Review and guest post: Suzan Lauder’s Alias Thomas Bennet

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Buy now at Amazon

As I’ve mentioned previously in various forums, I arrived late at the JAFF party and am still playing catch-up. When I enjoy an author’s newest release, I seek out their previous works. As I did in this case: after reading and enjoying Letter from Ramsgate, I searched for previous books by Suzan Lauder. And found Alias Thomas Bennet.  And I’m very glad I did.

The premise is, as far as I know, unique amongst JAFFs: it’s almost like stepping through the looking glass. The Bennet family is no longer dysfunctional, but is headed by a very engaged father who cares for his wife and daughters as well as being a successful estate manager. Mrs Bennet, recipient of the love and respect of her husband, is still concerned about getting her daughters married, but not dementedly so, and she provides loving care as well as an excellent role model for her daughters to become ladies, wives, and mothers.  The eldest two Bennet sisters are essentially unchanged (well, except for reaping the benefits of a surprise familial relationship), while the other three sisters retain their original personalities altho’ tempered into more positive and productive actions and activities. Not canon by any means, but thoroughly enjoyable.

Mr Bennet and Mr Darcy form a close friendship, and slowly tho’ ultimately Darcy and Lizzy grow into their own loving relationship. Lauder’s version of Lizzy here retains all the traits with which Austen endowed her, amplified by a greater strength and confidence. The author has created her character to reflect the modern view of an accomplished lady.

There are numerous flashbacks in the telling of the story, and to own the truth I did have a little trouble keeping the story line straight at first. Then two things happened: First, I was reading a used paperback copy of the book, and apparently whoever read the book before me was having similar difficulties and had actually drawn an interconnected timeline of events which I discovered tucked away in the pages! And then the author herself brings the story together in a series of well-crafted scenes that left me with a feeling of understanding calm; what one would call a lightbulb moment. These both occurred not too far into the story, so for most of the time I had a very clear grasp of what was going on.

As with Letter from Ramsgate, Lizzy and Darcy display rather more physical passion than their original counterparts ever did – or at least that we *saw* them do, altho’ I suspect most of us had our suspicions about them! This story gives them more leeway, and definitely has some spice to it.

The author has asked me to be sure to repeat the warning she has posted on the book’s back cover:  “This book contains one brief scene of non‑explicit sexual violence that may be concerning to sensitive readers. The sexual violence does not involve Elizabeth Bennet.” Altho’ I viewed the scene dispassionately, I did find the events a bit shocking. It is, however, integral to the plot. There are several very vague references to these events at various points in the story, so if you want to skip the scene, you won’t be left out in the cold; you’ll still get the gist of the story. (And you’re welcome to contact me and I’ll tell you the pages you might want to avoid, and the one(s) that clarify the story, in the event that you do want to avoid this trigger.)

A definite five-star rating for Alias Thomas Bennet!

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suzan-lauderSuzan Lauder kindly agreed to provide a guest post to accompany this review. When she asked me to suggest a topic, I in turn asked her what her inspiration was for this story. Here is her response:

I’m a regular contributor on the Jane Austen website A Happy Assembly. In some discussions and in AHA chat, it became evident that some readers loved Mr. Bennet for his acerbic wit and humorous evaluation of other peoples’ characters while others disliked him for his obvious lackadaisical attitude towards parenting and financial responsibilities. It showed that Mr. Bennet’s personality was a fairly important element in the direction of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Given that circumstance, I began to think to myself what the novel would be like if his flaws were erased or minimized. I began to think of the plot of P&P and what essential scenes would change.

Mr. Bennet would go meet Mr. Bingley without having to be browbeaten into it. He would attend the Meryton Assembly, let Jane have the carriage to go to lunch with the Bingley sisters, and try to modulate the behaviour of his wife and younger daughters. But I needed a mechanism to facilitate this changed personality, and that’s how the mystery part of the story fit in.

Side issues that were strong possibilities with a changed Mr. Bennet emerged: it would be fun if he were close friends with Darcy so Elizabeth and Darcy knew each other better prior to Hunsford. Mr. Bennet would be in love with his wife and would calm her when she became agitated. To show where Mrs. Bennet’s nervous personality emerged from her youth, a carriage wreck and a startling assault open the novel.

The timelines for everything that ran parallel in the story were so critical, I even mapped out Jane’s and Elizabeth’s birthdays! That’s how complicated “what if Mr. Bennet were exactly opposite of his personality in canon” becomes!

Alias Thomas Bennet is available in paperback and ebook versions at the usual outlets. And, as I have previously mentioned, as a used book.

Your comments, as always, are welcome.

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And … if you haven’t already got your copy of Desperate Hearts, you can order a kindle copy here. desp-hearts-cover

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Sorry, no blog tour

I regret to announce that I have elected to withdraw Every Savage Can Dance from participation in the scheduled blog tours for Mistress by Sophie Turner and for Caroline by Sue Barr.

