows to use her status to dig deeper—uncovering a private asylum where men pay to have their wives and daughters locked away, or worse. Just as Lady Petra has reason to believe her friend is not dead, but a prisoner, her own headstrong actions and thirst for independence are used to put her own freedom in jeopardy.
My Review

Fabulous story! What a page-turner! I found myself thinking about the story when I wasn't reading it. 

Lady Petra is a strong, independent woman with a curious mind. And I like that! She is also concerned for the welfare of others, even those not of her station, like the street urchin Teddy. 

Taking the loss of her friend Gwen to heart, Lady Petra must discover what happened to her. Her curiosity sends Lady Petra into dangerous situations. I was so anxious for her!

I highly recommend Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord for your reading pleasure!

FTC Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher.

Purchase Links

Buy: Amazon (paid links) • Barnes & NobleBookshop
Add to Goodreads

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

About the Author

Celeste Connally is an Agatha Award nominee, and a former
freelance writer and editor. A lifelong devotee of historical novels and adaptations fueled by her passion for history—plus weekly doses of PBS Masterpiece—Celeste loves reading and writing about women from the past who didn’t always do as they were told.

Connect with Celeste Connally

Thanks for stopping by, dear readers! I'd love to hear what you think of this book! Have you read it? I have always found terrifying that women could be place in an asylum by their husbands or fathers. 

Thursday, December 14, 2023

The Matchmaker's Melody by Riana Everly ~ Guest Post, Excerpt, & Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! Riana Everly is joining us today with her second book in her Austen Echos series! These books look truly delightful! I'm hoping to read the first one before Christmas. Goals!

Please give Riana Everly a warm welcome, and don't forget the giveaway! Details are at the bottom of this page. 

Thank you once more, Candy, for letting me stop by your blog today. It’s always lovely to be here.

I’m thrilled to announce that the second story in my Austen Echoes series is now out. These three modern retellings of Austen’s classics have been so much fun to write, and I’ve loved getting to know the characters is very different ways. You’ll find they are very much the same as Austen’s beloved originals, but with modern ideas and sensibilities, and as such, they have slightly different responses to things that Austen’s characters would.

In this second story, The Matchmaker’s Melody, our main character is Emma. And Emma is, well, Emma! I’ve given her a new last name, which I’ll explain briefly. 

These stories all take place in Toronto’s music scene, and I’ve worked hard to reflect the city around them, while keeping it in the background. Still, being set in Toronto, I thought Emma should be from the closest thing we have to Toronto Royalty. In other words, she’s from an old and established family. One of
these families is the Massey family. They’re the one with the fancy mausoleum at the main cemetery, the one a university college is named after, the one a concert hall is named for. Hence, Emma Woodhouse has become Emma Massey.

Emma is a tricky character to write about, since she’s not everybody’s favourite. Even Jane Austen herself proclaimed Emma to be a rather unlikeable creature, and it has been interesting creating her is such a way that she’s true to her roots, but (hopefully!) is a worthy heroine. It’s been a lot of fun, trying to create a character who has a very high opinion of herself and her actions, while keeping her human, and with a genuinely good heart. What she does, she does for the best of motives, even if she doesn’t always see things so clearly.

I love the modern version of Knightley in this book. As in Austen’s Emma, he’s known our heroine since she was a child, and he’s a sensible and level-headed man. I have made a few changes, though, to keep the story more in line with a modern mind-set. 

First of all, I’ve renamed him Gordon Knight, a more modern name. His father and Emma’s father are business partners, and yes, they knew each other as kids, but unlike in Austen’s novel, they didn’t really grow up together. First Gordon went off to university, and then Emma went her own way, and despite a long history, they only really come together as adults, needing to get to know each other again.

Gordon is a sweetheart. He’s an engineer by day and a pianist in his spare time, and he’s a lot of the glue that holds the entire choir together. He features fairly prominently in all three novels, since he is friendly with Randall, the choir director. And yes, Randall is my nod to Mr Taylor who lives at Randalls, and Randall is, indeed, married to Taylor! I had to get them in. Of course I did!

Have I succeeded in creating new, modern characters who we cheer for? What about the rest of the crew? Only one way to find out! If you read The Matchmaker’s Melody, I do hope you love it as much as I loved discovering these fun characters and their story.

Here’s an excerpt to give you a taste.


The phone rang just after dinner the next night.

