Monday, April 17, 2023

An Accomplished Woman Blog Tour ~ Excerpt & Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! I'm very excited to welcome Suzan Lauder to the blog! She has a new book out; An Accomplished Woman. I have an excerpt for you, and there's a giveaway! Details are at the bottom of the page.  

Hi, Candy! I’m pleased to be on your blog with An Accomplished Woman, my first traditional Regency romance. This excerpt is a conversation between Lord Vernon and Audra where they have not long ago had a rather smoldering verbal encounter related to meeting in the rain, which opened Audra’s eyes to her attraction. They haven’t seen each other since because she’s been stuck in bed in case she might have a cold.


     As expected, Lord Vernon’s appearance prior to dinner brought forth its own sort of excitement since he was assisted down the stairs by a burly footman, then made his way to the drawing room with the aid of his walking stick. Others might make a fuss over his infirmity, but for Audra, his mere presence lit a fire deep within her. With a thunderstorm on his face, he requested a whisky. Was his request for liquor due to his pain or as a result of the precarious trip down the staircase? The glass reached his lips, and every nerve in her body became aflame. Those lips were too much for her. Still, she should not allow herself to be overcome in such a manner; she must be proper in these situations. Audra could approach him; the gesture was polite given their experience a few days before.

     His eyes set upon her before she could take one step his way, making her hesitate. Her throat constricted even as everything within her chest crawled up towards the back of her tongue. Was that dark look foreboding or something else? It revived that quivering in her low belly and the scorching of her cheeks. But she was no milksop and would not shy away just because his looks unnerved her a little. She marched right over to him. “I am glad to see you are well enough to join us for dinner, my lord.”

     One brow lifted. The result was exceedingly charming—that is, if the trembling of her body was any indication. “I am also pleased to know you are well, Miss Hales, since you escaped the grippe.”

     “Tell me, how is your knee?”

     He gazed at the trousered joint in question and patted it with his walking stick. “It pains me most when I put my weight upon it, but otherwise, it is barely noticeable.”

     That was apt to be a story created to make her feel better, but she would take it. A bit of encouragement could not hurt, so she smiled. “I am glad to hear it. I must thank you again for your assistance. I would in all probability be ill had you not intervened.”

     He looked towards the floor and his hair drooped over his face, but his head had drawn closer to hers. “It was nothing I would not do again at any time,” he said in the softest of tones, “for you.”

     Her breathing somehow became more difficult, and her skin tingled from head to toe. “I hope you would not risk life and limb every day for me, my lord, but it is one of the best things anyone has ever done for me just the same.”

     “But I would. Every day,” he said, his voice breathless.

     “Vernon, how wonderful to see you out of your rooms!” Others had approached and neither she nor Lord Vernon had noticed. Lord Garner glanced between them. “What is the big secret?”

     Lord Vernon’s head snapped up. His eyes were shuttered. “I was assuring Miss Hales that assisting her the other day was of no bother. It is rather noisy in this room.”

     Lord Garner feigned kicking his brother in the leg. “How is the old leg, eh?”

     The ill breeding of this man! “Oh, pray, do not joke about such a thing!”

     Her Grace huffed. “My children seem to thrive on competition in the form of teasing. It cannot be helped. Of course, with the boys, it is worse.”

     “Miss Hales has only sisters,” said Cecilia, “and is therefore more delicate about foolish trifling.”


An Accomplished Woman
Cecilia's Mismatches Book 1
by Suzan Lauder


Audra Hales is a lady of many perfect accomplishments—at least she believes so. It is no wonder: she has mirrored her great friend Cecilia, the newly minted Lady Hoxley, so how could her talents not be worthy of the highest praise? A self-described matchmaker, Cecilia has brought Audra to Bath—where balls and excursions abound—with the intention of matching her with the gregarious Lord Garner Tremaine. Though he seems an affable and talented gentleman, his brother, the marquess, is quite the opposite. 

 As head of his family, Everett Tremaine, the Marquess of Vernon acts on behalf of his father, the duke, who remains secluded from Lady Hoxley’s guests. With his obligations, Everett has no time for foolish temptations such as Miss Hales…so why does he constantly find her thrown into his path? 

Meanwhile, Audra has conjured all sorts of wild imaginings concerning the frustrating marquess, and every time she encounters him, he leaves her breathless rather than answering her questions! After all, what is ailing the mysterious duke? Could the marquess be a villain masquerading as the savior of his family? And most importantly: should she marry Lord Garner, the safe suitor, or follow her heart? 