See you soon with other news and reviews and a few surprises!

Your comments, as always, are welcome.

 

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And … if you haven’t already got your copy of Desperate Hearts, you can order a kindle copy here. desp-hearts-cover

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A peek under Lizzy Bennet’s muslin gown

Some weeks ago I posted a piece entitled “Getting into Mr Darcy’s pants,” about the underwear a Regency gentleman would have worn under his fashionable clothing. Rather than re-post the general overview of fashion and undergarments of the day, you might want to take a moment to re-read the original post.

regency-dressesWhen ladies of the Regency exchanged their previously-fashionable voluminous skirts for a slim, classical Greek-style high-waisted silhouette, their undergarments also altered. Wearing the previously-stylish constructed fashions that essentially re-designed the shape of a woman’s form into something resembling a bell, a lady faced two primary problems. The first was one of real estate: only so many bell-shaped ladies could fit into a given area such as a sidewalk, a shop, a sitting-room sofa, or a carriage. Secondly came the problem of maintaining modesty: one false step, or a less-than cautious entrance into or exit from a carriage, could send the rigidly-constructed frame under one’s dress — and the dress along with it — up into the air in a most revealing position.

regency-dress2The slim lines, and lightweight fabric, of a Regency Empire-style dress presented its own problems. As clothing became lighter and slimmer, ladies began to discard heavy layers of undergarments for the bare minimum required for comfort and modesty. The challenges at this time were also multi-fold: fabric folds would work themselves between a lady’s legs, often aided by a wind or even a light breeze, clingingly revealing a bit more of a lady’s form than was considered proper. Being caught in a light rain that dampened one’s attire could cause a scandalous spectacle! And again, if one was not attentive to how one was moving, or — heaven forfend! — if one tripped or took a fall, the light fabric could easily be blown or otherwise pushed away to expose a lady’s privates. (This, by the way, was the reason why gentlemen preceded ladies when walking up stairs.)

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A simple corset
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A corset with breast supports

Even after adopting the new fashion styles, the basic lady’s undergarment remained the chemise, a simple, unfitted shift-type garment with a rounded neckline and short sleeves that reached to about the knees. It was generally made of light cotton or linen, although it might be fashioned of flannel at colder times of the year. Over the chemise was worn a corset, or stays. As with their male counterparts, ladies wore these to create a slimmer appearance. An important function of a corset was to draw in the hip area, as the slim style of dress required almost a boyish figure below the waist (much as some modern fashion styles have also demanded).

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Full-length petticoat.
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Short or half-petticoat

Corsets might be simple affairs, or they might have supports for the breasts, similar to a modern brassiere. Slim hips did not exclude the preference for a femine bustline! Over this would be a petticoat, either a short petticoat from waist to ankle, which was gathered around the waist with tapes, or a full petticoat with an attached bodice. Again, they were crafted of light fabric except for winter wear. And they were mostly still homemade at this time. Depending on the style of the dress being worn, the petticoat might have a small, light hoop at the bottom to create an A-line shape rather than a straight style.

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Original ladies’ drawers design
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Evolved into this one-piece design

As to drawers … Ladies “borrowed” men’s drawers some time before 1810. Altho’ they were not in regular use at this time, by the 1810s most ladies, at least of the upper and middle classes, were wearing them. Initially these too were homemade; it wasn’t until the mid-nineteenth century that they become available commercially. Reaching from waist to knees, and fastened with tapes at both points, they were not particularly ornate, as they were not intended to be seen. At least not until Queen Charlotte decided to scandalize society by wearing them somewhat longer and sitting with her legs extended in front of her so glimpses of the embellished bottoms of the drawers could be seen as her skirts lifted slightly. Like the rest of underclothes, these were fashioned of lightweight cotton, linen, silk, stockinette, or sarsenet in summer and flannel in winter. The original ladies’ design comprised two tubes for the legs held together with tapes at the waist; these later evolved into a connected design more like the gentleman’s. Which certainly makes a lot more sense from just about every standpoint.

So perhaps the ladies of the Regency period were not so very different from modern ladies in their fashion choices. I have, however, sometimes wondered about one aspect of the effects of fashion: Was the not-uncommon loss of the mother’s life in childbirth in any way affected by the fashion of mechanically drawing in the hips as tightly as possible? Perhaps I’ll research and report on this aspect in a future posting.

Your comments, as always, are invited.

If you missed it: Part One: Getting into Mr. Darcy’s Pants

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And … if you haven’t already got your copy of Desperate Hearts, you can order a kindle copy heredesp-hearts-cover

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Blog tour review: Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey (and a nifty giveaway!)

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Ginger Monette

On January 31st I reviewed Darcy’s Hope: Beauty from Ashes — the first book in Ginger Monette’s two-part Darcy’s Hope saga. Find the review here.

Today’s review is for the second volume, Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey.