“Gordon?” Emma rolled her eyes as she saw the name on the
screen. “No one uses phones to actually call. Can’t you text like a normal person?”

“Hello to you, too, Emma. You’ve been busy this weekend.” His voice was disapproving, and she could picture his brown eyes narrowing as he spoke.

“What? Are you following me?” 

“Only on Instagram. You’re fairly well-known, if you’re the sort to get your information on social media. Someone saw you, snapped you, and tagged you. Isn’t that what you want?”

“Well, yes, but…”

“I’m glad you’re taking some time for Halli, but what’s with that other chap? Phil Elton, right? Did you invite him along? I’ve only had a few words with him, and he didn’t really impress me. He’s out for himself and no one else, from what I could tell.”

“Seriously? Now you’re monitoring and criticising the people I hang out with? Are you reporting this to my mommy as well?”

“Don’t be silly. But what’s going on in your head? You were so smug about fixing up Randall and Taylor, you surely aren’t trying to do the same with Halli and Phil. Are you? Emma, please say you’re not.”

She huffed into the phone. “It is precisely none of your business what I do.”

“And it is precisely none of your business to interfere in other people’s lives. Someone is going to get hurt, and I don’t think it will be Phil. He’s not more than an adequate singer, but he’s a go-getter, and the choir looks good on his resume. He told me as much, so don’t go huffing and puffing. As sweet as Halli is, he’s not the sort to moon over a nineteen-year-old university student with nothing to offer him. He wants to move up, and he wants connections, Halli is very pretty, I’ll grant you, but she doesn’t have connections.”

If they had been together in person, Emma would have thrown her phone at him. What gave him the right to say that?

“Well,” she all but shouted, “for your information, it was his idea to join us. I just mentioned that I was going to show Halli around the city a bit, and he asked to come along. And Halli certainly didn’t have any objections.”


Gordon’s voice grew very quiet. “Are you certain you understood his intentions?”

What the hell was that supposed to mean? Phil wasn’t some stalker or anything. God, Gordon was a bit creepy. And really, she was the one who read people so well, not Gordon. He was just an engineer. He did buildings or stuff, not people. Sheesh!

She gave another huff. “They got along very well together. I know what I’m doing. So you can stop being my party-pooping big brother and go back to ignoring me, like you have since I was five years old.”

“You know that’s not true—” he started, but Emma had heard enough.

“And you accuse me of being too involved, but isn’t that exactly what you’re doing now? If Halli and Phil want to hang out together, and if I can facilitate it, what business is it of yours, anyway? They’re grown-ups. No one is forcing them to do anything.”

He let out a huff that was audible over the phone. “Emma, you don’t understand how this could turn out, what sort of influence you have over people.”

“You're talking nonsense. I know exactly what sort of influence I have. It’s my job, Gordon, remember? That’s what I do. I influence. And I’m just trying to make a couple of people happy, so enough with the doom and gloom.”

Her tirade was met with disapproving silence. Well, she had no time for his grumpy nonsense. 

“Goodbye, Gordon. And next time, text like a normal person.”


The Matchmaker's Melody
A Modern Pride and Prejudice Improvisation
by Riana Everly


Beautiful and successful, Emma Massey has the world figured out. She’s the star soprano in the Eglinton Echoes, a popular Internet influencer, after all, and didn’t she just make the best match ever for her choir’s musical director? So, it makes perfect sense for her to use her matchmaking powers to help others find their perfect mates. Right? Like that pretty new girl in the choir, and that rather handsome tenor who keeps hovering about. 

What a pity her annoying childhood friend Gordon Knight isn’t on board with her plans. He might be the choir’s pianist, but that doesn’t give him the right to step in and tell her she’s making a big mistake. Especially since he’s usually correct, annoying man. 

Gordon is always sure he’s right, but Emma is equally sure he’s wrong. Wrong about the gorgeous new baritone just arrived from Montreal, and definitely wrong about boring Ashleigh, who he insists is far more interesting than Emma could imagine. 

But despite her supposed matchmaking skills, it seems there’s one heart Emma doesn’t understand at all, and that heart is her own. When her eyes are finally opened, will it be too late? 

This musical reimagining of Jane Austen’s beloved Emma will have you cheering the characters on, pulling you into their world and into their hearts.
Buy: Amazon (paid link)
Add to Goodreads

Here's a link to the first book in the series!

