Friday, December 12, 2014

Mr. Darcy's Christmas Calendar by Jane Odiwe

From the publisher:
Lizzy Benson visits Jane Austen’s house in Chawton, and buys a special advent calendar in the gift shop, but strange things start to happen when she opens up the first door and finds herself back in time with all the beloved characters from her favourite book, Pride and Prejudice. As she finds herself increasingly drawn into an alternate reality, Lizzy discovers not only is Mr Darcy missing from the plot, but Jane Austen has never heard of him. All Lizzy can hope is that she can help to get the story and her own complicated love life back on track before Christmas is over! 

Published by White Soup Press
ISBN: 1502961067
Pages: 191

Review:
Don your wool spencer, muff, and half boots as you travel back in time with Lizzy Benson this Christmas season.

Thinking of no better way to kick off the holiday season than with a visit to Chawton House, Lizzy Benson embarks on a journey that will change not only change her life but also those of Austen’s manuscript First Impressions.

Upon her arrival at Chawton House, Lizzy is greeted by an arrogant and rude Mr. Williams and a jovial and boisterous Mrs. Bennet. After purchasing an Advent calendar from the gift shop, Lizzy makes to leave, only to discover the snowstorm has worsened and the roads are impassable. Lizzy is left with no choice but to spend the night at the historic home.

Magically, the Advent calendar takes Lizzy back in time to the lives of her favorite characters and favorite author.  While Lizzy is awestruck that she actually gets to meet Jane and Elizabeth Bennet, she is also gobsmacked that Miss Jane Austen seeks her help with her manuscript First Impressions.

As Jane corrects First Impressions, it is up Lizzy to guide her steps in order to give readers the final product we all love, Pride and Prejudice. But can Lizzy convince Jane that our two couples deserver their happily ever after, even if Jane herself didn’t get hers?

And what about the aristocratic albeit handsome Mr. Williams? He magically seems to be following Lizzy Benson around. Readers are left questioning in which time period he lives and could he have been the inspiration for Mr. Darcy’s pre-Hunsford ways? Day by day, the Advent calendar lights the way to true love for Odiwe’s characters.  However, can Lizzy get over her first impressions to see the man beneath the haughty exterior?

It took me a while to understand Odiwe’s rules for this alternate universe. While there were logical reasons for cell phones being dead and other technologies not working, there were other skepticisms I had about how this time-travel/parallel universe that required me purposefully to suspend my disbelief. Once I got used to that, I didn’t have any issue throwing out questions about how certain evens could or could not happen; however, this might be more challenging for the analytical reader.

One area that didn’t make sense to me was how as Lizzy is helping Jane Austen rework the plot of First Impressions, she was worried that things would not work themselves out between Austen’s characters. For someone who has read and loves Pride and Prejudice, Lizzy should have known that our characters would have a happily ever after. How could she forget how Pride and Prejudice ends? I guess she must not have been sure if Austen would have finished the book as we know it today, given Lizzy’s purpose was to help Austen fix her plot as she was reworking it.  


Overall, Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Calendar is a feel-good Christmas read, perfect for those who wish to travel back to Austen’s day or those who enjoy seeing the magic of Christmas bring about true love.

Connect with Jane Odiwe
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Kindle | Nook

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mr. Darcy's Challenge by Monica Fairview Excerpt & Giveaway!

I am so glad to have Monica Fairview visiting Leatherbound Reviews again! She is a joy to have as a guest; her posts are always entertaining. And today's excerpt is no exception! 
So sit back and enjoy an excerpt that will leave you wanting more!

First of all, thank you for this delightful opportunity to visit Leatherbound Reviews. I’m very pleased to be here with the wonderfully supportive and talented Jakki, who wears so many hats. I’m quite awestruck by her energy!

I’m excited to introduce you today to my latest novel, Mr. Darcy’s Challenge, a comic Pride & Prejudice ‘what if’ variation which focuses on the search for Lydia Bennet and its aftermath. In this variation, Mr. Darcy doesn’t find Lydia as quickly as he does in Pride & Prejudice. In fact, she remains rather elusive. Not only that, but initially, after a rather unpleasant encounter with Elizabeth at the beginning of the novel, Darcy is not entirely certain he even wants to try and find her. Only his honor as a gentleman keeps him steadfast.

Mr. Darcy’s Challenge is the second volume in The Darcy Novels series, but can be read independently.

In this scene, the Bennets, the Bingleys and the Darcys are in Brighton, all searching for Lydia. Elizabeth has encountered an old childhood friend of hers and has gone out riding with him along the Marine Parade.

“Do you know where I can find Miss Bennet?” said Darcy, abruptly. “She is not with Miss Bingley, and she is not in her chambers, either. I expected to find her making preparations for the dance tonight. Has she gone out?”
So now she knew what was bothering him. The explanation for his strange mood was apparent.
 “Why, yes,” said Georgiana. “An old acquaintance of hers called on her. They have gone on a carriage ride along the promenade to reminisce about old times.”
“A female acquaintance?” said Darcy.
Georgiana hid a smile by pretending to cough. “No. It was a gentleman.”
Darcy frowned. “She went on a carriage ride with a gentleman, without a chaperon? How could you let her do such a thing when you know the reputation of the whole Bennet family hangs by a thread?”
“William, be reasonable. How could I possibly have prevented her? I have no influence over her at all. However, you need not worry in any case. Jenny has gone with her.”
This should have had the effect of appeasing her brother, but it did not.
“And how, pray, are you supposed to do without Jenny? This shows a lack of consideration—”
“I have no need of Jenny at the moment, William. Would you have preferred Miss Bennet to be without a chaperon?” interrupted Georgiana, mildly.
 Another silence.
“I do not wish to be cooped up inside,” said Darcy. “We must take advantage of the good weather. Shall we go for a drive as well, Georgiana?”
Georgiana would have been happier if Darcy had offered to take her out before he knew what Elizabeth was doing. No doubt Darcy was hoping to catch a glimpse of Elizabeth’s friend and discover who he was. However, she did not really mind, since she had been hoping to be invited for a drive anyway. She agreed at once, hoping William’s mood would improve amongst the revelers.