Book One of the Cecilia’s Mismatches series is a stand-alone novel. 

Cecilia’s Mismatches Series Blurb 

Who is Cecilia? She’s Lady Hoxley, a recently married young lady whose husband is old enough to be her father. Theirs is a love match. She loves his money and title, and he loves her youth and vivacity. Cecilia is so gratified with her own match that she is determined to match her friends with worthy gentlemen—but what happens when all her grand schemes seem to go awry?
Buy: Amazon US (paid link) • Amazon Universal Link
Add to Goodreads

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

About the Author

A lover of Jane Austen, Regency period research and costuming,
yoga, fitness, home renovation, design, sustainability, and independent travel, cat mom Suzan Lauder keeps busy even when she’s not writing novels based on Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, all of which are published by Meryton Press.

She and Mr. Suze and their rescue tabby split their time between a loft condo overlooking the Salish Sea and a 150-year-old Spanish colonial casita in Mexico. Suzan’s lively prose can be found on her Facebook author page; on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest as @SuzanLauder; and on her Meryton Press blog, road trips with the redhead. Her Amazon author page is 

Prior to publishing An Accomplished Woman of the Cecilia’s Mismatches series, Lauder had four novels, a novella, and a novelette published by Meryton Press and has short stories in two Austenesque anthologies. All are popular, most earning four-plus star ratings on Amazon and Goodreads. Accolades include Amazon bestseller for Letter from Ramsgate and The Barrister’s Bride, a Finalist for Sexy Scribbles for an excerpt from Alias Thomas Bennet, and several of her books were placed on top ten of the year lists by influential bloggers.

She even finds time to bake muffins!

Connect with Suzan Lauder


Blog Visit Information

The blog tour will start on April 10th, but Suzan has lots going on even before the blog tour and after.
April 3-7 Lady Catherine's Salon; Suzan Lauder guest hosts this Facebook group. 
April 4 Celtic Lady's Reviews; Kathleen Kelly will be spotlighting An Accomplished Woman and Suzan.
April 7 Delighted Reader Facebook page; Sophia Rose will be spotlighting the book and author. 

Blog Tour Schedule

April 12 Elza Reads
April 17 So little time… You're here!
After the blog tour, Meredith will host Suzan and her book. 

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

Meryton Press is giveaway one eBook (mobi or ePub) to one of my lucky readers! To enter, please leave a comment below. Open Internationally. The last day to enter is April 24th by the end of the day. 

Good luck!
(send me an email if you can't comment)

Many thanks to Meryton Press and Janet Taylor @ More Agreeably Engaged for organizing this blog tour and including me! 

Congratulations, Suzan, on the release of An Accomplished Woman!

So, friends, what did you think about that conversation between Lord Vernon and Audra? I definitely felt the attraction between the two of them. -- Leave a comment and tell us your thoughts!  

Saturday, April 8, 2023

The Sailor's Rest Blog Tour ~ Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Hello, friends! It's my pleasure to have Don Jacobson here today to share a bit about his new book, The Sailor's Rest, and there's a chance to win an eCopy of his book. Details are at the bottom of the page.

Please give Don a warm welcome! 

Since I began writing Austenesque fiction eight years ago, I have been fascinated by supporting characters. Note that I did not write “secondary” characters. That diminishes their importance in my eyes. I have found that a conscientious treatment of the supporting cast allows a richer and deeper reading experience.

Authors have their styles allowing them to explore the truths they seek to uncover in their work. Austen did this. Her requirements for her secondary characters were precise. She needed them to reveal specific traits against which the leads’ characteristics could be bounced.

For instance: Mr. Collins impressed Elizabeth as a profoundly silly man with little depth and almost no capacity for thought—let alone rational thought. His direct opposite is Darcy—serious, thoughtful, and responsible. Thus, if Collins entirely puts off Elizabeth, one can sense Austen saying Look at this Darcy fellow. I smile as I write this, for Austen wrote Bingley as shallow enough to be of little interest to Lizzy. I could go on with other character juxtapositions throughout the Canon, but you can understand my point.