All the Wrong Notes

Buy: Amazon (paid link)
Add to Goodreads

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

About the Author

Born in South Africa, award-winning author Riana Everly has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She proudly boasts one husband, two grown(ish) children, three degrees, four recordings, five instruments (of varying proficiencies), six languages (also of varying proficiencies), and ten novels (and growing). She also can’t count very well.

When not indulging her passion for Jane Austen, Riana loves cooking, travel, and photography. She’s a historian and trained classical musician, specialising in viola, and is delighted to be able to combine her love of writing and music in her novels. 

She now lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband, a secret stash of chocolate, and far too many books.

Connect with Riana Everly

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

Riana is hosting a giveaway! Here's a message from her:

I’m delighted to be able to offer a giveaway of an eBook at each stop on this blog tour. I will randomly select one person who comments on the post here through Please make sure I have a way to contact you if you win! I will take comments until midnight, North American Eastern time, five days after the blog post goes live. Good luck everyone!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Riana! And for offering one of my readers a chance to win an eCopy of your book!

How's everyone doing with their reading challenge this year? I'm behind! Yikes! Remember to leave a comment below to enter the giveaway! Good luck!

Monday, November 27, 2023

A Pride & Prejudice Christmas Charms Book Series by MJ Stratton ~ Guest Post & Giveaway!

Hello, friends! MJ Stratton has written a series of Christmas stories! She's here today to share a little about Christmas pudding and the charms that are added! Why you ask? Well, she includes this lovely tradition in her new series, Catherine Called Kitty, Mary, Marry? Quite Contrary!, and Charmed

Plus, there's a chance to win a eCopy of the series! Details at the bottom of the page!

Please, give a warm welcome to MJ Stratton!

What is Christmas pudding, and what are the charms that were added? The Simple Things Blog says the tradition of gathering together to all have a stir of the pudding is said to have been brought to Britain by Prince Albert. A coin was dropped in before everyone took a turn at mixing and the person who unearthed the coin on Christmas day would be blessed with good fortune in the year to come, apparently. 

And charms were agreed to be so charming they soon moved on from simple thrupenny bits and sixpences to include more items, each said to have a different meaning. 

For the sake of my stories, I imagined that this tradition began before the 1800s.

Here are a few charms and their meanings.

Coin: Coming into money

Thimble: If a single woman finds it they’ll remain single another year

Button: If found by a single man he’ll remain a bachelor

Horseshoe: Good luck

Ring/bell: A wedding is on the cards

Wishbone: A wish will be granted

Anchor: They will have a safe year, protected from danger

Catherine Called Kitty
by MJ Stratton

Publication Date: Nov. 3rd, 2023


Catherine Bennet does not believe in magic, per se, but she unequivocally stands by her mother’s assertion that the Christmas charms in their yearly pudding hold mystical properties. She was raised on Mrs. Bennet’s tales of the charms predicting her future, after all, and had not Lydia married the year following the Christmas she found the ring? 

When Kitty unearths the wishbone the winter after Lizzy and Jane wed, she is excited to use the charm’s magic to secure a happy future. Having been awakened to the possible consequences of Lydia’s choice of husband, she wishes for what Jane and Lizzy have secured in their respective husbands. 

This novella holds a touch of Christmas magic as Kitty Bennet finds her path to happily ever after.

Mary, Marry? Quite Contrary!
by MJ Stratton

Expected release date:  Dec. 1st, 2023


Mary Bennet despises the tradition of Christmas charms. Too many years she discovered the thimble, and too many times Lydia taunted her, declaring her a spinster in the making. When she finally discovers the ring in her Christmas pudding, Mary scoffs at the idea that a little silver charm could decide one’s fate for the coming year. 

When Mary is given several doses of humility, the very foundations of who she thought she was is called into question. Joining her sister on a journey of self-discovery, Mary seeks to amend the flaws in her character. If she finds love along the way, it is purely a matter of chance. Isn’t it? 

