Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Second Impressions by Amy George ~ Blog Tour ~ Book Review




Hello fellow Readers! Today as part of the Second Impressions Blog tour, I will be reviewing Amy George's Novella, 'Second Impressions'! Kindly brought to you by Jakki at Leatherbound reviews  in conjunction with  Meryton Press.


Book Blurb:
Once, Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet were foes, then tenuous friends. After Elizabeth discovers Darcy is engaged to another woman, she flees to Boston to seek solace with her cousin, the brash and worldly Emeline Poston.

When she returns to England after years spent abroad, Elizabeth must face the man who shattered her heart, and she is shocked to find the proud man she once knew drastically altered. Does she have the courage to seek out the man with whom she fell in love—whatever the cost?

Fitzwilliam Darcy has spent his days regretting what might have been and his nights being tormented by the decisions he has made. His life in tatters, he can barely face the once-respectable man in his mirror or the baby girl in Pemberley’s nursery. Now that Elizabeth has returned, will he atone for his mistakes and win her heart for good?

I've always held firm that I'm no JA purist (also a little hard if you love a variety of JAFF), however I do have principles and am clear about what I enjoy when it comes to JAFF. This book changed that, which is a good thing, because as JAFF grows and expands, we must make room for a variety of author styles.

What I liked about this book was the authors personality. It's the type of story you can imagine a group of Janeites putting together one girly evening. One has the outrageous ideas, one jots it all down, one insists their speech is a little too modern and helps by rephrasing in a more regency manner, another suggests that if a character was created similar to Martha Levinson, Cora's mother from Downton Abbey, then they could get away with some of the lack of propriety and the quiet one in the group, is silently sipping their tea (wine) thinking to herself, "I'm so sending this to Meryton Press in the morning, the girls will kill me, but with a little tweaking, it will be worth it!"

“You have never before used your rank against me. That was clearly the last tactic in your arsenal, Madam Wellington.” “Hush. If Em hears you mention Wellington, we will be forced to endure another tirade on the Corsican Imp and the Brave Duke.” Elizabeth smiled. “There is no need for concern. Emeline and Charles went out riding early this morning.” “Ah, yes,” said Jane. “Our dear cousin has abducted my defenseless husband. It appears Charles is quite intrigued by our brash American.” - Amy George


As a short read I could see something like this cheering me up on the way to work, something that would make me laugh despite being annoyed that at 7:00am, on London Underground, there are so many people who did not wash this morning, or that i'm now squashed against one of said persons. But this morning you have your Kindle and not only do you enjoy the journey, you also pass your stop! Not even the suitcase of gentleman on his way to Heathrow, that keeps bashing me in my shin can distract me from purpose, I admit, the story did keep me engaged.

There were so many times in this book that I was saying, "oh no! I've got a feeling this is what's going to happen, but surely not?"  Followed by "Oh wow, I stand corrected, I can't believe she just wrote that" and then would proceed to burst out laughing for the next five minutes (yes I know annoying for the people on the train!). Or I would be thinking, wouldn't it be funny or good if this happened, just for the fun of it and although i'm not being serious, the author would read my mind and that is what, I would get. 
As Janeite's we all probably daydream about possible JAFFs that could be written, sometimes they're far fetched, or just for a bit of amusement and probably would not see, the light of day, unless you had the time to write them. However JAFF is written by fans of Austen and we must remember, many are not well established authors and would just love to share their re-imagining with you and luckily for us, they do.

"The music drifted through the air as Emeline caught sight of Elizabeth dancing with a lanky, red-haired youth and wondered where Darcy was to be found. Surely, that emaciated, pale boy was not the love from whom Elizabeth had run to Boston to evade. “Miss Poston, if you are going to dance with me then dance with me.” “I beg your pardon, Jack. Were you saying something?” Emeline smiled smugly as she turned her face back to his. “You are entirely too familiar in your address, Miss Poston,” he scolded. “Am I? Pity. I could swear you wanted to be familiar.” John felt his pulse race at her words. They were the truth," - Amy George.

The story is a page turner and I liked how she made the characters slightly different in personality but were still likeable. I always enjoy a story that will make me laugh and keep my interest. Emeline, Jane and Jack (yes Jack! No Colonel, or Wickham for that matter, but a new hero with a likeable character) were my favourite characters surprisingly, despite my attention usually being focused on Darcy and Elizabeth. It had a good plot, however I had two hangups, firstly the book does not make it clear how the 'what if' has altered, I think it was intentional for the mystery, but it made for frustrating reading at times, because you're thinking, why are you being like that Elizabeth? Considering all that has passed, but there is much Elizabeth does not know, but it wouldn't have made any difference to the story if it had been explained at the beginning. Secondly the coming together of Darcy and Elizabeth was rushed and as a result did not flow as nicely as it could have and was a little unclear. However I believe in Novellas sometimes it is difficult to portray so much, in such little time. 

