Friday, 13 May 2016

“Fine Stout Love” Blog Tour by Author Renée Beyea ~ Exceprt & Giveaway!

Hello fellow readers!

Another self published author, another collection of short stories and another edition to the ever growing list, of Jane Austen Fan Fiction literature! Therefore I am delighted to welcome Renée Beyea, author of  'A Fine Stout Love and other stories'. 
I would also like to thank Jakki at Leatherbound reviews for her participation in organising another great  Blog Tour, for us all to enjoy!

Thank you, Tamara, for hosting me at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice and participating in the blog tour for A Fine Stout Love and Other Stories. Each excerpt stop on the tour features an excerpt from a different story. Today’s comes from “Eden Unashamed,” the fifth and final story in the collection. Blending both comedy and substance, this tale recounts the misadventures and impact of Darcy’s love poem for his betrothed as it passes through the hands of every Bennet prior to reaching Elizabeth. Although the overall story is narrated by Darcy, this particular scene is told from Kitty’s point of view. Enjoy!


Mrs. Bennet wrapped the satin ribbon over the crown of the bonnet. Holding it with one hand on each side of the brim, she straightened her arms and twisted the bonnet first one way and then the other, examining it from each angle. “Yes, I think that will do very nicely.” Her eyes roved the table for a moment. “Kitty, my sewing basket, please. We will just tack this down.”

Kitty sighed and retrieved the basket from its usual post next to her mother’s armchair. With Mary at her books, Kitty was left to occupy their mother. The presence of her eldest sisters to interrupt the incessant soliloquies would have made it more bearable, but the gentlemen had arrived before Mamma came down. Both seemed excessively desirous of a private audience with their intended and swept Jane and Elizabeth from the room to gad about the shrubbery.

Kitty longed for some excitement and was sure to find it, if only her parents would allow her to accept her newlywed sister’s invitation. But her father became positively churlish if she dared to mention visiting Mrs. Lydia Wickham in Newcastle. Taking her place as the youngest in the household was not fulfilling Kitty’s expectations.

She cleared a space on the table, lifted the basket lid, and began rummaging through the disarray.

But what was this? Kitty withdrew and opened what appeared to be a folded blank paper. The half-sheet was extravagant when a quarter would have done for so few words. She started reading and gasped. A hand flew to her mouth, but her eyes flew even faster across the lines.

“Oh my,” she tittered, “oh my!”

“What?” asked her mother, snatching the paper from her hands.

“I cannot imagine that it was for you to read,” Kitty said.

“What can you mean? It was in my sewing basket. Of course it is for me.” Mrs. Bennet extended the paper in the same manner as she had the bonnet and squinted. “My, but the hand is rather small. Fetch my spectacles, dear.”

Kitty did so with reluctance and then attempted to read over her mother’s shoulder while Mrs. Bennet adjusted the glasses on her nose.

“Oh, goodness,” Mrs. Bennet said. “Oh, that sly man! Why…” She waved the paper to cool her cheeks, which were ruddy with a deepening flush. “Why, I cannot think when your father last left me a love note.”

“Surely you do not think it is from father?” Kitty could not imagine her father having ever written love letters to her mother.

“Well, of course I do. Who else would it be from? Shame on you, to think some other man would be leaving me love notes in my basket.” She waggled a finger.

“But the writing is not Papa’s.”

“That does not signify. He is so fond of a joke, I daresay he had someone copy it out for him. Lizzy might have done it. She is that clever with a pen, although I cannot quite approve, considering.”

“Really, Mamma, do you not think it might be from either Mr. Bingley or Mr. Darcy?” Kitty would have read it again, if her mother were not brandishing it like an errant lace tucker.

“And why would either of them be leaving me verses in my basket? Sometimes I think your father is right. How can you be so silly?” She reread the poem, shifting about to keep it from Kitty’s eyes, and pressed it to her bosom with one hand while fanning her face with the other. “Oh, oh, but my heart is all atremble. I am feeling quite dizzy. My salts, my salts, Kitty, in my reticule.”

Kitty departed on the errand in resignation, rolling her eyes as she left the room. If her mother would wear a pocket or an apron as did Mary that she might have her books about her, then her mother might have her salts at hand whenever she wished, instead of inconveniencing daughters and servants.

Although, in this instance Kitty could hardly blame her mother for a nervous attack. The verses were rather… she searched for an accurate word and dissolved in giggles. Well, excessively romantic to be sure. The idea that her father, who preferred to tease and trifle with his wife, would have made the effort to compose them, let alone had the inclination, was not only incredible but vaguely repellent. This required another reading.

Oh, yes please Kitty, another reading! I need to know what was written and by who, the pros and cons of an excerpt! 

