Saturday, December 28, 2013

Holidays at Pemberley or Third Encounters by Alexa Adams

I have greatly enjoyed the previous two books in this series and so I had no doubts that I would not love the final story - and I did! Take a look at the Guest Post from Alexa Adams to learn more about her trilogy and the inspiration to write it. Also have a peek at my reviews of First Impressions and Second Glances for my thoughts about the previous two books of this series. (I was given review copies of these stories but this is my unbiased opinion.)

I had loved seeing Darcy and Lizzy's path to their happily ever after with a lot less misunderstandings and problems (First Impressions), and then seeing the road to true love for Kitty with her Sir James Stratton which was full of misunderstandings and problems (Second Glances) and I was excited to read this final tale about Charlotte Lucas' journey to happiness (in this series she never married Mr Collins) and I was not disappointed.

"Charlotte smiled from across the room at the man's obvious devotion to her friend. Such attachment was very charming, undoubtedly, and when it came to an end, as it was most certain to do, they would have abundant good fortune to keep the inevitable aggravations with each other to a minimum. Both a Christmas celebration and conclusion to Tales of Less Pride & Prejudice, Holidays at Pemberley begins where First Impressions ends, with the marriage Fitzwilliam Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet, and spans the course of Second Glances to conclude their story. As the Darcys enjoy their first years of marriage, Charlotte Lucas is often invited to join them. Watching as the Bennet sisters, one by one, marry to both outrageous advantage and with great affection, her only ambition remains independence and respectability, stubbornly blind to the virtues of a love match. Miss Lucas thinks she has found an acceptable husband in David Westover, rector of Kympton and determined bachelor, but he remains oblivious to the implications of befriending a Miss Lucas. It may mean some heartbreak, but if Mrs. Darcy's pragmatic friend will only surrender to Cupid, she may find wild fantasies do come true, even for ladies dangerously close to thirty."

From the first few words the humour and wit of the author is apparent. She really has a very Jane Austen-y style of writing and the subtle sarcasm and witty remarks are brilliantly clever.

As in the preceding two books, the jumping between the thoughts of all the different characters was brilliant and very insightful. It was carried out very skilfully and cleverly indeed and the narrative was perfect. The story flowed well and never dragged.

Charlotte has always been a practical character when it came to marriage - she is not a romantic, you know - and it is sad to hear her inner thoughts as her practical side and disbelief in love in very evident. However, staying with the very happily married Darcys begins to test her beliefs and she even begins to envy her friend as 'To be confronted by a real-life prince charming was intolerable'. But still her practical nature shows through, strengthened by the fact that she was now thirty, and so 'Charlotte was left to contend with the possibility that dreams really do come true, at least for others.' Her journey to discovery of love and what it is like to experience the emotion is very touching; seeing the views of one who never believed she would feel such a thing, even doubted it existed, alter so through the story.

David Westover is a very fun character. He has been looked after all his life as a result of an accident when he was a young boy which killed his mother, meaning his sister has always looked after him and so, of course, he could not possibly look after himself well enough let alone consider taking on the role of husband, or so his sister tell hims. Consequently, he has hung onto his bachelorhood for many years and doesn't plan to give it up.

But then Charlotte and Westover meet. Through a shared love of drawing the two grow close and for Charlotte her heart begins to be touched. However, Westover is rather oblivious to his own feelings - men know nothing about their hearts you understand. There are ups and downs, trials and tribulations, misunderstandings and miscommunications for these two but the relationship, eventually, reaches its happy conclusion! (No that was not a spoiler as we are told Charlotte Lucas becomes Charlotte Westover in the conclusion of book one, and besides, there has to be a happy ending doesn't there!) I will not give away anything about how the inevitable ending is reached!

Back to the Darcys! Darcy and Lizzy are extremely happy and their marriage prospers through this book, as we would expect it to! In this story we begin with their marriage, then see into their first year as a married couple and even get a glimpse of the Darcys facing parenthood!
Darcy is, of course, still the perfect gentleman and you will envy Lizzy when you read just how perfect a husband Mr Darcy makes - I certainly envied her!

It was enjoyable to see more of the relationship between Georgiana and Kitty, and then the success of the subsequent marriages of those two girls (which was the focus of Second Glances.)

In this trilogy lots of the characters we know and love are a bit different to how you might expect them to be - it is tales of less pride and prejudice after all - and so some characters needed to change a little! I have grown accustomed to this by now and so the nice Lady Catherine - to Lizzy anyway - no longer takes me by surprise nor the calmer Mrs Bennet and the matching-making Mr Bennet! All the secondary characters were great in this story and all had an interesting role. The Wickhams, George and Caroline (yes Caroline Bingley!) obviously still come along to cause problems for Darcy, but they also provide a lot of amusement, especially at the hands of Lady Catherine! But I will say no more!