This novella holds a touch of Christmas magic as Mary Bennet comes into her own. Follow Mary to London and back as she travels the path to her happiness.

by MJ Stratton

Expected release date: Dec. 25th, 2023


What is a family to do when a certain Christmas tradition may or may not tell their future? A collection of short stories that accompany the first two books of the Christmas Charms series answers that question. Follow along with Fanny Gardiner as she meets and marries Thomas Bennet. Meet Mrs. Gardiner’s beloved brother and find out what happens to Mr. Bennet five years after the events of Mary, Marry? Quite Contrary! Are the Christmas charms magic? You decide.
Buy the Book 1 on Amazon (paid link)
Add to Goodreads

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

About the Author

MJ Stratton is a long-time lover of Jane Austen and her works, having been introduced to Pride and Prejudice by a much beloved aunt at the age of 16. The subsequent discovery of Austenesque fiction sealed her fate. After beta reading and editing for others for nearly a decade, MJ started publishing her own work in 2022. MJ balances being a wife and mother with writing, gardening, sewing, and many other favorite pastimes. She lives with her husband and four children in the small, rural town where she grew up.

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

MJ Stratton is giving away a set of A Pride & Prejudice Christmas Charms Books! Enter through the Rafflecopter below. 

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Many thanks to MJ Stratton for stopping by here today! 

So friends, any thoughts? We'd love to hear from you. Please, leave a comment below!

Sunday, November 19, 2023

All The Wrong Notes by Riana Everly ~ Guest Post, Excerpt, & Giveaway!

(Post contains affiliate links)

Hello, my friends! I’m so excited to have Riana Everly here today! She’s written a new series, and the first book, All the Wrong Notes: A Modern Pride and Prejudice Improvisation, is already out.

Please read an excerpt from All the Wrong Notes below! Plus, she’s giving away an eBook from the series to one of my lucky readers! Details are at the bottom of this page.

Origin of a Series

Thank you so much, Candy, for hosting me here today. I’m honoured and delighted to be able to spend a bit of time here on your blog.

As some of you might know, I’ve just released the first of three books in a new series of contemporary Austen-inspired novels. This series is called Austen Echoes, and I’ll explain the name.

First of all, it will be no surprise that the stories all echo the wonderful originals that Jane Austen left us. These are not scene-by-scene retellings, cast in modern clothing, but rather, they’re stories that are strongly influenced by Austen’s work. Anyone who knows Austen will have no problem recognising the story arcs or the characters, but I’ve let the narrative take me where I feel the story needs to go, even if that doesn’t line up 100% with the original.

When I sent the first draft to my editor, one of her first replies was, “I literally gasped out loud when I worked out who Wickham was!” That brought a huge grin to my face.

The second reason for the series name is a reference to a unifying aspect. The three books in Austen Echoes all revolve around members of the same choir, who know each other and who interact between stories, and this choir is called The Eglinton Echoes.

Since the stories echo Austen, and the characters are part of the Echoes, the series title just came to me. Welcome to Austen Echoes!

But where did the idea come from?

Last year, I published Preludes, a contemporary musical retelling of Persuasion, my favourite of Austen’s novels. I loved seeing how Austen’s characters translated into the modern world, and as a musician myself, I loved writing about music. Then I began to talk to Romance Café Publishing, who specialise in contemporary romance, and an idea quickly began to form. I wasn’t ready to leave my modern musical world, and a series of shorter novels would let me spend more time in the city I love, and in the musical world that I love, while getting to know modern versions of the characters we love so much. 

I presented them with a general idea, and they were as excited about it as I was. The three books that make up this series all but wrote themselves, and I just thrilled with the response from the editorial team. 

At the same time as I was writing about a choir, my son began to think about auditioning for the local concert choir. He sang in a couple of choirs while he was away at university, including in the Ottawa Choral Society. The musical director from that ensemble has since moved to Toronto to take up the baton at The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, and since my son knows him and enjoyed working with him, he was encouraged to try out. Through his connections, I was even able to sit in on a rehearsal, just to make sure that I had the details right.

Everything just seemed to snap into place.

So, what about the books themselves? Well, you’ll have to read them to find out!

The first one, which was released just last week, is my reimagining of Pride and Prejudice. Elise (my Lizzy) and Will (my Darcy) have a terrible first meeting, and do not get off to a good start. You might say they hit all the wrong notes!

Here’s an excerpt from my new book, All the Wrong Notes: A Modern Pride and Prejudice Improvisation. Elise and Janet have just been at a speed-dating event. It went wonderfully for Janet. It was less wonderful for Elise. (By the way, you can read about Janet and Carlos in my free short story, The Perfect Love Song.)