When I began working on The Sailor’s Rest, I quickly realized that the plot I envisioned demanded supporting actors to supply capabilities that none of the leads could. Of these, I focused on Admiral and Mrs. Croft—experienced in life and the Royal Navy. Recall that The Sailor’s Rest uses the Persuasion timeline after Anne and Wentworth rediscover their love. Thus, the Crofts are at Kellynch. I had Anne staying with them after her betrothal while Wentworth was away on a mission to Sweden.

I always have felt that Croft has been treated as a bit of a ‘Colonel Blimp’ type, almost a comic relief in a blustery way. His character is meaningless other than to serve as the financial salvation of Sir Walter’s retrenchment. That is one of the terrible shortcomings of the television/motion picture filters through which the public has seen the Canon. Two hours is tragically short for any character development.

My research showed that only thirty seagoing admirals were active at any one time in the Napoleonic Wars. I will not go into a lengthy explanation of attaining the final step in a naval officer’s career except to note that there were two types: those assigned to the Yellow Squadron and thus never to serve in any capacity and those who gained a Red, White, or Blue Pennant. Promotion came with seniority. The higher you moved up the post-captain’s list, the longer you lived, the closer you came to flag rank. Even if you were first in line, you needed an admiral to die for you to get your stars.

Admiral Alfred Croft was not a bumbling fool but an experienced fighting man with uncommon vision and martial intellect. He had just returned from a lengthy tour in the Far East. Croft was well-respected in the Admiralty as a warrior and diplomat. As such, his wife would also be most capable. Mrs. Sophie Croft had spent years in the Bay of Bengal and the South China Sea. She was no society wife. Imagine, if you will, Caroline Bingley or Elizabeth Elliot aboard a 72-gun battleship. Both Crofts are imbued with their own brand of common sense. I brought that out, I hope. This makes a difference for Anne Elliot and Elizabeth Bennet as they embark on a perilous journey to recover Wentworth and Darcy. 

I see Iain Glen playing my Admiral Alfred Croft. He has the perfect squint.

With Admiral Croft’s backstory in hand (see Chapter Four), I could then consider the tools he could bring to bear. First amongst these were his connections with the Admiralty, specifically the First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Joseph Yorke. Croft makes two passages through Whitehall: before and after the party seeks word of Wentworth in Barton Upon Humber. Please enjoy the excerpt, which peels back the essentials of Rear Admiral of the White Sir Alfred Croft.


This excerpt is © 2023 by Donald P. Jacobson. Reproduction is prohibited. Published in the United States of America.

From Chapter 5

The Admiralty, Tuesday, February 28, 1815

     Croft knew the Admiralty and those who made the system work. His uniform coat hewed tightly to his frame and accentuated his powerful build. Cox’n Tomkins, used to Wentworth’s more subdued garb, whistled when he hefted Croft’s topcoat laden with gold braid and honors. Now Croft’s dazzling array accomplished its purpose. His feet had barely crossed the threshold before a visibly nervous porter accosted him. That low-placed functionary instantly saw Croft as one who had most recently led one of the Far East squadrons. ’Twas in his self-interest to recognize men whose heads rose into the rarified clouds enlivened by red, blue, and white pennants.

     Croker has not survived multiple First Lords without being an adept manager of the political currents flowing through Whitehall’s blue water corridors. He will suspect my motives for rooting around his bailiwick. That will benefit me, for it will arouse his curiosity, a dangerous trait in any bureaucrat. I might impress his clerks with all my shining braid, but Croker will terrify them with his bland stygian manner and voice like the rustling of dried leaves. He will work the problem from this end. 

     The porter returned and begged Croft to follow him. A few turns through the paneled corridors presented Croft with an unexpected sight. John Wilson Croker stood in the doorway leading into his room. The Admiralty’s chef de cabinet could have remained in his cell and forced Croft to enter and bow before his throne. Croker did not because he had served Collingwood and, through him, had known Croft. 

     Few captains could have earned Collingwood’s approbation. The late admiral was known to have despised the incompetence lofty connections often brought aboard. If Croft had abandoned Somersetshire’s climes—custom had an admiral earning six months liberty after a long and challenging tour—there was a worthwhile reason that justly commanded Croker’s attention. 

     “Sir Alfred: an unexpected pleasure to see you. I was unaware you had arrived in town.”

     Croft bowed and followed the factotum into the chamber. After the two men had settled themselves, Croft laid the Admiralty message on the desktop and nudged it toward an otherwise motionless Croker. Only his eyes moved as he took in the broken seal.

