Friday, 25 November 2016

“Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter” by Joana Starnes ~ Blog Tour & Giveaway!

Hello Fellow readers!
I am delighted to be welcoming Joana Starnes to my blog today, for another stop on the 'Mr Bennet's Dutiful Daughter' blog tour!
I was unaware of the subject of Joana's post and was pleasantly surprised to find it featured one of my favourite chapters in the book, dear Mrs Reynolds diary! (by the by, a book i heartily give a 5 heart ~ Mr Darcy rating!)

Now, let me not leave you in any more suspense and hand you over to Joana.

Thank you, Tamara, for ever so kindly welcoming me at My Kids Led Me Back to P&P on the blog tour for my latest book, Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter.

By now your kids probably are well past the cookie-baking stage, but I still thought I might bring 
Mrs Gardiner’s Oatcakes on my visit to your lovely site.

 The Oatcakes are mentioned twice in the book, and one of those instances is in a tender moment between Darcy and Elizabeth, once they are settled in their Derbyshire home:

The old housekeeper looked up from her papers at the sudden noise. She could not quite place it, but it sounded like an exclamation of some sort. From Mrs Darcy’s pastry-room. She was still there, then? Pen poised, Mrs Reynolds stopped to listen. But the room around the corner had grown suspiciously quiet. Perhaps she ought to check that Mrs Darcy was well – it was always better to be safe than sorry.

Sorry she was not, far from it, as soon as she rounded the corner to come across a highly unexpected but also highly gratifying sight. There was the Master, in a part of the house where he had not ventured for fifteen years or so; not since the days when he and his cousin were pilfering sweetmeats from the pantry. There was no question of pilfering now, the treats were willingly bestowed, and Mrs Reynolds very nearly chortled as she wondered what Mr Howard [the butler] would say to see their young master literally eating out of Mrs Darcy’s hand. The diverted smile grew warm and maternal and the housekeeper dropped her eyes, unwilling to intrude even unnoticed on the joyful and very private moment. So she made to turn away and leave the dear pair to their good cheer – he grinning widely, she likewise, her youthful cheek marked with specs of flour – but was not quick enough and chanced to catch a heart-warming glimpse of Mr Darcy abandoning the confectionery for the even sweeter treat of his wife’s kiss.

Mrs Reynolds quietly hastened on her way, yet she still heard her master chuckle, “I would not dream of saying so to your aunt when they visit, but your oatcakes are even better.”

Would you like to hear more about Mrs Gardiner’s oatcakes? Once again, it was Claudine’s wonderful idea that I include them in the blog tour and share the recipe with you. It’s based on a traditional Derbyshire one for Winster Wakes Cakes (“sweet wheatflour biscuits with egg and currants, associated with the annual Wakes holidays at Winster, near Matlock” Derbyshire oatcakes are sometimes savoury; they’re cooked as pancakes and served with bacon and eggs (Ann Wall, ‘Favourite Derbyshire Recipes’). But since it might have been a step too far to imagine the mistress of Pemberley flipping pancakes and frying bacon and eggs, I went for the more genteel option of Elizabeth baking sweet oatmeal biscuits.

I couldn’t in good conscience post a recipe without trying it first, and hey, I’m still here to tell the tale of baking Mrs Gardiner’s oatcakes. Would you like to try? It’s ever so simple. A bit messy and sticky halfway through, but quick and easy. Here are the ingredients again:

12.5 oz (350g) oatmeal or finely ground oats
3 oz (85g) butter
3 oz (85g) caster sugar
1.5 oz (40g) currants
1 egg
1 pinch of cinnamon, if you’d like to make them a bit more Christmassy

The more finely-milled the oats, the less chewy the texture and less crumbly the oatcake. The milled oats I used looked like breadcrumbs. I could have used the more floury oatmeal, or just flour (white or wholemeal). If you’re using rolled oats the oatcakes will be really chewy. As for the butter, Mrs Gardiner might frown but surely a healthier spread would do.

So, what next?

Mix the oats or flour with the sugar and the softened butter, then stir in the currants, the beaten egg and the pinch of cinnamon. Mix everything till it forms a dough. If the dough is still too sticky add another sprinkling of oats or flour.