Overall it was a fun read, with some lovely heart warming scenes, to follies and mishaps the next. I liked the freshness of the story and the allowance that was to be had, by having an American in the story, it gave the story a more modern feel. The more JAFF authors there are, the more JAFF I get to read, despite the minor flaws, I do believe this author has the potential to write another intriguing storyline. I therefore look forward to another fun and lighthearted read.

This book is worthy of 3 & half Hearts - The Colonel & Mr Bingley

Author Bio:
Amy George is a middle-aged woman who hates her "old lady/grown-up" car and refuses to listen to its radio at a reasonable volume, especially when the Beastie Boys or the Violent Femmes are playing. She lives in a town in the middle of the country where the county fair is one of the biggest social events of the season and everything is fried. Her household consists of a dog, a cat, a man, a hermit, and stubborn soap scum.

She has been writing since she was a child and was a frequent contributor to the Hyacinth Gardens, a popular but defunct JAFF site.

Author Links:

Second Impressions Blog Tour Schedule:

8/15: Review at Margie’s Must Reads
8/16: Excerpt & Giveaway at Romance Novel Giveaway
8/17: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Jane Austen Book Club
8/18: Guest Post & Giveaway at Skipping Midnight
8/19: Review at Tomorrow is Another Day
8/20: Review at Liz’s Reading Life
8/22: Excerpt & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
8/23: Review at Half Agony, Half Hope
8/23: Excerpt & Giveaway at So Little Time…
8/25: Guest Post & Giveaway at From Pemberley to Milton
8/26: Review at Diary of an Eccentric
8/27: Review at Just Jane 1813
8/28: Author Interview & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm

I was given an ARC for my honest review

Apologies for the delayed post, but we had a power outage this morning = no internet! :( 

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

'Jane Austen Speaks' by Maria Emilia De Medeiros ~Excerpt & Givewaway!

Hello Fellow Readers,

Today I have the pleasure, of welcoming Maria Emilia De Medeiros. 
Author of  'Jane Austen Speaks', 'About Life, the Modern World, & Heavenly Pursuits'.

As always, I enjoy the opportunity to showcase new JAFF authors and I hope you will all make Maria Emilia feel welcome. After reading the excerpt “My Dinner Parties in Heaven” I had some fun imagining who I would invite, I conclude, I would need to host several, including literary greats and music legends.

Many thanks for inviting me to your blog today, Tamara!  I am most humbled and honored to share about my recently released book, Jane Austen Speaks About her Life, the Modern World, & Heavenly Pursuits, with your readers today. 

This book is my own lighthearted attempt to allow Miss Austen to voice what might have been her “own” opinions on modern day matters, based on a knowledge of her life, work, society, and the prevailing social morĂ©s inherent in Western culture of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries with which she was raised.
In addition to Miss Austen’s wide-ranging reflections upon her life, novels, and the modern world, a section of the book is devoted to food and social visits, featuring a number of heavenly “guests” as well as recipes for your use and enjoyment.  You can plan your very own Jane Austen dinner party, too!
I have often tried to imagine what a real dinner party would have been like in a lovely English home during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in which Jane Austen lived.  I know that there are historical reenactors who attempt to bring these to life again in our modern era.  Having researched food history and social customs of the time period myself, I know that it is possible to recreate such an event in a most charming manner.  However, we will never really know what such an event was like for those in attendance, because we are not able to travel back in time. 

Having read Jane Austen’s letters as well as her novels, I know that the great lady novelist from Hampshire attended her share of fancy dinner parties as an invited guest of wealthy friends.  Due to her own family’s limited circumstances, it is doubtful that Miss Austen’s parents would have been able to host such a grand event. 

