Friday, 29 August 2014

The Fortune Hunter by Diane Farr

Who would have thought it!

Who would have thought that after falling for a character as revered as Mr Darcy, I would be championing the cause of a rake!! I dare say there is a lot this particular rake could have taught pre-Elizabeth Mr Darcy, in the ways of wooing a lady. Which could have subsequently prevented his disastrous first encounter at the Meryton assembly and his subsequent Hunsford proposal. However Mr Darcy trumps a rake when it comes to honour and it takes for this rake to meet his own Elizabeth Bennet for us to see just how honourable he can be.

 I first met Lord Rival in Falling for Chloe, a notorious rake who was far from Mr Darcy in all the ways of an honourable gentleman. Yet the author hinted to more, giving us a glimpse of the man behind the fa├žade, a Lord who was two farthings away from the gutter, whilst gallivanting around London like he was no less poor than the Prince Regent himself. I was intrigued to say the least, a product of an ever changing world where members of the peerage did not have a penny to their name, how did this come to pass? I wanted the background story and did not hesitate in purchasing this book to find out.

“He had stayed in this damnably cramped flat long after the Season ended, trying to scramble together a loan. The rest of the aristocracy had deserted London and trotted down to Brighton or back to their own estates. He’d declined every invitation to accompany his friends and stayed on, sweltering in the summer heat, trying to accomplish what he dared not attempt while the gossiping ton was there to observe him. He’d approached every rich, social-climbing Cit in London. You’d think that one of them, at least, would be eager to put a nobleman under obligation. But he soon discovered that a rake’s title is worthless to a social-climber” – Diane Farr

Lady Olivia Fairfax is rich and independent, using her mother's inheritance to set up a charity for poor girls, who would otherwise be on the streets, she is without a doubt a wonderful and caring person. The income she has inherited from her controlling father she knows little about and this is one of the ways her father continues to control her from the grave. Determined no other man shall ever have full control over her again, she has vowed herself to spinsterhood,  however she did not foresee Lord Rival, a charming force who is not to be reckoned with.

“It was pique, really, that had spurred her to order this particular gown. She had been thrown into such a temper by her chaotic and confusing emotions, and her overwhelming desire to attract George’s interest or know the reason why, that she had selected a fabric more suited for a high-class courtesan than a lady of quality” – Diane farr

Lord Rival is in need of a rich wife and can only marry for money. Befriending a recluse to gain information about the unknown Lady Olivia Fairfax, an unexpected turn of events forces the two of them together. A self-professed rake is hardly trust worthy and his reputation proceeds him, how the heck he is going to turn Lady Fairfax from determined spinster to wife? This is of course the heart and soul of this story and I enjoyed every minute of it!

“He had to have her. He desired her, now, almost as much as the money. He stole a glance at her and felt his blood heat. It wasn’t that she was conventionally pretty, although no fault could be found in her delicate features. She was better than pretty. A man could never tire of looking at that extraordinary, expressive face: the fine bones and clear eyes, the wonderful mix of strength and softness, intelligence and innocence, fire and laughter. And a man could certainly never tire of touching that soft skin of hers. But he wouldn’t think of that—not now.” –Diane Farr

I have always strived to be non-judgemental, I understand people are fundamentally shaped by circumstance, their past, their environment and their life experiences. Grasping this philosophy can enable you to better understand and forgive people. It is probably why I am training to become a Social worker. My parents were social workers and my belief that people can better themselves is a motto I personally live by. I fear I have monumentally digressed, yet it is the crux of my love for this book, Lord Rival's journey to rediscovering the goodness within and Olivia's selfless generosity and kindness. It would take a very special person to instigate the catalyst that would be the means of change for Lord Rival and the same can be equally said in regards to getting Olivia to relinquish her need for control.

I acknowledge I have not said much about the storyline, however I loathe to give anything away. In a nutshell I loved this story because it was clever, hot, witty, funny, heart-warming, and packaged within an exquisite form of dialogue. I defy you not to love this book! After hearing me chuckling to myself and enquiring as to what I found so funny. My teenage son, even with all his swag, wanted me to repeat the following passage so that he could share it with his friends! Need I say any more, I was all astonishment!!!!

