Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Tale of a Novel and Other Tidbits

As the end of 2011 approaches, I want to give a year end wrap up and provide a look into the future. What have I been up to in 2011? Read on.

The tale of Colonel Fitzwilliam

Colonel Fitzwilliam’s story is developing nicely. Rewrites are going full steam ahead and are a constant companion in my life. There are some big changes going on in the manuscript and there were some technical difficulties which have made it necessary to push back my release date to June 2012.

I realize many of you will be disappointed by a later publishing date, but know that it so Colonel Fitzwilliam will be worth spending your hard earned money on. I want you to be excited to have his story in your library. I hope you will all be just as eager to get your hands on Colonel Fitzwilliam in June as you are now.

Cover Art

In conjunction to writing Colonel Fitzwilliam’s story, it is necessary to select cover art. I am pleased to say on that front I have been successful. I have settled on some great portraits which I hope will result in a stunning cover which will make you even more excited to get Colonel Fitzwilliam in your hands.  

Feline Envy

If you don’t already know, I have two cats named Sonya and Sophia. Sonya and Sophia are both rescue animals that like to think they’re people. I have not yet determined which cat it is, but they like to knock over the water dish. I spend a lot of time mopping the floor.

Sophia likes burrow under the bed covers in the winter and sleep all day in their warmth. She also likes to chew on the plastic shower curtain liner.

Sonya likes to look out the window and at five in the morning will paw at the shades to ensure I will wake up and open them for her. She also likes to nip at my nose when she is in a particularly loving mood.

These cats have personalities all their own. It’s like having kids, but at the end of the day they want love just like the rest of us.


New Destinations

I want to move to Denver, Colorado. It is a waiting game, while I patiently await an opening in one of our field offices. Maybe in 2012 I will be writing you form there and posting some fabulous pictures.  I’ll keep you updated on that front.

Finally, I want to thank you all for a fabulous year. I look forward to another great year and to giving you a new novel to explore.

What do you look forward to most in the New Year?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pride and Prejudice: The Jewess and the Gentile by Lev Raphael: A Review

Pride and Prejudice: The Jewess and the Gentile

By: Jane Austen and Lev Raphael


Format: E-book only

Source: Supplied by the Author

Pride and Prejudice with a spice of Jewish flare. We know the story so famously written by Jane Austen that I won’t go into the particulars again. Lev Raphael offers us a nice dose of Austen, which remains virtually unchanged. Purists will delight in this offering, but those looking for something more may be disappointed.

I enjoyed this novel. What I did know to be Mr. Raphael’s contributions where witty, funny and well composed. Mrs. Bennet as a yenta was actually quite appropriate and I laughed quite a few times at her carefully placed Yiddish sayings. The conflict of Elizabeth being a Jewess and Darcy being a gentile was staged delicately, providing just enough tension to make their romance rocky.

I was disappointed in this Jane Austen retelling. I had high expectations for what I presumed to be a fresh take on the Austenesque novel. I was disappointed because I saw so much potential. For anyone familiar with Jewish history there is the basic knowledge that they have not had it easy. While I would not look for Mr. Raphael to make any political statements, my point is there is so much more Mr. Raphael could have done with the Jewess and Gentile aspect of the novel.

Mr. Raphael could have really placed his mark, but he fell short by playing it safe. When I read an Austenesque novel I want to know the author has placed their mark on it. I know who Jane Austen is, but who are you and what makes your Austen novel so different? There was too much Austen and not enough Lev Raphael. As I mentioned earlier Raphael could have really played with the Jewess and Gentile aspect, but didn’t.

Despite my gripes, I would recommend this novel if you are looking for a light Austen diversion.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful....A GIVEAWAY of Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll

Winter is here and it has gotten more than a little cold outside. If you like to curl up with your hot drink of choice (or a glass of wine), a book and a blanket then I have a giveaway for you.

The book that helped the world of Austenesque fiction take-off, Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice continues by Linda Berdoll, is being giveaway for ONE lucky winner.

How do you enter this giveaway?

Leave a comment and tell me what your favorite Austenesque novel is. Or what character(s) do you love reading about in Austenesque novels?

Tweet about it.

Giveaway closes December 23, 2011.

Good Luck!!!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Modern Day Persuasion by Kaitlin Saunders: A Review

A Modern Day Persuasion

By: Kaitlin Saunders

ISBN-10: 1439261172

Source: Author supplied copy

Persuasion is one of those novels that are timeless. A tale of second chances for the love of a lifetime, which has the power to completely disarm you and something you never recover from. Persuasion is one of Jane Austen’s most emotional novels for this very reason.

It was with great delight that I read Kaitlin Saunders modern take on Persuasion. A Modern Day Persuasion packs an emotional wallop and there were moments where I found myself tearing up, having a lot to do with Miss Saunders impeccable writing.

Anne is a greeting card designer, which given her emotional and compassionate heart is a great career. I always knew that her family walked all over her, but in the modern adaptation it was much more apparent. I found myself gritting my teeth about how uncompassionate her sisters, and even her father, were. Anne has always been the adult of the family and the weariness, coupled with her heartbreak, shows how vulnerable she really is.