These thoughts led me to wonder, “If Jane Austen could throw the grandest dinner party she could wish for, what would it be like?  And most importantly, who would be privileged enough to be on her guest list?”  It was tremendously diverting, Dear Readers, to imagine Jane’s heavenly dinner party.  Knowing her intelligent, open-minded spirit, I believe many noteworthy figures from all walks of life, who lived before, during, and after her own life on earth, would have been in attendance for some good food and excellent conversation!  In my book Jane Austen Speaks, I have included what I have imagined one of her guest lists would have been like.  Perhaps you would like to try your own hand at imagining who would receive one of Miss Austen’s invitations, written in the finest paper in her best hand, of course!
Here is an excerpt from “My Dinner Parties in Heaven” from Jane Austen Speaks About Life, the Modern World, & Heavenly Pursuits.  I do hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Excerpt

I must confess that my dinner parties in Heaven are much more casual affairs than the proper ones I attended many times during my lifetime on Earth.  On the Other Side, there are no more concerns whether or not the correct number of gentlemen will be in attendance in proportion to the number of ladies, no such thing as proper procession of rank when dinner is announced, and no more worries about who will or will not be impressed by the grandness of the occasion.  In truth, Society and its many dictates no longer exist as they do on Earth, Dear Readers.  Generally, I like to invite a great many interesting souls who lived at many different time periods on Earth, and who will quite simply enjoy one another’s company in addition to stimulating conversation.  Good wine, good food, and some pleasant music always help to improve the ambiance most agreeably, to be sure.
Besides family and friends who were dear to me during my Earthly life, I am wont to invite souls who took many divergent paths during their lives on Earth.  I am certain to enjoy a large group of literati, scientists, inventors, artists, musicians, political statesmen, and activists to ensure lively and diverting conversation.  It is a delight to be entertained by Herr Mozart or Beethoven on the pianoforte and perhaps hear an aria or two sung by Miss Jenny Lind.

However, it is generally true that at some point, my brothers Henry and James as well as my father—all Anglican clergymen, to be sure—will end up in a heated debate with Mr. Darwin regarding his theories of natural selection, race, and evolution.  (They simply cannot seem to get these topics sorted for themselves!) Furthermore, my brothers Frank and Charles Austen, together with Mr. Churchill, will invariably end up in a corner trading war stories and extolling the glories of the British fleet.  When the writers and poets begin to quote from their literary works, and dear Mr. Robbie Burns begins to sing “My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose,” I know that the evening’s festivities have come to a most proper end.  
Please enter your comments below to be entered in the giveaway for an eBook copy!  I look forward to hearing from you. Once again, I would like to thank the lovely Tamara for so graciously inviting me today so that I might talk about Jane Austen Speaks About Life, the Modern World, & Heavenly Pursuits.  It has been so delightful to be your guest today!

Thank you for sharing with us today and for the generous blog tour giveaway! 
Readers please comment below and the winner will be announced on 29th August 2016! Giveaway open Internationally.


Blog Tour Schedule ~ 6th -28th July


Each stop on the Blog Tour, generously features a giveaway, of an e-book copy of the book!

Book Blurb:

In JANE AUSTEN SPEAKS, author Maria Emilia de Medeiros “channels” the great Jane Austen from her heavenly home and allows her the opportunity to speak her mind about the modern world nearly two centuries after her passing. Readers will gain a healthy dose of wise counsel and witty advice for leading a sensible, well-mannered twenty-first century life. Jane Austen’s heavenly exploits (not to mention her recipes) will both entertain and delight you. At times serious, drily humorous, or even a bit naughty, JANE AUSTEN SPEAKS is a necessary addition to every Janeite’s library. Dear Readers, if you have ever asked yourself, “What would Jane Austen think?” you have indeed come to the right place.

Buy Links:
Amazon US:  https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Austen-Speaks-Heavenly-Pursuits/dp/0692639950/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1466366157&sr=1-1&keywords=jane+austen+speaks
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jane-Austen-Speaks-Heavenly-Pursuits/dp/0692639950/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1466366192&sr=1-1&keywords=jane+austen+speaks

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Northern Rain by Nicole Clarkston ~ Excerpt!


Hello Fellow Readers,
As promised, I have an excerpt of Northern Rain, kindly shared by author, Nicole Clarkston.
Enjoy reading, Nicole's playful Mr Thornton!

