Tuesday, October 10, 2017

BLOG TOUR: Mistaken by Jessie Lewis ~ Review + Excerpt

I have on the blog today Jessie Lewis who is a new author in the world of JAFF. Mistaken is her debut novel and I have a review and excerpt from the book.

Book Blurb: Fitzwilliam Darcy is a single man in possession of a good fortune, a broken heart, and tattered pride. Elizabeth Bennet is a young lady in possession of a superior wit, flawed judgment, and a growing list of unwanted suitors. With a tempestuous acquaintance, the merciless censure of each other’s character, and the unenviable distinction of a failed proposal behind them, they have parted ways on seemingly irreparable terms. Despairing of a felicitous resolution for themselves, they both attend with great energy to rekindling the courtship between Darcy’s friend Mr. Bingley and Elizabeth’s sister Jane.

Regrettably, people are predisposed to mistake one another, and rarely can two be so conveniently maneuvered into love without some manner of misunderstanding arising. Jane, crossed in love once already, is wary of Bingley’s renewed attentions. Mistaking her guardedness for indifference, Bingley is drawn to Elizabeth’s livelier company; rapidly, the defects in their own characters become the least of the impediments to Darcy and Elizabeth’s happiness.

Debut author Jessie Lewis’s Mistaken invites us to laugh along with Elizabeth Bennet at the follies, nonsense, whims, and inconsistencies of characters both familiar and new in this witty and romantic take on Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice.

Excerpt
Thank you so much, Tina, for hosting this part of the blog tour for Mistaken. I’d like to share an excerpt from the story with your readers from Part Two of the book, in which Mrs. Bennet and her daughters attend an assembly in Meryton. It gives an early insight into Elizabeth and Jane’s changing perspectives post Hunsford. After reading Darcy’s letter, Elizabeth is reassessing all her preconceptions about her family. Jane, with her self-esteem in tatters, is beginning to suspect Mr. Bingley is slipping through her fingers a second time. That, and a few unwelcome faces (some familiar, some new) make for an interesting beginning to the assembly for the two eldest Bennet sisters. I hope you enjoy this small snippet, thanks for reading, everyone!

***

Saturday, 9 May 1812: Hertfordshire

The carriage jounced into the High Street, its windows rattling and its driver bellowing at his horses. Mrs. Bennet flapped at the tangle of legs in the foot well, shrieking at anyone who stepped too near Jane’s new gown. Mary and Kitty argued. Lydia and Elizabeth laughed. Jane turned away to peer at the looming façade of the assembly rooms.

Not even she had truly known how badly Mr. Bingley’s abandonment had affected her until he returned, whereupon she discovered her confidence in both the sincerity of his affections and her ability to secure them had been reduced to nothing. Four visits, his request for the first set this evening, and Elizabeth’s constant encouragement had buoyed Jane’s faith in him just enough to allow a measure of anticipation for the evening ahead, but it was a fragile faith, and her grip on it was tenuous.

She and Elizabeth stepped down first and walked towards the entrance. “Once more unto the breach,” her sister said, grinning.

“Pray, tax me not with Wordsworth this evening, Lizzy. I am determined to be sanguine, but it will only stretch so far.”

Elizabeth gave her an odd look but said nothing more.

“I hope it is not too warm inside this evening,” Mary said behind them.

“As do I,” Mrs. Bennet agreed, catching up with them. “It was unbearable last month with all the fires lit.”

“Oh, I have left my fan on the seat,” said Jane, checking her person to confirm its absence. “One moment.” She turned to fetch it from the carriage but stopped short of the door when she heard Lydia and Kitty still gossiping within.

“All that fuss over a stupid dress!” Kitty exclaimed.

“She does not look as well as Lizzy in any case,” replied Lydia. “Or me.”

“Would that she hurry up and secure Mr. Bingley. Then we would not have to hear any more of her new dress or slippers or any of it.”