Blurbing the book:

1917. On the Western Front of WW1, Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy has won the heart of Elizabeth Bennet. Finally.

Then she disappears.

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Purchase here

Still reeling from the loss, Darcy is struck by a battlefield tragedy that plunges him into a dark and silent world.

Sent to Donwell Abbey to recover, he’s coaxed back to life by an extraordinary nurse determined to teach him how to live and love again. A woman whose uncanny similarities to Elizabeth invite his admiration and entice his affections.

His heart tells him to hold on to Elizabeth.

His head tells him to take a chance with his nurse.

But Donwell Abbey holds a secret that could change everything….

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And my review:

It is a truth universally acknowledged amongst JAFF readers that no matter in what situations Darcy and Elizabeth find themselves, their course of true love never runs smoothly. And so it is here …

silver-music-box2Through a series of misunderstandings that seem to point to Elizabeth’s being involved in a spy ring, and possibly being a target for murder, Darcy and Elizabeth are separated once again when she runs off to protect not only herself but Darcy and his family. Unable to locate her, Darcy accepts a dangerous wartime mission that results in his suffering grievous injuries. His recovery is lengthy and frustrating. Altho’ his nurse takes prodigious care of him and his aunt attempts to match him with her daughter, Darcy heartbreakingly continues to long for Elizabeth. The only tangible memento he has of her is a silver music box that plays their song — Let me call you Sweetheart — and which he keeps with him at all times.

 

A Great-War era version of this popular song.

Ultimately we get our longed-for happily-ever-after in a most delightful way.

What I liked most: The realism of “the war to end all wars” and its effects on our beloved characters. The true-to-Jane-Austen credibility of her characters within this non-canon setting. Skillful interweaving of characters and locations from other of Jane Austen’s stories and from popular non-Austen stories as well, along with satisfying and befitting new characters. Darcy’s heroism in the face of near-certain catastrophe. Plenty of face time for Colonel Fitzwilliam. And of course the delightful and heartwarming ending.

What I liked least: INMSHO, the blurb and the book cover together telegraph a bit too much of the story so the reader more or less knows what to expect. Even so, it was very enjoyable to see how it played out. Also, there were moments of reading when I could not quite suspend disbelief; I’m not going to specify as that would require spoilers, but I am convinced that you will recognize the moments as you read the story. I hope you will do as I did: even with suspended disbelief, continue with the story. It is worth it.

In short: I could hardly put this book down. (I lost a lot of sleep during the reading!) Altho’ the two books are available — and to some extent marketed — as stand-alone stories, for maximum enjoyment I recommend you read the first story before starting on this second. Fortunately, Beauty from Ashes (part one of the saga) is currently being offered at a discounted kindle price to get you started on the road to Darcy’s Hope.

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The Giveaway!

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Each tin of Downton Abbey tea comprises 36 teabags of this collector’s edition and limited-quantity tea. The plum pudding flavour contains: Fine black tea, natural vanilla flavor, cinnamon, natural flavor, natural plum flavor, sloeberries, and elderberries.

To enter the giveaway (sorry, USA residents only):

As my webhost does not seem to work with Rafflecopter, I’m not even going to bother posting the Rafflecopter giveaway link. Instead, I recommend that you visit Babblings of a Bookworm (or any of the other blogs in the blog tour; see list below) to access the Rafflecopter giveaway. And good luck!

If you would like to gain additional entries, just share this post on your Facebook page and/or leave a comment on this blog. (Click Leave a comment above the upper left-hand corner of this post beneath the blog title.)

And do follow the rest of the blog tour for excerpts, interviews, and additional reviews:

Feb 1 The Ardent Reader
Feb 2 From Pemberley to Milton
Feb 3 My Jane Austen Book Club
Feb 4 My Love for Jane Austen
Feb 5 vvb32reads
Feb 6 Just Jane 1813
Feb 7 Savvy Verse & Wit
Feb 8 Austenesque Reviews
Feb 9 My Kids Led Me Back to Pride & Prejudice
Feb 10 Babblings of a Bookworm
Feb 11 Obsessed with Mr. Darcy
Feb 12 Musings from the Yellow Kitchen
Feb 13 Half Agony, Half Hope
Feb 14 My Vices and Weaknesses
Feb 15 Diary of an Eccentric

Feb 16 Every Savage Can Dance

Feb 17 More Agreeably Engaged

Feb 18 The Calico Critic

Feb 20 Austenesque Reviews

Feb 21 More than Thornton

Feb 22 Margie’s Must Reads

Feb 23 Delighted Reader

Feb 24 Becky’s Book Reviews

Feb 26 Linda Andrews

Feb 27 Every Woman Dreams

Feb 28 Tomorrow is Another Day

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And … if you haven’t already got your copy of Desperate Hearts, you can order a kindle copy heredesp-hearts-cover

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You too can be a book reviewer

It’s said that love makes the world go ’round. I have, however, observed that it’s reviews that make the book world go around.

