Tuesday, February 13, 2024

"No Less Than Any Other" by MJ Stratton ~ Blog Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway

Hello, my friends! MJ Stratton is visiting us today with an excerpt and a giveaway of her new book, No Less Than Any Other! Please enjoy! Details for the giveaway are at the bottom of the page.

No Less Than Any Other
by MJ Stratton


Elizabeth Bennet is not the son and heir her mother wished, much to Mrs. Bennet’s despair. But all was not lost, for soon after her second daughter’s birth, Mrs. Bennet delivered a son. Tom Bennet, born just minutes after his sister, was their family’s savior from the moment he took his first breath. 

Tom Bennet's peculiar nature soon sets him apart from others around him. His striking intelligence, key in aiding his family, paired with his many oddities leaves those around him with many differing opinions. None, though, are more dedicated to his well-being than his twin sister Elizabeth. 

The closer to reaching their majority the twins get, the more frantic Mrs. Bennet is, for should anything befall Tom, her hopes and security will be dashed. She is determined that her girls must marry wealthy, eligible men as an extra precaution. 

When Netherfield Park is let at last and is filled with eligible men, Mrs. Bennet sees her chance to ensnare at least one wealthy man for her daughters. But will the rumors of heartless neighbors prevent the new tenants from forming any serious designs on any of the Bennet daughters? 

No Less Than Any Other is a sweet and clean Pride and Prejudice variation.

When the twins were four, Fanny was once again pregnant. She had great hopes that this one would be the spare she so desperately wanted. Tommy was still not speaking, and Fanny took great pains to bemoan her son’s mute state whenever she could.
Longbourn’s heir was the talk of Meryton and the surrounding area regularly. Mrs. Bennet could barely stand it, and though she was a social creature, she forewent visiting the neighbors so that she could avoid their questions. 
Gossip about Tommy first started when the lad’s peculiar tendencies became obvious as he grew. Tommy could not tolerate bright lights or loud noises. He was sensitive to textures, particularly when it came to clothing, and the softest fabrics were needed to keep him comfortable. The biggest curiosity, however, was that at the age of four, no one had yet to hear the boy utter even one word.
Thomas Bennet Senior was rightly concerned with his son’s inability to speak. It was quite by chance that his fears were put to rest. One afternoon, as he wandered his garden, taking a brief rest from the tedium of managing the estate, he heard Lizzy’s little voice amidst the summer flowers. The second Bennet daughter had a great love of the outdoors, much to Mrs. Bennet’s dismay, and she could often be found hiding in the shrubs and greenery.
“Tommy,” lisped Elizabeth. “You ought to give up this nonsense. It is silly that you only speak to me.”
“You are the only one who listens,” another voice came.
Thomas nearly fainted in shock. Tommy’s voice, his perfect little voice! Words perfectly pronounced with no hint of the awkwardness of speech that often accompanies a child of four.
“But Mama’s hes-tri-on-ax,” Lizzy enunciated slowly. “I know they are making Papa upset.”
“It is pronounced his-tri-on-ics, Lizzy,” Tommy said, slowly pronouncing the word his sister had butchered.
“His-tri-on-ics,” Lizzy repeated. “Yes, those. Papa does not deserve to have Mama being so mean to him. We can fix it by showing Mama that you can speak.”
“Why?” Tommy asked. “Will it not shock her to learn that I am not the idiot she thinks me? What if she becomes more hysterical?”
“Do not call yourself an idiot,” Lizzy scolded. “You are smart, and I love you.”
“I know I am smart,” Tommy whispered. “But I am still different. If it is not my speech, Mama would find something else wrong with me.”
“Different is not less,” Lizzy insisted.
Thomas listened to his young twins with fascination. It was like listening to a pair of miniature adults. Lizzy’s manner of speaking was much less advanced than her brother’s, but it was no less amazing. 
“I cannot help how I am, Lizzy,” Tommy continued. “Sometimes things are just…overwhelming. I hate the nursery. It is too loud. And then when I am upset, the nurse does not understand. It is hard to explain how I feel when everything is too much. You are the only one who helps me.”
Thomas felt a pang of remorse. How had he missed the silent struggle his little boy was going through? Nurse Wilson had, indeed, complained many times about Master Tommy’s tantrums. Crying at nothing, the lady had said. What was it Tommy called it? Everything being too much?
The household had long since learned that Tommy did not like loud noises or bright lights. He was often overwhelmed, causing him to flap his arms or cry inconsolably. Lizzy was the only one with the skills to calm the young master during one of his ‘fits.’ Given the knowledge his son had just imparted, it made sense that little Tommy spent barely any time in the nursery with his younger siblings.
“Can you not start speaking sometimes?” Lizzy asked, her tone pleading. “It would make Papa very happy.”
“How do you know?” Tommy asked, his voice full of questions. 
“Because he always looks so sad,” Lizzy answered. “Whenever he and Mama have argued about you, he looks so very upset.”
“How can you tell?” Tommy questioned. “I have never noticed.”
“It is in his eyes,” Lizzy replied. “He looks like he is going to cry.”
“What does that look like?” 
“Like this,” Lizzy said. 
She must have been demonstrating for her brother, for it was silent for a few moments. Thomas peeked around to view his children and observed his son studying Elizabeth’s expression intently.
“I think I have it now,” Tommy said. “Is this what it looks like?”
Elizabeth giggled. “You look like you ate something sour,” she said.
“I do not know how to do it,” Tommy huffed. “Everyone’s face looks the same to me.”
“With practice, you will notice the differences in expression,” Lizzy promised her brother. “Now, it is time for tea. I am very hungry. Should we go in?”
Tommy nodded in agreement, and Mr. Bennet ducked out of sight so he would not be seen. He watched as Tommy took Elizabeth’s hand and they skipped off toward the house. 
As they went Thomas heard Lizzy ask once more, “You will at least think about what I said, right Tommy?”
The pair were too far away for Mr. Bennet to hear Tommy’s reply.

