The Man Who Loved Jane Austen by Sally Smith O’Rourke

Wow! I knew this was going to be good, but what I found in the pages of The Man Who Loved Jane Austen was not what I expected – in an Oh-So-Delicious way! Did I ever tell you I adore time travel stories? How could I not love a novel that includes a sweet, contemporary Austenesque-type romance, a Regency romance including Jane Austen herself, AND time travel, all wrapped up into one? Sally has a beautiful way of describing scenes; I saw what the characters were seeing.

If it weren’t for a lack of commas, which every once in a while made me stop reading and start editing the text in my head so I was able to understand what was meant by the sentence, I’d say this was perfect! In the end,  I was able to accept them. Putting that aside, I LOVED this book.

Once I got started, I had trouble putting it down and read it within a 24-hour period.

Off I go to begin reading “Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen” the sequel! Can’t wait!

Official Blurb:

When New York artist Eliza Knight buys an old vanity table one lazy Sunday afternoon, she has no idea of its history. Tucked away behind the mirror are two letters. One is sealed; the other, dated May 1810, is addressed to “Dearest Jane” from “F. Darcy”–as in Fitzwilliam Darcy, the fictional hero of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Could one of literature’s most compelling characters been a real person? More intriguing still, scientific testing proves that the second, sealed letter was written by Jane herself.

Caught between the routine of her present life and these incredible discoveries from the past, Eliza decides to look deeper and is drawn to a majestic, 200-year-old estate in Virginia’s breathtaking Shenandoah Valley. There she meets the man who may hold the answer to this extraordinary puzzle. Now, as the real story of Fitzwilliam Darcy unfolds, Eliza finds her life has become a modern-day romance, one that perhaps only Jane herself could have written. . .

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This review is part of my commitment towards

The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge

hosted by AustenProse.com.

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None But You and For You Alone: Frederick Wentworth, Captain

As a Jane Austen and sequel fan, I enjoyed both None But You and For You Alone by Susan Kaye immensely. Both volumes are quick reads, and I loved seeing Persuasions experiences through Wentworth’s eyes. I highly recommend this two-volume story.

Hooking me right from the very start, the beginning follows Wentworth’s life before canon, and I found it to establish his character solidly. We truly get to know the Captain, and how he has lived his life since he had last seen Anne Elliot, in a way I have never read before. It made all of his reactions after it (during canon happenings) much more understandable.

(Originally reviewed at Amazon.com on June 9, 2011)

None But You (Frederick Wentworth, Captain: Book 1)

by Susan Kaye

Blurb for None But You: Eight years ago, when he had nothing but his future to offer, Frederick Wentworth fell in love with Anne Elliot, the gentle daughter of a haughty, supercilious baronet. Sir Walter Elliot refused to countenance a marriage and Anne’s godmother, Lady Russell, strongly advised Anne against him. Persuaded by those nearest to her, Anne had given him up and he had taken his broken heart to sea. When Jane Austen’s Persuasion opens in the year 1814, Frederick Wentworth, now a famous and wealthy captain in His Majesty’s Navy, finds himself back in England and, as fate would have it, residing as a guest in Anne’s former home. Now, it is the baronet who is in financial difficulties, and Anne exists only at her family’s beck and call. For eight long years, Frederick had steeled his heart against her. Should he allow Anne into his heart again, or should he look for love with younger, prettier woman in the neighbourhood who regard him as a hero?

For You Alone (Frederick Wentworth, Captain: Book 2)

by Susan Kaye

Blurb for For You Alone: How could he have failed to know himself so completely? Captain Frederick Wentworth, lately returned to England from a distinguished naval career fighting Napoleon, had re-visited the scene of his romantic defeat of eight years previous at the hands of Miss Anne Elliot to find his former love a pale, worn shadow of herself. Attracted by the lively young ladies in the area who regarded him as a hero, he had ignored Anne and entangled himself with Louisa Musgrove, a headstrong young woman who seemed all that Anne was not. Now, because of his careless behavior and Louisa’s heedlessness, his future appeared tied to her just at the moment when it had become painfully clear that Anne was still everything he truly wanted. In honour, he belonged to Louisa, but his heart was full of Anne. What was he to do?