~Northern Rain Excerpt~

“Well, Miss Hale,” Donaldson tugged the spectacles from his face and began to
put them away. “It is a good thing you sent for me.”
Margaret’s eyes darted to Thornton, just behind the doctor, hoping his more familiar face might yield some clues about the doctor’s findings. “My father will recover, will he not?” 
“In a manner of speaking, Miss Hale. He has been growing steadily more frail of late, has he not? Short of breath and confused, I shouldn’t wonder.” 
“Yes, that is true,” she admitted. 
“I thought as much. I believe his heart is weak. The blood is not traveling well to his head or his lungs, Miss Hale. I suspect that, combined with his recent emotional distress, could account for the delusions you say he experiences from time to time. I do not have a cure, I am sorry to say, but I have left a compound which should help. I have seen it prolong lives some years. Without it,” he admonished, “he would not be with us by the summer, so take care that he receives the correct dosage every day.” 
She nodded vigourously. “I will see to it myself, Doctor!” 
“There’s a good lass, I knew you would.” The doctor smiled kindly. 
“Is there anything else I can do for him?” she asked anxiously.
 “Oh, yes, keep him well rested. Light walks once or twice a week should not trouble him, but no more, Miss Hale. He should wait a couple of weeks, at least, before resuming his public lectures. Also, some of that excellent bone broth your woman Dixon makes might do wonders for his blood.” Margaret smiled. “Dixon will be pleased to hear it. Thank you, Doctor.” She bent her head to peer into a purse she had already collected. “How much….” 
“Oh, no, please! It is nothing, Miss Hale,” Donaldson waved his hands as he slid into his coat. Margaret shot a suspicious gaze to Thornton, but he shook his head innocently. 
“Think of it,” Donaldson insisted, “as my way of honouring your late mother. I could do so little for her, and it pleases me that I can do something for your father. Take care of him, Miss Hale. I will return next week to check in on him.” Donaldson collected his hat and saw himself out. 
“Well!” she huffed in surprise at his departure. 
Thornton grinned. “That was always the way with Donaldson. Don’t worry, Miss Hale, we will see to it that he is adequately recompensed for his trouble.” 
She shook her head in wonder. “I do not like being indebted to anyone.” She then turned her eyes up to him. “I find myself once again in your debt as well.” 
“Not at all, Miss Hale. My motives were purely selfish. Your father is very dear to me.” 
“Of course.” A sceptical smile played at her mouth. “Thank you, Mr Thornton, I could not have persuaded him to- what are you doing?”
 “Taking off my coat,” he answered reasonably, draping that article over a chair back. He began to unbutton the cuffs of his shirt sleeves to roll them up. 
She narrowed her eyes, mystified. “I can see that, but for what purpose?” “Well, you do not expect me to wash up dressed like that, do you? Come, I see that you have already cleaned up the mess that I was responsible for, so it is only right that I should return the favour.” 
“Wash up? What are you- you cannot go into the kitchen!” she cried in dismay, following his determined strides. “You think I do not know my way around a kitchen?” he teased over his shoulder. “I am a very good cook, Miss Hale, as long as you only care for porridge.”
 “Yes, but this is not your-” 
Thornton pushed the swinging door aside, cutting off her objection. “Now, let me see- ah, yes, the kettle, I remember,” he muttered to himself, rather ignoring Margaret’s affronted pleas. He lifted the heavy kettle and poured the hot water into a basin. “You must dry, Miss Hale, for I do not know where everything goes once it is clean.” 
“Mr Thornton, this is quite out of line!” Margaret cried. 
He made a face into his basin as he reached for the cake of soap. “‘Mr Thornton’ sounds so formal for a kitchen. I have taken off my coat! You must call me John.” 
“Mr Thornton,” she repeated in baffled annoyance, “let us be done with this foolishness! I cannot allow you to work in my house like-” 
“Like you do?” he shot over his shoulder with a probing gaze. 
The words died in her throat. Her face went ashen. “How did you know?” she whispered in abject mortification. 
He turned and crossed the room in one long stride. He took her hand in both of his own and spread her palm before her face. “Here,” he murmured gently, touching his fingers over the hardened ridges of her hand. “And here,” he turned her hand over, brushing across the firm muscle above her thumb. Margaret snatched her hand back and stared at the offending appendage in betrayal and angst. She swallowed her hurt and snapped, “I might say it is most ungentlemanly of you to mention it!” 
He sighed, smiling, and took her hand back. “I do not think the less of you, you must understand. On the contrary, it shows your true character. It proves you are not afraid to do what must be done. This,” he squeezed her hand gently, testing her strength, “is a badge of honour. It is evidence of your courage and your fortitude. You have learned resourcefulness and your own ability, and the value of honest labour. Not one in a hundred ladies will ever discover what you already know, Miss Hale.” 
“I…” the word came out garbled. His fingers, tracing so intimately over the lines of her palm, wrought havoc with her ability to speak. Gamely she tried again. “I only help. It is nothing so very remarkable,” she mumbled. For a second she thought of reclaiming her hand, but his touch was… distractingly pleasant. 
“That is your natural modesty speaking. I think I know exactly how much you do. You are the glue which holds this household together.” He gazed long into her eyes, searching to discover if she believed his words. 
Margaret gazed back in stunned silence. She tugged softly and he allowed her hand to slip from his grasp. She brushed it self-consciously over her skirts, recollecting that she had earlier donned one of her nicer dresses. She ought not to ruin this one. Her brow furrowed in thought, she turned from him to pluck an apron down from its hook. 
Looping it over her head, she reached behind herself to tie it, but her nervous fingers fumbled. Without a word, Thornton stepped behind her and, taking the ties from her hands, knotted them himself. Her breath came quick and ragged as a pit of awareness tingled through her core. She turned again to look curiously up at him for a moment. 
“The china is not going to wash itself,” he winked with a sly smile. 
She let out a small laugh, relenting. “Very well, Mr Thornton. I would welcome your help.” 
“John, or I will not help you,” he grinned recklessly. 
Margaret blushed deeply, fighting a smile. “John, then.” - Nicole Clarkston