Mary, Elizabeth and Mr. Elliot all have the characteristics of their original counterparts, but they are more developed. Mr. Elliot comes across as a bit softer, yet he still is careless in his concern or Anne. Mary and Elizabeth are only concerned with themselves and they were well-developed ‘villainous’ characters. You just want to wonk them over the head with a nice, fat, leather bound book.

Now, dashing Wentworth still get’s to don a naval uniform, but he makes his money as an author. His actions when he and Anne meet again after so long are not so nice. He’s a prat who redeems himself in the end, of course. He does soften toward Anne as time proceeds and then there is that letter. Oh, that letter!

I really liked this modern interpretation of Persuasion, especially since this is only my second time reading a modern Austenesque novel. It kept all the themes and main plot points of the original so that you knew you were reading Persuasion, but there were some surprises in the pages. I really felt Anne’s pain when Wentworth reentered her life and I also felt how suffocating it must have been to have a family like hers. Captivating, engaging and delightful are all that my final words can convey.

A Modern Day Persuasion is a must if you enjoy Austen inspired novels. Miss Saunders has done a fantastic job and I look forward to her next publication.

Final recommendation: A modern Persuasion worth reading.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Why Jane Austen?, by Rachel M Brownstein: A Review

Guest Review by Laura Handlin (@opheliacat on Twitter)

Explaining Jane
Why Jane Austen? is not only the title of Rachel M. Brownstein’s book—it is a provocatively posed question, open, like so much about Austen and her work, to multiple interpretations. Brownstein’s purpose is, in part, to try “to account for the continuing popularity of the novelist and her novels . . . ” The title is also a nod to scholar and critic Lionel Trilling’s final, unfinished essay, “Why We Read Jane Austen.” Through references to Trilling as well as to numerous other critics, Brownstein shepherds the reader through the changing trends in Austen criticism from the nineteenth century to the present. These critical writings draw upon an area of scholarly endeavor of which even Austen’s most dedicated readers, unless they are scholars themselves, may not be aware.

The prevailing views of Austen have changed over time: early twentieth-century writers viewed her as socially conservative writer who was approved of the conventional society depicted in her novels. The feminist revolution of the 1970s brought about a change in the way critics viewed women writers; their works were examined, for the first time, as products of the female experience—a development that led, one could argue, to a resurgence of interest in Austen. Scholars also began to examine her writings in the context of history, including ever-present background of the Napoleonic Wars. The 1990s—and the films and mini-series of Austen’s books that became so popular in that decade—played up the subversive, satiric side of the novels, the “inside joke” that she shares with her readers (an aspect of her writing that Brownstein illustrates at length). This historical tour of works about Austen makes her seem like a kind of Regency Rorschach, a mirror each age holds up to itself in order to illustrate the values and issues it deems important.

Although the book is divided into chapters with specific subject matter, it seems to blend into a whole, becoming more of a meditation on Austen and an eclectic, although at times unsorted, treasure trove of information about the author, her life, times, and work. Brownstein is a professor of English Literature at Brooklyn College, and some of the book’s most interesting and illuminating offerings are her accounts of how she teaches Austen to her classes—introducing students at a large, public, urban school to the world of early nineteenth-century rural English gentry. The students’ questions and her responses make fascinating reading, and are windows into an accomplished and knowledgeable teacher’s classroom techniques.

Why Jane Austen? contains lots of treats for the Austen devotee, in particular an in-depth analysis of Emma as well as a discussion of English tourism, the cult of scenery, and visits to great houses (Pemberley, anyone?) This includes a mention of what is known as the Frog service of tableware—painted with views of England—that the firm of Wedgwood and Bentley made for Catherine the Great of Russia in 1773–74, a highly publicized commission that jump-started, if you’ll pardon the pun, the English craze for scenery—at a time when travel to the Continent was limited by world events and domestic travel in England became very fashionable.

There is also, of course, Jane Austen the woman—who remains an elusive figure despite all the attempts that have been made to learn more about her from her novels and any other evidence researchers can find. The reticence that Austen displayed in life, Brownstein argues, was a “conscious aesthetic choice,” a rejection of what Coleridge called the “age of personality”—and he had never even seen a reality TV show.

In the introduction, the author describes her work as “biographical criticism,” telling readers that she provides “no bright new take on Jane Austen.” She offers, instead, an enticing assortment of thoughtful analysis, historical context, literary criticism, and personal anecdotes. We continue to read Austen and to reread her because, as Brownstein says, we see ourselves in the novels—and maybe because we think Jane Austen can see us.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Jane Austen for President! That was the subject of an email I received in my inbox and naturally I was intrigued. After finding out more about Gone Reading and Founder and CEO Brad Wirz, I am pleased to inform you, my dear readers, about this amazing philanthropic organization.