     “I freely admit that I read Wentworth’s orders. I will, however, plead the necessity of circumstances. Once I relate the facts known to us, you will understand that while this is a family matter, there may well be implications for the service,” Croft rumbled.

     ‘Implications for the service’ fixed Croker’s attention. Economy of motion hid his interest. Croft unspooled the tale at his nod as those at Kellynch knew it to be. The earlier surprise jelled into a chill that settled below Croker’s stomach the longer the admiral spoke.

     In a voice heard when careers foundered, Croker grated, “We never ordered Captain Wentworth here. Do you have proof that we did otherwise?”

     Croft snorted. “Proof? Do I have the document? No! I only possess the one letter dated February 9 that Miss Anne Elliot received from Barton upon Humber. Wentworth—and I know the man’s hand—stated that he left Laconia in Newcastle to come south for his wedding. His only detour was to be here. He gave no details except that he had orders. Likely what he received was unspecific, but we sailors can only divine Admiralty intentions as through a glass darkly. 

     “We expected Wentworth a fortnight ago, give or take a few days. I think you will agree that Captain Frederick Wentworth has ne’er missed a rendezvous except when the deck has been blasted from beneath his feet.”

     With that Croft subsided and fixed the secretary with slate gray eyes. That turbulent shade was a color well known by mariners familiar with the North Atlantic. The patch of unforgiving waters could freeze a man’s flesh on his bones. Men with such gales in their orbs eventually became admirals or died in the process. That ice-like attention to duty was why Croft had become one of the service’s indispensable men. Croft was an officer who knew when to use a diplomat’s touch instead of a 24-pound bludgeon. 

     Croker saw the set of his jaw and the storm in Croft’s eyes as a sign that the admiral was ready to embark on a course that would bring him near rocks and shoals. “As I said, we have no record of orders dispatched to the captain. We had been under the impression that he would spend some time in Somersetshire after his nuptials.” 

     The cabinet secretary raised the message and pointed a corner at Croft to emphasize his point. “The hall porter noted that you were coming to me on a family matter. I have had your acquaintance long enough, Admiral, to know that you are nothing if not precise in your seamanship—and speech. 

    “You have but one family member in our harness—your wife’s brother. Thus, I asked my clerks to locate our correspondence directed to him after he began his mission to the Swedish capital.” 

     Croker lowered the Kellynch message onto the desk and pulled a buff-colored folder across the surface to rest beneath his fingertips. “If one eliminates demands for accountings of cordage, powder, and shot as well as casks of salt beef and biscuit, there are precious few communications of importance. 

     “One was an official notice of the required court martial after the wreck of the frigate. Appended to it was our acknowledgment of his acquittal with distinction for his accomplishment in bringing the ship to harbor and saving his crew. 

     “The other was this message,” the hand lifted from its anchor, and a long finger tapped the folded stationery earlier proffered by Croft, “sent to him at your home. We needed to post him into a new command bound through the Gut to quell the rumblings coming from the Bey of Algiers who is less-than-pleased that his frog patron remains in enforced retirement.”

     The secretary’s hand lifted and floated above the fawn dossier before dropping atop the file: fingers splayed, pinning it to the desktop. Croker closed his eyes to emphasize his final pronouncement and dismay at the discovery. “The record remains suspiciously silent about any intervening missives.”

    Croft leaned forward. “Then it appears that you, sir, will have to pull on your end of the hawser whilst I must haul on mine.

     “I am off to Barton but will apprise you of any developments: the most urgent ones by semaphore using the admiral’s code. Otherwise, I will attend you in a sennight or thereabouts.”


The Sailor’s Rest 
The Naval Adventure Jane Austen Could Have Written! 

by Don Jacobson

Jane Austen’s greatest lovers come together to be tested in the crucible of war on the Mediterranean’s blue waters and in the smoky confines of a prestigious London gambling den.

The Sailor’s Rest is inspired by Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion and is set on the stage of Napoleon’s 100 Days. Discover how the two betrothed couples—Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, along with Frederick Wentworth and Anne Elliot—find their love tried by separation, battle, and deception. 

 The novel immerses readers first in a mystery, then a sea chase, and, finally, a satisfying comeuppance. From the tattered rooms of a waterfront inn to three frigates engaged in a deadly game of naval chess, readers will experience the yearning as four hearts come closer to one-another. Before the tale ends, the audience will step into the gilded confines of London’s preeminent card room. 