The ending of the story, and consequently the trilogy, was perfect; all the characters being brought together from all three stories in a very neat and tidy way and all lose ends are tied up nicely!

I have greatly enjoyed this entire trilogy and it has been really nice seeing how the marriages of all the Bennet daughters come about, as well as a few others like Caroline Bingley, Georgiana Darcy and Charlotte Lucas. It was a very unique take on the original with some wonderful story lines, all which flowed smoothly. The humorous and witty style of writing this autho has was very enjoyable to read! For a hopeless romantic like myself, the lack of romantic scenes, kisses and such surprisingly didn't bother me - the writing was so good (and you know I love my romance so that is saying something!) I understand the romance was not the focus and yet, even for me, it didn't feel lacking - anyway, there were still a few sweet scenes every now and then!

This is great as a trilogy as it does contain running themes, but it would be equally as good if taken as three separate stories - you don't have to have read the first one to enjoy the second one, the second one to enjoy the third... You get the idea!

This was refreshingly different and put an interesting spin on the story we know and it was definitely Tales of Less and Pride and Prejudice (especially for Darcy and Lizzy!) If you want books which show the stories of not just one or two characters but many, where the romance is not the only thing going on in the book (as can be the case with some), and where the narrative flows and captures the sarcastic and witty tone of Jane Austen, then these are the books to read - any book from the trilogy! (Although I say read all three!)

I can't thank Alexa Adams enough for asking me to review her wonderful stories!  I wish her every success and good luck for the future!

Your affectionate friend,
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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Competition: Entry #6

Today we have a lovely entry from Rose, focusing on the housekeeper at Pemberley, Mrs Reynolds.


A thousand thanks to my betas Dragonfly, and another dear, nameless friend.

Mrs Reynolds

She had known it was snowing the moment she opened her eyes, and went directly to the window to look out over the grounds. The young chambermaids who’d been up for hours told her it had started just before sunrise, and the footmen came in for their breakfast shaking wet hair and stomping wet boots and laughing, giddy as schoolchildren.

Now, Mrs Reynolds stood by the window in her room, her hands resting on the sill, as evening stole over the countryside. The fading glow of wintry twilight showed her the delicate flakes swirling down like stars come to rest on the lawn and in the treetops, the final Christmas ornamentation settling lightly to earth. Pemberley lay like a jewel in a cupped hand, glittering brightly as snow drifted down over hill and wood and frozen river.

It was unlike her, this moment of lingering, watching, stillness. She told herself she was watching for the carriage that would bring Mr and Mrs Bingley and the children and usher in the beginning of the Christmas gaiety, but the view to the road was not good from this window, not with the snow and the gathering dark, and after another minute she smiled, admitting that she was simply enjoying the last moment of idleness left to her until well into the new year. The arrival of their guests tonight was only the beginning; if snow did not make an enemy of the road Pemberley house would be full to bursting for many weeks to come. The Bingleys would be the first to arrive and, most likely, the last to leave as Mrs Bingley was anticipated to remain well into March, to stay with her sister through her lying-in.

A memory turned her thoughts away from the snow and the road and Mrs Reynolds’s smile grew brighter. Just that morning, Mrs Darcy had sought her out in the servants’ hall, bringing the morning letters, as she sometimes did on the occasions when she was too full of high spirits or restless impatience to wait for Mrs Reynolds, more properly, to come to her. Over the years since their master had brought her home to be mistress of Pemberley, her occasional appearance in the servants’ hall had ceased to be a source of gossip or surprise, but the first time she’d been seen braving the narrow back stairs in her condition she had garnered more than a few admonishments, most notably from cook, whose fierce attachment to their new mistress was as vociferous as the housekeeper's was understated. But Mrs Reynolds was not among the rebukers. She had seen too many children brought into this world to doubt the strength of a mother’s will. Especially the will of such a mother-to-be as her mistress.

Mrs Darcy’s eyes had sparkled as she came into the room that morning, the delightful smile playing about her mouth speaking of merriment just waiting to burst forth. She told Mrs Reynolds without delay that Lady Catherine de Bourgh, making as excuse her disinclination for travel in the winter, would not be joining them at Pemberley for Christmas after all. And although Mrs Reynolds would never speak a spiteful word concerning any relative of her master, neither could she feign sorrow that Lady Catherine would not be descending upon them this year. Not when she was apt to bring her scrawny little lady’s maid who was forever poking her overlong nose into the business of Mrs Reynolds’s household. Spying on them was what Lady Catherine and her maid got up to, and, though God help her she would never give voice to her indignation, Mrs Reynolds had had her fill of it. Ever since Lady Anne passed away, her more imperious sister had acted as though she had a proprietary right to Pemberley. They had all borne it stoically through the years so she made no attempt to silence the titter of holiday cheer that passed around the servants’ table when Mrs Reynolds gave them the news over dinner.