Roll it on a floured surface to a thickness of about 1/2 inch and cut into 2 inch- or 3 inch rounds. If you’re using a 3-inch cutter the above quantity makes 12 oatcakes.

Place the rounds on baking paper on a tray, reasonably well apart (they spread a bit) and bake for approx. 20 mins in a moderately hot oven (350ºF; 180ºC; Gas mark 4 in UK). You might have to use a spatula to get them off the baking paper and they're quite crumbly when hot, but if you let them cool down there's a good chance of getting them on a plate in one piece :D

So how about reading Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter with a glass of milk and a plate of oatcakes? (Although some recommend red wine and lots of chocolate ;) ). For a chance to read it for free, please leave a comment to enter the international giveaway of a Kindle copy. Thanks for stopping by to read the post and if you’re baking Mrs Gardiner’s oatcakes please let me know if you liked them :) All the best, and thanks again, Tamara, for having me as your guest today!

Thank you, for your wonderful post Joana and another wonderful book to add to my JAFF collection, as well as a recipe to add to the experience :) 

Giveaway Time!

Joana Starnes is kindly giving bloggers a chance to win an e-book copy of 'Mr Bennet's Dutiful Daughter' on each stop of the Blog Tour! How delightful!

For your chance to win leave a comment below and maybe tell Joana what you think of her efforts in the kitchen, could she possibly get a job below stairs, at Pemberley! 

Winner to be announced on the 2nd December 2016.

Blog Tour ~ 
November 17/ My Jane Austen Book Club/Launch Post & Giveaway
November 18/ Pemberley to Milton/Book Review & Giveaway
November 19/ Obsessed with Mr. Darcy/ Book Review & Giveaway
November 20/ A Covent Garden Madame Gilflurt's Guide to Life/Guest Post & Giveaway
November 21/ Margie's Must Reads/ Book Review & Giveaway
November 22/ Babblings of a Bookworm/ Book Review & Giveaway
November 23/ Diary of an Eccentric/Book Review & Giveaway
November 24/ Happy Thanksgiving
November 25/ So Little Time... So Much to Read/ Excerpt & Giveaway
November 26Just Jane 1813/Interview with Joana Starnes & Giveaway
November 2 / My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice/ Guest Post & Giveaway
November 28/ More Agreeably Engaged/ Vignette & Giveaway 
December 1/ My Vices and Weaknesses/ Book Review & Giveaway
December 2/ Austenesque Reviews/ Excerpt & Giveaway

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

Monday, 21 November 2016

"Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes" By Ginger Monette Spotlight & Giveaway!

Hello fellow readers! Today it is my turn to shine the spotlight on  "Darcy's Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes" by Ginger Monette, as part of the blog tour!
Ginger's latest book is a WW1 Pride and Prejudice variation, told in two parts, with "Darcy's Hope at Donwell Abbey" currently available to pre-order.

In addition, Ginger is planning a Great War Romance series. Several of the characters that readers encounter in Darcy’s Hope will have stories of their own including Colonel Fitzwilliam, John Thornton, Robert Knightley and a few more.

Escape to the era of Downton Abbey and experience all the drama of World War 1 alongside literature’s iconic Elizabeth Bennet & Fitzwilliam Darcy. You'll watch their tender love unfold as they learn to work together and reconcile their differences amidst the carnage of war.

Blurb ~
1916. World War I has turned French chateaux into bloody field hospitals, British gentlemen into lice-
infested soldiers, and left Elizabeth Bennet's life in tatters.

Her father is dead and her home destroyed. Never again will Elizabeth depend on a man to secure her future!

But when an opportunity arises to advance her dreams of becoming a doctor, she is elated—until he arrives....

Heartbroken. Devastated. Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy is left rejected by the woman he loved and reeling from the slaughter of his men on the battlefield. “Enough!” Darcy vows. “No more sentimental attachments!”

But arriving at a field hospital to pursue a covert investigation, Darcy discovers his beloved Elizabeth training with a dashing American doctor and embroiled in an espionage conspiracy. 

With only a few months to expose the plot, Darcy is forced to grapple with his feelings for Elizabeth while uncovering the truth. Is she indeed innocent? Darcy can only hope….

Giveaway time! 