I consider Janeites to be some of the most literary individuals on the planet and we cannot imagine a world without books. Well, neither can Gone Reading, which was founded on the simple idea of bringing “the magic effect of reading to places where it doesn’t exist.” It is Gone Reading’s belief that when people have access to reading materials that their life can change for the better. Wouldn’t our dear Jane approve? After all it was her witty pen which declared that “after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”

Gone Reading has pledged to donate 100% of their company profits to fund new reading libraries and other literacy projects in the developing world. Fantastic! By purchasing gifts for you or your bibliophile friends you can help bring the joy of reading to others.

This brings me to the novel idea of Jane Austen for President. As election season approaches for the 2012 season we can campaign for our favorite literary leader who understands human nature with wit, prose and a keen intellect and help a great cause.

Pick up your Jane Austen for President coffee mugs for the office and a water bottle for when you walk your dog.

Don’t forget to pick up a Jane Austen for President 2012 t-shirt so your pooch can be the envy of all the other dogs at the bark park.

You should probably pick up a book bag too as it’s sure to spread the word about our dear Jane.

There are plenty of Jane Austen gifts in the Gone Reading online store as well as other great products for you. Remember 100% of the profits go to fund new reading libraries and other literary projects.

I also hope you will join me in the Jane Austen for President 2012 campaign. Oh, did I mention Mr. Wirz reads Austen too?

Visit The Gone Reading Online Store.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Jane Austen Made Me Do It Edited by Laurel Ann Nattress: A Review


Edited by Laurel Ann Nattress

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Paperback: 464 pages. Also avaliable as an e-book.

ISBN: 979-0-345-52496-6

Source: Supplied by the editor

Laurel Ann Nattress (of should be proud of her achievement as represented in the Jane Austen Made Me Do It (JAMMDI) anthology. The short stories complied here are a reminder to us of the enduring heart of Austen which acts as old friends to us. We all come to Austen for various reasons, but just like a cold winter’s night curled up on the couch under a blanket, with a cup of hot cider, we find a familiar comfort that only Austen can give.

I am going to do this book review a little differently as this is an anthology and not a full length novel. I am going to talk about a few of my favorite stories and some of my not so favorite stories.


Jane Austen’s Nightmare by Syrie James: A clever story which asks the question, what would happen if Jane Austen met her literary creations? Not all her creations are happy with their portrayals either. Syrie draws on factual accounts of how Austen’s works were received when they first published which adds a sense of realism to the story, in addition to being cleverly funny. This story just proves why Syrie James is one of my favorite authors.

When Only a Darcy Will Do by Beth Pattillo: The plot: an American girl studying in London, England who is trying to make ends-meat by giving Jane Austen tours and finding the Mr. Darcy she didn’t realize was there. This is an enchanting tale with an unexpected ending.

What Would Austen Do? by Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway: Having a male lead, not a female lead, was a fresh change which I can support. This story was laugh-out-loud funny and well written. A high school boy is accused of doing something improper (like drugs) by school administrators because he has good manners and dresses differently from all the other kids. GASP! This was a charming tale and was cleverly done.

The Love Letter by Brenna Aubrey: The winner of the JAMMDI contest and a well deserved winner at that. She writes a modern twist on Persuasion, which is wonderfully executed and exhibites the same tense emotion of the original work which inspired it. I just have one question: Did our hero pass his medical boards or not?


The Chase by Carrie Bebris: This story stood out because it is not inspired by an Austen work and is not about Austen herself. This story is about her brother Francis William Austen and it focuses on a particular battle in his Navel career which helped elevate him to post-captain. I really enjoyed this story as it was off the beaten path. It was almost out of place in the anthology, but not quite. This is a gem hidden within.


A Night at Northanger by Lauren Willig

Jane and the Gentleman Rogue: Being a fragment of a Jane Austen mystery by Stephanie Barron

Jane Austen, Yeah,Yeah,Yeah!  By Janet Mullany

Jane Austen and the Mistletoe Kiss by Jo Beverley


Note: The opinions expressed below are merely that, opinions, and are in no way a reflection on the talent of the author’s themselves. For we know these authors are talented and that we cannot dispute.

Faux Jane by F.J. Meier: The ability of the author (a husband and wife team) is not in dispute, but I did not like this story at all. I couldn’t warm to the characters, the dialogue was difficult to follow and I felt this story was poorly executed.

Love and Best Wishes, Aunt Jane by Adriana Trigiani: This wasn’t a bad story, but a minor quibble of mine keeps me from embracing it wholeheartedly. This is a letter from Jane Austen to her soon to be married niece Anna. A Regency piece that had me up until the mention of tweets, emails and text messaging which caused me to discredit the story. Like I said it is a minor quibble, but a quibble none the less.

Me and Mr. Darcy, Again by Alexandra Potter: I really wanted to like this story, but I just couldn’t. Emily, our heroine, has hopped across the pond on an impromptu vacation after a fight with her boyfriend Spike. She can also see Mr. Darcy and this is where my problems arose. I’m not against fictional characters being given a life of their own in a story, but in this story it just didn’t feel right. It felt forced in order to drive the plot. My response to this story was merely tepid.

With a few notable exceptions, I enjoyed every story in this anthology. The stories that appear are a tribute to what Jane Austen has given us and are a stunning example of how she continues to inspire us.