But Mrs Darcy’s liveliness over the matter of Lady Catherine was not quite sufficient to let her overlook the unhappy news another letter brought. The Gardiners’ youngest daughter was still ill, and they were so far from wanting to expose Elizabeth to the dangers of the fever that the whole family would be staying in Gracechurch Street for Christmas. Mrs Reynolds had condoled with her over the loss to their party. Their absence would be felt, she knew; all the household owed Mr and Mrs Gardiner a debt, and held them in the highest esteem, for being the first to bring Miss Elizabeth Bennet to Pemberley.

Looking at her that morning, sitting below stairs and filling the humble room with a glow that could not be denied, Mrs Reynolds remembered her words to the young woman, foolish as they seemed now, the first day she met her. I do not know when my master might marry - I do not know who would be good enough for him. Miss Elizabeth had been good enough. She had become a better mistress than Mrs Reynolds had ever dared hope for, and her son would be just like her. Just like them both. Mrs Reynolds thought with a swell of the deepest pride that she had known the child’s father when he was just four years old, and, God willing, she would live to see his son at that same age.

The sound of quick feet on the stairs woke her from her reverie just as she realised what she had been looking at for the past several minutes - the barest flicker of light to the west, just where the road would be. She turned in time to see little Anna catch herself on the doorframe and call out, all breathless, that Mr Bingley’s carriage had been sighted down the road and now Mr Jansen was calling for her and cook was all in a dither because Betsy let the second stove go cold. The girl was away again before Mrs Reynolds could do more than nod her understanding, leaving her once more alone.

Alone, but no longer idle. Mrs Reynolds lifted her hands to adjust her cap, then to smooth down her apron. Stepping calmly to the door, she glanced back once more to the tall window and the drifting snow. Despite Betsy and cook, despite the Gardiner’s absence and Lady Catherine’s rudeness, despite the weather that would slow their guests and turn the halls into drafty caverns, despite all this it was Christmas, it was lovely, and all would be well.


I really enjoyed this little story and it was nice to read something based around such a minor, and yet very important, character as Mrs Reynolds. Thanks for sending this, it is brilliant Rose!

Your affectionate friend,
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Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Competition: Entry #5

Today we have entry number 6 from Apollonia - a beautiful letter!



A Letter Written by Apollonia

My dear and loving Edith,

The days have quickly escaped my mind. I have wondered how you and baby Susan have been doing. I am consistently saving as much money as I can to travel to Yorkshire to visit you both. My darling, no longer fret over my absence with Susan. I am fully aware that my daughter needs her father and all I am asking is that you wait for me and don't run off with another man in the hopes that he will be capable of providing for you. I have saved enough to travel by carriage to come and see you both. No more worries my sweet, gentle Edith. I shall come in no time. Christmas is three days away and if I shall not make it by then, may God punish my soul and leave me to die for I can no longer bear being without you, my love. I have grand gifts for you both and the moment I lay my eyes on you, I know all my worries shall no longer burden me. I still remember Christmases ago, when I proposed to you and the beautiful ball your family held for us. This year, the ball will be bigger and more grand than you could ever imagine! Just you wait and see, my love.

Your loving husband,


What a heart felt letter! Such desperation in his words! This makes me very interested in what could have been the reason for this painful separation. Well done Apollonia!

Your affectionate friend,
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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Competition: Entry #4

What a wonderful surprise I received when author Carol Cromlin emailed me wishing to enter an extract from her new story for our little competition!

Christmas Games
In Jane Austen's day, the absence of diversions such as television; video games and music players required people to be far more resourceful in devising activities to entertain family and friends who gathered together for the holidays. People sang songs, carols and hymns; and played the pianoforte, the violin or even the harp. There were games of charades and performances of short plays. Of course there was also dancing and playing cards. During daylight hours (weather permitting) they sometimes went ice skating or for sleigh rides.

 A very popular pursuit was playing parlour games. Among these were Bullet Pudding and Snap Dragons; both of which figure in the following excerpt from Fitzwilliam Darcy such I was . In this passage, five Christmases have gone by since the loss of our hero's mother. During that time, the family had gathered for Christmas at the Fitzwilliam estate. Now it is time the festivities return to Pemberley and you are invited to attend the Darcy family Christmas eve party. I hope you enjoy it!