Thank you Renée, I always enjoy reading excerpts & getting a small glimpse into a book I have not read.
Good Luck in the Giveaway everyone!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Discover what happens when Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy meet fancy and fantasy in this novella-length ensemble of Regency stories.
- What if two inexplicable trails of words led to the Meryton churchyard on the same blustery morning?
- What if Darcy stumbled across suggestive lines of verse following Elizabeth’s stay at Netherfield?
- What if a rumored engagement so thoroughly shocked Lady Catherine that she could not interfere?
- What if Elizabeth learned the last man she would ever marry was the only man she could marry?
- What if every Bennet family member read the love poem Darcy intended only for his bride?
With all the intimacy and lyricism of a chamber concert, these five whimsical shorts will inspire the heart, prompt a smile, and entice readers to many happy returns.


5/2: Excerpt & Giveaway at From Milton to Pemberley
5/3: Guest Post & Giveaway at So Little Time…
5/4: Excerpt & Giveaway at Half Agony, Half Hope
5/5: Review & Giveaway at The Calico Critic
5/6: Guest Post & Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews
5/7: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm
5/8: Review & Giveaway at Delighted Reader
5/9: Review & Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews
5/10: Interview & Giveaway at Savvy Verse and Wit
5/11: Review & Giveaway at Diary of an Eccentric
5/12: Review & Giveaway at Just Jane 1813
5/12: Excerpt & Giveaway at Laughing with Lizzie
5/13: Review & Giveaway at Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
5/14: Excerpt & Giveaway at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice
5/15: Excerpt & Giveaway at Best Sellers and Best Stellars
5/16: Review & Giveaway at Margie’s Must Reads

As always I delight in hearing your thoughts!

Saturday, 7 May 2016

'Side By Side, Apart' by Ann Galvia ~ Guest post & Giveaway!

Hello fellow readers,
Today I am delighted to welcome  Ann Galvia Author of 'Side by Side, Apart'  for a Guest Post & Giveaway!

As part of the 'Side By Side, Apart' Blog Tour, kindly brought to you by Leatherbound reviews  and  Meryton Press.

Welcome Ann!
Side by Side with Mansfield Park

Hi, everyone! Today, Tamara has let me take over her blog, where I am continuing my series about how Jane Austen’s other novels shaped my Pride and Prejudice story, Side by Side, Apart. It is my first book. Please allow me this little indulgence to talk and talk and talk about it.

No? Okay, let’s talk about how we all love Mr. Darcy!

Especially Elizabeth. Except when it is except Elizabeth Bennet. She, um, she has some bad
judgement, sometimes? Certainly where Mr. Darcy is concerned! She has been known to be blind, partial, prejudiced and absurd.

So, when an author decides they want to...oh, I don’t know...lock Lizzy up at Pemberley inexplicably married to and pregnant by Mr. Darcy, for her peace of mind, if nothing else, there needs to be something big to immediately prove to her that Darcy is a good guy. A man she can trust with her well-being and the well-being of her child(ren.)

And that something big turned out to be a nine-year-old girl named Julia Wickham. Part Fanny Price, part Jane Bennet, Julia is the second child and oldest daughter of George and Lydia Wickham. She lives at Pemberley, where she is being raised by her aunt and uncle. The Darcys have sponsored her older brother, Edmund, in his career with the Navy. If these names and situations sound familiar, it’s because they come straight out of Mansfield Park.

I knew from the beginning that children were going to be a central part of Side by Side, Apart. Jane Austen’s novels tend to focus on young women out in society, but by 1825, the Darcys have left the marriage mart behind and moved on to parenthood. More than her other novels, Mansfield Park gives us a complete picture of a family. It’s a dark novel, dealing with abuse, neglect and young adults who time and time again prove themselves to be selfish, short sighted and destructive. Side by Side, Apart is nothing like that. But when I began to consider a 19th century house full of children, Mansfield Park was my starting point. The passages that dealt with Sir Thomas’ behavior when the children were young were especially on my mind.

Growing up, it always bothered me that my mother treated my behavior like it was a reflection on her. I was an individual, making my own choices! As an adult, I can see where she had a point: how children are taught to be behave, how they are educated, what values are instilled in them--those things reflect the character of the parent. One of the ways--possibly even the primary way--Elizabeth comes to understand Darcy’s character in Side by Side, Apart is through his children. How do they behave? What has he taught them? Who are they, as individuals capable of making their own choices, and what do their personalities show her about their parents?

And what can Julia, the poor relation, the daughter of Darcy’s enemy, illustrate about him?

Darcy does not allow anyone to question Julia’s worth or her place in the family. She is an equal. She receives the same education as the other children. Her clothes and toys are just as good. Darcy hopes to see her make a great match when she’s grown up, but if she doesn’t choose to marry, that is fine, too. If she would rather change her name and be a Darcy of Pemberley instead of becoming the mistress of another home, it is already settled that she may do that. She is not Darcy and Elizabeth’s child by blood. She is their child in their hearts and that is all she needs to be.