Final Recommendation: For admirers of Austen, you will enjoy this anthology of Austen inspired shorts.

Editor Bio:
A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. Classically trained as a landscape designer at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, she has also worked in marketing for a Grand Opera company and at present she delights in introducing neophytes to the charms of Miss Austen’s prose as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington where it rains a lot. Visit Laurel Ann at her blog Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October with Jane Austen: The New Releases Edition

Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion
By: Janet Mullany

It is 1810, and the Damned are out of favor—banished from polite society. Jane Austen’s old undead friends have become new neighbors, raising hell in her tranquil village just in time to interrupt Jane’s work on what will be her masterpiece. Suddenly Jane’s niece is flirting dangerously with vampires, and a formerly respectable spinster friend has discovered the forbidden joys of intimate congress with the Damned (and is borrowing Jane’s precious silk stockings for her assignations). Writing is simply impossible now, with murderous creatures prowling the village’s once-peaceful lanes. And with the return of her vampire characteristics, a civil war looming between factions of the Damned, and a former lover who intends to spend eternity blaming her for his broken heart, Jane is facing a very busy year indeed.

Mr. Darcy's Bite
By Mary Lydon Simonsen
Mr. Darcy has a secret...

Darcy is acting rather oddly. After months of courting Elizabeth Bennet, no offer of marriage is forthcoming and Elizabeth is first impatient, then increasingly frightened. For there is no denying that the full moon seems to be affecting his behavior, and Elizabeth's love is going to be tested in ways she never dreamed...

Darcy has more than family pride to protect: others of his kind are being hunted all over England and a member of Darcy's pack is facing a crisis in Scotland. It will take all of Elizabeth's faith, courage, and ingenuity to overcome her prejudice and join Darcy in a Regency world she never knew existed.

Caroline Bingley
By Jennifer Becton

When Charles Bingley and Mr. Darcy made proposals of marriage to the Bennet sisters at the end of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Caroline Bingley was both distressed by her brother's choice of bride and humiliated by Mr. Darcy's rejection of her. And she made her objections known.

Now banished from her brother's household, Caroline must return to her mother's home in the north of England until she can make amends with both Bennet sisters. Desperate though Caroline may be to return to polite company, she absolutely refuses to apologize to Miss Elizabeth Bennet, and instead, she seeks an alternative route back into society in the form of Mr. William Charlton, heir to a barony.

Through her connections with Mr. Charlton's sister Lavinia, Caroline begins to infiltrate the household in the hopes of securing the gentleman and his title for herself. However, she must also contend with her vexing emotions regarding Mr. Patrick Rushton, a once-wealthy landowner, and the meddlesome opinions of Mrs. Rosemary Pickersgill, the companion sent by her brother.

When all that Caroline has ever dreamed of attaining--an ancient family name, a title, and a home of her own--is finally within her reach, will she grasp for it even if it means disregarding the workings of her own heart? Or will she cast off the trappings of society and give herself to true love?

Jane Austen Made Me Do It
Edited by Laurel Ann Nattress

Stories by: Lauren Willig • Adriana Trigiani • Jo Beverley • Alexandra Potter • Laurie Viera Rigler • Frank Delaney & Diane Meier • Syrie James • Stephanie Barron • Amanda Grange • Pamela Aidan • Elizabeth Aston • Carrie Bebris • Diana Birchall • Monica Fairview • Janet Mullany • Jane Odiwe • Beth Pattillo • Myretta Robens • Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway • Maya Slater • Margaret C. Sullivan • and Brenna Aubrey, the winner of a story contest hosted by the Republic of Pemberley

“My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” If you just heaved a contented sigh at Mr. Darcy’s heartfelt words, then you, dear reader, are in good company. Here is a delightful collection of never-before-published stories inspired by Jane Austen—her novels, her life, her wit, her world.

Pride and Prejudice: The Jewess and the Gentile
By Jane Austen and Lev Raphael
Get ready for Pride and Prejudice with brisket. Lizzy Bennet's an Anglo-Jew with a Jewish mother, some Jewish attitude, and lots to say about Mr. Darcy, who has some serious attitude problems of his own when it comes to “Hebrews.” When these two proud people meet, is it still love at first...slight? Will prejudice keep them from bridging the gap between Jew and Gentile? Austen's classic novel gains new layers of comedy and drama in this subtle, ingenious mash-up. There are no monsters here. Raphael doesn't do violence do Austen's text, but lovingly and meticulously reinvents the book and helps readers see it and Regency England through a brand new prism.

Mr. Darcy's Undoing
By Abigail Reynolds

A passionate new Pride and Prejudice variation explores the unthinkable-Elizabeth accepts the proposal of a childhood friend before she meets Darcy again. When their paths cross, the devastated Mr. Darcy must decide how far he'll go to win the woman he loves. How can a man who prides himself on his honor ask the woman he loves to do something scandalous? And how can Elizabeth accept a loveless marriage when Mr. Darcy holds the key to her heart? As they confront family opposition and the ill-will of scandal-mongers, will Elizabeth prove to be Mr. Darcy's undoing?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Why Jane Austen? by Rachel M Brownstein: A Book Review

Why Jane Austen?