When you shop online for a book, do you check out how many stars the book has received from reviewers? Do you browse the reviews? If you have to choose between two books, do the stars and the review text influence your decision?

You’re not alone; most people look at reviews on amazon, GoodReads, Facebook, blogs, and anywhere else they’re posted — and these reviews influence buying decisions. So it really means the world to authors when their work receives reader reviews.

If you enjoyed a particular book, the nicest thing you can do to let the author know that his/her work pleased you is to write an online review. You don’t need a blog, and you needn’t write a voluminous review; a few words will suffice. Some suggestions: “I liked the author’s integration of characters from another favourite book into this story.” Or “Detailed descriptions of places made you feel as if you are actually there.” Or maybe “Could not find even one error of spelling or word usage” or “I liked the flow of the story.”

You do not need to be an author yourself to write a review! Just think about what you would tell a friend if you were recommending the book to them, and write it down. Review done!

How about if you did not like the book? If there is a reason other than “I didn’t like the story,” then explain it simply and courteously. “It was too long and the story meandered.” “It was too short to really get into the characters and events.” “Spelling was poor” or “Too many incorrect homophones.” “One of the story lines was never resolved.”

Some reviewers who don’t like a book seem to be almost vindictive in their reviews, as if they want to punish the author for not writing a book they liked. Revealing and describing salient plot points — i.e., spoilers — is very unkind. If you did not like the book, you can always return it; you don’t need to damage the author’s credibility or ruin the story for future readers just because it wasn’t your own cup of tea.

Remember what all of our moms told us: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!

Here are some additional tips for writing good, useful reviews.

And here are some books recently featured at Every Savage Can Dance to start you off. If you’ve read them, and especially if you’ve enjoyed them, please take a few minutes to leave a review. If you have not yet read them, follow the link to buy a copy, and then leave a review after you’ve read it.

Believe me, an author will thank you when you do! (Speaking of which, Many Thanks to Claudine Pepe at Just Jane 1813 for her lovely review of Desperate Hearts. If you have not yet read this book, do stop by to read her review and enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of the e-book)

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Please take a moment to let me know what you think: Click the Leave a Comment link at the top left-hand corner of this post. Thank you!

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Buy it/Review it here
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Buy it/Review it here
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Buy it/Review it here
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Buy it/Review it here
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Review: Darcy’s Hope — Beauty from Ashes

Thank you for stopping by! Today I’ll be reviewing the first volume — Beauty from Ashes — of the two-volume saga Darcy’s Hope by Ginger Monette.

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Buy this book now!

Blurbing the book:

First, I greatly enjoyed this video blurb. I think you will too. Now …

1916: World War I has turned French chateaux into bloody field hospitals, British gentlemen into lice-infested soldiers, and left Elizabeth’s life in tatters.

Her father is dead and her home destroyed. Never again will Elizabeth depend on a man to secure her future!

When an opportunity arises to advance her dreams of becoming a doctor, she is elated—until he arrives….

Heartbroken. Devastated. Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy is left rejected by the woman he loved and reeling from the slaughter of his men on the battlefield. “Enough!” Darcy vows. “No more sentimental attachments!”

“No comrades, no dog, and certainly no woman!”

But arriving at a field hospital to pursue a covert investigation, Darcy discovers his beloved Elizabeth training with a dashing American doctor and embroiled in an espionage conspiracy.

With only a few months to expose the plot, Darcy is forced to grapple with his feelings for Elizabeth while uncovering the truth. Is she indeed innocent?

Darcy can only hope…

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Now for my review:

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Author Ginger Monette

I must start out by making it clear that I never thought I would like a Pride and Prejudice variation set in a different time period. But I have long been fascinated by world events of the 19-teens, especially The Great War, which completely changed the face of warfare, not to mention the face of Europe, for all time. So if I was going to read a time-shifting variation, it was going to be this one. Clearly the author has done her history homework; the historical points alone are enough to make this a worthwhile read. The story line and writing style also make it an enjoyable read.

As to Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet: Their last meetings ended in rancor – altho’ their feelings for each other (Elizabeth’s carefully concealed even from herself, Darcy’s not quite so successfully hidden) continue to pull them towards each other.

When they are assigned to the same field hospital on the Western front, it becomes more difficult to avoid each other and to avoid their growing attachment to each other. Darcy (under the command of his redoubtable cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam) is commissioned to investigate and, if possible, expose and destroy a band of traitors. Unfortunately, his investigations lead to the inescapable conclusion that Elizabeth Bennet may be operating amongst them.

Not only that, it appears that the traitors have no more use for Elizabeth and intend to get rid of her.

Darcy, fully believing in Elizabeth’s innocence, is aware that she may be in grave danger, either because of the general belief of her alleged traitorous allegiances, or because she has been an unwilling dupe of the traitors who now have her in their sights. Either way, he feels bound to protect her.