The Sailor’s Rest uses the characters formed by Austen as a starting point in an Austenesque excursion that will leave readers both challenged and richer for the experience. 

The Sailor’s Rest is set in the Persuasion timeline of 1815 but leaves in place the age and plot constructs established by Austen in Pride and Prejudice. This is a full-length novel of 115,000 words. 

Part mystery, part adventure - and all heart - This has the feel of a Hornblower epic. - Alice McVeigh, author of Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel
Buy: Amazon US (paid link) • Universal Link to Amazon
Add to Goodreads

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

About the Author

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years, 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 nonfiction. In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series, The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey. Since then, Meryton Press re-edited and republished Keeper and the subsequent six volumes in the series. In 2022, Meryton Press published the eighth and final book in the series—The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy. Other Meryton Press books by Jacobson include Lessers and Betters, In Plain Sight, and The Longbourn Quarantine. All his works are also available as audiobooks (Audible).

Jacobson holds an advanced degree in history. As a college instructor, he taught United States history, world history, the history of western civilization, and research writing. He is in his third career as an author and is a JASNA and Regency Fiction Writers member. He is also a member of the Always Austen collective.

Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the Austenesque world, Jacobson enjoys cooking, dining out, fine wine, and well-aged scotch whiskey.

His other passion is cycling. He has ridden several “centuries” (hundred-mile days). He is incredibly proud of having completed the AIDS Ride–Midwest (five hundred miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-a-Wish Miracle Ride (three hundred miles from Traverse City to Brooklyn, both in Michigan).

When not traveling, Jacobson lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with his wife and co-author, Pam—a woman Miss Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize.


Miss Bennet’s First Christmas (2015)
The Bennet Wardrobe: Origins (2016)
The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey (2016)
Of Fortune’s Reversal (2016)
The Maid and The Footman (2016)
Henry Fitzwilliam’s War (2016)
The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque (2017)
Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess (2017)
The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn (2018)
Lessers and Betters (2018)
The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament (2018)
The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion (2019)
Cinders and Smoke in Falling for Mr. Thornton (2019)
In Plain Sight (2020)
The Longbourn Quarantine (2020)
The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy (2022)
Kiss Me Goodnight Major Darcy (editor) (2022)
The Sailor’s Rest (2023)

Connect with Don Jacobson

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

Don Jacobson will give away 10 e-book copies of “The Sailor’s Rest” to randomly selected winners. Please use the Rafflecoptor and leave a comment to enter the drawing. No purchase is necessary.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Many thanks to Don Jacobson for stopping by today! It's been wonderful to get some insights into your writing and take a peak into The Sailor's Rest!

Monday, April 3, 2023

"Death in Sensible Circumstances" by Riana Everly ~ Guest Post, Excerpt, & Giveaway

Hello, friends! Today, it's my pleasure to have Riana Everly visiting with us. Her new book, and the 4th in the Miss Mary Investigates Series, Death in Sensible Circumstance, was released on March 1, 2023. Riana is here with a fun word from Elinor Dashwood and an excerpt from the book! Plus, details for a giveaway are at the bottom of this page. 

Elinor Dashwood Speaks

Good day, friends,

It is I, Elinor Dashwood, who am here to talk with you today. My friend, Miss Mary Bennet, had so hoped to join us, but she was called away on a most urgent matter, and begged me to entertain you in her stead. It was unavoidable and was, I believe, the sensible thing to do.

I recently made the acquaintance of Miss Bennet whilst we were both staying in London, she with her aunt and uncle, and I with a relation of sorts, a generous woman named Mrs Jennings. I had expected something of a tedious stay in Town, for my sister Marianne was in very low spirits. We had been invited as a diversion from the small society at home, but had Marianne hoped to find the suitor who had abandoned her there. Alas, when we did discover him, it was to learn that he was engaged to somebody else, and Marianne has been inconsolable since. I had resigned myself to months of tedium listening to my poor sister’s woes, when, to my delight, I happened across Mary Bennet at a bookshop.

What a delightful friend; so interesting and informed, and yet so sensible. I am very pleased to have met her.

How much more unusual still the summer became when, first, tragedy struck in the form of a most tragic death, and later, when I became involved in the pursuit of the killer. This unexpected turn of events was rendered more yet extraordinary when the man suspected of instigating the murder was somebody I… esteem greatly. And that is only the beginning of the how convoluted affairs became!

