Thursday, May 22, 2014

Blog Tour: Miss Armistead Makes Her Choice by Heidi Ashworth with giveaway!
A themed tour with Prism Book Tours

Welcome to my tour stop for THE ROSE GARDEN TOUR for
Miss Armistead Makes Her Choice
by Heidi Ashworth

Roses in the Miss Delacourt Series

It all begins when the Dowager Duchess of Marcross sends her grandson, Sir Anthony Crenshaw, to accompany her niece, Miss Ginny Delacourt, to their country estate to check on the roses. The Dowager is concerned since her neighbor is keen on stealing cuttings from her spectacular rose garden for Rosehaven, his rose-inspired country home. On the way, they have a carriage accident and are held up by highwaymen but it isn't until they are quarantined at Rosehaven for the pox that Ginny's and Sir Anthony's love begins to bloom.

Thus the series begins...

The regency is a time period full of drama and romance.  Very much like the second decade of the 1900's in America (think flappers and prohibition) its fashions, culture and sensibilities were vastly different from those just prior and just after.  It was a period of transition in England, the only country which experienced "the regency" (this same time period is referred to as the "empire" period in France and was the tail end of the "colonial" era in America) and had its own fashions, (ankle-length muslin dresses were worn primarily during this time) language terms (what was known as a reticule in the regency was a pocketbook, bag or purse shortly thereafter) and what we would call fads (the rage for all things classical Greek in dress and furniture comes to mind). 

 It was an era created by the tastes of three men:  George, the Prince Regent or "Prinny", who reigned from 1811-1820 as regent during his father's (George the III) illness, John Nash, an architect whose style dictated everything from buildings to furniture to fashions, and George, Lord Brummell (aka Beau Brummell) who is known for creating the simple and elegant black suit men still wear today. 

                The Regency was also a time of romance, one that was far looser in its customs and strictures than it was during the Georgian period just prior and the Victorian era right after.  It has been said that the maid who followed her mistress wherever she went during the days of Victoria was a natural consequence of the less guarded regency period.  Though a young man and woman were rarely allowed to be alone together prior to their marriage, it was much easier for them to slip under the radar and be together with none the wiser.  Also, amongst the upper classes, marriages were far less likely to be arranged than they had been in the past and though the practical married for reasons of economics, land and class status, there were many who threw caution to the winds and married for far less prosaic reasons--such as love. 

Above all, the Regency was a time period overly concerned with "appearances".  The true state of affairs did not matter nearly as much as how they appeared to those of society.  If one could appear to be bored (it was unfashionable to be overtly enthusiastic about much of anything) well heeled, well-mannered, and well to do, it hardly mattered if, in reality, one was one oar shy from taking a trip down the River Tick.  When the vile truth was discovered, many people found it preferable to put a period to their existence than to live a life of ostracization from society.

                Mr. Colin Lloyd-Jones is faced with one such dilemma at the outset of Miss Armistead Makes Her Choice and decides to eschew going out in society for the time being.  And then a beautiful young lady arrives in town and all of his common sense goes out the proverbial window. 
Heidi Ashworth, the author, has a beautiful rose garden and each stop is showcasing one of her roses. 
Here is mine:


Miss Armistead Makes Her Choice
by Heidi Ashworth
Adult Historical Romance
Ebook, 274 pages
April 24th 2014 by Dunhaven Place Publishing

Mr. Colin Lloyd-Jones and his friend, Sir Anthony Crenshaw, make a pact to avoid the fair sex during the course of an entire season in order to nurse their wounded hearts. As they shake hands on it, they have no idea that one would soon be off on a trip to escort a young lady to the country and the other soon to fall head over heels in love with Miss Elizabeth Armistead. Sadly, Miss Armistead is only interested in those she trusts not to become so besotted with her beauty that they cannot see her true self. Prior to meeting Colin, she had only met one man fitting that description and she has promised to be his bride. However, Mr. Cruikshank is not due to arrive in London for a full month. Can Colin convince Miss Armistead that he loves her for more than her beauty before her betrothed's ship arrives on British shores?

Purchase from Amazon.

Heidi Ashworth, author of the popular Miss Delacourt series, including the award-winning Miss Delacourt Has Her Day, is a busy wife and mother who's grateful for a bit of peace and quiet in which to write. An unapologetic anglophile, she is determined to return to England to see the home of Jane Austen, a landmark she missed during her first trip across the pond, though she knows Lord Byron's house to be a suitable substitute. She's smitten with books, chocolate, and roses, not necessarily in that order, and is never averse to a round of Guitar Hero.