It is not clear at the end of this suspenseful, sweet, and action-filled story (yes, it’s all three!) whether Elizabeth is innocent or guilty of betraying her country and countrymen. We’ll have to wait for the second volume in this two-volume saga for the answer to that question. But we do get to follow along with Elizabeth’s growing acceptance of her undeniable love for a man she swore to hate forever: Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Except for a few cuss words and vulgarities that you might expect amongst soldiers, this is a clean read, with only a handful of tiny typos.

What I liked most: Details of the history of a fascinating period in time. The author’s ability to seamlessly weave our favourite characters into this different time period while keeping the sense and tone of the original story. New characters – some of whom we grow to love while others not so much – who add to the joy and to the mystery.  The clever reference to another of Austen’s stories.  The accompanying “Elizabeth’s Scrapbook;” you must sign up for the author’s newsletter for access, and you must browse it, the sooner the better. (See below for details.)

What I liked least:  The clichéd ending, altho’ it did not seem entirely unfitting. And then there’s my issue with the cover image: From the first time I saw it several months ago I did not like the cover image. Darcy’s eyes are just plain creepy.

In short:  Try to ignore the cover image. (Or maybe, unlike me, you’ll like it.) Read the book. And don’t blame me if you end up reading this engaging story well into the wee hours of the morning!

Another five-star read.

gold-stars-5Don’t forget to leave a comment about this blog post or this book. Click on the Comments link at the top left-hand corner of this post under the blog title.

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PLEASE NOTE that on February 16th, the blog tour for part two of the saga — Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey — will be stopping here at Every Savage Can Dance. I hope you’ll rejoin me then, as well as visiting all the other stops on the tour from February 1 to 24!

Here’s the blurb for this second volume:

Darcy’s beloved Elizabeth disappears.

Then tragedy strikes, plunging him into a dark and silent world.

His heart tells him to hold on to Elizabeth.

His head tells him to take a chance with his extraordinary nurse.

But Donwell Abbey holds a secret that just might change everything….

*Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey is a sequel to Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes, but can be read as a stand-alone novel.

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Meanwhile, connect with Ginger Monette:

Website (where you can sign up for her newsletter and get the key to unlocking Elizabeth’s scrapbook).

Facebook page

I look forward to seeing you again soon at Every Savage Can Dance. Happy reading!

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And … if you haven’t already got your copy of Desperate Hearts, you can order a kindle copy heredesp-hearts-cover

 

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A Lie Universally Hidden by Anngela Schroeder: Review and Giveaway

Welcome to Every Savage Can Dance’s stop on the blog tour for A Lie Universally Hidden by Anngela Schroeder.

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First, a little about the author:

I have a degree in English with a concentration in British Literature and a Masters in Education. I love to travel, bake, and watch college football with my husband of 16 years and 3 rambunctious sons. My goal in life is to make not only my children, but also my students feel that they are loved, and to bring magic into everyone’s world. My weaknesses are yellow cake with chocolate frosting, French bread with real butter, and grape leaves and felafel. I live in California where I dream of Disney adventures and trips across the pond.

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And now for my review of this book:

Duty and honour, the two guiding principles of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s life. He is now prepared to do his duty and honour his late mother’s last wish by marrying his cousin, Anne de Bourgh. Her wishes are spelled out clearly in her final letter to her son.

But … both he and Anne are in love with others. Still, duty and honour must take precedence over their personal desires for happiness. The wedding uniting them, as well as uniting their great estates, will take place in just a few short months.

Unless … a chance meeting between Elizabeth Bennet and an elderly lady who once worked at Pemberley may hold the key to releasing both Darcy and Anne to follow their hearts. Is it possible?

Even if that key is found, how will Elizabeth be released from her own commitment to marry her childhood friend?

Our dear couple – and Darcy’s dear cousin – ultimately arrive at their respective happily ever afters (of course), altho’ not before they have undergone a great deal of anguish, doubt … and hope. Not to mention at least one major misunderstanding that could change everything. And then there’s that long-hidden, and surprising, secret finally revealed.

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Available at in ebook and print editions at amazon.com.

A clean story that leaves the reader glad to have taken the time to enjoy it.

What I liked most:  The book was well written, without the glaring writing errors that too often seem to spoil even the best of reads.

Lady Catherine being her usual b*tchy self – and then some.

The newly-created characters, who all harmonize quite nicely with our own well-known characters.

The tension! Using calendar dates, the author moves our dear couple towards their climactic moment more slowly than we think we might wish. I breathlessly found myself checking to see how much of the story was left after nearly every paragraph as I reached the final chapter, and wondering how on Earth they were going to find each other in time before the story ended! Hurry up, Darcy!

What I liked least: The book’s title. I did not care for it. But I did like the book’s cover.

In short: Skip the title and read the book! This is a good story and truly enjoyable to read.