How clever my friend Mary was, to have solved this baffling mystery. She and her companion, a rather handsome investigator named Alexander Lyons, had all manner of tales to tell me when, at last, the killer was discovered. 

But I shall not tell you that tale at the moment. Instead, here is an account of how all these adventures began, when first I made the acquaintance of Miss Mary Bennet. 

From Death in Sensible Circumstances: A Sense and Sensibility Mystery

March 23, 1814

Mary Bennet could not name how many times she had walked past this particular shop on the corner. From the outside, it was an unassuming establishment, mere steps from the Bond Street Bazaar. Whilst walking down the street, one could see a small display of books in a window, but there was no apparent door, and a passerby might well believe the shop merely to be another of the booths in an arcade near The Exchange. But if one were to take a few strides down that other street—little more than a laneway, really—there one would find the green painted door that said At the Sign of the Phoenix.

Every time in the past, Mary would stare at the door and wonder what was inside, but had never entered. She was always on some errand for her aunt, or expected somewhere, or simply too unsure of herself to walk unescorted into an unknown establishment. She ought, she told herself, to know better. She was Mary Bennet! She had solved—with some help, of course—three murders! She was not some simpering and helpless chit to be scared of a bookshop. And yet she always found some reason not to take that final step and enter the establishment. 

Today, however, was to be different. Aunt Gardiner had told her in no uncertain terms to go and enjoy herself, and had even given her a whole guinea to spend “on matters completely frivolous.” When added to the ten pounds her brother-in-law Darcy had sent her for her stay in London, she felt as rich as the Prince himself. Yes! Today she would enter the Phoenix and buy herself a book!

She turned the corner and reached for the door. It swung open easily in her hand and she stepped through. And then her eyes widened and she gasped. Never had she expected this! 

The room, though not large, was larger than the outside promised, and was stacked from the floor to ceiling with books! More shelves than she could count crossed the floor from the side walls, all filled almost to bursting with every manner of tome. Here and there, scattered with no seeming sense of pattern, a chair leaned near a wall, a few occupied by an avid reader, and in the scant open space between shelves, a handful of small tables supported piles of what looked to be several copies of the same title. As Mary gaped, a ginger cat wound itself about her ankles and drew her forward a few steps, where she could now see, at the far end of the shop, a staircase leading upwards, with a sign that read More Upstairs. It was an emporium of books! 

Heaven, Mary mused, must be exactly like this, and then she chastised herself for having such improper thoughts about the nature of God’s heaven.

The cat rubbed itself up the backs of her shins and she stepped forward again. Now she could see a little desk in one corner, behind which sat a man of indeterminate years, neither young nor old, with thinning hair and spectacles. He peered at her through narrow eyes and gave a brief nod. He must be the bookshop’s proprietor. She nodded in return and hoped she looked friendly and trustworthy enough to be allowed in his establishment. 

“May I help you?” the man asked in hushed tones. 

She swallowed and her face flushed hot. Could she voice her request to this unknown man? He would surely judge her most lacking. A serious, sensible young woman like herself ought to be reading a certain sort of literature. Improving manuals, for example, or sermons on the proper deportment of young ladies, or edifying poetry perhaps. But what Mary really wanted, and what she was going to buy with her small fortune of coins if her courage did not fail her, was a novel. Perhaps something horrid, like Regina Maria Roche’s The Monastery of St. Columb. Or Mary Brunton’s Discipline, perhaps. She had heard this latter had all manner of Highland scenes, which interested her greatly, although it really ought not to do so at all.

There was Mrs. Roche’s book. She picked up a copy and turned to the first page. Was it horrible, like Clermont? Or worse, like The Mysteries of Udolfo? She had never dared to read something as scandalous as Udolfo, but she had heard so much about it… Still, she could not stop herself from reading the first page or two, or perhaps five, oblivious to the rest of the world. 

Perhaps she would do better with Mrs. Brunton’s Discipline. She replaced the copy of The Monastery of St. Columb and reached for Discipline instead, her eyes full of the stacks about her. But rather than her hand alighting upon the cool hard cover of a book, she touched soft flesh instead. She pulled her hand back as if burned, only to see another young woman do exactly the same thing.

“Please forgive me,” Mary blurted out, as the other woman exclaimed, “Oh, I am so sorry!”

Then both of them smiled and both began to laugh, which brought the shopkeeper around to ask them to please be a little quieter.

“Have you read Mrs. Brunton’s book?” Mary asked the other lady, her voice now low.