Tour-Wide Giveaway

- US Grand Prize: $50 Amazon gift card and paperback copy of Miss Armistead Makes Her Choice
- 3 ebooks of Miss Armistead Makes Her Choice (US and open INT to these countries: England, Canada, Belguim, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Poland, Italy, France, Japan, and Australia)

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I loved this story! To read my review, follow this link.

Thank you to Prism Book Tours for including me in this tour and good luck to Heidi with this new book, and to any future stories!

Your affectionate friend,
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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Second Chance Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to....


I really hope that you enjoy the story! I have sent you an email and have passed on the details to Joana who should be in contact soon! 
Thank you to everyone who entered and I wish you could all have won! And thank you all for such lovely comments about my reviews!
Thank you again to Joana for offering this giveaway!

Your affectionate friend,
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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Blog Tour: Review of Haunting Mr Darcy by KaraLynne Mackrory

I am thrilled today to be part of the blog tour for the lovely KaraLynne Mackrory's latest release, Haunting Mr Darcy. (I was sent a review copy but this is my unbiased, honest opinion.) My thanks must also go to Jakki of Leatherbound Reviews for asking me to be part of this tour.

After thoroughly enjoying both Falling for Mr Darcy and Bluebells in the Mourning I could not wait for this third variation, and my high expectations were not disappointed, in fact, they were exceeded! I would give this more than 5 stars if I could! I interviewed KaraLynne a few months back, so if you would like to get to know the author a little more take a look here! 

I believe I can say that this has just become my favourite of all the variations I have read! It was absolutely brilliant. The paranormal aspect to this story was very different and unique. When I first read about the plot, I was a little dubious as I never thought that me and paranormal would mix. However, firstly, this was not Darcy turning into a vampire or Elinor and Marianne coming across sea monsters; this was not too wild or too crazy, and secondly, I love this authors work and so I had faith that she would be able to make it work. And I was right, I had no need to worry as I loved it - I seem to really enjoy the more far-fetched or obscure variations!

"What happens to the happily ever after when the ever after has already happened?
A spirited courtship indeed! Jane Austen’s much adored Pride and Prejudice is transfigured in this regency adaptation.  That fickle friend Fate intervenes when an unexpected event threatens the happily ever after of literature’s favorite love story.  The gentlemen from Netherfield have left, winter is upon the land and after a horrifying carriage accident, Elizabeth Bennet finds her spirit transported as if by magic into Mr. Darcy’s London home.  Paranormally tethered to the disagreeable man, it doesn’t help that he believes she is a phantasm of his love struck mind, not the real Elizabeth.  Somehow they must learn to trust, learn to love and learn to bring Elizabeth back to her earthly form before it is too late."

Before I comment on anything else, first let me say how well written this story is (and her others ones for that matter!) and how much I enjoy the authors style of writing. She has a wonderful talent for description - she can even manage to make the action of removing a cravat and throwing it across the room seem so beautiful and also so meaningful! The language used was brilliant and the writing always flowed really well. One of my favourites was the description of Darcy's library where Lizzy finds herself - from the way it is so beautifully described, I defy anyone who doesn't wish to go there!

What I also love about the authors style is the clever use of quotes or short passages we know from the original used in a completely different context or spoken by a completely different character! There are many that will make you laugh and many that will make you sigh, in a good way. For example...  There is a bit of a role reversal during the conversation we know during the dance at Netherfield, a play around with the oh-so-famous opening line as well as many other famous quotes, and some clever use of the first proposal but in a rather different context!

As well as quotes, some events from the storyline have very different twists or outcomes. ( *cough* the time spent at Rosings for Easter *cough* )

Ok, returning back to the paranormal aspect to this story.  Although this is, I suppose, a ghost story, it doesn't feel like it at all and even if you think "ghost stories are not for me" I would give it a go.

Lizzy's ended up in Darcy library in his London town house of all places, and is even tethered to the man himself, being unable to move more than 10 paces from Darcy. (Just think about that for a minute. Sleeping arrangements were certainly... interesting!)

Lizzy thinks she is dreaming, and Darcy thinks he is slowly going mad, and so hilarity and brilliance ensue!

If Lizzy is just a hallucination of Darcy's mind, then why should he hide his thoughts from his own imagination? Cue flirtatious, bold comments and a relaxed, charming and teasing side to Darcy we haven't seen before.