“She had better hurry up and catch him soon anyway, for she is practically an old maid. I should die if I were three-and-twenty before I found a husband.”

Jane re-joined the rest of her family sans fan or equanimity and now fighting back tears. Lydia’s words echoed her own fears precisely. If Mr. Bingley would not have her, who would?

“Look, Jane,” her mother said in a none-too-quiet whisper as soon as they went in. “There he is! Look at the silk of his waistcoat! Oh, you are a clever girl!”

Jane looked. Mr. Bingley did indeed look fine in full evening dress, but then she had always thought he did—just as she had always admired his ingenuous, affable smile, which to her relief, he then turned on her.

“Good evening, Miss Bennet,” he called, coming immediately to greet her. He bowed; she curtsied. He beamed; she smiled. Then the moment was lost as her mother pounced upon it.

“Mr. Bingley! How wonderful it is to see you—” She was allowed no further raptures. Elizabeth had urgent need of her elsewhere in the room, apparently. Which was very thoughtful, except it left Jane the sole focus of Mr. Bingley’s attention before she had thought of a single thing she might say to him. She managed to answer his few enquiries with equanimity, but by the time he led her to join the line for the first set, her hands were shaking from the fear that she would never be easy with him again.

***

After all her recent revelations, Elizabeth could not but observe her family with new eyes, and she was vastly dissatisfied with what she saw. Mrs. Bennet doggedly and vociferously directed all her neighbours’ attention towards Jane and Mr. Bingley, Lydia and Kitty drew attention to themselves with their shameless flirting, and Mary, in her bid to avoid any attention at all, had slighted Mr. Winters by turning down his request to dance.

How she could previously have been blind to such behaviour she knew not, but in acknowledging their impropriety, she better understood the depth of Mr. Darcy’s affections. He had been willing to expose himself to the ridicule they were certain to earn him—ridicule he had once told her it had been the study of his life to avoid—so as to be with her. Rather than dwell upon it, she marched across the room to demand that Lydia relinquish Lieutenant Connor’s sabre and to extract a large glass of wine from Kitty’s greedy clutches and give it to Mary in the hope it might embolden her to accept the next offer of a dance.

“Good evening, Miss Elizabeth,” Mr. Wickham said, stepping out from the shadows, instantly trebling her indignation. “You look exceedingly well this evening. Would you do me the honour of the next dance?”

She gave him the most perfunctory of curtsies and looked past him, searching for her partner. “I am already engaged for this one, sir,” she replied, grateful it was true.

“Another then? I have not had the pleasure of your company since you returned from Kent.”

His arrogant, presumptuous smirk only made Elizabeth more determined not to be compelled to talk to him. She pursed her lips and held her tongue.

“You look as though you did not enjoy your stay there,” he said, quite mistaking the reason for her displeasure.

“On the contrary, I found myself in excellent company in Kent. By comparison, this evening’s society feels distinctly wanting.”

He pulled a face that he presumably thought was charming. “Ah, but you have not yet danced with me. Pray allow me to change your mind with the set after this one.”

“I cannot oblige you there either, sir, for I have promised that one to Mr. Bingley.”

“I shall begin to think you do not wish to dance with me,” he said, laughing in such a way as bespoke his complete assurance to the contrary. “Perhaps you fear my company would also prove wanting compared to your new friends in Kent?”

“No indeed,” she replied with a full smile. “I could never think any less of you.”

It was a moment before he recovered his smile. “I am relieved to hear it. Evidently, somebody has impressed you on your travels, though. I confess I am intrigued.”

Elizabeth at last espied her dance partner coming towards her through the crowds. With her escape guaranteed, she had no qualms in satisfying Mr. Wickham’s curiosity. “There is no intrigue, sir. I believe you are acquainted with every person I saw there. Mr. and Mrs. Collins, of course, Maria Lucas and her father, Sir William, Lady Catherine and her daughter”—she turned her smile over Mr. Wickham’s shoulder to her approaching partner—“Colonel Fitzwilliam and Mr. Darcy. Good evening, Mr. Greyson.”