A Change of Heart (A Regency Romance) by Candice Hern

Although it took me longer to really “get into” A Change of Heart than it did Candice Hern’s other novels, once I did, it was definitely worth it. I enjoyed it quite a bit and recommend this book. I feel the backstories of Jack Raeburn, Marquess of Pemerton, and Lady Mary Haviland are more well developed than those of Hern’s other novels, and I have to admit that I love it when detailed backstories are revealed slowly, always keeping me guessing! The characters are definitely not perfect, their flaws so realistic that I couldn’t help but love them, and I was squirming in my seat through their mistakes. Don’t you love it when you find yourself talking to the characters, telling them, “Don’t do it!” 😉 The “Happily Ever After” doesn’t always seem possible, but of course, it comes in the end.

The official blurb is a perfect description, so here it is:

Jack Raeburn, a longtime pleasure-seeking rakehell, is now unexpectedly the Marquess of Pemerton, a title inherited after the tragic deaths of his father and older brothers. Unfortunately, he inherited a mountain of debts along with the title, and believes his only option is to marry an heiress. He finds a surprising champion in Lady Mary Haviland, a spinster of unremarkable looks and a charming personality, who has decided to help him find a bride. When Jack discovers that Mary has a large fortune, their comfortable friendship takes an unexpected new direction. By turns witty and emotional, A CHANGE OF HEART follows the path of two wounded souls from friendship to betrayal to redemption. The ballrooms of London and the rugged cliffs and coves of the South Devon coast come alive in this poignant tale of the healing power of love.

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This review is part of the Regency Romance Reading Challenge

hosted by Austenprose.com

A Proper Companion (A Regency Romance)

A Proper Companion (A Regency Romance)

First in Candice Hern’s Regency Rakes Trilogy

Here is another highly enjoyable, light romance by Candice Hern!  Hern’s delightful style of writing makes me never want to stop reading her books.

The novel opens with a prologue—I know some readers skip prologues, so I’m hinting that you should read this one since it explains how our heroine’s parents became estranged from her mother’s parents, the Earl and Countess of Pentwick.

Emily Townsend is a beautiful, intelligent, modest, and proper lady of twenty-six, who is also very much aware of her place in the world as a penniless orphan. Emily is employed as a companion to the Dowager Countess, Lady Bradleigh—a feisty, eccentric older lady who loves deeply, and has great affection for Emily (I loved Lady Bradleigh!) Escaping her employer’s early attempts at matchmaking was not difficult while they lived in Bath, where year-round residents are mostly of an older generation, but that is about to change.

The story begins with Lady Bradleigh upset after reading an announcement in the newspaper stating that her beloved grandson, Lord Robert Cameron, Earl of Bradleigh, has become engaged to marry a woman his grandmother does not like.

Having traveled from London to inform his beloved grandmother of his news in person, Lord Bradleigh comes upon the ladies just after his grandmother reads the article. Since he had never felt affection toward any woman he’s met, and since he knew it was high time that he provide an heir to his title, Lord Bradleigh admits that he has now sworn off his disreputable, rakish ways and arranged a marriage of convenience.

His grandmother is miserable knowing that her grandson has taken such a business-like approach to marriage when she had hoped  he would follow her example by marrying for love. Eventually resigning herself to accept his choice, Lady Bradleigh decides to make the journey to the earl’s house in town so that she may prepare a grand engagement ball in celebration of her grandson’s betrothal.

Upon first meeting him, Emily is wary of Lord Bradleigh due to his notorious reputation with the ladies, but she finds she can’t help but like him since he is very much like his grandmother. The attraction between Emily and Lord Bradleigh is immediate, although they keep to themselves. After living in the same household in Bath, and then in London, knowing it is impossible to become more, the two become good friends.

Once in London, the fun really begins. With gentlemen of an appropriate age available, Lady Bradleigh recruits her grandson to assist with her matchmaking efforts for Emily. Emily’s nasty, estranged relatives also come into the picture. Meanwhile, Lord Bradleigh can’t seem to keep his mind on his engagement to the coldhearted Miss Windhurst. Although he regrets the betrothal, he feels a responsibility to follow through with the marriage.

Can Emily and Robert find happiness elsewhere while denying the love they feel for each other?