I have to give it five stars. And I think you will too.

Please note that I received an ebook in exchange for my participation in this blog tour.

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Enter the Giveaway by clicking HERE.

The Giveaway: Anngela is giving away two autographed hard copies (US mailing addresses only) and two kindle versions (open to international winners), plus an autographed copy of Then Comes Winter (US mailing address only). and an autographed 5×7 of the A Lie Universally Hidden book cover. Enter the Giveaway by clicking HERE.

Connect with Anngela Schroeder at:

Facebook

Twitter: @schros2000

Goodreads

Amazon

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Please leave your comment by clicking the Comments link at the top left of this post, beneath the title.

Thank you for visiting Every Savage Can Dance, and do please visit the other stops on this blog tour:

January 16/ My Jane Austen Book Club/Launch Post & Giveaway
January 17/
From Pemberley to Milton/ Book Review & Giveaway
January 18/
A Covent Garden Madame Gilflurt’s Guide to Life/Guest Post
January 19/
So Little Time…/ Excerpt Post & Giveaway
January 20/
My Vices and Weaknesses/ Book Review & Giveaway
January 21/
Babblings of a Bookworm/ Book Review
January 22/
Just Jane 1813/ Excerpt Post
January 23/
Austenesque Reviews/ Author Spotlight & Giveaway
January 24
/ Obsessed with Mr. Darcy/ Book Review & Giveaway
January 25/
Every Savage Can Dance/Book Review & Giveaway

January 26 / Diary of an Eccentric/Book Review & Giveaway

January 27 / Austenesque Reviews/ Book Review & Giveaway

January 28/ My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice/ Excerpt & Giveaway

January 29/ Savvy Verse & Wit/ Guest Post & Giveaway

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And … if you haven’t already got your copy of Desperate Hearts, you can order a kindle copy heredesp-hearts-cover

 

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Regency beyond Jane Austen: The Four Lords Saga by Gianna Thomas. A review and a freebie!

 

One thing I love about reading Jane Austen and JAFF is learning more about Regency history. Other than a hilarious Blackadder Series 3 I had very little knowledge of this particular era (and certainly that “knowledge” was rather specious, to say the least). Along with the history I’ve learned from the stories themselves, they’ve inspired me to expand my own researches. So I like to sometimes go beyond Jane Austen and delve into various other aspects of the Regency. When The Four Lords collection went on sale last year I grabbed it up, and when the author asked me to review it I was delighted!

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Author Gianna Thomas

This tale, set in Regency England, is in fact four stories in one. It chronicles the lives of four handsome twenty-something debauched lords living a life of alcohol, gambling, and seducing anything in a skirt. They while away their time at their London club not caring for their futures beyond which lady they next intend to lure into their beds, while mocking the “leg-shackled” fools who prefer family life – including their own parents and families.

And then something changes: we follow the lords as one after the other they meet the women who will change their viewpoints and their lives as they fall in love, marry, and start families of their own. And we watch their growing understanding of what life, and family, are really all about.

Because of their reputations as degenerates, the lords often have some difficulty integrating back into polite society, so their lives are not so easily transformed. They in fact have to prove themselves worthy of their lady loves. How they manage this is often painful and often amusing.

fourlordsflirtationI greatly enjoyed seeing how each man is “tamed” by the love of a good woman. It may sound trite, but let’s face it: the romantic in us loves the challenge and its ultimate success! Who amongst us has not fantasized about being the lady who turns a bad boy into a good man?

(Unrelated to the books, here’s a musical take on this theme.)

Each lord’s story is intertwined with the others, and although you could probably read them as separate books I believe it was more enjoyable to read the collection all together.

What I liked best: The skillful interweaving of each story into the next and subsequent stories. One plot line begun in the first story reaches its resolution in the fourth story. By using the device of repeating the end of one story into the beginning of the next, the author allows the reader to in fact enjoy each story separately if they choose. As I much preferred to read the whole saga at one time, I found the repetition of certain salient events helpful as both a foreshadowing of what was to come as well as a reminder of what had already occurred.

The horses. Most of the characters shared an interest in horses, and I really liked all of the “horse talk.” Hey, what girl doesn’t love horses?!

What I liked least: I’m sorry to say that I did not care for the story of the fourth lord at all. I could not muster any sympathy for the characters; I found them to be quite prickly. I did not care for their situations either, and had a difficult time suspending disbelief about many of them. Perhaps people do respond to childhood trauma as described, and their loved ones in turn do respond to them as described, but I just couldn’t buy it. Too bad; I really liked the stories of the first three lords. Except for the resolution referred to above, I would have been happy for the saga to end after the third lord’s story.

For this reason, I give the saga four stars out of five.

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In short: There is in fact Regency life outside of Jane Austen Fan Fiction, and it’s very satisfying to have tasted a bit beyond that particular genre. Not that I’ll be abandoning JAFF, but this saga has convinced me to take another chance to step outside it again.