“Miss Elizabeth!” Mr. Greyson replied. “Pray, forgive my tardiness. Sir William delayed me. Shall we?”

“With pleasure,” she said, accepting his arm and walking away as Mr. Wickham finally found his voice and spluttered, “Who…what…Darcy?”

***

“Sister, will you look at Lizzy,” said Mrs. Philips. “Does she not dance beautifully?”

“Well, you know, she always has!” replied Mrs. Bennet. “And do they not make a fine pair?”

“Indeed they do, but did you know Mr. Greyson was returned? I heard nothing of it before this evening.”

“Not a whisper! He was gone so long I began to think he would never come back, but see how he looks at Lizzy still, as though he never went away! There is no doubt he is here for her. I knew some good must come of her refusing Mr. Collins.”

“As did I, Sister, as did I! But pray, is Jane not pleased Mr. Bingley is come back?”

“What is your meaning? Of course she is pleased.”

“Well, she might like to show it. I have not seen her say two words to him all evening.”

“Nonsense! She simply does not rattle on like her other sisters, and with her countenance, neither does she need to! Oh, look at Kitty dancing with Captain Denny!”

“Now there would be a happy match,” Mrs. Philips agreed, “if only Colonel Forster was not taking his regiment away to Brighton next month.”

It soon became clear that this was news to Mrs. Bennet, for the remainder of the first set was passed listening to her violent lamentations over the militia’s imminent removal from Meryton.

My Review: This book is a sort of a unique premise where Bingley wants to marry Lizzie after coming back to Meryton because Jane is acting coldly towards him and Lizzy does not. However, he ends up marrying Jane when she accidentally compromises him. Most of this book deals with Jane's jealousy towards Lizzy and the consequences of that and Bingley's obsession with Lizzy. I really enjoyed the relationships between all the characters even the ones that were destructive. I have to say that Mrs. Sinclair was one of my favorite characters in this book. I loved her sassiness. This book did lag for me for a good portion of the book and I wished it would end but I stuck it out and I started to enjoy again towards the end of it. I really recommend this book if you want to read something different and long.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Author Bio: I’ve always loved words—reading them, writing them, and as my friends and family will wearily attest, speaking them. I dabbled in poetry during my angst-ridden teenage years, but it wasn’t until college that I truly came to comprehend the potency of the English language.

That appreciation materialised into something more tangible one dark wintry evening whilst I was making a paper-mâché Octonauts Gup-A (Google it—you’ll be impressed) for my son and watching a rerun of Pride and Prejudice on TV. Fired up by the remembrance of Austen’s genius with words, I dug out my copy of the novel and in short order had been inspired to set my mind to writing in earnest. I began work on a Regency romance based on Austen’s timeless classic, and my debut novel Mistaken is the result.

The Regency period continues to fascinate me, and I spend a good deal of my time cavorting about there in my daydreams, imagining all manner of misadventures. The rest of the time I can be found at home in Hertfordshire, where I live with my husband, two children, and an out-of-tune piano. You can check out my musings on the absurdities of language and life on my blog, Life in Words, or you can drop me a line on Twitter, @JessieWriter or on my Facebook page, Jessie Lewis Author, or on Goodreads, Jessie Lewis.