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 sixteen. 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.

Purchase Links

Amazon (paid link)
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* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

It's giveaway time! As part of this book tour, MJ Stratton is giving away an eCopy of the book No Less Than Any Other! Enter through the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So, friends, what are your thoughts? What intrigues you about this story? 

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Heartbroken: A Pride and Prejudice by Laura Moretti ~ Spotlight

Hello, my friends! Today, I’m spotlighting Laura Moretti’s new book, Heartbroken! The cover looks fantastic! I love the photo of the couple. 

A Pride and Prejudice Variation 
by Laura Moretti 

Publication Date: February 21, 2024 Available for pre-order! 


Elizabeth hasn’t heard from Darcy since violently rejecting his declaration of love. But then one day… She’s bored. Yes, bored. No, there’s no better reason for it.

Anyway, she texts him. And Darcy texts back.

For Elizabeth, it’s nothing, sending this first message. It’s a game — an absurd decision that she just makes on the spur of the moment. For Darcy, this is life and death. This is his second chance, to maybe get Elizabeth to look at him, really look at him at last.

So. A party, where Jane and Bingley are annoyingly happy. A business meeting at Pemberley. Short dates in a cafĂ©, in winter, while it’s snowing outside. Valentine’s Day in February, in the rain.

The game is getting serious. Elizabeth is getting attached. And Darcy will do anything, anything, not to lose her again…

From despair to hope, a passionate, intense love story…
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

Laura Moretti is new to the Pride and Prejudice world, but not new to writing… She is a fantasy and sci-fi writer in another life.
You can find her books here: Amazon Author Page.

And if you want to test the waters before reading “Heartbroken,” you can subscribe to her newsletter and get “A Day in Turin,” a free Elizabeth and Darcy novella, here: Book Funnel.

Connect with Laura Moretti

FacebookInstagramX • Email: lauramoretti.pp@gmail

So, friends, what do you think of Heartbroken? Are you looking forward to reading it? 

Monday, February 5, 2024

With Love, Mr. Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Valentine Short Story Collection

 Hello, my friends! A group of lovely authors have put together this wonderful anthology of short stories for Valentine's Day! But not only that, but the proceeds will be going to the Jane Austen's House Museum! Amazing! Thank you, Ladies, for doing for being so generous with your time! 