            The next se’nnight past pleasantly by and on Christmas Eve the Wickhams and a few friends from neighboring estates were invited to attend the festivities, which began just after supper. To allow for the keeping of tradition, the Fitzwilliams had carried with them from Greystone, the brand saved from last year’s Yule fire. Earlier in the day, this had been placed as kindling in the great hearth of the saloon and two footmen had labored to haul in the enormous, rooted oaken stump that was to be this year’s Yule log. Now a roaring blaze brightly illuminated the hearth. 
            People gathered in small groups about the room, talking and laughing and a number of guests obliged the company by singing and playing the piano. Spiced wine was plentiful and many a toast to health and prosperity was heard throughout the night. At one point a footman entered carrying a large silver punch bowl mounded high with brandied raisins. Rennie was first to espy the man’s entrance and announced, “Ah yes. Now we shall have Snap Dragons!”
            A crowd gathered round the table where the bowl was placed and the ripple of excitement that began to move through the room on Rennie’s announcement grew as the raisins were set ablaze; their blue flames rising high above the bowl. Those who were faint of heart stood well back and watched as those made of more sturdy stock shot their fingers through the flames to retrieve the prized raisins. These were then quickly extinguished and consumed.
            Georgiana stood fairly near the front of the crowd and Darcy asked her, “Shall I take some for you?”
            She giggled and replied, “Yes please.”
            Darcy, Rennie and George together presented Georgiana with so many raisins that Lady Margaret felt the need to step in and put a stop to it, lest Georgiana should become ill. Once, while Lady Catherine was deep in conversation with a dowager countess whom she had known since childhood, Rennie somehow managed to convince timid Lady Anne to try taking a raisin for herself. Her outstretched hand crept ever closer and just as she was about to strike out, a raisin popped, causing her to jump back with a shriek of surprise that evolved into giggles. Her cousins now gifted her with a number of raisins that they secured for her. Eventually she tried once again and this time, was quite pleased with her success.
            The evening progressed with one entertainment after another; the guests even enjoyed a riotous game of Bullet Pudding from which many emerged fairly covered in flour. It was a rather exuberant young boy who finally came up with the bullet; he then proceeded to romp about the room waving it round and proclaiming loudly of his triumph. It was long into the night, by the time all the guests had finally gone. Darcy and Georgiana stood beside their father as the family drank one last glass of spiced wine and Mr. Darcy offered a toast. “Here is to good family, good health, wonderful memories and sound future generations. And…” said he, motioning toward the hearth where the Yule fire shewed no sign of dying down, “I believe we are all to be blessed with good fortune in the coming year.”
             “Hurrah,” was the general response and with no one but family members remaining in the room there could be warm shews of affection all about.


Thank you Carol for sending this - I found it really interesting to hear about the Christmas activities of the time and the excerpt was great - I cannot wait to read the book!

Your affectionate friend,
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Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to ....

Parinita Choudhary  (

and to
Leslie Serrano (

who I have selected as the winners of this Carol Cromlin giveaway! I loved the reasons you gave to explain why the quotes were your favourites!

I hope you will be hearing from Carol shortly and that you both enjoy that book.

Thanks to all who entered! Happy Christmas!

Your affectionate friend,
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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Competition: Entry #3


Here we have entry number three, from Ryan!





A Jane Austen Christmas




An Austen Admirer


 “How many times are you going to read that same book?”  Accumulating snow covered the porch steps visible from the window.  “Really, you have other books.  Take down one of those for once and give me a little shelf space.”  Samantha marked her place in between the worn pages and looked up at her older brother.  “I will make room for your magazines.  I should have already done so weeks ago.  I am sorry.”  Thomas didn’t care much for novels. They tended to have too many words.   He did, however, possess an impressive collection of Field & Stream magazines, despite never having gone hunting during his thirty eight years due to a fear of guns, which is especially odd for a southern man.  “You do know that those Austen books aren’t good for you, don’t you?  They will only bring disappointment when you learn that life doesn’t always have a happy ending like that, what is it, Wuthering Heights?” “Persuasion,” Samantha replied softly.   “I am reading Persuasion.  Wuthering Heights was written by one of the Bronte sisters.  It is a sad book.”  “Then read the Brunt sisters,” Thomas rejoined emphatically.  “You are nearly thirty now, and still single.  Life will pass you by while you read and read and read by that window alone.  Mr. Reid is still looking for a wife.  I saw him speak to you after the sermon on Sunday.”  Samantha laughed and mumbled, “Mr. Collins.”  Thomas didn’t understand.  “Who is Collins?  No, I said Mr. Reid, the pastor.  He can give you children and a good life.”  Samantha rose and began to remove some of her leather bound books from the shelf.  “You mean that he can give me his own children.  They are quite the little devils.  Besides, I don’t love him, not that I couldn’t grow to love him.  Elinor fell for a clergyman and Elizabeth didn’t love Darcy at first, but…”  Thomas tilted his head like a dog does while trying to figure out what its master is saying.  Samantha continued, “Never mind.  Pastor Reid is a nice man.  I am sure that his children have their virtues.  They deserve a woman who will give them all of her heart.  I am just not her.”  The sky was completely black now, but the snow continued to fall.