“the whole purpose of your visit was wickedness, pure and simple!” “Wickedness is never pure. And, come to think of it, it’s rarely simple.” “Really? How interesting.” Her eyes flashed. “I shall take your word for it, my lord—since wickedness is your area of expertise.” He chuckled. “Very wise. A novice should always defer to an expert.” – Diane Farr

This book is worthy of 5 hearts - Mr Darcy!

As always feel free to share your thoughts :)

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Longbourn to London Blog Tour - Guest Post and Giveaway!

Welcome to the ninth stop on the Longbourn to London Blog Tour, kindly brought to you by Jakki at Leatherbound Reviews. I have really enjoyed following this tour, especially the excerpts that Linda Beutler author of Longbourn to London has kindly shared. Today Linda stops by with an insightful guest post and a wonderful book giveaway, courtesy of Meryton Press!

Can you guess the subject of Linda's post!!!


Tamara, Thanks so much for the kind opportunity to visit with your readers about Longbourn to London. —Linda B

Mr. Darcy’s Mother-in-law
By Linda Beutler

In The Red Chrysanthemum (Meryton Press, 2013), Mrs. Bennet’s role is limited and unremarkable. Mr. Bennet gets to write several diverting letters and interview Lizzy after Darcy requests permission for their betrothal, but Mrs. Bennet is not given much business.

     In my debuting book, Longbourn to London, (also published by Meryton Press), although not much happens except the development of Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship from tentative courtship to married lovers, Mrs. Bennet is the squeaky hinge, the fingernails on a blackboard, the fly in the ointment. I’m still trying to figure out how I became so thoroughly satisfied with making her even more annoying than she is as Jane Austen wrote her in Pride and Prejudice.

     For one thing, Mr. Bennet gets to wax heroic in this story, and one of the people he protects Lizzy from is her own mother, on more than one occasion. Since the plot is rather uneventful, I can’t give too much away of what does happen, but generally, any father would look good—no matter how dilatory a specimen—compared to this Mrs. Bennet. It is almost as if she feels a touch betrayed for not knowing Lizzy and Darcy were courting (of course we know they really were not, at least not in any traditional sense). Given that Mrs. Bennet prefers Jane to Lizzy, she may have assumed the attitude that Jane deserved the more exalted suitor. In any case, this Mrs. Bennet simply cannot find it within herself to be genuinely happy for her second eldest daughter.   

     The back cover of Longbourn to London displays some of the love tokens Darcy sends to Lizzy before the wedding, and Mrs. Bennet takes a dislike to all of them, for various reasons (except the double strand of pearls, which is given on the wedding night and thus, she doesn’t see). Each pre-wedding offering is either too extravagant, or not sufficiently so, to suit Mrs. Bennet, and as you might expect, she does not withhold her opinions, nor does she dampen their volume. One gift causes a running battle in which all of the Bennet ladies side against her, to no avail.

     Is it any wonder that after only a very few months of marriage, Jane and Bingley are ready to move far, far away from Longbourn? Even Jane Austen included that detail. One can easily imagine Mrs. Bennet waltzing into Netherfield as if she owned the place, running roughshod over poor Mrs. Jane Bingley.
     Darcy takes over for Lizzy’s father as her protector—as any good husband should—but to a large degree he is unaware his heartfelt and hand-selected gifts create such havoc until Lizzy explains it all to him after the wedding. Perhaps that’s for the best. If reprimanding his mother-in-law, Darcy might show a marked preference for employing four-syllable words she would never comprehend!

Thanks again, Tamara, for participating in the Longbourn to London Blog Tour. 


You are most welcome Linda, thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, your post did make me chuckle. I always like to view Mrs Bennet in a favourable light, however your post has reminded me, that Mrs Bennet's favouritism of Jane over Elizabeth is something I very much dislike. Whatever your thoughts are on Mrs Bennet I hope you enjoyed Linda's post as much as I did. 
Good luck with the rest of the Blog Tour and with the success of your new book Linda!
Thank you Jakki and Meryton Press for another enjoyable blog tour!

Giveaway time!!!  This giveaway is open internationally and the winners will be announced on the 4th September. The winners will have 48hrs to contact me via my 'contact me' tab, located at the top of my blog.