“No, although I do wish to. But I must hide it from my sister. She thinks me far too serious to read novels! I saw you looking at The Monastery. Do you like the Gothick stories?”

Mary felt herself blush and hoped the red did not go badly with her mustard yellow pelisse. “Oh no! That is, I ought not… I dare not. I am far too sober-minded for that! Although I must confess, I would like to see what it is about…”

The other lady began to laugh again and then quickly quietened down to a delicate titter. “We are much alike then. Which shall you buy?”

Mary pinched her lips together and frowned. “I cannot say! I would like to read both, but really must not spend that amount of money.”

“And I likewise.” Her companion shook her head and sighed.

“Ah, wait! I have a grand idea.” Mary beamed. She felt a great connection with this unknown lady, who seemed so similar to her and who had such excellent taste in books. “Perhaps I can buy the one and you the other, and when we have read them through, we might meet and lend each other our books so we can read both.”

“How very clever! Here, may I introduce myself? It is not quite the thing, and yet there is no one else to do the honours, and we are hardly at a ball or an at-home. It must be excusable. My name is Elinor Dashwood, and I am staying in town with my cousin for some months.”

“A pleasure to meet you, Miss Dashwood. I am Mary Bennet and I am staying with my aunt and uncle. What fun this is!”

Before long, the two ladies had made their purchases and, seeing there was ample time before either needed to return home, they decided to take tea at an elegant tea shop by The Exchange. They talked of this and that and the other, and by the time both had to depart, they had become fast friends.

Death in Sensible Circumstances
A Sense and Sensibility Mystery
Miss Mary Investigates Series 

A Jane Austen-inspired mystery, set in the world of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, being the fourth novel in the Miss Mary Investigates series. 

When Mary Bennet befriends Elinor Dashwood, she expects to become part of the young lady’s circle and be introduced to her friends and relations. She does not expect that one of this circle should die, far too young, and in most unfortunate circumstances. Worse, Elinor is secretly in love with one of the suspects, Edward Ferrars, and he is inconveniently engaged to somebody else. When an investigator is called in to assist, Mary is more surprised still. 

Alexander Lyons expects to find death and deceit in his line of work, but he does not expect to come face to face with Mary, who hasn’t replied to his letters of late. What is she doing in London? And how is she involved with this sorry business of murder? Still, despite the tension between the two, they make a good team as they seek to unravel the mystery surrounding them. 

From the elegant drawing rooms of Mayfair to the reeking slums of St. Giles, the two must use every bit of wit and logic they possess to uncover a killer, all the while, trying to puzzle out the workings of their own hearts. 

Join Mary Bennet, Lizzy’s often overlooked sister from Pride and Prejudice, and her intriguing and handsome friend Alexander Lyons, as they are pulled into the world of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility in this, their latest adventure.
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About the Author

Riana Everly is an award-winning author of romance, both contemporary and historical, and historical mysteries. 
Born in South Africa, she moved to Canada as a child, bringing with her two parents, two younger sisters, and too many books. Yes, they were mysteries. From those early days of The Secret Seven and The Famous Five, she graduated to Nancy Drew, and then to the Grande Dames of classical English whodunnits, including Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh. Others followed, and many sleepless nights ensued.

When not matching wits with Miss Marple and Adam Dalgliesh, Riana keeps busy researching those little, but so-important, details for her next fabulous novel.

Trained as a classical musician, Riana has degrees in Music History and Medieval Studies, and enjoys photography, hiking, travelling, learning obscure languages, and experimenting with new recipes. If they include chocolate, all the better.

Her Miss Mary Investigates series has charmed both Jane Austen fans and serious mystery lovers alike, and readers are always asking when the next story will be available.

Connect with Riana Everly

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She loves meeting readers!

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

From Riana: I am delighted to be giving away one eBook of Death in Sensible Circumstances: A Sense and Sensibility Mystery at each blog I visit. I will randomly select one person who comments as a winner. I’ll make the draw five days after the date of the blog visit. I will email the book directly to the winners, so please check back on the site, or make sure I have a way to contact you. 

Riana's email is

Good luck!

Thank you so much, Riana, for stopping by today! Also, for generously giving away an eBook to one of my lucky readers! 

Thank you, everyone! I hope you enjoyed Riana's post and that you are as excited to read this series as much as I am! Be sure to leave a comment to enter the giveaway! 

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