When Elizabeth wakes up, scared and confused and desperately needing to know that she and her children are in the care of a man they can trust, Julia proves that they are. Through the values she has been taught, the behavior she demonstrates and the love and respect she is given, Julia illustrates Darcy’s worthy character.

 In short, he’s no Sir Thomas.

 The Side by Side, Apart blog tour continues until May 16th with excerpts, reviews, an interview and more guest posts! And don’t forget those eight chances to win a copy of the book! I’ll be continuing this series on how all of Austen’s completed novels influenced my Pride and Prejudice story as the tour continues. I hope to see you there!

If the purpose of a Guest Post is to entice and capture the readers' attention, then this is a fine example! Thank you Ann, I look forward to reading this one! Good luck in the Giveaway everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Book Blurb:
“You see what a strange circumstance it is,” she said, feeling some fleeting relief. “You know our acquaintance has not been easy.”
Elizabeth Bennet—stubborn, quick to judge but slow to revise her opinions, and entirely prejudiced against the man who had just proposed marriage at Hunsford—awakens to learn she has been in an accident. Bedridden in an unfamiliar house, she learns eleven years have passed since the last moment she can remember.
She finds herself a married woman, the mother of four, and pregnant yet again. Her children are strangers, and most mystifying of all, Fitzwilliam Darcy is her husband! How could she have married a man she loathes?

Confined to the house by her injury, Mr. Darcy’s company is inescapable. But is just being side by side enough to overcome their differences? What happens when Darcy, improved in manners and happily married to Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy, is faced with an obstinate, bewildered Miss Elizabeth Bennet?
Side by Side, Apart by Ann Galvia
Blog Tour Schedule

5/2: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Jane Austen Book Club
5/3: Review at Half Agony, Half Hope
5/4: Excerpt & Giveaway at Romance Novel Giveaways
5/5: Author Interview & Giveaway at Skipping Midnight
5/6: Review at Just Jane 1813
5/8: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice
5/9: Review at Diary of an Eccentric
5/10: Guest Post & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
5/11: Excerpt & Giveaway at Best Sellers and Best Stellars
5/12: Guest Post & Giveaway at From Pemberley to Milton
5/13: Review at Margie’s Must Reads
5/14: Excerpt & Giveaway at Liz’s Reading Life
5/15: Review at Babblings of a Bookworm
5/16: Excerpt & Giveaway at So Little Time…

Monday, 2 May 2016

'The Trouble To Check Her' Virtual Book Tour ~ Guest post by Maria Grace

Hello fellow readers, today I have a guest post by Maria Grace, as part of 'The Trouble To Check Her' Virtual Book Tour.
I have no doubt, you will enjoy reading it as much as I did. I am always delighted to hear about the societal past times of Jane Austen's era.

Games Lydia Might Play By Maria Grace

Back in Jane Austen’s day, courtship and flirtation were very different than they are today. Social restrictions meant that couples could have very little contact with one another in company and none in private. Parlor games provided one of the few outlets for acceptable interactions between young people.

Rachel Revel, spinster, published a book in 1825, ‘Winter Evening Pastimes or The Merry Maker’s Companion’ that offers guidelines for various amusements suitable for genteel company in the drawing room.  Many of the games are somewhat familiar, though we often consider them children’s games rather than adult pastimes. Even more interesting is the way that normal, strict social conventions may be bent or even ignored for the sake of the play.

Parlor games were played by all classes of society and often involved overstepping the strict bounds of propriety. Losers often paid a forfeit, which could be an elaborate penalty or dare, but more often were a thinly disguised machination for getting a kiss. Often, forfeits were accumulated all evening, until the hostess would ‘cry the forfeits’ and they would all be redeemed.

Some games allow for the potential of physical touch that would earn censure in other contexts. It is easy for me to see how a girl like Lydia Bennet might have taken advantage of the opportunities afforded by some of these games.

For example, consider  Buffy Gruffy: One player, with a blindfold over the eyes, stands in the middle of the room. The others arrange their chairs in a circle and silently trade places. Someone claps to start the game. The blindfolded person passes around the chairs and stops in front of one. The player may use his knees to determine if someone is sitting in that chair, physical contact generally not permitted in polite social contexts, especially between gentlemen and ladies.

The blindfolded player begins questioning the seated player who answers while disguising their voice as much as possible. Here is an excellent opportunity for an individual to mock someone they do not like all under the guise of polite hilarity. After three answers, the blindfolded player must guess who they have questions. If they are correct, the seated player takes the blindfold and play begins anew.  Else, the blindfolded player moves on to question another.

Others games open the possibility for people to say things most shocking. I can easily imagine a group of young ladies or young men conspiring together to cause their friends to say very surprising things in the course of this game.