Northern Rain Blog Tour Schedule 


7/8-9: Launch Vignette, Excerpt & Giveaway at Fly High
7/ 10: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm
7/11: Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride & Prejudice
7/12: Author Interview at More Than Thornton
7/14: Review & Giveaway at Just Jane 1813
7/16: Excerpt & Giveaway at Half Agony, Half Hope
7/17: Vignette & Giveaway at Laughing With Lizzie
7/18: Author/Character Interview & Giveaway at From Pemberley to Milton
7/19: Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway at So little time…
7/20: Vignette & Giveaway at Stories from the Past
7/21: Vignette & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
7/24: Review, Excerpt & Giveaway at Margie’s Must Reads
7/26: Guest Post & Giveaway at A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life
9/10: Review & Giveaway at The Calico Critic

I hope you enjoy the rest of the blog tour!

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Northern Rain Blog Tour ~ Vignette & Giveaway!


Hello Fellow Readers! 
Today I have a delightful vignette, written by Nicole Clarkson author of 'Rumours & Recklessness', a P&P variation.

'Northern Rain' is a North & South Variation and the authors third book. 
Today, as part of the blog tour, Nicole gives us a wonderful glimpse, into what happens, when Mrs Darcy meets John Thornton! 
(Pop by on the 15th July for an excerpt from 'Northern Rain'.)