“There wasn’t anyone you liked?” Janet tutted as the two women headed to the doors. “I thought some of them were very nice.”

“You seemed to like that Spanish fellow, Number Twelve. From what I saw, he could hardly bear to move from your station after the bell rang.”

Janet’s eyes went dreamy for a moment. “Carlos. His name is Carlos. I know we weren’t supposed to give our names, but… he’s lovely, isn’t he?”

Elise had enjoyed her eight minutes with him. “He was definitely charming.”

“And so handsome.” If Janet were a little bit dreamier about him, she would dissolve in a pastel-coloured mist of rose petals and singing birds.

“Handsome, indeed. As every man should be, if he can at all help it!”

Janet rolled her eyes. “You are impossible, Elise! I really liked him. He enjoys reading and cooking, and he’s a music lover, too. He sings, if you can believe that! We only had a few minutes, but I really liked him. I hope we match.” She let out a happy sigh, full of more rose petals and fairy dust. “Come home with me. We’ll order pizza, and I’ll go on and on about Carlos, and then I’ll drive you home.”

Elise stifled a snicker and glanced at her watch. It was 8:30, and she was hungry. They had taken a short break in the middle of all that speed-dating for a snack, but a handful of pretzels and a ginger ale didn’t fill the belly. It might help keep her mind off that miserable Number Seven who couldn’t even be bothered to try. 

“Thanks. Maybe we can order now, so it will be ready by the time we get to your place. The usual?”

“Absolutely,” Janet replied. She ran a hand through her hair and gasped. “Oh! I’ve lost an earring. These are a favourite pair, too.” She shook her head, and only one golden spiral danced from an earlobe. “Do you mind? I’ll run back into the room and see if I can find it.”

She dashed back into the meeting room without waiting for a reply. Elise moved to the wall by a large plant, to stay out of everyone’s way while she waited.

“You were awful in there.” 

A man’s voice sounded from a few feet away. The plant hid him from view, but by the slight accent, it was Carlos, the charming guy Janet had gushed over. He did not sound pleased. 

“Why did you bother coming at all, if you weren’t even going to be pleasant?”

A sharp exhalation of breath, almost a snort. Then another man spoke. “I said I would attend. I never promised to find pleasure in it.” 

That was Mr. Snootypants, Number Seven. A pause. 

“There was nobody attractive or interesting enough to waste my time on. What sort of desperate person comes to these things anyway?” 

“I came,” Carlos grunted. “And so did you. I thought some of the women were charming. Did you see the redhead? She’s stunning.”

Another snort. “That can’t be denied. But she was the only woman in the room worth looking at, and she seemed only to have eyes for you. Anyway, she smiled too much. She giggles.” 

“She is lovely, isn’t she? And sweet, and smart, and so funny! But what about some of the others? There was the brunette with the yellow shirt…”

Elise blinked. That was her! It was flattering to be considered almost in the same zone as Janet.

“I was there to keep my promise to you. I don’t need to waste my time on people who can’t even be bothered to dress for the occasion. Here’s the car. Let’s go.”

Not so flattering. Jerk.

Warm air rushed in as the two men opened the door and left the lobby, leaving Elise with the sight of their departing backs and a rather bad taste in her mouth.

Janet might fancy Carlos, she huffed to herself, but hopefully she would never have to set eyes on Number Seven Snootypants again in her life.

All The Wrong Notes
A Modern Pride and Prejudice Improvisation
By Riana Everly


Elise Benzion has everything she wants. The arts centre that she’s built from the ground up is thriving. She has a circle of great friends. Her concert choir, the Eglinton Echoes, is in top form and gives her an artistic outlet to satisfy her musical side. What she does not want is an annoying, rude, and far too handsome man hovering around. But Will is her best friend’s new beau’s good friend, and she’ll play nice, for Janet’s sake. 

Eventually she begins to discover the man beneath the unpleasant veneer, and tolerance warms into a tentative friendship, and possibly something more. 

Then disaster strikes, and everything she loves, everything she’s worked so hard for, crumbles in an instant. With all her dreams dashed and her beloved arts centre destroyed, her biggest regret might just be losing Will. 

Is there any hope? Or will a demon from his own past keep them apart forever? 