Be warned that there are a great many sexual situations in this story; no explicit sexual encounters but plenty of suggestive “almosts.”

These links are for the complete collection. Individual volumes are available separately.

fourlordssageKindle version at amazon.com

Paperback version at amazon.com

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THE FREEBIE!

A freebie for readers of Every Savage Can Dance and The Four Lords’ Saga:

Lord Windmere and Lady Jane back story. This is the first lord in the series and my favourite lord. You’ll want to pick this up to learn about their history together. It’s quite a charming read! And very short: Make yourself a pot of tea, sit back, and enjoy — you’ll finish the story and the tea at about the same time.

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Free kindle version at amazon

Connect with Gianna Thomas at:

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Please leave your comments on this post! Follow the Comments link at the upper left side of the post beneath the title. Thank you!
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And … if you haven’t already got your copy of Desperate Hearts, you can order a kindle copy here. (Coming soon for Nook.) desp-hearts-cover

 

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Blog Tour: The Best Part of Love By Amy D’Orazio

I’m so excited — this is my first time participating in a book blog tour! I have a guest post by the author, a book excerpt, and a giveaway for you from the Meryton Press Blog Tour.

The Best Part of Love author Amy D’Orazio has kindly stopped by to write a guest post for Every Savage Can Dance’s readers.

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best-part-of-love-coverBlurbing the book:

Avoiding the truth does not change the truth

When Fitzwilliam Darcy meets Miss Elizabeth Bennet he has no idea that she — that indeed, the entire town of Meryton — harbors a secret. Miss Elizabeth, a simply country girl from a humble estate, manages to capture first his fascination and then his heart without him ever knowing the truth of her past.

When she meets Darcy, Elizabeth had spent the two years prior hiding from the men who killed her beloved first husband. Feeling herself destroyed by love, Elizabeth has no intention of loving again, certainly not with the haughty man who could do nothing but offend her in Hertfordshire.

In London, Elizabeth surprises herself by finding in Darcy a friend; even greater is her surprise to find herself gradually coming to love him and even accepting an offer of marriage from him. Newly married, they are just beginning to settle into their happily ever after when a condemned man on his way to the gallows divulges a shattering truth, a secret that contradicts everything Elizabeth thought she knew about the tragic circumstances of her first marriage. Against the advice of everyone who loves her, including Darcy, Elizabeth begins to ask questions. But will what they learn destroy them both?

And a word about the author:

Amy D’Orazio is a former breast cancer researcher and current stay-at-home mom who is addicted to Jane Austen and Starbucks in about equal measures. While she adores Mr. Darcy, she is married to Mr. Bingley and their Pemberley is in Pittsburgh PA.

She has two daughters who are devoted to sports which require long practices, and began writing her own stories as a way to pass the time she spent sitting in the lobbies of various gyms and studios. She is a firm believer that all stories should have long looks, stolen kisses, and happily ever afters. Like her favorite heroine, she dearly loves a laugh and considers herself an excellent walker.

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Now let’s pass the quill to you, Amy!

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amydorazioIt is such a pleasure to meet all of you at Every Savage Can Dance. I am really excited about the publication of The Best Part of Love. This is my first published work although I have been writing and posting Austenesque stories for about five years now. To me there is nothing more enjoyable than exploring new paths to a happy-ever-after with Darcy, Elizabeth and many other characters given to us by Jane Austen.

Like many authors, I first began my JAFF journey as an insatiable reader. I started with what I could find on amazon which, at the time, wasn’t a lot. Then I found the forums and really got hooked into it — it was a pretty happy day when I discovered just how much was out there.

For as much fun as reading is though, once I started writing, I really got addicted. Reading about Darcy and Elizabeth is great, but I found writing allowed me to really immerse myself in their world and their story. Of course it’s a danger too — I tend to be in the middle of the grocery store or driving somewhere when the exact right thing I need to make Darcy say hits me and then my mind is gone and I wonder how it is I came home without the shampoo I desperately needed!

The Best Part of Love was the fourth or fifth novel-length story I wrote and posted at A Happy Assembly, although parts of it were written before anything else. What I really loved was the idea of Darcy being in Hertfordshire and looking down on Elizabeth and not realizing that she is, in fact, both wealthy and titled. It took me a while to figure out how that scenario would come about and it certainly took me into story lines and plots that I could not have envisioned back then — but it was definitely a fun ride! I hope you will have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.

Book Excerpt

Elizabeth seized upon the warmer weather of Kent gratefully, departing on an early walk the first morning she was in residence at Rosings. Elizabeth chose a lane at random, delighting in the burgeoning verdure before her. She inhaled deeply, drawing the fresh spring air into her lungs and feeling the bounce return to her step. She soon came upon Mr. Darcy.

“May I join you?” he requested. “It is a lovely morning, is it not?”