Since I can’t seem to get enough of Candice Hern’s stories, I’m sure you’ll be seeing more reviews here as part of the Regency Romance Reading Challenge hosted by Austenprose.com

The Best Intentions (A Regency Romance) by Candice Hern

It was a pleasure to become reacquainted with a minor character, Miles Prescott, from A Garden Folly, and get to know him better as a main character in this delightfully light and witty romance.

The Best Intentions (A Regency Romance)

by Candice Hern

Miles Prescott, Earl of Strickland, of Epping Hall in Northamptonshire, is reserved, conservative, and fastidious. His wife Amelia died two years ago, leaving him with two young daughters who he feels desperately need a mother. Having had a love-match with Amelia, Miles doesn’t believe he can fall in love again and wants a marriage of convenience the second time around.

Winifred also believes it is time for her brother to remarry. When she and her family travel to Epping for their annual, Winifred asks two of her husband’s cousins to join them, intending the widowed Lady Charlotte Abingdon for Miles.

Charlotte is a beautiful young widow, elegant and sophisticated—exactly what Miles wanted for his second wife as long as she gets along with his daughters.

Charlotte’s half-sister, Miss Hannah Fairbanks, is nineteen years old and so backward that she has not yet come out. Quite intelligent, she is more interested in architecture than putting herself forward on the marriage mart. In fact, Hanna has no interest in marriage at all and repeatedly tells herself that she doesn’t care that people think she’s still a child.

Almost immediately after their arrival, everyone in attendance assumes Miles and Charlotte will marry, but of course, all does not go as everyone expects 😉

I’m enjoying Candice Hern’s books so much that I’m sure I’ll be adding many more to my list for the Regency Romance Reading Challenge (Austenprose.com) before 2013 is done!

One Thread Pulled: The Dance with Mr. Darcy

One Thread Pulled:

The Dance with Mr. Darcy

by Diana J. Oaks

Although I’ve read it twice before, I decided to revisit this excellent story—full of sweet romance, intrigue, and even a mystery—for The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge. I highly recommend this book!

What if, from the story of Pride and Prejudice, weaved by Jane Austen, one thread was pulled? Diana J. Oaks imagines just that when she pulls the thread that has Elizabeth Bennet overhearing Mr. Darcy’s insult at the assembly ball. As a result, One Thread Pulled goes off in  directions increasingly dissimilar to the original as the story unfolds.

Since there was no knowledge of the insult, Mrs. Bennet declares that they should forgive Mr. Darcy’s pride, and Elizabeth agrees. Jane suffers a fall on her way to Netherfield rather than an illness, resulting in some rather amusing scenes which explain the changes in her character from the original.Without Elizabeth’s injured pride, her behavior toward Mr. Darcy is friendlier, causing both their feelings to develop sooner. Colonel Fitzwilliam and Georgiana Darcy appear earlier, as well, and the characters we love to hate are even more hate-worthy in this adaptation—a very satisfying deviation.

I was sorry to see this book end, and I am looking forward to the second of the series to be published! Diana’s first draft of the sequel is being posted to BeyondAusten.com, titled Constant as the Sun.

Valentine Babies (Holiday Babies Series) by Mona Risk

Although the challenges Roxanne Ramsay and Greg Hayes face are complex, Mona Risk somehow manages to turn this story around into a light and sweet romance that easily grabbed my attention and had no trouble holding it. I’d recommend this story to anyone looking for a quick and easy dose of happily-ever-after. Although the name implies that it’s only for Valentine’s Day, it would be a nice read for any time of year.

Roxanne Ramsay is a fiercely independent woman and an ace journalist who travels the world to get her stories. At Roxanne’s sister’s wedding, she’s paired up with the best man, the handsome Dr. Greg Hayes. Determined not to ruin such a special day, Roxanne tries to hide the devastating news she’s received the day before, but Greg can’t help but notice the sorrow and distress of the beautiful lady who has already worked her way into his heart. When she faints, Greg comes to her rescue, and as an OB/GYN, he realizes that she’s pregnant.

Greg befriends Roxanne as she faces many difficult decisions, and the two fall in love. But can Greg ever accept another man’s child as his own? Thinking she is partially responsible for her child’s father’s death, will Roxanne give in to her guilt, giving up her way of life and Greg’s friendship in the process?