Sunday was everything but a day of rest in post-bellum Cartersville, Georgia.  Nestled in between the Piedmont hills and abundant pines, the town began the day earlier than usual.  Cows had to be milked, horses and pigs fed, snow shoveled, and food prepared all in enough time to wash and put on the Sunday best for the Lord’s service.  Samantha dispensed with her chores and dressed before Thomas finished his work outside.  She occupied her usual chair by the window and picked up Persuasion.  The worn pages caused her to pause and think about her own past.

Many years ago today, on Christmas day, she saw Jaret for the first and last time.  She never experienced the touch of his hand, but knew very well the weight of his glance.  She couldn’t help but think of that old Ben Johnson poem, “Drink to me only with thine eyes and I will pledge with mine…”  There was love there, she knew, a love requited and communicated with tacit affection.    He lived and worked east of the town at Red Top Mountain across the lake.  He would come into Cartersville two weekends a month for supplies.  On these occasions, Samantha would look from her front window and see Jaret and his friend pass her front gate together.  The taller of the happy pair strolled lazily along the wooded trail with a book in his hand, while his friend trudged undeterred using his dwarfed, crooked legs, dragging his over sized ears laden with dew.  Rhett, the latter of the two, never failed to honor his given Charlestonian name; independent and stubborn, the basset hound was every bit frustrating as he was loyal and lovable to his peripatetic partner.  Samantha began to anticipate his arrival.  One Saturday afternoon she walked with an uncharacteristic boldness to her mail box as he approached, pretending to retrieve the mail that she had already brought inside hours earlier.  Rhett saw her and let out that deep and resounding bay that is unique to hounds and ran toward her in excitement.  The pedestrian looked Samantha in the eye and smiled, before whistling to his companion who ignored his master’s beckoning.  Laughing audibly, Jaret approached the mailbox where the hound lay at Samantha’s feet.  He placed his book on the sidewalk and reached down and picked up the stubborn dog that refused to move.  Jaret began to speak when a demanding voice bellowed her name from the front door.  Thomas stood there imperiously and Samantha turned and ran back toward the house with embarrassment and a tinge of humiliation.           

After a sleepless night, Samantha returned to the mailbox the next day and saw the abandoned book.  Opening the front cover she saw the title, Persuasion, and traced with her index finger his name written with admirable penmanship on the top right corner of the title page.  She had heard of Jane Austen before, but knew nothing of her works.   Opening the book she found his place marked by a photograph of the man in a Confederate military uniform and the now familiar hound.  She began to read where he apparently had left off, “Now they were as strangers; nay worse than strangers, for they could never become acquainted.”  The impression was such that Samantha devoured the book without setting it down.  After some difficulty she found another Austen book and did the same.  Two weeks passed and Jaret did not return.  A fortnight turned into a month, and then into a year.  She never saw him again, but sat by the window every Saturday night waiting for his return, always with one of Austen’s books, more often than not the tale of Anne and her longing for Wentworth.   They had never spoken, yet she loved him with a love that only Jane Austen could describe; and only in Miss Austen’s words did Samantha find comfort.

The church was filled to capacity for the Christmas day service.   Samantha and her brother occupied their usual pew in the back of the wooden chapel as Pastor Reid approached.  “Merry Christmas,” he exclaimed looking directly at the sister.  “I would like to have a moment with you, Samantha, after the service if possible.”  Samantha’s did her best to retain her composure and find the right words to let him down gently.  “We shall stay as long as necessary for you, Reverend,” Thomas interposed.  The church bells rang and the pastor returned to the pulpit for the commencement.  “Why do you insist on meddling in my personal life?  You shouldn’t encourage him.” Samantha emphatically remarked as they rose to their feet for the first carol.  “You don’t have a personal life to meddle in.  You can’t marry your books, dear.”  Thomas declared.  She didn’t hear a word of the sermon.  Her mind was elsewhere.  As Pastor Reid approached the peroration, Samantha thought that she heard a faint, yet familiar bark.  Immediately and quite conspicuously she bolted through the chapel doors into the cold day.  Her suspicion was confirmed.  She covered her mouth and began to cry cathartically with joy.

Rhett trudged through the snow and lay belly up at her feet.  Samantha heard a whistle and the hound’s name being called from around the corner.  When Jaret saw Samantha he smiled and spoke, “That stubborn animal seems to have an affinity for you, Mrs...”  The man lingered on those last syllables awaiting a response from his newly found interlocutrix.   “Miss Samantha Zoeller.   I am not married, Jaret.”  His face lit up.  “No?  I assumed that day at the mail box that the gentleman was your husband.  How do you know my name?”  Samantha blushed.  “He is my brother, a good man, but at times an interloper.  I saw your name written in the book.”  “What is your opinion of Jane Austen’s heroines?” Samantha earnestly inquired.  Happy at any moment to discuss Jane Austen’s books, Jaret without hesitation took Samantha by the hand and declared, “I found Elizabeth Bennet to be too independent and Anne Elliot too dependent.  Elinor had too much sense and Marianne with surfeit sensibility.  Emma was puerile and Catherine Morland underdeveloped.  There is something special and enrapturing, however, about Fanny Price.  Oh, how I would love to be her Edmund.”  Samantha gasped and removed her hand from his grasp.  With a sigh she looked Jaret squarely in the eye and declared, “Fanny Price?  Of all of the heroines you prefer Fanny Price?  It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man who cannot rightly judge the superiority of Elizabeth Bennet over the rest is not fit for a woman’s affection.  I could understand esteeming Anne Elliot, but Fanny Price?”  With that she bent down and patted the hound and returned to the church.