One ebook copy and one paperback copy are up for grabs, equalling two lucky winners. To be in with a chance of winning Longbourn to London, just leave a comment below! Good luck Everyone!!!!

Longbourn to London Blog Tour Schedule

8/18: Author Interview & Giveaway at My Jane Austen Book Club 
8/19: Excerpt and Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
8/20: Guest Post at Laughing with Lizzie 
8/21: Review at Wings of Paper 
8/22: Author Interview at The Little Munchkin Reader 
8/23: Excerpt & Giveaway at The Calico Critic 
8/25: Review at Diary of an Eccentric
8/26: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice 
8/27: Author Interview and Giveaway at The Darcy Obsession 
8/28: Review at Babblings of a Bookworm
8/29: Guest Post at My Love for Jane Austen
8/30: Review at Songs and Stories 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

For All the Wrong Reasons by Mary Lydon Simonsen

This book might be entitled' For all the Wrong Reasons' but when it comes to Elizabeth & Darcy, surely it can only be for all the right reasons!!!

After reading A Pemberley Medley by Abigail Reynolds and Simonsen’s own collection of short stories A walk in Rosings Park, I have been been won over on short stories. The idea of a short story is no longer abhorrent to me and I believe that if they are told well they can be just as satisfying as a full length novel. Although I would class this as a novella, it is what I consider a short story.

The premise for this story falls into my favourite P&P 'what if’ category, Elizabeth being married to Darcy and then discovering what a great man he is. You would think poor Elizabeth being married to someone she does not love very cruel indeed, but there is a twist to the usual premise and the path to love is quick and sweet!!!!

Bingley and Jane are happily married, which leaves 132 pages of Darcy and Elizabeth. The Pemberley estate is entailed away from the female line and Darcy’s cousin David Greyson is next in line to inherit. Darcy has fallen out with Greyson over plans to build cotton factories which boarder some of  Darcy’s estate and Darcy is concerned the surrounding lakes would become polluted and rightly so!!
A disgruntled Caroline, on realising her hopes in securing Darcy are fading, is now engaged to Greyson. With Darcy's two least favourite people due to inherit Pemberley, he is doubtful that Georgiana would continue to have a home at Pemberley should anything happen to him. Darcy concludes that the answer lies with an heir, a son of his own and who better to help him in that quest than the lady he once mentioned, much to the vexation of Miss Bingley, had very fine eyes,

The search to find a wife begins, but in all honesty we all know Darcy has somebody in mind. Writing to Mr Bennet and Elizabeth,  Darcy explains why he is in need of an heir and that he would like to marry Elizabeth. Oh dear Darcy's formal and business like manner is conventional yet unromantic. Keeping his feelings close to his chest, Elizabeth has no idea that the man who is propositioning marriage is deeply in love with her.

“Will, please tell me all you know about Miss Elizabeth Bennet,” Georgiana asked, ignoring her brother’s comment. Although Darcy had been almost legalistic in listing the details of his offer, he had said very little about the lady, an omission Georgiana insisted he correct. “It is my understanding that the education of the two eldest Bennet daughters was undertaken by their grandmother, the wife of a solicitor, and that Elizabeth does speak passable French. Although she does not play the pianoforte as well as you do, she plays a lively tune and has a fine singing voice.” “Are you planning to marry the lady or to exhibit her?” Georgiana asked with a frown. This was not what she wanted to hear. “What does she look like?” - M.L.Simonsen

Elizabeth having had no further offers of marriage since Mr Collins, is dreading the life of a spinster. Since Jane's marriage to Bingley, she has observed that Mr Darcy is a decent and honourable man and considering Elizabeth's aunt has pointed out that no man will offer for a lady “who favours her own opinion” – Simonsen. 
Elizabeth is secure in the knowledge that Darcy knows enough of her character to be certain she is not shy in voicing her opinion!

I liked this Elizabeth, so sensible in her reasoning, believing that her marriage would be a loveless one and no different to the many such arranged marriages that take place, she takes the rational approach. Elizabeth, as sensible as ever wants to meet Georgiana and see Pemberley before she makes her decision. After all, Georgiana and the staff at Pemeberly will be affected by her decision if she decides to marry Darcy, is she not the most loveliest and considerate person?