I offer no justification for the following frivolity, other than I wrote it purely for my own amusement. - Nicole Clarkson
Timely Advice
~~~~~
“John, I received a note yesterday that some very old acquaintances wish to call this morning.” Mrs Thornton’s distress shone plainly in the lines about her mouth and the deepening furrow between her eyes.
“Why should that seem to trouble you, Mother? I am glad that you have yet the comfort of callers, even with things standing as they are for us.”
“It is precisely that which worries me, John. I have not seen these ladies in many years, and just now, as you have determined to give up the mill, seems hardly the time to renew the acquaintance. I should rather have told them I was indisposed, but the notice was too short. I am surprised that they should call so abruptly!”
“They cannot be disagreeable, can they?”

Mrs Thornton’s teeth set. “They are gentry,” she almost spat. “I only ever had a passing familiarity with them as it is, but their husbands found some business in Milton, and these ladies seem of a peculiar enough sort to travel with them. I think perhaps they cannot know of our affairs, or they should not have sent by their note. I never knew any such ladies to trouble themselves….” She left hanging the unspoken phrase “with a failed manufacturing family.” She did not need to utter what was so plainly written across her face.
Her son set aside the pen with which he had been madly scribbling in his ledger. “Mother, if they unsettle you, you need not feel obliged to receive them. What care have we for some bare acquaintance that you shall probably never have cause to see again?”
Mrs Thornton blew out a frustrated huff. “I should do precisely that, but Mrs Bingley was ever kind to me. I cannot send her away.”

John’s ears pricked up. “Bingley? Would that be the wife of a Mr Charles Bingley, of Northrup Woolen Mills?”
“The very one. You might remember her, John. Your father used to do a deal of business with them, and they had us to picnic days once or twice when you were a boy.”
“I remember. Father owed him over two hundred pounds. I settled the debt with Mr Bingley’s agent, however, as the Bingleys were on the Continent for several years. I wonder, Mother, why you refer to them as gentry? They are nothing of the kind, as I recall.”
“Mrs Bingley was a gentleman farmer’s daughter, but her sister- the other lady- married a very well-to-do land owner indeed. They are quite of the proudest class of people.” She scowled, pouting a little at such an admission of the other woman’s superior status.
John’s brow furrowed. “Oh, yes, I remember. Darcy, wasn’t it? I was very young… Mother, what on earth are such elderly ladies doing traveling about on business tours? Why, they must be well into their sixties or better! They cannot find such travels to be very agreeable.”

Mrs Thornton snorted. “If it were only Mrs Bingley, I might be inclined to agree with you. I have no doubt, however, that it is truly Mrs Darcy who insisted upon them both traveling. She has not been known to remain quietly at home under any circumstances.”
John chuckled lightly. “Perhaps their visit is well-timed, Mother. I think you could do with a pleasant morning, and it sounds as though these little old ladies might be quite entertaining for you. Perhaps I might make an excuse to pay my respects.”
Mrs Thornton shot him a warning glare. “Do not repeat that phrase in their hearing! Mrs Darcy would have you for breakfast.”
The august visitors came duly at their requested time. Mrs Bingley was everything that Hannah remembered her to be from all of those years ago. Polite nearly to a fault, with silver hair, guileless blue eyes, and apple cheeks, even one as reserved as Hannah Thornton could not help but warm to her. 

Mrs Darcy, too, had changed but little. Hannah observed the younger of the two sisters with an arched brow. She was crowned with bold salt-and-pepper locks, and her dark eyes still flashed with merriment at every turn. How such a candid, frolicsome woman had survived with her respectability intact in London society, Hannah could not fathom. She could only surmise that Mrs Darcy had been abetted by her husband’s rather substantial consequence and her own capricious wit. Hannah eyed her dubiously. One never knew what the spritely old bird might say next!
Mrs Thornton kept politely to the weather, assisted by Mrs Bingley, but Mrs Darcy at last looked her directly in the eye. “Mrs Thornton, we hear much of Milton’s recent hardships. I believe my husband is even now speaking to one of your local bankers, regarding some investments he had here which have turned out poorly. How do you and Mr Thornton stand?”
Mrs Thornton gasped in utter shock. Apparently, Mrs Darcy’s advancing age and naturally outspoken personality had manifested themselves in quite improper freedoms. She fumbled, completely at a loss for a demure response.

“Lizzy!” whispered Mrs Bingley in sympathetic horror. Mrs Darcy only flicked a cool glance at her sister.
No further comment was made, because it was then that John knocked respectfully at the door of the room. “I hope I am not interrupting?”
Spry little Mrs Darcy was the first to her feet. “John Thornton, how you have grown! I declare, you must have been still in short pants when I saw you last!”
John coloured and reached uncomfortably to straighten his cravat. “It has been a long time, Mrs Darcy,” he agreed. “Mrs Bingley, I hope you and your husband are well.” Mrs Bingley answered in the affirmative. John’s eyes shifted between the two ladies in unspoken curiosity for a long, awkward moment.
“May I ask what troubles you, young man?” queried Mrs Darcy.
John started and cleared his throat. “It is nothing… only… you both remind me of someone, that is all. It is your manner of speaking, I think. Forgive my rudeness. I only wished to welcome you both to Milton.” He darted an uncomfortable look to his mother. “Please excuse me, Mrs Darcy, Mrs Bingley.” Straightening his jacket as though he were beginning to sweat, John made a hasty retreat from the domain of femininity.