Buy Links:
Mistaken (Amazon US)
Mistaken (Amazon UK)
Mistaken is also available on Kindle Unlimited

Blog Tour Schedule:
10/03 My Jane Austen Book Club; Vignette, Giveaway
10/04 Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway
10/05 Just Jane 1813; Review, Giveaway
10/06 Diary of an Eccentric; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
10/07 My Love for Jane Austen; Character Interview, Giveaway
10/08 Of Pens and Pages; Review, Giveaway
10/09 From Pemberley to Milton; Guest Post, Giveaway
10/10 Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt
10/11 Savvy Verse and Wit; Review, Giveaway
10/12 So little time…; Guest Post, Giveaway
10/13 Babblings of a Bookworm; Vignette, Giveaway
10/14 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl; Review, Giveaway
10/15 Laughing With Lizzie; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
10/16 Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, GA

Saturday, October 07, 2017

REVIEW: Belle by Sarah Price

Book Blurb: In author Sarah Price’s fresh and inspirational retelling of a beloved classic, a dutiful young Amish woman agrees to marry a notorious recluse for her family’s sake—but the consequences are more than either bargained for . . .

To most townsfolk, he’s known simply as The Beast. Annabelle Beiler has little interest in gossip, but she’s heard about Adam Herschberger’s scars and his gruff, solitary ways. Though he sounds like a character from one of Belle’s treasured books, the man is real and, it turns out, just as unreasonable as the rumors claim. When a buggy accident wipes out the last of her daed’s money, forcing him to sell their farm, Adam buys it. Then he offers Belle a deal—marry him, and her family can keep their home.

Everyone is shocked by Belle’s decision, but she’s determined to be a good fraa, cleaning Adam’s rundown house and tending the overgrown garden. Breaking through her new husband’s icy reserve will be another matter. Belle’s courage and strength are abundant, but it will take true faith to guide Adam back to the heart of his Amish community—and to the loving marriage they both deserve.

My Review: This is the first book I have read from Ms. Price (even though I have all her Amish Classics series on my kindle) and the first Amish romance I've ever read. It's a retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in the Amish community and I have to say that I liked it. Our hero is very brooding after a tragic accident where his mother died and he got severely burned. Our heroine is very bookish and way too nice for her own good.  I really did enjoy this book and now I want to go start her Amish Classics series. I very much recommend picking this book up when it's released at the end of October.

Rating: ★★★★☆

*I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

BLOG TOUR: These Dreams by Nicole Clarkston ~ Review + Vignette

I am pleased to have Nicole back on the blog today with a review and vignette from her newest book, These Dreams. I know I was supposed to have an excerpt for today but me and Nicole went back and forth and decided upon a vignette in Darcy's POV. We hope you enjoy it.

Book Blurb: An abandoned bride
A missing man
And a dream that refuses to die...


Pride and patriotism lend fervor to greed and cruelty, and Fitzwilliam Darcyis caught at the centre of a decades-old international feud. Taken far from England, presumed dead by his family, and lost to all he holds dear, only one name remains as his beacon in the darkness: Elizabeth.

Georgiana Darcy is now the reluctant, heartbroken heiress to Pemberley, and Colonel Fitwilliam her bewildered guardian. Vulnerable and unprepared, Georgiana desperately longs for a friend, while Fitzwilliam seeks to protect her from his own family. As the conspiracy around Darcy's death widens and questions mount, Colonel Fitzwilliam must confront his own past.
An impossible dream, long ago sacrificed for duty, may become his only hope.

Newly married Lydia Wickham returns to Longbourn- alone and under mysterious circumstances. Elizabeth Bennet watches one sister suffer and another find joy, while she lives her own days in empty regrets over what might have been. Believing Darcy lost forever, she closes her heart against both pain and happiness but finds no escape from her dreams of him.

Vignette
This dream sequence of Darcy’s does not appear in the book. It takes place in the early days after his kidnapping, while he is still on the ship. As a matter of secrecy, he was placed in a lower hold aboard a vessel with various ports of call before he reached his final destination. By this point in the story, he has been wandering at sea for over three weeks; with no idea where he is bound, and without any human contact, save what comes to him in dreams.

***

She leaned low over the piano keys, one chocolate twirl dangling enticingly low just at the nape of her neck. The filmy, cream lace of her fichu nestled into the curves and dips of her figure, revealing nearly as much as it concealed as she bent in concentration—unsuspecting, perhaps, that her reverie at the instrument might be observed.