Author: Rachel M. Brownstein

Hardcover: 320 pages

Publisher: Columbia University Press (June 28, 2011)

ISBN-10: 0231153902

Source: Supplied by the Author's Public Relations Dept.

I have to admit for all my love of Jane Austen I have never picked up a biography, except the ones in the front of her novels, which admittedly are brief. Yet, that doesn’t mean I don’t like the art of opposing viewpoints. It’s the one thing I miss about Graduate School----the critical analysis. When the opportunity to read and review Rachel M Brownstein’s Why Jane Austen?, I jumped at the chance.

This book fed my academic loving heart. Miss Brownstein takes a critical look at what draws us to Jane Austen and what makes us stick around. Pop culture is a funny thing as it can cultivate or destroy a beautiful thing. Jane Austen has caught onto the masses like a fever that refuses to abate. So, really what does draw us to Miss Austen?

It seems and I am not surprised after my foray into Women’s Studies that Jane Austen is tied to, at least in critic’s minds, feminism. Brownstein brings this to our attention and explores what it is about Jane Austen that ties her to feminism or the belief in general. Let me not dissuade you into assuming this book is all about feminism, let me caution you for a moment to say that while a look at Jane Austen and feminism is certainly a theme throughout the book that it is in no way the main stage.

Brownstein takes a look through out to study at the use of language in Jane Austen. For example, just moving the word truth to a different area of a sentence can change the meaning entirely and Jane Austen was a master at it. In fact I had not even considered the implications because I read Jane Austen just because I enjoy it, but perhaps I should pay more attention to Austen’s prose.

Taking a look at each of Jane Austen’s works Brownstein takes us on a riveting ride throughout. As I mentioned earlier this is a critical analysis of Jane Austen and what her work meant and still means today. Of all her novels Pride and Prejudice (P&P) is a favorite of most of us. There is a charm about it. Something I did not know is that Mansfield Park (MP) was the novel Austen published after P&P. MP is usually the least favorite of the Austen novels. What inspired Austen to write two dramatically different novels?

I could go on about how Brownstein deftly takes a look at Austen in film, the desire for Austen prequels/sequels and how something of a bygone era continues to draw us to her. Brownstein makes you think---stop and consider and reconsider----your views on Jane Austen.

However there is something almost more interesting than Jane Austen herself in Brownstein’s book and that is a look at Lord Byron and other authors which may have influenced Austen, but by far Lord Byron is the best. Mr. Darcy is an iconic Byronic hero. Was that Jane Austen’s aim? Lord Byron is the antithesis of Jane Austen. For all of Byron’s impropriety Jane Austen counters it with her proper novels. It was a debate, sadly I had been unaware of, but now that I know of it I am intrigued. Brownstein does much to abate my intrigue by exploring the Byron connection.

Wollstonecraft is the perpetuated mother of feminism in academia, also arguably the predecessor of the Byronic approach to human emotion. There are shades of Wollstonecraft in Austen argues Brownstein. They are products of romanticism, a period in literature which gave us arguably the best classics.

Brownstein’s look at Jane Austen and why we gravitate toward her kept me riveted. It’s intelligent work like hers that make me fall in love with reading again. Why Jane Austen should be a part of any Austen devotee’s curriculum.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Colonel Fitzwilliam, You're a Darling!

If you haven't already check out my Colonel Fitzwilliam on IndieJane. He's pretty sexy!

I wanted to do a short post to update you all on my book. I have never considered myself having a huge social life, but it has suddenly exploded. I have invitations flying at me right and left, which means less time to devote to writing. As much as I would like to dream about being a full time writer I do work 8 hrs a day (sometimes on Saturdays too), plus my outside commitments. My point is my edits are going slower than anticipated.

Any who, Colonel Fitzwilliam is the man of the hour. My PTSD, ever tortured, hero is turning into a man in love. Poor man doesn’t know what to do with all these new found feelings of love and jealously. Being a military man he is quite accustomed to having things just so, but he knows what he wants and he will get it. Ah, so strong and self-assured. Well, most of the time.

For an excerpt of my novel you may go to a previous blog post titled A Meet Cute between a Hero and a Heroine. It's not perfect yet, but it will give you an idea.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Winner of Nachtsturm Castle by Emily C.A. Snyder

Sorry for the posting delay of the winner. I was hosting a Lia Sophia party last night, but without further ado let us announce the winner. Thank you to all who participated.


Monday, August 8, 2011

The Companion of Lady Holmeshire by Debra Brown: A Book Review

The Companion of Lady Holmeshire

By Debra Brown

ISBN: 1937085376

Publisher: World Castle Publishing

Source: Author Supplied PDF

Back Cover Summary: A baby girl was found in a basket on Squire Carrington's doorstep. She was raised and sent to work as a servant girl for The Countess of Holmeshire. The widowed and unconventional Countess chose Miss Emma Carrington as a companion and sent her off for finishing with the goal of dragging her along into genteel Victorian society. What sort of reception would she have at tea and dinners? The young Earl of Holmeshire was engaged by arrangement to a lovely London lady, but their relationship was difficult. Could they work it out? Even the tribulations and banned romances of the servants downstairs play into the story as we follow Emma from a stone fortress to a Victorian village and then into fabulous London mansions. Great surprises unfold at a Midsummer Night's Dream Ball which helps to solve mysteries that have gradually developed. You are invited to predict the great revelation of the last few pages!

