Thursday, March 01, 2018

BLOG TOUR: Cake & Courtship by Mark Brownlow ~ Review + Excerpt

I'm excited to have on the blog today a relatively new author Mark Brownlow.

Book Blurb: When John Barton falls in love with the elusive Anne Hayter, there is only one man he can turn to for advice. Unfortunately, that man is Mr. Bennet of Longbourn, a world-weary gentleman with five daughters pursuing their own marital ambitions.

To help John, Mr. Bennet must emerge from his beloved library and face the challenges of the tearoom and dance floor one more time. In doing so, he finds his own romantic past catching up with him.

In this Pride and Prejudice variation, Mark Brownlow takes you on an Austenesque journey full of wry humour and Regency romance (with a few slices of sponge cake).

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Thanks, Tina, for hosting a stop on the blog tour. In this little excerpt, Mr Bennet is refusing to visit Netherfield, though his family is still excited at the prospect of two bachelors in the area: Mr Bingley and John Barton.

My wife spent the rest of the day feigning indifference to my disregard for neighbourly duties. She busied herself the way people do when angry with another in the household, tackling the embroidery with such fury I thought the outcome might rival Bayeux by the time the light faded. But she could not stay upset for long, not with the prospect of a Bingley nearby and a possible bachelor soon to stay, however briefly. She sent the girls on missions with all the skill of a seasoned spymaster, seeking news from servants, tradesmen, neighbours, and friends, not to mention Mrs Phillips, the spider at the centre of the town’s web of intrigue. Whenever a new fly landed near Meryton, the vibrations soon reached her parlour and out she scuttled, armed with invitations, coffee, and cake.

I marvelled at the ladies’ capacity for gathering intelligence where an eligible bachelor was concerned. “Consider, husband,” said Mrs Bennet, her hands shaking in what I presumed was excitement. “Mr Bingley possesses a chaise and four.”

“I cannot see how that is of great importance,” said Mary.

“My dear child, it is of overwhelming importance,” I said. “For a man’s worth is defined as much by the number of horses attached to his carriage as the number of titles attached to his name.”

“But what of his character?”

“Goodness, Mary, you have much to learn.” I removed my spectacles and waved them to emphasise my point. “Kind or cruel is of little consequence, provided a man can present a good figure in a book of accounts and on the assembly floor.”

“You cannot believe that, Papa?” said Jane.

“I should have practised dancing more as a young man, instead of foolishly improving myself with education. Latin cannot compete with a Cotillion or an expensive carriage. Sic vita hominum est. Ask your mother.” All heads turned to Mrs Bennet.

My wife looked up. “A chaise and four. Imagine…”

~ ~ ~

The reluctance to visit Mr Bingley did not sit well with Mrs Bennet. As the days darkened, so did her disposition.

She began making grim prophecies concerning my lack of enthusiasm. It seemed only a matter of time before Beelzebub himself would descend on Longbourn to punish me for my sedition. I hoped for his sake he was already married.

John’s imminent visit meant Mr Bingley would have to wait. The idea of male company in the evening was certainly a grand one. The girls, too, let the prospect of John’s arrival distract them from the ongoing mystery of Netherfield. Whenever I emerged from my study, they would be rushing past, fretting about colours and curls. All except Lizzy.

“Do you not have some great decisions to make concerning the correct choice of bonnet for our esteemed guest?” I asked as she lounged like a satisfied cat on a sofa, book in hand.

She shook her head. “I believe friendship and affection—even love—come from matching characters, not matching ribbons.”

“Well said, my dear. There is hope for this family yet. Before his correspondence ceased, Henry always spoke well of his son. We shall judge John for ourselves, though. I place little store in a father’s opinion; he can hardly be objective. And while many men are excellent judges of good wine, few can recognise good character. There is too little of it around for them to practice on.”

“Will he come directly to Longbourn?”

“No, I shall meet his coach in Meryton. I have not seen him since he was a young boy and doubt ruffling his hair and offering a dried apple from the stores will now be an appropriate greeting. We shall eat in town and find the privacy your sisters will deny us here at home.”

“You should not keep Kitty and Lydia from the pleasure of his company for too long, Papa. They will be most grieved otherwise.”

“We will see. If against expectations he turns out to be an unpleasant sort of fellow, I shall introduce him to them as soon as possible.”

My Review: So this book... Mr Bennet is so snarky in this book and I loved it. There is one part that just sticks with me and it's when Mr Bennet drinks a glass of alcohol called Madmaidens. The drink knocks him out and his vision doesn't clear until the next morning. That must have been some good stuff. I loved this book and I can't wait for the next book in the series.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Author Bio: Mark Brownlow is a British-born writer living in Vienna, Austria. His debut novel, Cake and Courtship, is a Regency romance narrated by Pride and Prejudice’s Mr Bennet. He has also written a novella, The Lovesick Maid: a cozy mystery set in Jane Austen’s fictional village of Hunsford. You can find Mark at LostOpinions.com, where he is known for his reimagining of classic literature as emails. When not writing or teaching, he watches costume drama and football (though not at the same time).

Science degrees from the Universities of Oxford, Aberdeen and Reading prefaced a short-lived career as a research academic. Since turning from facts to fiction, Mark has also worked as a translator, agony aunt, marketing consultant, journalist, business writer, web publisher and copywriter. None of which kept his soul happy in the way that creative writing does. When not writing, he works as a part-time lecturer in medical and scientific English at a local university.

If there is no pen to hand, he can be found watching his kids play football or sharing a glass of wine with his wife in front of a costume or historical drama.

Mark’s website
Mark’s author page at Goodreads
Mark’s author page at Amazon.co.uk
Mark’s author page at Amazon.com
Mark on Twitter
Mark on Facebook

Blog Tour Schedule
Feb 28 Diary of an Eccentric – guest post, excerpt, giveaway
Mar 1 Half Agony, Half Hope – review, excerpt
Mar 2 Austenesque Reviews – interview with Mr Bennet, giveaway
Mar 3 Babblings of a Bookworm – guest post, excerpt, giveaway
Mar 4 Laughing with Lizzie – guest post, giveaway
Mar 5 From Pemberley to Milton – guest post, excerpt, giveaway
Mar 6 My Vices and Weaknesses – author interview, giveaway
Mar 7 More Agreeably Engaged – guest post, excerpt, giveaway
Mar 8 So little time…so much to read – Mr Bennet’s diary, giveaway
Mar 9 Just Jane 1813 – guest post, excerpt, giveaway

8 comments:

  1. Thank you Tina for the kind review and having me come by and visit!

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  2. I love a snarky Mr. Bennet. Thanks for the excerpt and review.

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    1. Thanks for popping by and for following the tour!

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  3. Thanks for the review and excerpt.

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  4. Bennet should stop confusing Mary

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  5. Oh I adore Mr. Brownlow's turn of phrase! Two of my favourites from this passage are: "Mrs Phillips, the spider at the centre of the town’s web of intrigue" when describing his sister-in-law and "I hoped for his sake he was already married" when thinking about his wife and Beelzebub! Thanks so much for sharing it with us.


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  6. I must say I can't wait to read this - I love how Mr Bennet is always "grieving" Mrs Bennet on purpose so that he can whine about her whining!

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