Mrs Darcy turned a penetrating gaze on Hannah. “Rather singular, I declare. Mrs Thornton, your son has grown to a fine man. I am sorry to see that things are not well with your mill.”
Hannah Thornton’s eyes blazed. She retorted as indignantly as she dared, “By what means do you reach such a conclusion, Mrs Darcy?”
The elderly mischief-maker twinkled a knowing look back to her. “I have gazed into eyes very like your son’s these forty-two years, Mrs Thornton- whenever Mr Darcy is troubled, or he believes me to be vexed with him. Tell me, who is the young lady who broke your son’s heart?”
Lizzy!” hissed her scandalized sister.

Hannah nearly gagged on the tea which she had forgotten to swallow. She coughed, requiring a napkin. Mrs Bingley was quite literally hanging her head in shame, her little gloved hand shielding her face. One would expect, Hannah thought testily, that Mrs Bingley would be used to her sister’s tart comments by now! She sputtered unhappily and tried to contrive a way to avoid the woman’s blunt line of questioning, but it seemed that she had more than met her match. Elizabeth Darcy was not to be gainsaid.
“She was from Hertfordshire, I take it?” prodded the little busybody.
Stunned, Hannah only shook her head numbly. “Hampshire.”
“Ah. And a gentlewoman, of course. Your son has quite a discerning eye, Mrs Thornton, and I should not wonder that she felt her family circumstance to be above his own?”
The blood drained from the loyal mother’s face. “Mrs Darcy,” she whispered in ghastly awe, “how did you hear of my son’s affairs?”

Mrs Darcy laughed, the bubbling, joyful laugh of a girl. “You might be surprised to discover what I know of matters such as your son faces! I have been in a similar position, Mrs Thornton, and it shows plainly that he is in great need of encouragement. Now, please do not fear- I know I am a frank old woman and I have no business to pry, but I think I like your son. How might I be of help?”
Hannah was shaking her head. “I would implore you- do not try to encourage him, Mrs Darcy. It is the last thing he wants! What he must do tomorrow….” Instantly, she regretted that last plea.
Mrs Darcy’s eyes brightened. “Ah, does he have an excuse to see her again?”
Hannah clenched her teeth. “He intends to give up the lease on Marlborough Mills, and the property has recently passed into her name. She is quite an heiress now… please, Mrs Darcy, I must implore you to say nothing to make this more difficult for my son!”
The woman’s face softened in understanding. “Of course not, Mrs Thornton. I bore six children of my own, and I know a mother’s cares. Dear me, my oldest granddaughter is to wed next month!”
Hannah was still pale and trembling. “Mrs Darcy, I must insist that my son be left alone so that he may at last put it all behind him.”
A crafty twinkle appeared in that pert old face. “Lizzy,” warned Mrs Bingley under her breath. The stern utterance went entirely unheeded.

“Mrs Thornton,” Mrs Darcy smiled sweetly. “I fancy that I may be able to offer some assistance with Marlborough Mills. My husband has provided me with so much pin money over the years that I have never touched, and I have been thinking recently of investing it, do you see. I know it is most irregular, but would you mind terribly if I inquired of Mr Thornton what possibilities there might be?”
Hannah narrowed her eyes. Mrs Darcy gazed back at her with perfect innocence. “Sarah,” she summoned reluctantly. The maid promptly appeared. “Please show Mrs Darcy to my son’s study,” she instructed. The pair departed, and Hannah nearly gasped aloud in consternation and dread until she remembered that silent Mrs Bingley still remained, sedately stirring her tea.
“She has no intentions of speaking about business matters, Mrs Thornton,” whispered the wise eldest sister.
Hannah tried not to bite her own lip in two. “I know, Mrs Bingley.”


John looked up swiftly from the business letter he had been writing when the door to his study opened without ceremony. “They have gone alrea- Oh! Mrs Darcy!” he shot to his feet. “Do forgive me, I expected my mother.” He surveyed her in some confusion as she strode boldly into his study, her eyes briefly grazing the bookshelves.
“What is her name, young man?” The fine lady’s eyebrows quirked playfully as she approached, a roguish smile playing at her mouth.
He gaped. “Mrs Darcy? I do not understand.”
She came near and brazenly tapped a knowing finger on his chest. “The young lady I put you in mind of. She is quite lovely, I expect?” she batted her lashes.
“What… Mrs Darcy!”
“Did her father desire for her to marry better? What was the objection?”
John blanched, his mouth opening and closing helplessly. Mrs Darcy tilted him a patient smile, waiting expectantly. “Her… her father was my friend,” he managed at last.

Her brows arched. “Was? Oh, dear. Has she other family?”
He sighed. “That is something of a quandary, Mrs Darcy.”
“Oh!” she clapped her hands together. “You are in her confidence in some matter! Better and better, young man. I expect you were able to offer some assistance?”
John narrowed his eyes. “Mrs Darcy, may I ask the nature of your interest in my affairs?”
A sage grin lit her merry, lined face. “Mr Thornton, do you think Mr Darcy suffered no difficulties in proposing to me?”
He gulped, sensing himself on dangerous ground. “I cannot imagine any gentleman not surmounting whatever obstacles he was required to face,” he mumbled gallantly.
She laughed heartily. “Clever boy! It is a pity that William was not so chivalrous to begin with. If you only heard how pompous he was! Oh, how I despised him after that!”
His face fell in shock. “You… you refused Mr Darcy, Madam?”

“With a vengeance, young man. The caprices of fortune, and a hearty measure of humility on both of our parts wrought a most agreeable change in the end. I would counsel you, Mr Thornton, if you love this woman, do not give up hope so easily.”