While her right hand silently tested out the opening lines from one of Mrs Hurst’s sheets of music, her fingers brushing with a feather soft touch over the ivories, the other was caught near her heart, pulsing in rhythm to the notes she read. It was that hand, pressing against her lace and clenching out in the tell-tale ¾ meter of the scandalous waltz, which led him to understand her wide eyes and insensible fascination with the scurrilous melodies.

He had not intended to happen upon her so unceremoniously. Ought not she to be watching over Miss Bennet upstairs, or taking that constitutional she so devoutly appointed for herself each afternoon? By what maddening coincidence should she be here at this time of day, in the very room of the house he had sought out for some peace? For of peace he had had none, since three days previous, when she had tracked muddy boot prints into Bingley’s breakfast parlour in search of her sister.

He was staring at her now, helplessly transfixed by the enigma that was this… this puzzling… no, that was not right. Aggravating. That was nearly accurate, and yet he scarcely felt put out to be in her company, as he should have done. No, she was intriguing— bewitching— and he was in grave danger.

She pinched her lips together, biting them by turns as she guiltily toyed with a few more lines in her mind, then she seemed to recollect herself. Before Darcy could flee, or even affect innocence, she looked up to discover him openly staring at her. She started. “Mr Darcy!”

The blood was pounding in his ears, and he felt his palms sweat. He should bow his excuses and leave the room… but that was what his old self would have done. The old Darcy, confident in all the shallow pretentions of his station, of his family name, of his estate, would thrash and flounder in vain for many months yet; trying to keep his head above water while slowly drowning in an ocean of desire and longing. That man—the one who had so cruelly scorned and insulted her on so many occasions—was dead, and only a shattered soul remained in his place.

Darcy released a slow breath. He would do things properly this time, and never more live with the insatiable regrets of his own vanity. “Miss Bennet,” he bowed warmly, “pray, do not allow me to disturb you. Did you intend to play?”

She cast her eyes doubtfully back to the sheet music. “I am afraid, sir, that you would justly mock my tastes if I were to indulge that particular curiosity.”

He raised his brows innocently. “Unless I am mistaken, Miss Bennet, any sheet music in the house was merely here upon your arrival. You can hardly be blamed for the quality of the present selection. I have often found that the tastes and artistic impressions created by the performer can easily overshadow any insufficiencies in the music.”

A wrinkle appeared at the corner of her mouth— the very crease he had dreamt of kissing all the previous night. “I believe you must be in the habit of listening to more talented performers than I, sir. I fear you would be treated to a most frightful rendition.”

“Miss Bennet, I know you find great delight in professing opinions which are not your own; therefore, I do not choose to believe you when you denigrate your own talents so harshly. I have heard you play before, and with much pleasure.”

Those dark eyes sparkled in challenge. “You would call me a liar, sir?”

“I believe you possess the knack of inspiring debate, through carefully chosen positions which may or may not reflect your true sentiments.”

“And what of you, Mr Darcy?” She trailed a finger over one piano key, admiring the instrument in the afternoon light, before turning her attention fully back to him. The pause in her scrutiny permitted him a small, unguarded instant in which to drink in her graceful figure, but he remembered himself in time to prevent his mouth from dropping open.

“Do you enjoy debate?” she continued, beginning to close the distance between them much as a cat stalks her quarry. “I have scarcely heard you speak unless provoked to do so by another’s bidding, so I cannot think it a pleasurable exercise for you.”

“On the contrary, Miss Elizabeth, I find it exceedingly diverting, particularly when challenged by an able mind such as yours. Indeed, I derive the very greatest pleasure from conversing with you.” Was it his imagination, or was she smiling—truly smiling!—and at him? There was a softness about her eyes this time, a curious hesitation in the rapier cadence of her accustomed responses. No! He was not mistaken, for she tilted her head now and seemed to look at him with new eyes.