With Love, Mr Darcy

A Pride and Prejudice Valentine Short Story Collection

Thanks so much for welcoming us here today, as we celebrate the release of our Valentine’s Day short story collection. We’re so excited to share these stories with everyone, and even more excited to be helping the Jane Austen’s House Museum by donating all the proceeds from this volume to the museum. 

What is this collection, you ask?

Our tagline says it all.

Six authors, six stories, seven happily-ever-afters.

Join writers Michelle d'Arcy, Elin Eriksen, Riana Everly, Iris Lim, Laura Moretti, and S. Neha for a special Valentine's Day anthology of Pride and Prejudice variations, each crafted with love from Mr Darcy.

Wait? This is for an Austen-Amazing cause?

Indeed it is!

All proceeds will be donated to the Jane Austen’s House Museum at Chawton, England.
Swoon for a worthy cause!

What do you all have to say for yourselves, anyway? Why a Valentine’s anthology about Darcy?

A word from the authors…

“I loved the idea of putting together a collection of stories about, well, love! Valentine's Day just seemed the perfect opportunity to bring our favourite couple together in our unique ways.”

“The theme is both unifying and inspiring, and seeing how we all had such different ideas was wonderful. This is, for me, one of the great joys of JAFF. We have some fixed parameters, but rather than limiting our imaginations, they let our imaginations soar.”

“We love Jane Austen, and her legacy! And we would love to know we contributed even a bit to it. The House in Chawton is the very heart of this legacy.”

“And then there is Mr Darcy! We love Mr Darcy!”

“Yep, we do!”

Okay, you have our attention. So what’s in it?

Here are some tidbits to tempt you! Enjoy these excerpts!

Alone, by Michelle d'Arcy 

With every step closer, Darcy knew what he wanted and knew what he would do. He had no doubts remaining. The surprise, joy, and gratitude on Elizabeth’s beautiful face and the tears of happiness in her bright eyes would surely make his extended torment worth the while. She would surely forgive him for the weeks of silence and turmoil, during which he had given her the impression he was toying with her affections. 

He entered and found her alone in the parlour. She was pale and clearly not feeling well; she looked surprised, and he needed a little time to gather his thoughts and find the right words to address her. 

Then, their eyes met, and he lost himself in hers. She licked her lips, in obvious anticipation, so he opened his heart and held it in his hands, offering it to her. 

“In vain I have struggled. It will not do. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” He heard himself revealing the tumult that had tortured him for six months. 

She remained silent, wide eyed, completely still while he poured his very soul at her feet.

My Funny Valentine, by Elin Eriksen

Elizabeth curtseyed deeply. Far be it from her to show any lack of manners on her part. Oh no, she would be perfectly civil.

“Mr Darcy, we have not been introduced due to your lack of gentlemanly behaviour. I am willing to overlook that slight impropriety, which surely must count as insignificant and came as the result of you walking away in the middle of an introduction. I am referring to your party’s arrival, when my mother importuned you by asking you to dance with one of her daughters, and your immediate and hasty retreat to the opposite end of the room.”

Mr Darcy opened his mouth as if to speak, but Elizabeth had not finished, and she stopped him with a pointed hand gesture.

“I perfectly comprehend your feelings, Mr Darcy. You are an excellent physiognomist, and you should always judge people’s characters by their looks. One would not want to associate with anyone lacking in appearance, and certainly not dance with any lady slighted by other men.” 

Elizabeth drew a breath to allow her point to be understood. “You simply must allow me to express my gratitude. My dear grandmother has instilled in me the virtues of never expressing behind anyone’s back what you cannot say to their face. I, therefore, highly appreciate your sincere evaluation of my appearance. With that said, I shall not disturb you for a moment longer but shall promptly remove my unpalatable presence from your company.” 

A Coincidence of Connexions, by Riana Everly

Mr Darcy looked away and cleared his throat. Was he flushing pink? She hardly could believe so arrogant a man could feel such an emotion as embarrassment.