If this experience in Darcy's townhouse is all a very peculiar dream, then why shouldn't Lizzy enjoy the new ghost-like state she has found herself in, as well as make the most of this new, more charming Mr. Darcy she has discovered? Cue a teasing and sarcastic commentary to accompany Darcy's everyday life, making things difficult for Darcy to not let on to the fact that there is another participant to every conversation he has!

Such peculiar circumstances, as well as the fact the neither believes the other is real, mean that proper rules, correct manners and strict propriety all go out the window. The freedom this allows creates humorous, and sometimes embarrassing (again I say sleeping arrangements), situations and conversations, but it also creates some of the most romantic scenes I have ever read (again I say sleeping arrangements) whilst staying completely clean.

Darcy has an interesting journey through this story, thinking he is going mad, but eventually deciding that "if he was to lose his mind, it would be a comfort to know it was in pursuit of Miss Elizabeth." We really get to see the real Darcy, the Darcy when he isn't having to be the master of Pemberley at balls and soirées. The Darcy when he is alone, has finished all his duties for the day; his relaxed and open personality really shows through and he is most charming (and a little flirtatious, with Lizzy at least!)

Elizabeth also has an interesting journey - she is a ghost or spirit for most of it! I loved how the author described her new state and what it meant she could and could not do; she floats not walks, can move through furniture (this causes some hilarious moments!), is invisible to all but Darcy (again, very fun for Lizzy to be able to make Darcy look like a complete idiot taking to... the air (or even seeming to be giving himself a fencing lesson)) and one of my favourites, the ability to touch a book and feel and 'read' the book in a matter of seconds - now that would be really useful; so many books, so little time!

This is a very hard review to write without giving anything away, especially regarding the rather problematic situation of Lizzy being either a ghost, in a dream or in Darcy's imagination. All I will say is that how everything works out and resolves is very clever and the significant theme of fate and why Lizzy and Darcy have been tethered together and the importance of each of them to the other is just wonderful. It's no surprise that Lizzy eventually becomes 'whole' again and you will not be disappointed with how! It really was a brilliant, thoroughly thought through story. Did you ever think Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley would break into a house or hide under a bed? No? Well you need to read this story then! 

As I have already commented on a few times, the unusual situation results in some wonderfully romantic scenes. The connection between Darcy and Lizzy as it builds and builds is just so strong, and anyone who likes plenty of Darcy and Lizzy 'screen time' (or rather 'page time') will certainly enjoy the amount of time these two are forced to spend together, given that Lizzy can't ever be 10 paces from Darcy!

Another thing which made the romance and emotion even more for me was the fact that they couldn't touch each other, however much they wished to be able to at certain times. It really added to the emotion.

Aside from Lizzy and Darcy, as will always please me, we have a strong and more mature Georgiana, and a brilliant and funny Colonel Fitzwilliam, both who prove very useful at different times through the story, even if Colonel Fitzwilliam begins "to feel like a director having to deal with the emotional fits of his actors."

Now you may be thinking, with Lizzy stuck at Darcy's house, what about the rest of the Bennets? They do feature and many undergo a bit of a change; accidents and illness in families really puts things in perspective, and this has a profound impact on the Bennet's as a family, and Mrs Bennet and Lydia in particular. We also see more to Jane and to Mr Bennet. I enjoyed the glimpses back to Longbourn and what effect the accident was having on them.

And fear not, Wickham still makes an unwanted (and yet wanted - we just love to hate him) appearance - he even gets his due from a most unexpected quarter!

Of course, after a few more trials and tribulations we reach the much anticipated happy ending and what an ending it is! Due to the nature of the story and the relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth, the emotional tension and build up throughout the story means that the ending is even more wished for and anticipated, making it all the more romantic and perfect when you read it! My romantic sensibilities were going crazy!

I really cannot express just how much I loved this story! The plot itself was extremely clever and unique, it was absolutely hilarious and also supremely romantic. Just read it. End of.

To learn more about KaraLynne's work take a look at her blog. Or keep up to date with her on facebook. To purchase on amazon go here for US and here for UK. Or to buy on B&N, follow this link.
My thanks again goes to KaraLynne Mackrory for this interview and to Jakki for setting up this tour.

I wish KaraLynne all the best with this latest release as well as any stories in the future!

Your affectionate friend,
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Monday, May 12, 2014

The Second Chance by Joana Starnes - with giveaway!

Once again, the wonderful Joana Starnes seamlessly blends the characters from two of Jane Austen's novels; first Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion in The Subsequent Proposal and now Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility in this brilliant story, The Second Chance.