Players are seated in a circle. The starting player asks his right-hand neighbor a question, as for example, “What is the use of a cat?" The person interrogated might answer, “To kill the rat, that ate the malt, that lay in the house that Jack built,” or some other similar and somewhat ridiculous response. The player who has answered then turns to their neighbor and asks their own question, perhaps  “What is the use of a looking-glass?” to which the answer might be “To reflect our perfect likeness.” 

The play continues around the circle with each player recalling the question they have asked and the answer they have given for at the end each player will recite the question asked of me was_______________ and the answer is of course______________.  In this case, they would say “The question asked of me was what is the use of a cat, and the answer is of course to reflect our perfect likeness.” If any player cannot recite their question and answer correctly, they must pay a forfeit.

Other word games offer the opportunity to ask questions of someone of the opposite sex that might not be otherwise asked.  Humor may easily be a front for something more serious.

The players are seated in a circle, with a lady and gentleman alternately. A lady commences the game by asking her right-hand neighbor a question, to which he replies with a single syllable words. Longer words will exact a penalty, one for each additional syllable. He then turns to the next lady with a question to be answered with a single syllable.

The questions may be mundane as in: Pray, Sir, permit me to ask if you love dancing? Or unique as in: Pray, Madam, what wood do you think the best for making thumb-screws? The challenge comes in that neither question NOR answer may be repeated. Any player who repeats a question or answer incurs a forfeit.

Musical magic provides, with the assistance of one’s friends, the perfect opportunity to flirt openly under the cover of being a good sport.

One, of the party is made to quit the room until the rest determined what task he will be required to perform. The task can be as simple as snuffing a candle, for a novice player, or as complex as kneeling before another player, removing their ring and placing it on the finger of the other player, for an experienced player. The player is guided in divining his task by the playing of music from soft or loud.  When the player is close to the object or action he must do next, the music becomes louder until it stops when he has gotten it right.  The further away the player the softer the music. If the player in despair, gives up a forfeit must be paid and another player takes his place.
The aviary provides even greater latitude, allowing the players to confide a secret to another, openly and in public.  Oh, so many opportunities for collusion among willing parties to allow improper behavior to occur.

The person who leads this game (the birdman) should have a very good memory to avoid blunders or a piece of paper and pencil to keep track of all the birds in the aviary.
All of the players select a bird to be in the aviary and whispers their choice to the birdman.  The birdman then instructs: Ladies and gentlemen, my aviary is complete, and I will thank you now to inform me to which of these you give the preference, or which are objects of your dislike. 
The birdman then asks each player three questions:  To which of my birds you will give your heart? To which you will confide your secret? From which will you pluck a feather?

The player will answer for example: I give my heart to the goldfinch; my secret to the parrot; and pluck a feather from the crow. The birdman notes down these answers. Should the player select a bird not on the list, he must pay a forfeit and select another until the answers are complete. Once all the players have responded the birdman reveals the identity of each bird.   Then each player kneels to the bird to whom he has given his heart; discloses something in confidence to the bird chosen for the secret; and the person from whom a feather was plucked pays a forfeit. 

I must admit, after reading these, and many others of the games included in this book, I was quite surprised at how close to the line of impropriety many of these games might be. It is not difficult to imagine young people conspiring together to make these games work to their advantage in games of flirtation and matchmaking. I wonder how many hearts were won and lost in the mists of these popular winter pastimes.

At the start of my latest book, Lydia would certainly have enjoyed any and all of these games. But is her character truly fixed at the most determined flirt that ever made her family ridiculous? Perhaps not when Mr. Darcy takes … The Trouble to Check Her.

Thank you for sharing Maria and congratulations on your new book. I always delight in hearing about the customs and proprieties of the Regency era!

Lydia Bennet faces the music…

Running off with Mr. Wickham was a great joke—until everything turned arsey-varsey.  That spoilsport Mr. Darcy caught them and packed Lydia off to a hideous boarding school for girls who had lost their virtue.
It would improve her character, he said.
Ridiculous, she said.
Mrs. Drummond, the school’s headmistress, has shocking expectations for the girls. They must share rooms, do chores, attend lessons, and engage in charitable work, no matter how well born they might be. She even forces them to wear mobcaps! Refusal could lead to finding themselves at the receiving end of Mrs. Drummond's cane—if they were lucky. The unlucky ones could be dismissed and found a position … as a menial servant.
Everything and everyone at the school is uniformly horrid. Lydia hates them all, except possibly the music master, Mr. Amberson, who seems to have the oddest ideas about her. He might just understand her better than she understands herself.

Can she find a way to live up to his strange expectations, or will she spend the rest of her life as a scullery maid?
You can follow Maria Grace on Twitter ( , @writeMariaGrace) and  like  ( or friend  her ( on Facebook.