“Mrs Darcy,” his voice cracked, “with all due respect, matters between us are quite irreparable. After tomorrow, I shall never see her again, and I think she would be glad of it.”
“Tell me, Mr Thornton, what was the last word you had of her?” she tilted her head, those dark eyes sparkling as irrepressibly as they had when she had been a girl.
He swallowed, his hands trembling. “She left Milton when her father died. She sent me one of his books by her maid- that was the last direct contact I had with her.”
Those brows lifted again. “And did she include a note? May I see it?”
Like a dutiful schoolboy, and still suffering in some dismay at the lady’s casual intrusion into his affairs, he retrieved the note- which somehow she knew that he would have preserved all of these months. Mrs Darcy scanned it quickly, and a cunning smile grew on her face. She held the note aloft as a victory flag. “The woman loves you, young man!”
His chest seized. “Mrs Darcy, you cannot-”

“Hush!” she held up a commanding finger. Once she had his full astonished attention, she read the note again, as if to confirm it for herself. Satisfied, she looked up with a firm nod. “If she had hated you, Mr Thornton, she would not have applied so much effort at indifference. Why, one can practically read a novel between those lines! A woman who dislikes a gentleman does not include a note at all, even if the gift is one of duty. Was Plato a particular favourite of her father’s?”
He nodded, breathless. “Yes,” he wheezed.
“Ah. There you have it. You must try again, Mr Thornton, and this time, try to keep your pride out of the room when you propose.”
Stars were dancing before his dazed eyes. “Mrs Darcy!” he objected, “My business will primarily be with her attorney. I shall scarcely even have an opportunity to see her!”
She peered at him with her sharp gaze. “Then you must make one, Mr Thornton, and if she asks you to wait an hour, stay for two. It might seem presumptuous to take a ring with you, but you must offer a flower or something- it sounds as though an apology might also go a long way to smooth matters.”

“I doubt,” he murmured softly, “that she will be willing to hear me, Mrs Darcy.”
Mrs Darcy canted her head to the side, and for a moment, he could picture the impish southern country girl who had long ago captured the imposing and prestigious northern gentleman. She studied him gravely, then pursed her lips in decision. “Yes, she will. A man such as yourself does not give his heart away lightly, nor in vain. I have some experience in these matters. Do not lose sight of the treasure you seek, nor let yourself be drawn off on futile disagreements. Discover the meaning of grace, for it covers a multitude of wrongs, young man.”
“I am not practiced in expressing words of love,” he sighed. “My one attempt met with such scorn, that I dare not try again.”

“Dear me, you are a good deal too much like my husband! Forget the poetry, for I have always found it to kill young love stone dead. Speak simple truth in humility, young man, and that will be sufficient.”
He began to blink rapidly, imagining perhaps a dozen different possible outcomes to such a vulnerable display from him. “What am I to do if words fail me?” he rasped.
That sparkling face grinned mischievously up to him. “I am an impatient old woman, Mr Thornton, and therefore perhaps my advice is not as proper as it once was.”
He lifted a brow, curious. “What do you recommend?”
“Just kiss the girl, young man. And do send me a wedding invitation, for I should dearly love to meet her.”

Thank you Nicole, for delighting us with your frivolities, they are most welcome!
 I would also like to thank Janet at More Agreeably Engaged for helping to bring this this blog tour to fruition.

Giveaway Time! 

Nicole will give away 4 eBooks and 4 Paperbacks of Northern Rain. 
She is also giving away 2 audiobooks of Rumours and Recklessness, a P&P variation, and 2 audiobooks of No Such Thing as Luck, her first N&S variation.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Blurb:

There is nothing like a long walk in the rain to guarantee a little privacy… unless the last person you wish to encounter happens also to be in search of solitude.
John Thornton is a man of heavy responsibilities who has many things on his mind, but the most troublesome of them all is Margaret Hale. She wants nothing to do with him, and he wishes he could feel the same. When a moment of vulnerability allows her a glimpse into his heart, she begins to see him very differently.
Is something so simple as friendship even possible after all that has passed between them? Thornton has every good reason to move on, not the least of which is the lovely Genevieve Hamilton and her wealthy father. Will Thornton act according to duty and accept an opportunity to save his mill, or will he take a chance on love, hoping to change Margaret’s mind?

Stop By on the 15th July for an excerpt of 'Northern Rain'!

Northern Rain Blog Tour Schedule 

7/8-9: Launch Vignette, Excerpt & Giveaway at Fly High
7/ 10: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm
7/11: Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride & Prejudice
7/12: Author Interview at More Than Thornton
7/14: Review & Giveaway at Just Jane 1813
7/16: Excerpt & Giveaway at Half Agony, Half Hope
7/17: Vignette & Giveaway at Laughing With Lizzie
7/18: Author/Character Interview & Giveaway at From Pemberley to Milton
7/19: Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway at So little time…
7/20: Vignette & Giveaway at Stories from the Past
7/21: Vignette & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
7/24: Review, Excerpt & Giveaway at Margie’s Must Reads
7/26: Guest Post & Giveaway at A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life
9/10: Review & Giveaway at The Calico Critic

Good Luck in the Giveaway!