She viewed the painting of the handsome elder Mr. Darcy and admired a full-length portrait of his son, the current master of Pemberley, which, to Lizzy’s mind, failed to capture the essence of the man. Instead of being the head of an ancient tribe, he could just as well have been standing outside Covent Garden waiting for a hackney. Because the portrait was nearly ten years old, perhaps it was time for a new one, and Lizzy laughed at the thought that she was already spending Mr. Darcy’s money. - M.L. Simonsen

Georgiana is delightful, clever and has grown into a wonderful young lady. Accompanying Elizabeth to Pemberley she is determined to do everything in her power to get Elizabeth to give a favourable answer to her brother. It is thanks to her and Mrs Reynolds that Elizabeth gets to see who the real Mr Darcy is. Reverend Paul Kenner the vicar of St Michael's in Lambton, is the saviour of the day as both Darcy and Elizabeth seek his counsel throughout the book. In regards to his advice to Darcy, well all I shall say is that it was very interesting advice indeed! Especially coming from a clergyman and I am most certain Mr Collins would not have approved!!

Darcy is very witty, not overly flowery or swoonworthy, but a realistic Darcy. A man of his times, specifically some of the bedroom scenes (nothing that will have you running and screaming from the bedroom, it is a clean read) yet a kind and trustworthy man you can rely on.

Unfortunately I cannot continue as I am very close to telling the whole.  I will conclude that Simonsen’s  writing as per usual does not disappoint and if pushed for some objectivity, I would say that when they realised their feelings for one another it was a little too quick, however at 132 pages what did I expect! It was succinct enough to get to a HEA by teatime yet I could not help wishing that Simonsen would have expanded on this story, is wanting more a valid reason? I suspect not, considering it was meant to be a short read!

This Book is worthy of four hearts - Mr Bingley!

As always please feel free to voice your opinion! Lady Catherine certainly has no scruples in doing so!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A Matter of Chance by L.L Diamond

This is my first modern JAFF !! I finally plucked up the courage to move out of the Regency era and luckily for me this book did not disappoint!' I think the key for me was whether I would be able to recognise Austen's Darcy 200 hundred years later and the answer was yes. Surprisingly a modern day Mr Darcy seemed more tangible, 1800's Darcy is a fantasy, yet modern Mr Darcy seemed real!!!

With a no nonsense approach we get straight into this story. After Elizabeth's failed marriage to an alcoholic wife beater, Greg Wickham, (oh why does that not surprise me!) Elizabeth turns up on Jane and Bingley's door step battered, bruised and about to give birth. Fast forward two years and Lizzy is ready to move on, taking possession of an antebellum house called Longbourn, which was left to her by her aunt Gardiner. At the same time Darcy returns from England and is staying at Jane and Bingley's guest house.

It was the blend of old and new, Austen's original dialogue and constant nods towards canon that endeared me to the story. The mixture of traditional and modern continued seamlessly throughout. For example when Darcy, Richard and Bingley would retire to Bingley's study for glasses of scotch it reminded me of the Regency customs of propriety. Darcy was always the gentleman holding car doors open, (heck any door for that matter) offering his coat and the list of gentlemanly gestures went on!!

Darcy offends Lizzy as per usual and instead of the grand gesture of saving Lydia, he has another grand gesture in mind. This goes some way towards making amends for his proud, haughty and insulting behaviour, wow 200 hundred years later and nothings changed! With references to the restoration of his ancestral home Pemberley, the author very cleverly ties in the current restoration work that is taking place at Chatsworth house as her model for a painting Lizzy does. So it would seem Austen's Darcy is modern Mr Darcy's ancestor.