I thought this was brilliant and what a great ending! Bravo Ryan!

Your affectionate friend,
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Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Competition: Entry #2

This is our second entry by Loretta! This is not actually a Jane Austen related entry (as there was a little confusion about the competition!) but she sent my these lovely poems and I wanted to share them anyway!

Both these poems are taken from her new poetry book, Rhythms of Life.


Cat And The Christmas Tree
We bought our Christmas tree today.
The cat looked quite confused.
We decked it out with lights and things,
with sparkly balls and ding-a-lings,
with tinsel and with candy rings.
And the cat peeped out beneath.

We oohed and aaahed and cooed at it.
The cat got more bemused.
We put our bright wrapped gifts around
beneath the tree, upon the ground;
the carols made a festive sound.
And the cat peeped out beneath.

We went to bed, well satisfied.
The cat stayed down, just staring.
In midst of night we heard a sound,
we all got up and thundered down.
The Christmas tree crashed to the ground.
And the cat peeped out beneath!

First Christmas
No tinsel!
No glitter,
no tree,
no mince pies,
no decorations or turkey
that first Christmas Day.
Blood, pain, poverty.
a star shining like no other star,
an angel choir,
gifts - gold, frankincense and myrrh,
and the Glory of God shone round about!
No greater gift than this,
that most beautiful
first Christmas!


Thank you very much for sending me these lovely poems. Good luck with your new book!

Entry number 3 tomorrow!

Your affectionate friend,
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Monday, December 16, 2013

Carol Cromlin: A Double Giveaway!

I am very excited to be able to announce a double giveaway today! The author Carol Cromlin is currently celebrating a wonderful achievement, as her newly released book, 'Fitzwlliam Darcy such I was', has been listed on the Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2013 - what an achievement!

In celebration, she is currently holding a giveaway (which I have just entered myself!) and all you need to do is follow the instructions on the picture - but be quick, as it is only the first 500 entrants! Wouldn't you love to be able to claim having a calling card from Fitzwilliam Darcy?

In addition to this celebratory giveaway, the lovely Carol has provided me with two eBook copies (yes two!) of her book 'Fitzwilliam Darcy such I was' to give away to my lovely readers, just as a thank you! (They will be sent through Amazon for the Kindle.)

"Capturing Jane Austen’s voice, Carol Cromlin colours in the silhouette of the extraordinarily complex Mr. Darcy. Fitzwilliam Darcy is arguably the best known, most charismatic hero Jane Austen ever created but he is also the most unfathomable. Who exactly was Mr. Darcy? What principles guided him? What desires drove him? How did he come to be the character Austen, so vividly, portrayed? Cromlin persuasively answers these questions in her newly released historical novel, Fitzwilliam Darcy, such I was. Weaving a compelling tale of the joys and sorrows of his first three decades, she provides the first comprehensive, biographical sketch, of literature’s most famous leading man. A poignant tale, it will sometimes bring on laughter; sometimes tears."

To enter this giveaway, all you need to do is comment with you favourite quote from Pride and Prejudice and why, and then I will pick my two favourite answers.

Please also leave your email address which I can then pass onto Carol Cromlin if you are one of the lucky winners!

This will be a shorter giveaway than usual, and it will end this Friday, 20th December, and will be announced on Saturday the 21st.

Thank you again to Carol Cromlin and may I offer my congratulations for your wonderful achievement at making the Best Books of 2013.

Good luck!   

Your affectionate friend,
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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Writing Competition Annoucement

Hello dear readers!

I hope you are beginning to feel festive as Christmas is drawing ever closer!

If you are not, I have something which may help you get into the Christmas spirit!

I am a member (and moderator) of a Jane Austen group on the website Goodreads. It was suggested by one of the lovely members that we hold a little writing contest - all for fun, no prizes! It sounded like a great idea and the response has been great.

 "A spirited beginning of winter engagements - I sincerely hope your Christmas may abound in the gaieties which that season generally brings."

I will posting each of the entries on my blog, starting on the 20th of December with my entry. I should have enough entries to post one a day until early January - and it sounds as though there are going to be some great entries!