"Soon after the Netherfield ball, a troubled Mr. Darcy decides to walk away from a most unsuitable fascination. But heartache is in store for them all, and his misguided attempts to ensure the comfort of the woman he loves backfire in ways he had not expected...

Why is it that the worth of a true blessing is never felt as keenly as when it seems to have become quite out of reach? In this tale of ‘Pride & Prejudice’ meets ‘Sense & Sensibility’, Mr. Darcy is compelled to reflect on this very question, as he struggles to come to terms with the effects of his wrong choices, and fervently hope for a second chance at finding happiness.

“Well, Sir, what shall it be? The joy of music or of the printed word?” she asked, in a manner so highly reminiscent of their past interactions as to make him almost giddy with renewed hope.
“The joy of you! My greatest folly was to ever walk away from it!”"

Starting off with the writing! I remember being very impressed with the writing in The Subsequent Proposal and it was just as brilliant, if not better, in this story! The style is just wonderful to read; it feels almost effortless as it flows so well and the language is perfect. It doesn't feel as though the author was trying too hard to fit with the era or imitate Jane Austen's style which was great, because I find when authors try too hard with it, it doesn't seem natural and flowing, but more forced. As well as flawless writing, Joana has an amazing talent for description, particularly getting into the characters heads and explaining their thoughts and feelings - she does it so powerfully! In addition to sad and intense emotions, there is also just the right amount of humour, which the author also does very well!

This story begins to explore a different path much earlier in the plot than most variations I have read (which is a lot by now!) which made a nice change. We join the story at Netherfield Park where Jane is recovering from her illness, and very quickly the story takes a bit of a twist! Whilst at Netherfield, Elizabeth receives a letter, rather reminiscent of the one received at Lambton regarding Lydia's elopement, but this time it contains the news that Mr Bennet has taken ill.

Given that we are much earlier in the story, Elizabeth is considerably less prejudiced against Darcy - Wickham hasn't come along yet, after all! Add to this the compassionate and caring side to Darcy which is seen for the first time when he comforts Lizzy after hearing about her father, Elizabeth's opinion of Darcy begins to improve much sooner as she realises that perhaps there's more to him than meets the eye. (And I can't tell you how happy it made me for Elizabeth, when Wickham does turn up with his 'tale of woe', to actually realise how peculiar it is for this relative stranger to suddenly blacken Darcy's character in such a way and after so slight an acquaintance! A sensible thinking, unprejudiced Elizabeth for a change!)

As the plot strays away from what we know to happen, other characters stories' pan out in different ways, as is to be expected, and characters such as Kitty, Mary and Bingley come into their own! (But I don't want to give all the clever and interesting changes and twists away!)

As I mentioned above, this author is really skilled at description. A lot of the beginning of the story is from Darcy's point of view and we get to see his inner turmoil and fight with this growing attraction for the unsuitable Miss Bennet! I really, really felt for him! It was interesting to see familiar scenes between Darcy and Elizabeth at Netherfield but from Darcy's point of view; what was he thinking during the walk through the Netherfield grounds when Darcy and Caroline meet Elizabeth and Louisa?  And was Darcy really as oblivious to Elizabeth's presence during that long, silent half hour in the library, shortly before she is due to return home, as he appeared to be? (Incase you were wondering, no he wasn't!)

This continues through the story as he tries to deal with the choice he made to walk away from her, and then further still when he faces problems which are getting in the way when he is trying for his second chance with Elizabeth!

Elizabeth also has a very interesting journey through this story. It was fascinating to read about her thoughts, again so powerfully expressed, and how she copes with her fathers illness. What was also lovely was the effect his illness has upon the whole Bennet family; naturally illness puts things in perspective and we see the Bennet sisters grow closer and even Mrs Bennet is affected in ways you would not imagine! As the story progresses and the Bennets have to adapt to a new life, the altering relationships and dynamics between the Bennet's was really nice to read about. 

Darcy and Elizabeth go through a lot - this book is certainly not without its angst! There is also an on-going game of cat and mouse for a while as Darcy chases Elizabeth round the country, literally- this was frustrating but also rather amusing at times!

What I thought was really clever was how the story we know between Jane and Bingley is sort of transferred to Darcy and Lizzy. It's Darcy who is persuaded (admittedly by himself!) to leave her, and then he realises what a mistake he has made and returns in the hope of a second chance, much like Bingley does with Jane! Joana very cleverly weaves in some of the conversations and the situations which we recognise from being between Jane and Bingley in the original, for example, he says "we have not met since the 26th of November, when I had the honour of dancing with you at the Netherfield Ball" when they finally meet again (and the chase is over!)