~~x~~

It was a most pleasant day. White clouds outlined the horizon, appearing like snow-topped mountains from afar, and the white-tipped sailing boats completed the illusion. The blue of the sky and the blue-green of the sea complemented each other, like a well-chosen bonnet matching a pelisse. Darcy had dismissed the coachman, deciding to handle the ribbons himself, and he had taken Georgiana up in the front with him. Although the sea breeze prevented her from feeling hot, the sun was warm. Georgiana put up her parasol to protect her face. She did not wish to turn red as a lobster before her first dance.
“I am excited about attending the dance tonight,” she said.
Her brother said nothing, concentrating on handling the ribbons as a carriage with four noisy Corinthians dashed through the crowd, causing havoc all around them.
As the traffic settled into a more sedate pace again, she felt her brother’s gaze on her.
“Are you not worried you will encounter Wickham at the dance? It is very likely he will be there. You must be prepared.”
The question was unexpected and Georgiana was flustered by it at first. However, she composed herself quickly. If her reaction at the parade was anything to judge by, she did not feel herself likely to be ill at ease.
“It no longer matters,” she replied. “I know now that I do not care for him at all.”
Darcy reached out and gave her hand a squeeze. “You do not know how relieved I am to hear it, Georgiana. I will not conceal from you that I have been very worried that you would succumb to him once again.”
She shook her head vigorously. “Never!”
“You have removed a huge burden off my shoulders.”
A gentle breeze came up from the sea. It was fresh and wet and carried with it the scent of a great salty expanse, teaming with millions of fellow creatures. It felt good to be alive – and free. At this instant in time, she loved the sea, and the way the waves danced as they crawled merrily onto the shingle and she loved the way the horizon seemed to stretch on forever, like her own future.
Just then, a carriage came into view, moving in their direction, with Elizabeth and her acquaintance talking animatedly and Jenny smiling at something they were saying.
“Oh, there they are!” she exclaimed. She waved and Elizabeth grinned and waved back.
Darcy turned his head sharply to inspect the gentleman in the other carriage.
“Look out!” said Georgiana as their carriage veered to the right.
By the time Darcy had straightened the horses, Elizabeth and her companion had passed them by.
“I have seen him before,” said Darcy. “I feel I ought to recognize him. I seem to remember something unpleasant about him. Do you know his name?”

I hope you have enjoyed this selection. Thank you once again to Jakki for her kind invitation to join you all here on Leatherbound Reviews.

What a teasing excerpt, Monica! Now you have my in tatters, dying to know who this man is and what he wants with Elizabeth! I can only hope Darcy will be there to save the day if needed. Excellent way to pique the reader's interest! 
Thank you for that and again for visiting, Monica!

*******

From the Publisher:
In this humorous Pride and Prejudice Variation, Mr. Darcy is determined to win Elizabeth Bennet's hand in spite of her rejection and he has a strategy worked out. He will rescue Lydia Bennet from Wickham and will return to Longbourn to convince Elizabeth to marry him. But when a chance encounter prompts Darcy to propose once again to Elizabeth before he has rescued Lydia, his plans go horribly wrong. 
Broken hearted, disillusioned and bitterly regretting his impulsive action, Darcy sees no point in assisting Miss Bennet. After all, rescuing Lydia might save Elizabeth’s reputation, but why should he care when they have no future together? His code of gentlemanly conduct, however, demands that he fulfill the terms of his promise to her. Once again, Darcy finds himself faced with impossible choices: helping Elizabeth when she is certain to marry someone else, or holding onto his dignity by turning his back on the Bennets once and for all. 
Pride and love are at loggerheads as he struggles to choose between his mind … and his heart. 
Volume Two of The Darcy Novels continues the story began in Mr. Darcy's Pledge but can
be read as an independent book as well.


Author Bio:
Monica is a longtime admirer of Jane Austen and likes to write down her fantasies about living in the Regency period. She has written two traditional Jane Austen sequels,THE OTHER MR. DARCY and THE DARCY COUSINS and a story in the anthology JANE AUSTEN MADE ME DO IT. Her new series consists of traditional Pride and Prejudice ‘what-if’ variations. MR. DARCY’S CHALLENGE is the second in the series.
Monica Fairview’s real claim to fame is that she lived in Elizabeth Gaskell’s house in Manchester as a teenager, when it was crumbling and neglected, so you could say she has the smog of NORTH & SOUTH in her blood. After that, Monica lived in the USA for many years, where she taught literature to captive victims (not necessarily captivated). She now lives in Surrey within the Greater London area and loves visiting historical properties when it isn’t raining.

***GIVEAWAY TIME***

Monica Fairview is graciously giving away ONE (1) ebook copy (open internationally) and ONE (1) paperback copy (USA only) of Mr. Darcy's Challenge!! 
To enter, please comment on today's excerpt. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the excerpt. :)
Please leave your email address or Twitter handle. If you do not, your entry will not be entered. 
Giveaway ends December 15, 2014!
Good Luck!!

Connect with Monica Fairview
Read It Now!
Kindle | Nook | Kobo  | iTunes