Keep an eye out for the posts if you would like a bit of festive Jane Austen reading!

Your affectionate friend,
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Sunday, December 08, 2013

Second Glances by Alexa Adams

A little update for those who have missed my recent posts: I was contacted by the lovely Alexa Adams asking me if I would like to review her trilogy, Tales of Less Pride and Prejudice, and I was only too happy to oblige!  If you wish to read more about the entire trilogy and the reasons and inspiration behind this trilogy then have a look at the Guest Post from Alexa Adams. I have just finished reading book number two, Second Glances, by this brilliant author and it was thoroughly enjoyable! I was provided with review copies however this is my honest, unbiased opinion.

“Yes, but he is Darcy, after all. Can you imagine the lady who would reject him?”
Sir James laughed. “I don't know; if he had made a muddle of a first impression upon his wife, as I have on Miss Bennet, then perhaps his gentlemanly status would have undergone similar attack.”
A year has passed since the conclusion of First Impressions, and the marriages made by the three eldest Bennet ladies are prospering. Expectations are high for the two youngest sisters to do equally well. Kitty, having excelled in school, receives an invitation to join Georgiana Darcy in her first London season, leaving Lydia to bear the burden of the classroom alone. Will the most forward Bennet tolerate such inequity?
Kitty arrives in London prepared to be happy, but her delight is marred when she finds a most unwelcome gentleman on intimate terms with her hosts. She has met the reckless Sir James Stratton before and would like nothing more than to never encounter him again, but his acquaintance she is forced to endure. Struggling for firm footing amidst the whirlwind of London society, will Kitty be allowed to follow her heart, or will her family force her hand? Join the reimagined cast of Pride and Prejudice as they pursue happiness amidst the ongoing obstacles of life, love, and interfering relations.

I really enjoyed the first story, First Impressions, and so I was excited for this second tale.  From the blurb it seemed to suggest that the misunderstandings and miscommunications which were in fact missing from the first book (a very unique and interesting approach to the classic story, so loved for it's misunderstandings!) would instead be present in this second story. Therefore, I was looking forward to seeing Kitty's journey to love and how she would deal with a story line similar to the journey we know Lizzy to have experienced with Darcy; a romance based on bad first impressions followed by lots of confusion!

I will begin with the characters, and most importantly the heroine and hero, Catherine Bennet and the new character, Sir James Stratton.

I loved the portrayal of Kitty in this story. She really was, I think, the Bennet sister the most ignored in the original; Jane was the beautiful one, Lizzy the clever and witty one, Mary the 'accomplished' one (in theory), Lydia the lively and sociable one and Kitty was... living in Lydia's shadow. Although Kitty thrives at the school she and Lydia are sent to, and her friendship blossoms with the refined Georgiana and shrivels with her less refined sister Lydia (who is not benefiting from her education, surprise surprise), as a result of her upbringing, I think her disbelief and lack of self confidence is understandable. It is an interesting journey she goes on, learning that she is her own person and should be proud of who she is. She is an intriguing and very untouched character to develop and she really comes into her own in this story, with the help of Sir James, who is an important factor in this growth of self belief!

Talking of Sir James, what a great character addition he is! He's funny and a charmingly teasing man! He has a very care free attitude as well as a very strong and determined nature. He is rather eccentric (which is all the more fun!) and so his actions and behaviour are often very forward. This eccentric and adventurous nature is clear from the first encounter between him and Kitty - let's just say things do not get off to a good start thanks to a near death experience with a carriage!

As I said, Sir James is forward. However, I love his open and artless manner and his frankness with Kitty from the off. The two of them have some wonderful sparring matches, reminiscent to those we remember between Lizzy and Darcy!  I have already said how the course of love does not run smooth for these two, and as well as an awful first impression to be righted, there are a few other problems of trust to overcome and mistakes to be explained before they can reach their happy conclusion - which you can be assured they do (as we were informed in the epilogue of the first book of one Kitty Bennet becoming one Lady Stratton!)

As well as this central romance, there is a secondary romance between the blooming Georgiana and a very sweet addition in a Mr Brooks - it was nice to have two romances going on, one progressing a lot smoother than the other!

Of course in a story where Kitty is the guest of Georgiana who is living in the Darcy's town house, Mr and Mrs Darcy are bound to be part of the story! I loved seeing glimpses of their new lives as man and wife - and they are as happy as you would imagine them to be! One of my favourite quotes from this book was a description about the newly married Darcy; "I cannot imagine such a description as jovial being applied to Darcy" - clearly Lizzy is having a very positive effect on her new husband!  I found it very interesting - and pleasing - to see both the Darcy's facing the trials and tribulations (and natural consequences!) which marriage brings and seeing them learn to cope with such difficulties. It was lovely seeing their relationship grow ever stronger - they are a perfect couple!