"Lizzy was shocked when she came in the room to find her daughter sleeping soundly in William Darcy’s lap.  What was even more incredible was that he didn’t seem to mind it in the least.  In fact, he was stroking her hair softly as he spoke with Charles.  She’d noticed early on how handsome he was, but he’d often ruined her appreciation of his looks with his haughty demeanor.  Now, he was sitting there, cradling Melanie in such a gentle manner, that she found herself genuinely attracted to him.  What was it about a man holding a baby that could generate lust in the most frigid of women?  Jane had commented after Melly was born how sexy she found Charles when he held the baby.  Lizzy had never seen Charles as anything more than her brother, so she hadn’t truly understood the comments until now." -L.L.Diamond

This Darcy was likeable and swoonworthy! Put into one word, he was adorable. Funnily enough Darcy was the prejudiced one, while Lizzy was the proud one. Lizzy is a lovely person (no surprises there) and I took to her quickly. Her daughter was cute and watching Darcy take on the role of her father was heart warming to see. Jane, Bingley and Richard were there in the all the essentials and you could definitely relate them to canon.

Witnessing Darcy gain Lizzy's trust after her terrible marriage to Greg Wickham was enjoyable. Although not a clean read I enjoyed how the author tackled the issue around such subjects and it was very tastefully done. Elizabeth had already been married and Wickham had been her only partner. While Darcy although no stranger to the bed, was a gentleman in all the ways I would imagine him to be in the 20th century, where old ideals are so far and few between.

Elizabeth is an artist in this and considering the Author is also, it was easy for her to portray Elizabeth as an artist also. As we know food plays an important role in Austen's books and tells the reader a lot, simply by the dishes that are cooked. I can only surmise that the author is a lover of food because you are often left hungry. I have a very unadventurous palate as I am a fussy eater but even I was left curious as what some of the dishes would taste like. Oh how I could I forget! Mrs Reynolds is in this and is as delightful as ever, she can cook too!

If I must offer any criticism is it petty and will be short lived, so here goes, as in Diamond's other novel Rain and Retribution the remaining Bennets are antagonists that I loathe dislike, there I said it!

Back to pleasantries I really enjoyed seeing what a modern day Darcy would be like, I think what is unique in comparison to Regency set JAFF's is that you get a mixture of what Darcy is like before and after marriage. For instance when Darcy is at Elizabeth's house while they are dating, he would often come up behind her and give her a hug, these are what I call 'sweet Darcylicious intimacy moments' that you would only get after marriage in a Regency novel. I have no scruples in admitting that as a result of these 'Darcylicious moments' I am now eager to read some more modern takes on Pride and Prejudice! Thank you Diamond for a delightful introduction to 'modern Mr Darcy'!

This book deserves Four and a half  hearts - Mr Bingley & Mr Darcy

As always it is a pleasure to hear your thoughts!!!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Hello everyone and Happy August reading!!

July was hectic yet enjoyable and August will be no different. This month I am also taking part in the Longbourn to London Blog Tour, kindly brought to you by Jakki at Leatherbound Reviews in conjunction with Meryton Press, how exciting! Join me on the 26th August for a guest post by author Linda Beutler including a book giveaway!!

As some of you know I went to Cyprus for my brother in law's wedding, which was wonderful and when we got back to England the fun continued with another wedding reception for everyone who could not attend.

I am in my first week of August and already Mr Darcy and I have hosted our niece's 2nd birthday party at our house and been to a theme park. This week I also received signed copies of the Young Knights Quest Series by P.O.Dixon and Stronger Even Than Pride by Gail McEwen, both of which were won in giveaways!!! I cannot begin to explain my elation on receiving them, my smile could not have been any wider. My love of books continues and in this first week of August I have already purchased ten books!

I am going to spend a week with my dear father at his home on the coast of Eastbourne just down the road from Brighton, so will probably pop there for the day and hope not to run into Wickham!! I am also visiting family in London and taking a trip to my favourite park Hamstead heath, home to Kenwood House, only this time my eyes have been opened to the fact that Dido Elizabeth Belle once resided there, which will make the trip all the more special.

Finally and the reason it has taken me a week to get my post done. I am getting married next year and have been busy making preparations. After 19 years together and twelve years engaged, we have finally decided to be selfish and put ourselves first for a change. I am so excited because this time next year I will be officially married to my Mr Darcy on a beautiful beach in St Lucia. Whoop Whoop!!!

Pictures taken on our last holiday on the Island of St Lucia

Okay enough about my personal life, first things first, how very remiss of me, I will be posting my Review of A Matter of Chance By L.L.Diamond this week, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Then I will be reading and reviewing...

For all the Wrong Reasons - Mary Lydon Simonsen
Hope & Sensibility - P.O.Dixon (I cannot wait to meet Ben again!)