“I recall… when last we spoke, at the ball at—”

“Netherfield,” Elizabeth supplied.

“Yes. We danced.” He stopped and she waited. He surely had more to say than repeat such a fact. He cleared his throat again. “We were discussing your… our mutual acquaintance, Mr Wickham, before we were interrupted. You accused me of withdrawing from him my own friendship, in such a manner that he would suffer all his life. I did not know, then, how to respond. It hardly seemed the place…”

“Much better to bring out these matters at an intimate dinner party.” 

“You are, madam, always correct. I seem to have the ill fortune of a terrible choice of timing. But the topic was raised, and I had to address it. Forgive me.” He said this last with such genuine meaning that she could not help but be affected. 

Perhaps she had severely misjudged everything about Mr Darcy!

In Time for Valentine’s, by Iris Lim

“I shall be throwing a ball, here at Matlock House, that shall be the talk of the Season,” said Lady Matlock. 

Fitzy scoffed. “We already are the talk of the Season, mother dear.” 

“Not that sort of talk—the good kind.”

“A hardly think a ball could so easily distract the voracious ton.” 

“We shall have it on St. Valentine’s, a day many are coming to associate with love.” 

“Again, Mother, I do not think—” 

“Then we shall announce a betrothal—preferably, one of yours.”

Both Darcy and Richard sprung up with alacrity.

“You cannot mean—”

“And given that Richard shall be leaving for the Continent soon, the better candidate would be Darcy.”

“Aunt, please, you must see—”

“Georgiana would benefit, would she not?” Lady Matlock continued, unperturbed by Darcy’s clear agitation. “Besides, I already have several ladies in mind. I am sure you shall be able to find at least one of them suitable.”

“This is madness. I cannot possibly—”

“Oh, but you can.” The countess pinned him in place with a glare. “Have no fear, Darcy, we shall have you betrothed in time for Valentine’s.”

Ten Valentine’s Days, by Laura Moretti

“Darcy had been so in love with her, ten years ago. Paradoxically, he’d only realised how much after his drunken declaration. When days had passed. When his hangover had subsided. When he’d had time to reflect. 

He missed Elizabeth like hell.

He’d cut Elizabeth from his life cold turkey, like one would just stop smoking, stop eating sugar, stop doing drugs. And yes, it was hell.

The withdrawal. Everything hurt. Before the…‘The Events at the Pub at Hunsford’, Darcy had spent two years in Elizabeth’s presence, in the same circle of friends. Darcy and Elizabeth had celebrated Bingley and Jane’s engagement together, their attendance mandatory at the intimate dinner and during the huge party that followed; they’d been best man and chief bridesmaid at the wedding. 

Elizabeth had been a constant in Darcy’s life. Her banter. Her laugh. Their heated debates. The love she showed her sister, her friends. It was in her absence Darcy realised how much he was—hooked.

Seven years. Why couldn’t he move on? 

Mr Darcy's Matchmaking Valentine, by S. Neha

Yellow? Oh… no! Rosie’s favourite doll has a cap of the exact same colour. It was now evident to Elizabeth why her aunt was standing close to those two gentlemen and why Rose was so upset. But how did Rosie’s doll wind up in the lake in the first place?

The gentleman with the stick suddenly, and somewhat improbably in Elizabeth's opinion, stretched his arm a little bit further and stumbled, just as she had feared. It was only the second gentleman holding on to him that saved him from a dunking in the frigid waters. The very next moment, the man was lifting the stick in the air, Rose’s doll dangling from it. That young lady’s squeals of joy indicated that she, too, had observed the rescue of her poor, beleaguered doll.

The gentlemen then turned to face the others, both beaming proudly, and Elizabeth’s thoughts scattered in shock. It was Mr Darcy who was holding the stick with the dangling doll, and very poetically, it was Mr Bingley who had been hanging on to his coattails! Although in this instance, one could be charitable and argue that he was making himself useful.

* * *

Available for a limited time!

Amazon (paid link)

Add to Goodreads

FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you purchase a book through the link provided. Thanks!

So, my friends, what do you think of this short story collection? We'd love to hear from you! 

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