Ginger is offering a giveaway of Seven Downton Abbey ornaments via entry through Rafflecopter. Also leave a comment below for additional entries.
The ornament giveaway is open to US residents in the continental US. The prize for residents of the continental UK is a Downton Abbey mug.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bonus! Exclusively Available to blog readers until 22/11/16 click here!

I do hope you enjoy the bonus pictures and as I have already, had the pleasure of reading this book, I look forward to reading part two, "Darcy's Hope at Donwell Abbey"

Thank you again to Ginger, for the wonderful giveaway and special bonuses! 

As always I delight in hearing your thoughts. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

'The Courtship of Edward Gardiner' by Nicole Clarkston Blog Tour - Review & Giveaway! .

Hello fellow Readers and welcome to another delightful blog tour! 
Today I have the pleasure of reviewing 'The Courtship of Edward Gardiner' by Nicole Clarkston, plus Nicole's generously offering one lucky winner a copy of 'The Courtship of Edward Gardiner' for each stop of the blog tour. I would also like to say a special thank you to Rita Deodato at 'From Pemberley to Milton' for kindly helping to bring this Blog tour to fruition.

Book Blurb ~

Every great love has a beginning.

In Austen's Pride and Prejudice, we meet with perhaps the most sensible, caring relatives a lovelorn young woman could hope for: Mr and Mrs Gardiner. What is their story?
Edward Gardiner has just been refused by the lovely young woman he had intended to make his wife. Heartbroken and eager for a diversion, he accepts an invitation from his brother-in-law, Thomas Bennet, to accompany him along with his two eldest daughters to the north on family business. Gardiner's pleasure tour is interrupted, however, when his eldest niece falls ill and is unable to travel farther.

Stopping over in the scarcely remarkable village of Lambton, the men decide that Bennet must continue on, while Gardiner and the children remain. The only trouble is that Gardiner has not the least idea how he should care for one ailing niece and another who is ready to drive him to distraction... until he meets with Madeline Fairbanks.

Book Review - 

It is not a phrase I use lightly, but this is another JAFF Gem!
Mr and Mrs Gardiner are a favourite couple of mine and a combination of Film and JAFF have made them, all the more dear to me. So of course, it only follows that I would jump at the chance to read a story on how they first meet one another.

Most of you know I simply deplore having to give anything away and often being as evasive with the details as possible. However today I have no choice but to disclose a wonderful surprise, Darcy, Georgiana and Charles also feature, plus others!!! And I cannot begin to tell you how very pleased I was to make this discovery.
It was lovely and funny to see that Mr Gardiner was looking for someone with the type of attributes Darcy would look for. In this, Madeline’s character is a mixture of both Jane’s genteel manner and Elizabeth’s sharp mind, well she certainly was very astute an observer, when it came to opinions on Mr Wickham and Darcy in canon, so no surprises there. This was another reason I enjoyed the story as the characters were so in keeping with how I expected them to be, more so Madeline than Mr Gardiner, as we see more of her personality in canon, yet seeing what would be decided for Mr Gardiner’s backstory was a surprise and what he would say was most novel. The two make a great pair and their courtship is very sweet. I very much liked the similarities that were reminiscent of D&E, Mr Gardiner believing that a woman with a clever mind was to be cherished and Madeline for always putting him at ease, with knowing just what to say. 

“Fanny was quite delighted to marry a gentleman! A real distinction for the daughter of an attorney, you must understand.” She smiled indulgently. “Little Jane and Lizzy are so delightful, I am certain she must be a noble, wise lady-without her equal, I am sure. Oh, Mr Gardiner, are you quite all right?” she started in concern, for he seemed to have inhaled a portion of his tea.- N.Clarkston

The things Madeline would ruminate over in the inner workings of her mind, gave you a glimpse at her sound thinking and the advice she often gave Elizabeth in canon and still does in JAFF. That Mr Gardiner was so sensible and fashionable even then was great to see. That Madeline should speak so candidly and with an abundance of wit, that at times it was easy to see that perhaps, Elizabeth’s character was also shaped by her aunt as well as her father.
I will own, as much as I delighted in the inclusion of Darcy and said others, I was left constantly trying to puzzle whether or not this could be a ‘what if’ Prequel to P&P or a workable prequel. As I could not fathom, that they would cross paths and not remember, however on reflection when I look back on times I spent as a child on various different holidays and the friends I often made at one hotel or another, I would not be able to recall half their faces or names now, let alone where they hailed from. Therefore I conclude, this is a sound prequel to P&P and I loved every frustrating and  delightful moment of it! I grant you the only fault I could find was whether or not it was appropriate for Elizabeth to be walking the halls and stairs of the Inn unchaperoned, however considering her age I may be wrong in my assumption.