“I was under the impression, Mr Darcy, that you found little in me to approve of.”

“If that is the case, Miss Elizabeth, then I have been gravely in the wrong in my demeanour and my countenance. I hope you will be generous enough to permit me to amend your previous impressions.” His heart seemed to choke his breath now, fluttering as it was in entirely the wrong part of his chest. Could he dare evoke all the feeling he had bottled up for so long, and lay it before her in faith that she would not deem him afflicted by sudden madness? Worse, would she suspect him of mocking her?

Her eyes flashed with uncertainty, and he felt a pang in his soul. She ought never again to doubt his sincerity! This was his dream, after all, and it was his opportunity to set things right, and to seek some manner of peace in his mind.

He extended a hand, and the words of that ill-fated proposal scratched through the conscious layer of his mind like shards of broken glass. You must allow me…. If he spoke them now, would she believe him? How Ardently…. Was there a more fitting word in the whole of the English language to describe his feelings for her? But his passions, his devotion, were far more than romantic. Love, of itself, would not suffice to describe how she answered every lack, how she defined for him all that a man might aspire to when searching his life’s mate. Admire and love you….

He ought to have stopped there the first time, and she should never have had a moment’s cause to look to him in disbelief and horror after his proclamation. He had no excuses he could claim, no righteousness on which he might stand, to defend his deplorable behaviour. He could only seek to improve, to render unto her the address she deserved, even if….

Darcy’s eyes fluttered as the ship pitched him sharply to the left. Allow me to tell you….

But it was no use. Elizabeth’s face was already fading into the veil; her scent was now a thing of memory, and that hesitant warmth in her eyes no more than a futile gasp of his dying heart. He clenched his eyes one last moment, begging—pleading with her to answer when he cried out her name, but she did not hear.

He rolled over, his empty stomach twisting as the ship rose and dipped on the swells. His crusted eyes detected a sliver of light through what passed for a window, which meant that it was morning again. The twenty-third such morning.

A block of hard tack had been shoved under the door at some point for his breakfast. Though his body was beginning to waste and his head spun wildly every time he sat upright, there was nothing he wanted less than that brick of stale biscuit.

He turned his face to the plank on which he rested, blocking out the light with his hand. With any luck, it would only be a matter of time before sleep claimed him once more, and he could see her again.

Elizabeth.

My Review: Oh man. The angst in this story. I could not put this book down as it was that riveting. I felt for our dear couple as they had to face trials far away from each other and then once again when they were finally reunited. Ms. Clarkston proves yet again why she is a superb storyteller and one of the queens of JAFF. I will definitely read this book again in the future.

Rating: 4 ½ stars out of 5

Author Bio: Nicole Clarkston is a book lover and a happily married mom of three. Originally from Idaho, she now lives in Oregon with her own romantic hero, several horses, and one very fat dog. She has loved crafting alternate stories and sequels since she was a child watching Disney’s Robin Hood, and she is never found sitting quietly without a book of some sort.

Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties―how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project, she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Her need for more time with these characters led her to simultaneously write Rumours & Recklessness, a P&P inspired novel, and No Such Thing as Luck, a N&S inspired novel. Both immediately became best selling books. The success she had with her first attempt at writing led her to write three other novels that are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.

Nicole was recently invited to join Austenvariations.com, a group of talented authors in the Jane Austen Fiction genre. In addition to her work with the Austen Variations blog, Nicole can be reached through Facebook at http://fb.me/NicoleClarkstonAuthor, Twitter @N_Clarkston, her blog at Goodreads.com, or her personal blog and website, NicoleClarkson.com.