There are some interesting character developments and some unexpected relationships explored further in this story...

Mr and Mrs Bingley are around now and then and it was enjoyable to read about their married life. Lady Catherine too is all amiability, and is actually quite motherly! (I suppose those who have not read my review of book one will find this description of such a character shocking - a brief explanation would be that many characters are vastly different from how we know them to be, as that is exactly the point of this trilogy (particularly book one) 'Tales of LESS Pride and Prejudice' and of course Lady Catherine as we know her causes far too much trouble to fit with this series!)

Darcy and Kitty have grow closer and get on very well and Mr and Mrs Wickham (who is, incidentally, the former Caroline Bingley) end up having a  rather happy marriage - actually their characters are much a like, I can see how they might suit one and other!

Mr Darcy and Mr Gardiner's familial relationship continues to grow as he becomes very much like a father to Darcy.  Mr Bennet makes a welcome return and continues to tease his love-lorn prospective son-in-laws (just as he did with Darcy in First Impressions), making any meetings they may have as diverting as possible for him!

Another great addition was the wonderful Mrs Westingham, Sir James' aunt. She is a lot of fun and a very perceptive, motherly character who is responsible for some great scenes in the book! The most diverting relationship for me is the idea of Mr Bennet and Lady Catherine being very good friends!

And who could forget Lydia, who still manages to cause trouble for as many people as she can, have no fear! Her involvement in the story is all rather amusing. That's enough on characters I think.

I mentioned earlier about the links between Kitty and Sir James' relationship to the true story between Darcy and Lizzy - this was one of my favourite aspects to the story. There are many parallels between the two stories and a few clever comments which allude to the fact (for example Sir James states to Mr Brooks at one point how if Darcy had messed up his first impression on Lizzy, as he had managed to do with Kitty, it might not have been such a smooth journey for them - as was just the case. He even talks of "having to overcome a truly wretched first impression." Sound familiar?)

I love the authors style of writing - it was just as clever and witty as it was in the first story. The alternating between all the different characters points of view allows you to get to know each character better, and the transitions are carried out very smoothly thanks to the brilliant writing, meaning it did not annoy me one bit to jump so often between different characters and locations - I enjoyed it and I think it really adds to the story and works well for the style of story telling trying to be achieved (and being achieved very successfully!)

I have already mentioned how I really enjoyed seeing glimpses into Darcy and Lizzy's marriage, and so I am really looking forward to the final book in the trilogy, Third Encounters, to give me further insight into the first year of their marriage. As well as that, I will be very happy to read Charlotte Lucas' tale and to read a story where she will discover the joys of love (as in this series she has managed to escape marriage to the infamous Mr Collins!)

Although this tale is the second in a series, this would easily work as a stand alone story, but just be prepared for a few odd character alterations and unexpected story twists coming along, all which have taken place and are explained in book one.

Thanks again to Alexa for giving me the opportunity to review her stories - she really is a talented writer! Keep a look out for my review of her final story in the coming weeks!

Merry Christmas!

Your affectionate friend,
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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

15 Signs You Belong in a Period Piece Romance

I recently came across this fun post on Buzz Feed and I just had to share it!

(*DISCLAIMER* I did not write this and I am just sharing it with you - I have just replaced the short film clips which can be seen on the original post for pictures in my posting of it.)

I have thought I belong in a period drama for some time now, and this just confirms it - I score 15/15!


1. You want to live in a world where attractive people are only distant because they’re in love with you.

2. And you’re convinced that love only happens when you’re wearing embroidered silk.


"And your defect is a propensity to hate everybody."


3. You daydream about witty conversation with a brooding new acquaintance, rather than small talk.


4. And the impassioned arguments in period dramas are the only times you want to fight with someone.


5. Catcallers/sleazy club prowlers only remind you of Mr. Darcy-types who are reserved and would never!


6. And you wish that if you were hit on, it’d at least be worded eloquently.


7. You would trade text messages for handwritten letters any day.


8. And you’d give up any club/bar for an ornate masquerade ball.



9. You endlessly yearn to be living in an antiquated estate seductively located in the wilderness.

10. And you’ve spent a good deal of time imagining flirtatious walks along estate gardens.


11. You enjoy any opportunity to light candles and create the perfect atmosphere for blossoming romance.


12. You already know what you want your partner to say when they express their undying love. And it’s really poetic.


13. You only wish something life-changing would happen during a storm.


14. You would love to charm someone with one of the many skills you were taught as a child. Be it singing, piano-playing, dancing, drawing or even needlework!


15. And you’re entranced by the notion of ending up with whom you least expect. Like the person you used to loathe, which happens so often in costume dramas.


And, if period literature taught you anything, the right person can come along at any moment and under any circumstances!

I say again, I was not the clever one to create this great post and the credit must all go to this Buzz Feed Fellow!

Your affectionate friend,
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