Back to the task at hand, it was funny to see a younger Mr Bennet, however his careless management of the welfare of his daughters was a little hard to witness, however after a moments reflection on Lydia’s faux pas, I think it is fair to say the author depicted his manner quite well. And why is it that Mr Bennet’s discerning eye is so frightful, he can make someone feel vulnerable, open and exposed with one look lol! 

“His flights of fancy tumbled to the ground the instant he walked the lady through the door of the inn. Thomas Bennet reclined at the darkest and most private of the corner tables, nursing his pipe with the road dust still clinging to his boots. A wry curve defined his mouth, and those cunning eyes of his twinkled brightly when he observed the party just entering”N.Clarkston

Oh, Darcy as a young lad is such a treat. More than a treat, Nicole incorporates scenes that seem to give clarity to others in canon. For instance, I could clearly see, after another firm reminder from Lady Catherine, how Darcy would see duty as important in regards to Elizabeth’s status. The heart wrenching thoughts of what his mother would think of his actions and his loyalty to her and her memory. I adored the fatherly advice Mr Darcy would give to his younger son, with one poignant scene giving an insightful perspective to Lydia’s later folly and Darcy's rescue, to see, the seed of this imparted from father to son was quite a moment. 
I liked that Mr Darcy loved his wife, giving Young Darcy a marker for future felicity, rather than his father cheating and it being a result of him wanting to be the opposite, to his father. The many facets of Master Darcy that were revealed, made for a heart warming and funny tale.

"He darted a glance over his shoulder to be sure he was not seen, then he adjusted her short little legs so that she was sitting astride the horse’s neck. Unladylike though it might be, he did not care to rob her of stability in favour of propriety. There would come a day for that, but not yet." N.Clarkston

From his early compassion and care for his three year old sister on horseback, in that we see so clearly where his caring nature for Elizabeth’s welfare comes from, to his early arrogance, which makes you laugh and say “oh dear, so Darcy, I see there is work yet to be done lol” 

 “Fitzwilliam,” Darcy spoke gravely, “Mr Bingley intends for Charles to study at Eton. We have written some of it during our other correspondence.” “Yes, indeed,” the businessman affirmed. “He is to take up residence next month!” William apparently had yet to learn to conceal his horror and astonishment, for his face bled of all composure. A tradesman’s son! What travesty had compelled the school officials to accept the man’s application?  N.Clarkston

With all the ingredient's of a good JAFF, I seriously recommend you read this Gem of a book. From passages that remind you of lady Catherine, to delightful match makers and to being reminded of Caroline Bingley as a result of someone’s air and manner.  The inclusion of musings that lead you to think about P&P. To scenes, with the oh so popular, dreaded awkwardness, that leave the reader uterly delighted in the characters  discomfort or not!. To being reminded of just how much you love Elizabeth’s out spoken tongue, yet kind and caring nature. That Darcy’s horse has a personality. That anyone could be in awe of Mrs Bennet’s station in life, was but a taster of the humour throughtout. Need I go on? I doubt it, all that remains for me to say, is that I do hope you get to read this book very soon. 

This book derserves 5 hearts - Mr Darcy!

Giveaway Time!

Nicole Clarkston would like to offer a copy of 'The Courtship of Edward Gardine to one lucky reader. Remember each blog tour also has a giveaway. The format is readers’ choice (eBook or paperback) and is open internationally. To enter please leave a comment below and the lucky winner will be announced on the  2nd December 2016!

I was given an ARC for my honest review.