Contact Info: 

Buy Links:

Buy Links for Nicole’s other books:

CreateSpace:

Amazon:

Blog Tour Schedule:
09/19 So little time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
09/20 My Jane Austen Book Club; Vignette, GA
09/21 From Pemberley to Milton; Review, GA
09/22 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway
09/23 Just Jane 1813; Review, GA
09/24 My Vices and Weaknesses; Excerpt, GA
09/25 Babblings of a Bookworm; Guest Post or Vignette, GA
09/26 Diary of an Eccentric; Review, Giveaway
09/27 Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt
09/28 Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, GA
09/29 My Love for Jane Austen; Character Interview, GA
09/30 Margie’s Must Reads; Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
10/01 Savvy Verse and Wit; Review, GA
10/02 Austenesque Reviews; Character Interview, GA
10/03 Obsessed with Mr. Darcy; Review, GA
10/04 From Pemberley to Milton; Guest Post, GA

Monday, September 18, 2017

REVIEW: Alexander Hamilton by Jonathan Hennessey

Book Blurb: Alexander Hamilton was one of the most influential figures in United States history--he fought in the Revolutionary War, helped develop the Constitution, and as the first Secretary of the Treasury established landmark economic policy that we still use today. Cut down by a bullet from political rival Aaron Burr, Hamilton has since been immortalized alongside other Founding Fathers such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson--his likeness even appears on the ten-dollar bill. In this fully-illustrated and impeccably researched graphic novel-style history, author Jonathan Hennessey and comic book illustrator Justin Greenwood bring Alexander Hamilton's world to life, telling the story of this improbable hero who helped shape the United States of America.

My Review: I haven't really read or done any research for any of the founding fathers but the cover of the book intrigued me. The artwork is beautiful and I enjoyed reading about Alexander Hamilton's life. I wouldn't mind reading about more of the founding fathers in the future.

Rating: ★★★★☆

* I received a copy of this book from Blogging For Books. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, September 04, 2017

BLOG TOUR: Fair Stands the Wind by Catherine Lodge ~ Review + Vignette

I am overjoyed today to have on my blog an up and coming JAFF author.

Book Blurb: We all know that in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mr Darcy is proud and prejudiced because he is a wealthy landowner who believes himself above his company; and that Elizabeth Bennet can afford to be proud and prejudiced because she believes she has the freedom to make choices for herself.

But what if Mr Darcy is the second son, sent to sea at a young age? What if Elizabeth is trapped by circumstances, with an ill father on one side and an understandably desperate mother on the other?

Meet Captain Darcy of the Royal Navy, a successful frigate captain, with ample prize-money and a sister he needs to provide for while he is at sea. Meet Elizabeth Bennet, who needs a husband and is trying to resign herself to Mr Collins, the worst “least worst alternative” in the history of literature.

Vignette
Then Mary plays for Mr Haskins. She knows almost immediately she is doing something wrong, she can tell by his face as she steals glances at him over the top of her music. She winces as he bangs his hand on top of the case.

"No, no, no, Miss Bennet, who taught you to play? Which musical charlatan told you to hold your hands like that?"

"My grandmother, sir," she says timidly. Her friend has told her that Mr Haskins is irascible but fair. Mary is not sure if she believes her.

"Drop your shoulders, Miss Bennet and place your hands on the keys as though you were going to play." He sighs and lifts her wrists. "Like that and then curve your fingers as though you were holding a ball."

She tries. It feels awkward and unnatural, especially when he seizes a cushion from a nearby chair and makes her sit on it.

"There, you see the way your hands and shoulders are? Make a note of it, write it down, practise today when I am gone so that you can remember it." He looks over at the other lady in the room. "You will please remind Miss Bennet." He turns back. "Miss Bennet, you should copy this young lady, she has been properly taught." Mary murmurs something he cannot hear. "How long do you practice every day?"

"Two hours, sir. It would be more but my mother says it makes her head ache."

Mr Haskins is touched. He knows he is not a good-tempered man, disappointed hopes and the early death of his dear Margaret has soured his disposition, but he is not heartless. He draws up a chair. "My dear young lady, you must have been in agony. Why did you not tell someone?"