“It is splendid, and yes, you may join me.” They began to walk, and Elizabeth asked, “Do you always rise early, or did the sounds of the country awaken you?”

“I am an early riser. Are you?”

“I am,” she admitted. “Not the mode, I know! I much prefer a walk at dawn to a promenade during the fashionable hour.”

“As do I.”

They walked on, sometimes silent and other times voluble. Elizabeth had many questions about the grounds, the house, and the parish that Darcy was happy to answer.

From that morning on, their rambles together became a regularity. At first, Elizabeth counselled herself to be kindly to him, honouring her promise to Lady Matlock, but she was soon surprised to realise she anticipated his company.

Their conversations soon revealed a side to him she would not have suspected: a good intentioned man with an honourable character and true heart and with similar frailties and problems to anyone else. It was endearing. When she had sketched his character in Hertfordshire, she had seen only a small portion of his true self.

“May I enquire as to your thoughts, my lady?”

“Forgive me.” She blushed lightly. “You have caught me in recollection.”

“Of what?”

“I was thinking of my initial impression of you. My opinion has improved markedly now that I know you better.”

He looked down, the brim of his hat putting his face into shadow. “How far improved is that opinion?”

She glanced at him quickly, her heart skipping a beat.

He stopped then, turning to her and looking into her eyes. Her hand, which had been on his arm, dropped and somehow found a place within his grasp. “You must know my feelings and wishes are unchanged. You may have me; nay, you already have me. On your word, we shall be husband and wife.”

Dismayed, Elizabeth spoke quietly and as gently as she could. “Forgive me if I have led you to think my feelings have changed. I treasure the time we spend together, but I cannot marry you.”

There was a bench nearby and he led her to it. “You do not doubt the sincerity of my love for you?”

“No, not that.” She looked down at her lap.

“Then what? Do you not think we would be as happy in marriage as we are in friendship?”

“No, I confess, I do not. We would argue and fight; you would grow resentful over what I could offer you, and I would grow weary of trying to love you well enough to satisfy you. I already know the pain of losing love, and I could not dare begin with a love that burns hot and see it grow cold. I could not bear it.”

She looked up; pain smote her chest in seeing the sadness in his eyes. She caressed his arm. “I am sorry. I have pained you.”

“I am only pained with my understanding of your sorrow. I should not be surprised. To have lost all you did and endure all you have, that you should be care-worn is expected. You do such an excellent job of appearing content and in good spirits, it deceives me into believing you truly are well.”

He removed her glove and brought her hand to his lips for a gentle kiss. “I am happy to wait for the day when you again have the courage to be loved as I intend to love you.”

divider-lineWow! Doesn’t that make you want to drop everything you’re doing and read the story from beginning to end? It does me! Fortunately The Best Part of Love has been released and is available here. Ebook version only at this time; paperback version should be available in two to three weeks.

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The Giveaway!

Eight (8) lucky readers will win a copy of The Best Part of Love!

enter-to-win-imageReaders may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants should provide the name of the blog where they commented (which will be verified).

Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter. Paperback or ebook format will be randomly selected for each winner as well.

NOTE: Paperback copies are available for continental US winners! Ebook copies are available for all winners, including international winners! If more international winners are randomly chosen than the 4 allotted ebooks, then that will decrease the number of paperbacks. 8 books will be given away to 8 different winners.

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Comment at Every Savage Can Dance by clicking the Comments link in the upper-left corner beneath this post’s title.

Connect with Amy D’Orazio:

person-using-computer-clipartWebsite 

Goodreads Author Page

Facebook: Amy D’Orazio

Twitter

Instagram: amydorazio

Pinterest

next-stop-clipartVisit Amy’s other stops on the blog tour for more of The Best Part of Love:

6 Jan My Jane Austen Book Club; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

7 Jan Just Jane 1813; Review

8 Jan Babblings of a Bookworm; Vignette, Giveaway

9 Jan Every Savage Can Dance; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

10 Jan Tomorrow is Another Day; Review

11 Jan Savvy Verse & Wit; Character Interview, Giveaway

12 Jan Half Agony, Half Hope; Review

13 Jan Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, Giveaway

14 Jan Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway

15 Jan Delighted Reader; Review

16 Jan From Pemberley to Milton; Review

17 Jan A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life; Guest Post

18 Jan Obsessed with Mr. Darcy; Review

19 Jan My Kids Led Me Back to Pride & Prejudice; Vignette, Giveaway

20 Jan Diary of an Eccentric; Review

21 Jan More Agreeably Engaged; Vignette, Giveaway

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Thank you all for joining me today and have fun visiting the other sites on this blog tour.

Best of luck to all of you who enter the giveaway. Many thanks again to Amy, and wishing you every success with The Best Part of Love!

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And … if you haven’t already got your copy of Desperate Hearts, you can order a kindle copy here. (Coming soon for Nook.) desp-hearts-cover

 

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