The Victorian Age was a time of immense change. New inventions and questions of social norms were arising and it set the established upper crust on edge. Change is not something welcome as it means a reconfiguring of what was. In Debra Brown’s debut novel The Companion of Lady Holmeshire we see all the turbulence of Victorian change dashed with romance and mystery.

The novel was a refreshing change from my usual fare, as I found myself whisked away into the elite society of Victorian living much in the vein of Jane Austen and yet I was also given to the crass and harsh realities of the less fortunate much in the way of Charles Dickens. For all the sweetness and subtle romance I was forced to envision the realities of the less affluent class. It was blunt and could not be ignored.

The intricate weaving of Victorian history with the plot of the story was fabulous. I found myself enthralled by the story and yet learning at the same time. It is not always an easy thing to do and Miss Brown hit it spot on.

The main character of Emma was strong and mysterious and throughout her parentage is veiled in mystery. Lord Holmeshire is the son of Lady Holmeshire and he is a bit of an eccentric, a lovable hero for the novel who is devoted to the plight of the poor.

There is a cast of many interesting characters. I have to say, as well, that this read a lot like a variation of Upstairs, Downstairs. We are given a view of both the elite and servant classes through the cast of characters. It was fascinating.

Yet, what I enjoyed most was the surprises Brown managed to throw at me. None were what I expected and I appreciate that in an author. It was not till the end that all is revealed and I have a hunch Brown took a cue from Shakespeare’s Puck in a Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Debra Brown’s debut novel was a valiant and intriguing effort. Her writing style is sophisticated and on point and her ability to weave a story is unique and of a style I have not encountered before. I really enjoyed The Companion of Lady Holmeshire and wait for Brown’s next novel with anticipation.

Final Recommendation: If you want the treat of Victorian mystery and suspense, with a spice of romance.

To learn more about author Debra Brown, please visit her website.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Henry Tilney's Heroine: A Northanger Abbey Vignette

She was here! Here at Woodston.

Henry struggled to put on his coat bounding down the stairs and out the door. He rounded the corner, and the breath left his body when he caught a glimpse of her beside an oak tree, which softly swayed in the breeze causing some stray strands of her hair to flutter.

The soft glow of the moonlight revealed the luscious hue of her tresses---like melted chocolate. How he longed to run his hands through it.

Her back was to him. If only she would face him so he could look into those beautiful eyes--- eyes deep enough for a man to drown in.

As if he had willed it, she slowly turned to face him. He was struck anew by her enchanting beauty.


Her hand reached out and she opened her mouth to speak.

He started---something in the dark was pulling her away from him.

He struggled towards her, stumbling---clawing the dirt beneath him---whilst calling her name. His heart felt like it was being ripped straight from his chest.

The fear on her face tore at him, forcing him on. It was no use.

She was gone!

He yelled. “Catherine.”


Henry Tilney jolted awake and sat up. It had all seemed so real. What a terrible nightmare.

Throwing the covers back, he slipped out of bed and down the stairs to the modest study. He poured himself a little brandy and sat in his favorite wing-backed chair near the cold fireplace.

What was it about Catherine Morland that enchanted him so? He closed his eyes and allowed her image to come to him again. As usual, the mere thought of her created a feeling of tenderness in his chest. When he was around Catherine all felt right in the world; it was like coming home.

Departing Northanger Abbey was the hardest, because it meant leaving her. The sky had apparently concurred; for no sooner had he arrived at Woodston than it opened up and poured.

He glanced at the now empty glass in his hand. The feeling of discontent would not leave him.

Thunder rumbled outside. A decision was made.

He returned to his room and dressed. As dawn crested in the horizon, he saddled his horse and made quickly for Northanger Abbey.


There was a chill in the air as he dismounted. He relinquished the reins to the stable boy and rushed towards the entrance of Northanger Abbey. If anything, his feeling of dread had strengthened the closer he had come.

His steps echoed on the stone walk, and the sound only agitated him more. The entrance door opened, and the sight of his sister stopped Henry in his tracks. Eleanor had been crying and her fatigue showed. The look on her face told him all he needed to know, but he had to hear the words out loud.


Eleanor grimaced. “Gone.”

The air left him. The sky above crackled.

Eleanor wrung her hands. “Father sent her home.”


Eleanor told him the whole story then, how Father had returned in a rage, demanding Catherine pack her bags and leave at once.

“Monstrous! What excuse did he give for this outrage?”

“Only that we had an engagement which he had forgotten about. Catherine went without a chaperon in the early dawn.”

Agony swelled inside Henry. His adorable, innocent Catherine. How frightened she must have been.

Eleanor placed a comforting hand on his arm.

“I’m sorry Henry.”

He shook his head in disbelief at his Father’s actions.