Mary looks at her hands and remembers all the painful mornings in the back parlour, usually in the cold because her mother begrudges the coal. "I thought it was like that for everybody," she whispers.

He sighs and rubs a hand over his face. "Miss Bennet," he says eventually. "Why do you wish to play?"

"It is every young lady's duty to be accomplished," she replies, blinking at him from behind her spectacles.

"And is that the only reason?"

Mary says nothing.

"Miss Bennet?" he prompts.

She cannot speak.

"Mary, dear?" says her friend in the corner, getting to her feet.

She swallows hard and then bursts out. "I wanted something that was mine! Jane is beautiful, everyone says so and Lizzy is witty and charming and .... and all the young men crowd round Lydia and Kitty and say they are lively and friendly. And I cannot do any of that and I am not at all beautiful and father says I am a fool. So I wanted music to be mine and now you say that I cannot do that either." She chews her lips furiously, desperate not to cry.

He pats her hand and waits until she has herself under good government. "Now when did I say you could not play? Eh? Now, there are two kinds of musician, young lady, and I do not mean those who have talent and those who have none. No, the two kinds are those who work at it, and those who do not. We already know that you are the kind how knows how to work. So long as you are doing the right kind of work, I know that you can make music that even your mama will enjoy."

Mary giggles damply and dabs at her eyes.

"And no more practising for two hours. One hour, no more, especially until you get used to holding your hands correctly, and if it starts to hurt - stop."

"Yes, sir."

"And don't forget your cushion. If your arms are not at the angle I showed you, ask for a cushion."

"But won't people think it strange?"

"Not if they know anything about music: and if they know nothing about music, then why should you care about their opinion?" He claps his hands together and makes a mental note to find some more suitable music for her. That ponderous liturgical stuff is doing her no favours at all. "Now let me hear you sing."

She stands up, clasps her hands before her and begins. She does not get far.

"Miss Bennet," he said. "Who told you you were a soprano?"


My Review: So I went into this story very apprehensive as I had never read this author before and didn't know what her writing style was like. This story didn't really seem to have a lot of conflicts which to me made it a long read even though the story is quite short. Anything that happened seemed to be fixed very quickly and made the story very fast paced. Also at one point, Lizzy bowed to Caroline. Um... she should have curtsied not bowed. This book is worth a read but I'm not sure if I'll re-read it.

Rating: 3 ½ stars out of 5

~ I received an advanced eARC from the publisher. All opinions are my own ~


About the Author: Catherine Lodge is a semi-retired lawyer and lecturer, living in Yorkshire–a part of the UK even more beautiful than Derbyshire. One of five daughters, although by birth order regrettably the Jane, she found 19th Century literature early in her teens and never looked back–even if that meant her school essays kept coming back with “archaic!” written in the margin next to some of her favourite words. She still thinks that “bruited” is a much nicer word than “rumoured.”

After years of drafting leases and pleadings, she finally started to write for fun in her forties and has never stopped since. Much of this will never see the light of day, having been fed to the digital equivalent of a roaring bonfire, but “Fair Stands the Wind” is the first book she thinks worthy of public attention. She spends her day fixing computer problems for friends and family, singing in her local choir, and avoiding the ironing

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Blog Tour Schedule:

08/30 Babblings of a Bookworm; Guest Post or Vignette, GA
08/31 My Vices and Weaknesses; Character Interview, GA
09/01 Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, Excerpt, GA
09/02 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway
09/03 Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, GA
09/04 Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Vignette
09/05 Of Pens and Pages; Review, Excerpt, GA
09/06 Diary of an Eccentric; Guest Post, Vignette, Giveaway
09/07 From Pemberley to Milton; Guest Post or Vignette, Excerpt, GA
09/08 So little time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
09/09 My Love for Jane Austen; Vignette, GA
09/10 Margie’s Must Reads; Review, Excerpt, GA
09/11 My Jane Austen Book Club; Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
09/12 Just Jane 1813; Review, GA