This musical reimagining of Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice will have you cheering the characters on, pulling you into their world and into their hearts.
Buy: Amazon (paid Link)
Add to Goodreads

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

About the Author

Born in South Africa, award-winning author Riana Everly has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She proudly boasts one husband, two grown(ish) children, three degrees, four recordings, five instruments (of varying proficiencies), six languages (also of varying proficiencies), and ten novels (and growing). She also can’t count very well.

When not indulging her passion for Jane Austen, Riana loves cooking, travel, and photography. She’s a historian and trained classical musician, specialising in viola, and is delighted to be able to combine her love of writing and music in her novels. 

She now lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband, a secret stash of chocolate, and far too many books.

Connect with Riana Everly

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

Riana is giving away an eBook! Here is her message:

I’m delighted to be able to offer a giveaway of an eBook at each stop on this blog tour. I will randomly select one person who comments on the post here through Please make sure I have a way to contact you if you win! I will take comments until midnight, North American Eastern time, five days after the blog post goes live. Good luck everyone!

Many thanks to Riana Everly for being my guest today! Thank you for offering one of my readers a chance to win an eCopy of your new book, and congratulations on this new series!!

Ok, friends, please leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway. 

Monday, November 6, 2023

Elaine Jeremiah ~ Why I read Jane Austen ~ Guest Post

 Hello, my friends! It's my pleasure to have Elaine Jeremiah here today! Her topic is one I think we can all agree upon. Please give her a warm welcome! 

Why I Read Jane Austen

Why do we read Jane Austen’s novels? Why does anyone read Jane Austen’s novels? You might think these are daft questions to ask, but I think it bears thinking about if only because her novels are still immensely popular 200 years after her death.

I’ll tell you why I read her novels. I read them because they never get old – there’s always something new to discover in them, as I found when rereading Mansfield Park very recently. You can always find a new aspect to your favourite characters – and your least – even if you’ve read the novels many times before.

I think that one reason why we still read Jane Austen’s novels is because they all work on many levels. What do I mean? Well, take Northanger Abbey for example. I know it’s not most people’s favourite of her novels, but on one level it’s obviously a romance about a girl obsessed with Gothic fiction, who must learn to live in the real world and not fantasise about people and places being things that they are not.

But on another, cleverer level, Austen is using her story to playfully critique the Gothic romance novels that were popular at the time – like The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe (which I’ve read and actually really enjoyed!). Northanger Abbey is a pastiche of novels like that, with its heroine going to a castle-like house, whose mistress is long dead and whose master is aggressive and potentially a villain!

Of course, this relates to the first level as the heroine, Catherine Morland, is obsessed with reading Gothic fiction and fantasises that the people and places around her are just like the novels she’s reading.

On yet another level, Austen also takes the opportunity in Northanger Abbey to defend the medium of the novel against its detractors, saying that she will not join in with other novel writers in denouncing the novel, who do so even as they are adding their own to its numbers. ‘I cannot approve of it’ she says. Don’t you just love her?!

Northanger Abbey is just one example of Austen’s superlative talent in telling a story with many different facets to it. All of her novels demonstrate this ability she has to engage us and make us think more deeply in an entertaining way, as with her discussion of the worth of the novel as mentioned above.

So why do you read Jane Austen’s novels? What is it about them that makes you keep returning to them?

About Elaine Jeremiah

Elaine lives in Bristol, South West England with her husband. But she was privileged enough to grow up in Jane Austen country, in Hampshire. 

She’s always loved writing, but it’s only been in recent years that she’s been able to devote more time to it. She decided to self-publish with the help of her wonderful husband who’s very tech-savvy! In 2013 she self-published her first novel, but it was only with her fourth, her novel Love Without Time, that she felt she finally found her niche: Jane Austen Fan Fiction! 

She’s always loved Jane Austen’s writing and the Regency era, so this felt like a natural thing for her to do. Elizabeth and Darcy: Beginning Again is the first Pride and Prejudice variation she’s written. 

Connect with Elaine


Books by Elaine Jeremiah

Paid links below

Elizabeth & Darcy Beginning Again: A Pride and Prejudice Variation 

By Time Divided

Love without Time

Reunion of the Heart

Teaching Mr Leavis

The Inheritance

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

Many thanks to Elaine for stopping to visit with us today! I must say Northanger Abbey is in my top three of Austen's books!

I'm going to end with the questions Elaine posed. Please leave a comment and let us know your thoughts! 

So why do you read Jane Austen’s novels? What is it about them that makes you keep returning to them?