“I am obliged to her. She must have been frightened, and I was not there to protect her---Beautiful Catherine. I apologize, Eleanor.”

“You will do no such thing,” intoned General Tilney, his presence looming in the doorway like a dark cloud.

Henry narrowed his eyes. “Do not dare presume to tell me what I will not do! What possessed you, Father, to send her with no chaperon? Why send her away at all?”

“It was the least that could be done for such a scheming and lying chit. In fact it was more than she deserved.”

“Don’t speak of Catherine like that. What did she do that was so horrible?”

General Tilney sniffed as if his time was wasted by such a question. “She is no heiress.”

Henry paused, bewildered. “Of course Catherine is not an heiress. She is a clergyman’s daughter. What would make you assume she had money?”

General Tilney rubbed his fingernails on his coat, giving them a good shine. “An intimate acquaintance of Miss Morland’s, a Mr. Thorpe, divulged the information of her riches to me. However, it seems Miss Morland’s fortune is nothing but a sham. She is no more an heiress than I am a street urchin! Forget her Henry.”

“It is no fault of hers that you believed a fool like Thorpe. Catherine never claimed to be anything but what she is.”

General Tilney’s eyes narrowed in anger. “You will forget her, Henry.”

“No! I will not.” He smiled sadly at his father. “Excuse me I must be departing.”

“Henry, you will cease this foolishness at once. Where do you think you are you going?”

Henry did not turn back. He was too angry to look at his father. “Home. Home to Catherine.”

They carried on the wind, his father’s incensed cries, but Henry cared not. All he cared about was getting to Catherine.


The disgruntled sky threatened to open up, constantly grumbling and rumbling. Henry rode as fast as his horse would allow. The rhythmic movement beneath him was somehow soothing, giving him further time for reflection.

He hadn’t understood how smitten he was with Catherine until now. The first time he met her, in the Lower Rooms of Bath, he had been amused by her innocence. She was fresh and completely different from the insipid women he usually came across. Catherine was only herself, and unconcerned with the riches of the world. He was deeply in love with her before he realized it had begun.

Love. It was a funny thing.

As a clergyman he was not supposed to wish ill on anybody. But the self-centeredness and corruption which oozed from John Thorpe was hard to ignore. He was the type of man who liked to weave a spider’s web of lies, hoping that web glistening with morning dew, might beckon some unsuspecting soul into its trap. Having had the misfortune to observe Thorpe around Catherine, Henry could not say that he had felt at ease---no---he had wanted nothing more than to save her from that man’s clutches. But then Catherine had to learn for herself the dangers of contemptible people.

Despite her misfortunes with the Thorpes, she had proven what he had already known: Catherine was a woman of exceptional character. Even in her innocence she exhibited the kind of grace and maturity which one was born with---it could not be learned.

The sky cracked violently overhead, causing Henry to rein his horse in. A steady rainfall began, increasing in speed until it was pouring down and striking his face like hard stones. He realized he would need to rest for the evening, much to his displeasure.

He stopped at the next inn, where he acquired the appropriate lodgings and requested a hot bath be prepared. When that was ready, he slipped his wet clothes off and laid them in front of the fire to dry. Then he sunk into the steaming water, leaning is head back as he did so. His arms rested carefully on the edge. The heat seeped into his body, relaxing him.

He was just drifting off when he heard a scratching at the window. He furrowed his brow. It was dark outside and rain was pounding against the panes. Perhaps it was nothing.

He sighed and let his head loll back. The scraping came again. It was faint, but this time he was sure he had heard it.

He stood---the water cascading down him---slipped on a robe, and approached the window. Upon closer inspection, it became apparent it was only a tree branch manufacturing noise with a little assistance from the wind.

Henry laughed---a rich, deep laugh. How Catherine would have delighted in his Gothic imaginings. He placed his hand on the panes---feeling the cool glass ---and as he stared out at the storm his reflection stared back at him, beckoning him to consider something else entirely.

Catherine would have loved the adventure, but did she love him?

The burning question. Love. It was an exciting adventure, and yet, if love was not returned? He let the thought linger like an aging fine wine---tasting and savoring---as he contemplated.

There was no question as to his affection for Catherine Morland.

Turning from his reflection in discontent, he walked briskly to the bed, slipped under the covers and closed his eyes in an attempt to sleep.


“Henry? Why have you not come for me?”

“Catherine,” Henry cried. He heard her voice, but saw only darkness.

“Catherine, why cannot I see you?”

“Henry, I am here. Where are you?”

Standing at the edge of a forest he looked and willed himself to see her, but alas still nothing. He tried to enter the forest, but something prevented him. Turning around quickly, he beheld Catherine’s appearance near the tree line.

Praise, he thought. He was walking towards her, but a shadow crossed between them. She began to struggle as the shadow forced her farther and farther away from him.

He ran, but it was no use. He yelled for her. The darkness had taken her again.


Henry awoke in a cold sweat as dawn broke. The desire was strong to see Catherine, if only to assure himself that she was well and, just as importantly, that she returned his affection. He dressed in his now-dry clothes from the night before. In the haste to leave Northanger Abbey after realizing the extent of his father’s poor hospitality there had not been the opportunity to properly prepare for this trip.