Loving Miss Darcy (Brides of Pemberley)

Loving Miss Darcy (Brides of Pemberley)

by Nancy Kelley

You know it’s a really good story when you hit the end and you still want to read more. If one listened closely when I finished this book, they would have heard a very audible, “Awww! There’s no more?!” and noticed that I kept flipping to see if there was any mention of a sequel.

In Loving Miss Darcy, Elizabeth and Darcy are very happily married. Richard Fitzwilliam is now out of the army at half-pay and has been taking care of his father’s estates in lieu of his brother, who does not really care for the land. His brother decides to take an interest after all—mainly, it seems, in order to spite Richard. Wanting nothing to do with his brother, Richard leaves Matlock and heads over to Pemberley.

Upon arrival, he finds that, after putting off Georgiana’s season in order for Elizabeth to be presented, it is now time for Georgiana’s coming out. The gentlemen are rather reluctant about it—as is Georgiana. As Mary Bennet has no interest in having a Season, and Kitty is all for it, the Darcys ask Kitty to accompany them to London to be presented at court as well, hoping some of her enthusiasm will wear off on Georgiana.

As the Season begins, Richard can’t understand the extreme discomfort that comes over him whenever he thinks of Georgiana having suitors, and heaven forbid anyone should mention that the purpose for a Season is so that she shall marry!

Although at times I wanted to shake some sense into poor Richard, experiencing his confusion was all part of the fun—an Austen-inspired story would be nothing without misunderstandings!  I think this is one of my favorite Colonel Fitzwilliam characterizations, and I really loved Georgiana, too. I enjoyed all the new characters that Nancy Kelley came up with, as well.

A big “thumbs up” from me for Loving Miss Darcy!

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I read this novel as part of the

The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013

at Austenprose.com

Attempting Elizabeth by Jessica Grey

Have you ever become so involved with a story that you didn’t even want to stop reading long enough to eat or sleep?  Yep, that’s what happened while I was reading Jessica Grey’s new release:

Attempting Elizabeth

Janeites everywhere will love this story! It’s been a long time since I’ve laughed this hard or this often while reading a book. The characters were alive, and I couldn’t help but connect with Kelsey on so many levels.

I had written up a description for Attempting Elizabeth, and even chose a couple of quotes that I absolutely loved, but I decided not to use them when I realized they gave away too much of the plot. The official description tells the perfect amount:

“Kelsey Edmundson is a geek and proud of it. She makes no secret of her love for TV, movies, and, most especially, books. After a bad breakup, she retreats into her favorite novel, Pride and Prejudice, wishing she had some of the wit and spirit of Elizabeth Bennett.

One night at a party Kelsey meets handsome Australian bartender Mark Barnes. From then on, she always seems to run into him when she least expects it. No matter how Kelsey tries, she always seems to say the wrong thing.

After a particularly gaffe-filled evening around Mark, Kelsey is in desperate need of inspiration from Jane Austen. She falls asleep reading Darcy’s letter to Lizzy and awakens to find herself in an unfamiliar place that looks and sounds suspiciously like her favorite book. Has she somehow been transported into Pride and Prejudice, or is it just a dream?

As Kelsey tries to discover what’s happening to her, she must also discover her own heart. Is Mark Barnes destined to be her Mr. Darcy? In the end, she must decide whether attempting to become Elizabeth is worth the risk or if being Kelsey Edmundson is enough.”

I was left with one question at the end, but I was able to answer it myself by opening my copy of Pride and Prejudice. I’m relieved to declare that all is still as it should be!

I’m sure I’ll be reading this again soon!

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I’m counting this book toward the Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge (austenprose.com)

Desperate Measures (A Regency Short Story)

My first read for the Regency Romance Reading Challenge (Austenprose.com), my choice is:

Desperate Measures (A Regency Short Story) by Candice Hern

Lydia Bettridge is in love, but the gentleman couldn’t possibly think of her that way. Lydia, her brother, and his friend come up with a plan to catch the unnamed gentleman’s attention. When the scheme goes awry, will she still be able to cause her heart’s desire to become jealous, or will she fail, leaving her miserable for all time?

If I had to choose one word to describe this short story, it would have to be “delicious.”  If you enjoy unrequited love stories, this short story is one you should not miss!