Friday, November 3, 2023

Worthy by Julia Winter ~ Blog Tour, Deleted Scene, & Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! It's my pleasure to have Julia Winter here today with her new book, Worthy - A Pride and Prejudice variation! I hope you enjoy the deleted scene Julia is sharing with us, and please remember to enter the giveaway! Details for that are at the bottom of this page. 

Let's check out the book first.

A Pride & Prejudice Variation
by Julia Winter

eBook Publication Date: Oct. 31, 2013
Publisher: Glass Hat Press (copyright 2023)
Wordcount: c125,000
Editor: Megn Reddaway
Cover: Detail from a portrait by Eugen von Blaas. Provenance and whereabouts unknown. Inge in the public domain, obtained via ArtVee, and available for unrestricted use.

Book Description 

     In the course of 1811, the Bennets of Longbourn meet two sets of estranged relatives: Mr Bennet’s unprepossessing heir, and his mother’s family. Elizabeth Bennet journeys into Kent to stay with the Palmers at Wingham Hall: her grand-aunt Iphigenia, her cousin Sir James Palmer, who had loved her grandmother ardently in his youth, and his son Galahad. Pleased with her new relations, Elizabeth is less content with the taciturn friend Galahad has invited to join him at Wingham. Fitzwilliam Darcy—rich and proud, disdainful of those beneath him—has escorted his sister Georgiana to Ramsgate, to recuperate from a dangerous illness in the care of her companion, Mrs Younge. 

     Complications arise with the arrival of Elizabeth’s sister Jane and, separately, Charles and Caroline Bingley, the authors of Jane’s unhappiness. Tensions and quarrels result in the Bingleys’ abrupt departure, swiftly followed by Darcy after a maladroit proposal that Elizabeth spurns with a pride that matches his own. 

     Unfortunately, Darcy leaves Kent just as his enemy, George Wickham appears, intent on securing Georgiana and her fortune. Who will stand between Georgiana and ruin? Who will win Jane Bennet’s hand? And can Darcy and Elizabeth ever be reconciled?” 

     (NB British spelling, punctuation and grammar throughout).

A Note From the Author

     I always write masses more than actually makes it into the final version of a book, so it’s inevitable that sections get edited out. Sometimes that’s because they slow down the pacing of a story, or are too detailed, or just don’t tell us anything new about the characters. No matter how much I love them, some scenes have to go for the sake of a tighter, better story – that’s what editing is all about!

     Here is one such outtake from “Worthy”. I was sad to see it go, but other scenes already showed the loving relationship between Elizabeth and Jane, so this one wasn’t strictly necessary. It’s set in a Canterbury coaching inn. Jane, escaping Town and her unhappiness over the thwarted romance with Charles Bingley, has just arrived to spend time with Elizabeth and their Palmer relations, in an effort to soothe her heartache.


Deleted Scene

Jane arrives in Canterbury

     Elizabeth flew down to the inn’s courtyard when Cousin Galahad, who had been hanging out of the window for the previous half-hour keeping watch, announced the arrival of the coach. The footman had just handed Jane down, and Elizabeth enveloped her in a hearty embrace almost as soon as her sister’s feet reached the cobbles.

     “Oh Jane! Jane! Here you are at last! How delightful it is to see you!”

     Jane returned the embrace with fervour. “Thank you, Lizzy,” was all she said, but her eyes spoke of her gratitude for more than the greeting.

     “Let me look at you!” Elizabeth stood back a step, holding Jane at arms’ length, examining her as if she had not seen her for a year. “Beautiful as ever, I see! Not even a day’s journey can discompose you. How lowering for the rest of us. I was a perfect fright when I arrived in Canterbury after so long in the coach.”

     Jane laughed softly. “Nonsense, Lizzy. You are always lovely.”

     “I am glad to be reassured. Now then, Aunt Iphy and our cousin are awaiting you in a private sitting room upstairs, along with Mr Darcy. You will love Aunt Iphy.”

     “I do look forward to meeting her at last.” Jane lowered her voice. “The necessary? It was a long coach ride, Lizzy. You may be quite sure I feel my discomposure in that regard!”

     Elizabeth laughed and led the way under an arch leading to a small, but well-kept garden. The necessary house abutted the garden wall at the far end. Jane entered it with uncharacteristic haste, but was her usual serene self when she emerged a few moments later.