Other characters we love are brilliant in this story. A favourite would be Colonel Fitzwilliam! I always love to see more to his and Darcy's relationship and it was particularly interesting in this one due to certain actions on Darcy's part and problems which arise, and this results in some rather tense and difficult conversations between the two which was new and different to read.  Another favourite is Georgiana, and her relationship with Darcy and also the Colonel.  You can see how strong a bond the three have and I always love seeing more of them!

Another lovely change was that Darcy and Lizzy sort out their misunderstandings quicker and thanks to the better first impression at the beginning, come to an understanding much sooner. But is it then plain sailing for the couple? Of course not! There is still almost half the book to go which is filled with problems for the two, thanks to the likes of Lady Catherine and Mr Collins, members of Darcy's family, members of Lizzy's family and past mistakes which come back to haunt them! But they face these problems together which is lovely for a change. It also means we get to see the charming and more open Darcy for longer rather than just in the last few pages of the book! (Darcy is so very sweet and loveable in this story - so charming!)

As you might have guessed, the romance and passion is this story is wonderful, while it is completely clean. Tensions build as more and more problems seem to arise but Darcy and Lizzy manage to find a few private moments and steal a few kisses - and get more and more impatient for the wedding!  (There are a few amazingly romantic and passionate meetings in the library - but I shall say no more!)

I realise I haven't actually touched much on the fact that the characters from Sense and Sensibility come into this story. If you worry about the characters being brought together you really shouldn't worry! It really works amazingly well as the characters from Sense and Sensibility blend seamlessly with the Pride and Prejudice ones. It seems so natural and right - like it was meant to be! Elinor and Marianne chatting away with Elizabeth and Kitty in one corner, while Lydia and Mrs Bennet are gossiping with Mrs Jennings in the other! The image just works, doesn't it? (Well, you may question Kitty but her character undergoes an interesting change, one which I loved!)

I really enjoyed having Bingley, Darcy, Brandon and Ferrars all in one room at the same time - that was fun to picture! Colonel Brandon and Colonel Fitzwilliam were old friends due their professions and having met during the war, which isn't an unreasonable idea!

The best part was when all the principal characters from Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility end up round one dinner table - hilarity and brilliance ensue! It just works and the characters really suit and complement one and other! It you still don't believe me, just read it and see for yourself!

(I will just put in here to fear not, for Wickham, Lydia, Lucy Steele and Robert Ferrars all make an appearance and cause trouble at one time or another! How, I will not tell.)

I have mentioned it a little, but I will just say again how I loved the clever use of situations and conversations we know but between different people and in different contexts. I enjoyed and really noticed it, in this variation in particular. A favourite had to be the classic Lady Catherine confrontation, but this time Darcy is on the receiving end! 

I don't want to give anything away and so all I shall comment about the ending is that you will love it! After all the problems and anguish and the journey Darcy and Elizabeth, as well as me the reader, have been on, you really feel very happy for them and so content and satisfied - more so than I usually do with the end of a book! I think the length of the story helped with this, as you really get to know them, and the story isn't rushed at any point. It ends in a perfectly satisfying way, and with a very sweet epilogue to wrap up the different characters stories very neat and tidily!

Joana Starnes really has done it again. Humour, romance, tension and a wonderful mix of characters and story lines - it's got it all!  I really got into this story (can you tell?), partly down to the length - but even though it was double the length of The Subsequent Proposal I still didn't want it to end - but mostly because this was so well written and such a clever, brilliant and different story.

All I can say is thank goodness it seems there is another story from this author coming out soon, and the extract we are given at the end for this new story, "The Falmouth Connection", really sounds intriguing and I can't wait!

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant and very unique. Just read it.


I am very lucky to be able to offer a giveaway of an ebook copy of this story (internationally)! 

To enter please leave a comment below and include your email address so that I can contact the randomly selected winner and which format you would like if you are the winner.

The giveaway will end on the 19th of May.

Good luck!

I wish Joana all the best with this story as well as any other stories in the future!

Your affectionate friend,
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Thursday, May 01, 2014

The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to....

Vesper Meikle 

and to....
L Fujinaga  

and to....

I really hope that you all enjoy the story! I have sent you an email and have passed on the details to Victoria who should be in contact soon! 
Thank you to everyone who entered and I wish you could all have won!
Thank you again to Victoria for offering this giveaway!

Your affectionate friend,
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