My non-Austenesque Invite to the ball this month is The Fortune Hunter by Diane Farr.

I hope you have some great reads lined up!!! As always I delight in hearing what you'll be reading this month.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Leaving Bennet Behind Vol 1 Chosen by Sarah Johnson

I won this book in a giveaway and it is the first book I have read that is part of a series that I am aware, is INCOMPLETE! Why am I using shouty capitals? Well because I do not start stories that are unfinished as I simply cannot take the suspense. I have the patience of a saint but not when it comes to my beloved books. I live in theses stories and am transported into another world, so to be left bereft of a conclusion is no fun at all!!!

However, this book has left me surprisingly curious rather than inpatient. Whenever I read a P&P JAFF I always assume that it's all about Elizabeth and Darcy. Yet I have a suspicion that said Bennet in the title, is not Elizabeth, although E&D seem to be the main characters, so does everyone else, Intrigued? Yes me too. (This may be a appropriate moment to share that I dislike reading blurbs, I detest any sort of hint, yet I write and read reviews, oh the irony!)

As a result of life changing events we are met with a very different P&P characters. Following a carriage accident Mr & Mrs Bennet are a changed couple and so are the Bennet daughters. Finally Lydia is being brought into line, so refreshing! I love this new and improved Mr & Mrs Bennet and there are lots of wonderful insights into their relationship, including Mr Bennets fallout with his cousin, Mr Collins's father.

"Elizabeth could not help but smile as she replied, "on behalf of my sisters, I thank you sir, but it is not necessary." "Necessity is not always the force which pushes us into action, though is it?" he said with a smirk." - Sarah Johnson

Georgiana has been severely injured, yes you guessed it, at the hands of Wickham! As a result, Darcy enters the neighbourhood of Meryton, a very different man indeed! I like this new and improved Darcy, more compassion, less pride. Mr Bingley is a man on a mission, he is definitely the master of Netherfiled and I continually enjoyed watching him bring his sister Caroline to order! Can you believe that he left and went to the Meryton ball without her, ha ha ha! She was seething and poor Mr Hurst had to witness her outburst. Yes I did say poor Mr Hurst, I really liked him, in fact you will love everyone in this story bar Caroline. Viscount Primrose (Alex) is Colonel Fitzwilliam's older brother and just like Darcy, he is great! 'Swoonworthyness' must run in the Fitzwilliam bloodline. Someone has caught Alex's eye but unlucky for him he's caught Caroline Bingley's, If she cannot have Darcy he is the next best thing, oh dear!!

"He counted himself lucky that, although he did not know his wife well before they were married, he had ended up with the better of the two Bingley sisters. He was not sure what he would have done with himself if Caroline had been the bride his father had chose." - Sarah Johnson

Occasionally Mr Hurst's and Bingley's discussions in regards to Caroline seemed incongruent and I felt they were a little foolish, would they really behave that way? I would have liked the pace of the story to have been a little quicker, however as a result of the slow pace you learn a lot more about the characters.

There is no real angst in this story (except a deep dark secret that may jeopardise Darcy and Elizabeth's betrothal!). It is a story that proceeds down a happy and contented path. By the end of the book I was convinced this is a story about Mary Bennet. I love Mary in this, apart from the fact she has been made as blind as a bat, poor thing, will she ever catch a break? Well I certainly hope so, but I am going to have to wait 'pouting' until the next instalment comes out!

This book is worthy of 3 & half hearts! The Colonel & Mr Bingley!!!

As always your comments are most welcome!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Austenesque Birthday Gifts Giveaway!!!

This has been an exciting giveaway for me as I love to share my good fortune with others!!!!!

I would like to thank everyone who stopped by to read about my birthday gifts and everyone who left a comment to enter the giveaway! 

Congratulations ladies!!!

My Heart is Here - Jane Austen Book Club Dvd
Loren - Jane Austen Book Club Dvd
Ceri - Miss Austen Regrets Dvd
Schilds - Austenesque Gifts

Ladies, please contact me with your details so that I can get your prizes to you.
(see my 'contact me' page)

Thank you again to all that participated & congratulations again Ladies.

(Winners picked using