He partook of a breakfast of kidney pie and coffee before acquiring his horse from the stables and setting off. The morning was cool and calm after the storm from the night before. The roads were wet, and he was finding his breeches painted with mud. He cared not a wit, for each step brought him closer to Catherine.

Dusk was beginning to crest and his anticipation came to a climax when he finally arrived in the tiny village of Fullerton. After inquiring from one of the passing town folk as to the location of the Morland’s, he set in the direction on foot, choosing instead to stretch is tired muscles and to hopefully quell some of the nervous energy in him.

From behind an oak in the bend of the road, the residence of the Morland’s came into view, showing it to its best advantage. While it was a small home it radiated the affection of the family within, reminding Henry of what he hoped for with Catherine at Woodston.

In his moment of reflection he had failed to notice what was around the bend.

Henry froze. His breath stuck in his throat as he saw her. She had made the trip from Northanger Abbey ---alone---and arrived safely home.

His hands suddenly felt clammy, and sweat formed on his brow. He, Henry Tilney, was nervous. But then perhaps he should be since he was about to make a fool of himself over a woman who might not even return his affection.

He turned around and paced back and forth, muttering to himself and trying to work up the courage to approach her. If it had been any other time, he would have been amused, but he had never wanted something so much in his life. It was ironic when he thought about it. He had his parish and his parishioners and his sister Eleanor, but it all seemed not quite right without Catherine.

The soft lilt of laughter had him peering around the oak again. Catherine was snickering at something one of her siblings had said. Yet, her amusement did not quite reach her eyes. As he looked closer, dark circles were evident denoting lack of sleep. Guilt at his Father and the urge to comfort her ripped through him as he unconsciously moved forward.

Suddenly her head lifted towards him and their eyes locked.

He took a cautious step toward her, which seemed to shake Catherine from her shock. She quietly told her siblings to go indoors, never taking her eyes from his. Then she straightened and folded her hands demurely in front of her. Her face was devoid of emotion. That concerned him, as he was used to always knowing what she thought.

Henry scowled. He did not like this at all, but he also had not come all this way to tuck tail and run.

He felt a shift in the temperature, which only seemed to rise as he came closer. Yet Catherine remained as she was, fixated on his face. Henry stopped just inches from her, and it took every ounce of his willpower not to take her into his arms.

He opened his mouth, but he ended up looking more like a fish as he found it difficult to articulate his thoughts out loud.

“Good day, Mr. Tilney. I am well thank you for inquiring.”

Henry looked at her, startled. Then he noticed the glint in her eye. She was teasing him. The corners of his mouth curled in amusement.

“Good day, Cath-er-ine.” He purposely drew out her name and, as he did so, he saw something spark in her luminous gaze. It almost looked like hope. Could she have been waiting for him?

Testing his luck, he took one of her small hands into his larger one. There was no resistance. He regarded their joined hands with an air of anticipation of things to come. Lifting his head and fixating his gaze on Catherine’s face, his nervousness slipping away.

“Catherine. You must allow me to apologize for my father’s actions.”

She shook her head. “No. It is not you who must apologize. I was in error…I who…”

He silenced her with a finger on her lips.

Henry had a wicked thought as he removed his finger from her pert mouth and carefully, purposely, dragged it along her cheek. It was her blush and the hitch in her breath that gave her away.

“Catherine, I am going to kiss you.” He said it slowly, giving her time to deny his request. The anticipation was going to be the death of him. Now that he was here, he was finding it hard to restrain himself.

He leaned in about to kiss her when she abruptly withdrew from his embrace. He growled in frustration.

“What are you doing here?” she asked. “Surely it cannot be just to apologize for your father?”

He glanced at their still joined hands.

“Catherine, you must know.”

She shook her head.

“I came for you.” There! He had said it!

Before he knew what was happening, she launched herself into his arms and kissed him.

He smiled against her mouth. She loved him. The temperature had risen to burning levels as she pressed herself further into his embrace. She was eager and, dare he say, almost wild in her passion. It took what little will power he had left to tear himself apart from her. He laughed at her squeal of protest, but he had to ask her one thing.

“Catherine will you do me the greatest honor by becoming my wife?”

“Oh, Henry!”

As she breathed his name, he felt a surge of triumph and no small amount of happiness. Her lips met his again and he took her passionate response as an affirmative to his proposal.

She was his Catherine. He was home.


****Photo used for story cover at the top of the page is of Eilean Donan Castle which is located in the rugged, wild and romantic Scottish Highlands.

 A special thanks to Meredith Esparza of Austenesque Reviews for inviting me to participate.

Northanger Abbey is one of my favorite Austen novels. As a special treat to my visitors during Austenesque Extravaganza and to my long time followers, and because I just love this book,
I will be giving away ONE copy of Emily C.A. Snyder's Nachtsturm Castle.
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This giveaway is international.

ENDS August 20th.

ALSO, There is another giveaway on my blog to win a copy of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. This giveaway ends August 31st.