Blog Tour Schedule:

10/21: Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
10/22: Review & Giveaway at Just Jane 1813
10/27: Review & Giveaway Savvy Verse & Wit
11/01: Excerpt & Giveaway at Half Agony, Half Hope
11/08: Guest Post & Giveaway So little time…
11/11: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm
11/15: Review & Giveaway at My Vices and Weaknesses
11/17: Guest Post & Giveaway at A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life
11/26: Excerpt & Giveaway at Margie’s Must Reads
11/30: Review & Giveaway at  Diary of an Eccentric
12/01: Guest Post & Giveaway at From Pemberley to Milton

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Buy Link:

As always I delight in hearing your thoughts!

Friday, 4 November 2016

Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter by Joana Starnes - Cover Reveal & Giveaway!

Hello Fellow Readers!
I am delighted, to be finally tearing off the paper and sharing with you the cover of Joana Starnes's new book, Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter! 

The portrait on Joana’s new book is titled Portrait of Miss Frances Vinicombe, date unknown and was painted by John Opie, a British landscape and portrait artist, who also painted the author, Mary Wollstonecraft.
 It’s an oil on canvas that measures 92x71 cm. The portrait painting, ranked 2nd most prestigious genre by the French Académie de peinture et de sculpture, depicts the visual appearance of a human subject. While portraitists often strive for exact likeness, the viewer's recognition of the subject is of primary importance. It was common for artists to alter the image to accentuate or minimise the subject's physical, psychological or social traits. Traditionally, portrait paintings have memorialised the rich and powerful. Overtime, however, it became more common for middle-class individuals to commission portraits of their families and colleagues.(
Some of John's portraits are also included in the Chawton House Library!

John Opie                                                                                Mary Wollstonecraft

think what strikes me the most about the portrait for the cover, is how expressive the young ladies face is, i almost feel like, i can sense a little of her character, she has a kind and compassionate face, much like Jane's persona but with Elizabeth's Dark curls and expressive eyes and now can not wait to read the contents.

To my surprise I also discovered this week, that Joana had a book out that I was unaware of!!! "Miss Darcy's Companion" , purchasing it post haste on Tuesday, it was finished that very evening and had me all the more excited for today!  I first fell in love with Joana's writing back in 2013 when I discovered JAFF. "From This Day Forward - The Darcys of Pemeberley" was the 11th JAFF that i read and still is my favourite P&P continuation. Therefore it will come as no surprise that I will be one of the first to purchase this new title when it goes on sale later today. Please also join me on the 27th November for a Guest Post & Giveaway with Joana Starnes as part of the 'Mr Bennet's Dutiful Daughter Blog Tour'

Cover Reveal Giveaway

Joana has kindly put together a giveaway for three lucky winners. One will receive a paperback and two will receive an ebook of Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter. They will also receive assorted Austen-related mini-gifts. 

Also, as a special bonus, all Rafflecopter entrants will receive an exclusive excerpt of the book that will not be included in the Amazon sample. These will be emailed to entrants using their Rafflecopter email addresses. The giveaway is international.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Description 
When Colonel Fitzwilliam’s disclosures are interrupted by the bearer of distressing news from Longbourn, Miss Elizabeth Bennet is compelled to consider an offer she would have otherwise dismissed out of hand. An offer of marriage from the all-too-proud Mr Darcy.

Yet how is she to live with a husband she hardly knows and does not love? Would she be trapped in a marriage of convenience while events conspire to divide them? Or would love grow as, day by day and hour after hour, she learns to understand the man she married, before she loses his trust and his heart?

Blog Tour
November 17/ My Jane Austen Book Club/Launch Post & Giveaway
November 18/Pemberley to Milton/Book Review & Giveaway
November 19/Obsessed with Mr. Darcy/ Book Review & Giveaway
November 21/ Margie's Must Reads/ Book Review & Giveaway
November 22/ Babblings of a Bookworm/ Book Review & Giveaway
November 23/Diary of an Eccentric/Book Review & Giveaway
November 24/ Happy Thanksgiving
November 25/ So Little Time... So Much to Read/ Excerpt & Giveaway
November 26/ Just Jane 1813/Interview with Joana Starnes
November 27 / My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice/ Guest Post & Giveaway
November 28/ More Agreeably Engaged/ Vignette & Giveaway
December 2/ Austenesque Reviews/ Excerpt & Giveaway

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