     Elizabeth linked arms with her. “Are you well, dearest? We cannot speak long of private matters here since we are expected upstairs, but give me that assurance at least.”

     Jane’s smile was tinged with disappointment. “I… I had hopes, Lizzy. It is not to be, it seems, and I believe the Bingleys have now left Town and are journeying to Bath. I must accept it was entirely my own fancy that Mr Bingley’s admiration meant more than he obviously intended. Well, I am not ashamed of being mistaken, but I cannot dwell on it and retain my peace of mind. So he will be forgot, and all will be well. Perhaps we may talk of it later?”

     “As soon as we can contrive it. I am sorry, though, that you are so bruised by this. You are the last person to deserve such treatment.”

     Jane pressed Elizabeth’s hand, and shook her head, saying, “Tell me of our aunt and cousins instead, Lizzy.”

     There truly was no time to discuss the Bingley problem then and Elizabeth made do with giving Jane another hug to show her sympathy, and made a silent resolution that as soon as she could get Jane alone, she would allow her sister to unburden herself. Jane’s own nature and good sense would not allow her to indulge in those fruitless regrets which would destroy her peace, and she had no doubt her sister would be tranquil again in time. All the same, even the most temperate of souls should be comforted when they deserved it.

     She gave Jane the balm of a different subject to occupy her thoughts. “Aunt Iphy is the dearest creature, with such a gentle nature I am quite astonished that her sister Cassandra had the heart to keep her so firmly suppressed. She has shown me too many kindnesses to describe each one. I think you will love her, Jane. Indeed, you and she are rather alike, and I fancy you could not take a dislike to her if you tried. It would be as if you disliked yourself. Cousin James, now, is the very essence of a county squire, but he has the kindest heart. He treats me in a very grandfatherly fashion, though it must pain him to see his lost love’s face every time he looks at me.”

     “You are very like our Grandmamma in looks.”

     “Too much so for Sir James’s peace of mind, I fear, but as I say, he is kind and indulgent. You will deal with him very well, I think. Cousin Galahad is a few years our senior, and was, like Shakespeare’s Beatrice, born in a merry hour. I find him excellent, vivacious company and I like him a great deal.”

     Jane linked her arm into Elizabeth’s. “And does he like you?”

     “I believe so.” And Elizabeth primmed up her mouth and allowed Jane to see her amusement. “I also suspect Sir James and Aunt Iphy hope he does.”

     “Oh,” said Jane, and quirked up an eyebrow that was oddly reminiscent of Papa, despite her having little resemblance to him otherwise.

     “Well.” Elizabeth sighed, and wished it were not unladylike to shrug. “I do not believe it is my duty to right a star-cross’d romance from half a century ago. I am no Juliet. If we find we like each other that way, then we shall see; but if I would not marry Mr Collins to please Mamma, I certainly will not marry Galahad merely to please his father.”

     “No, indeed! I know you will follow your heart and your good principles. What of Mr Darcy?”

     “Oh, he is the top of the trees, of course, and very aware of his position in life! He is a rather perplexing man, and I am not entirely sure what I think of him. Although,” Elizabeth added, as they reached the inn door, “he is easier with practice. He improves upon acquaintance.”

     “I look forward to meeting them all.”

     “Come then. They are waiting.”

     They hurried up the stairs to the private room Cousin Galahad had hired for their comfort. Elizabeth flung the door wide.

     “Dearest Aunt Iphy, Mr Darcy, Cousin Galahad… here at last is my beloved sister Jane, who is quite the best Bennet of all!”

About the Author

Once Julia was a communications specialist working with several UK government departments. These days she's thankfully free of all that, and writing full time. She lives in the depths of the Nottinghamshire countryside with her husband and Mavis, a Yorkie-Bichon cross with a bark several times bigger than she is.

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* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

It's giveaway time! Julia Winter is generously giving away a $20 (or equivalent) Amazon voucher! Enter the Rafflecopter below for the chance to win. The raffle begins October 31, 2023, and ends November 10.

Good luck to all who enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A special thanks to Julia for stopping by here today and for her lovely giveaway! Also, congratulations on the release of Worthy!

So, friends, what do you think of these new relatives of the Bennet sisters? And what about Cousin Galahad? Hmm, Darcy, look out! LOL - actually, just the thought makes me anxious!

Please leave a comment below and tell us your thoughts!
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