Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review: The Second Chance by Joana Starnes + Giveaway!

Earlier this year I read and really enjoyed The Subsequent Proposal by Joana Starnes which featured characters of both Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. When Jakki kindly offered me the opportunity to read The Second Chance by Joana, I read the blurb, and seeing that it featured characters from both Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice I assumed that it would be similar to The Subsequent Proposal but actually it was quite different.

The Second Chance diverges from Pride and Prejudice pretty early on. The story begins at Netherfield, where Elizabeth has gone to nurse her sister, and Darcy has realised how the second Miss Bennet bewitches him and is fighting hard against it. Elizabeth receives a note informing her of her father being found unconscious. Mr Darcy is very comforting to her when she receives this awful news, and offers the practical assistance of sending for his doctor from town. Elizabeth begins to see that perhaps she has had an overly-harsh perception of Mr Darcy initially, and he is a better, more feeling man than she previously gave him credit for. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth is in the early stages of her dislike of Darcy at this point, and much of this is done away by his solicitous behaviour towards her. So much so, that when a Mr Wickham arrives on the scene and tells her a tale of woe regarding Mr Darcy’s behaviour Elizabeth is not particularly disposed to give it much credence.

Although Mr Bennet recovers, he is diagnosed with a heart problem. He could survive for some time or drop down dead, leaving his widow and daughters destitute. By this point Mr Collins has arrived and has made his position clear. Mr Darcy is rather more in love with Elizabeth at this point than in canon and he makes a crazy decision. Rather than chance that Elizabeth may choose to sacrifice herself to ensure her sisters’ future security Darcy decides to give her an alternative option. He feels that he is unable to marry her, as her family is unacceptable, but he could secure her financial future. He has a smaller estate that he decides to sign over to her family, pretending that it has been left to Mr Bennet by an old university friend, who wished to remain anonymous. This sounds extremely generous, and it is, but it’s also gambling with the Bennets’ respectability – if anybody found out that the Bennets had been given an estate by an unrelated man there would probably be an assumption that one of the Miss Bennets was his mistress, and it could have ruined their whole family. It’s a pretty selfish action considering that he would be gambling with their respectability and reducing his family’s fortune in one fell swoop and the only reason he’s doing it is to try to prevent Elizabeth marrying before he’s had chance to get over her. If any of the Bennets or their relations find out it’s likely that they would be extremely offended, and Darcy’s motives could easily be misinterpreted.

As it happens, by the time Mr Bennet passes away Mrs Bennet and her daughters wouldn’t have been destitute as two of them have already married and are in a position to support their mother and sisters. But, being in possession of the Farringdon Estate in Devon, they move there, where they meet some characters who we would know from Sense and Sensibility - Sir John and Lady Middleton, Colonel Brandon and the garrulous Mrs Jennings, who immediately becomes fast friends with Mrs Bennet. There is also a visitor to the area that we would find familiar; Colonel Brandon has another colonel staying with him – a Colonel Fitzwilliam, who is very taken with the Misses Bennet, and believes he sees some partiality for them in his friend Brandon. Soon afterwards there are further newcomers to the area in the form of a widow, Mrs Dashwood, and her three daughters. Elizabeth and Kitty Bennet soon become good friends with Elinor and Marianne. This is where the storylines of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility start to merge, although differently to how Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion came together in the Subsequent Proposal. I thought the stories were intertwined really well – there were events from Sense and Sensibility that happened in much the same way as in that book, and other events unfolded differently due to the Bennets being there.  If you are not familiar with the intricacies of Sense and Sensibility then I wouldn’t worry too much, this story is primarily focused on Darcy and Elizabeth and the Pride and Prejudice characters.

Since Elizabeth never reaches the level of dislike that she has to overcome in canon the main thing keeping her and Darcy apart is him fighting a relationship due to societal gap between them. In Pride and Prejudice, although Elizabeth knows that there is a gap when she refuses Darcy, she doesn’t fully appreciate just how much higher Darcy stands in society than her father until she sees Pemberley. At the time of her scathing refusal she acknowledges the compliment of such a man’s affections, but in the moment she doesn’t have time to consider it, as she is so angry at his slights toward her family. Here Elizabeth is much more keenly aware of the gap between them and I felt sorry for her – the humbling realisation that it would be a poor marriage for Darcy couldn’t have been a comforting thought, and this theme is explored in some depth.

‘She had never imagined that the disparity between Pemberley and Netherfield, or between Pemberley and every place that she knew, for that matter, would be so marked.’

We are privy to Elizabeth’s thoughts and feelings throughout much of the book, but we are also treated to Darcy’s as well. What would a Pride and Prejudice variation be without some suffering for our dear hero?! Well there is quite a bit for him here and frankly he deserves every bit of it! It’s due to his own pride that he doesn’t pursue a relationship between himself and Elizabeth from the Netherfield days when he first begins to love her, and all the other delays, misunderstandings and conflict arise as a result of this, so although he goes through the mill it’s all self inflicted, as his comforting cousin and dear friend informs him:
‘I never expected a blunder of such magnitude! You do everything in a grander scale than the rest of us, do you not?’

I very much liked the portrayal of the characters in this story – I felt that Elizabeth and Darcy were pretty close to canon, Mrs Bennet was portrayed affectionately, Bingley as a sweet man with a lively sense of humour, and I also enjoyed Jane’s character here, especially when she showed some unexpected protective tendencies. We are also treated to an absence of some characters who I am quite happy to do without!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Although it’s quite a long book and took me a while to read it never felt long. The storylines of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility merged and intertwined naturally and the style of the prose was delightful - charming and witty and there are some bits which are downright funny. There are also phrases of Austen’s weaved in throughout the book, often attributed to different characters, as unobtrusive nods back to Pride and Prejudice that I enjoyed spotting. It’s such a romantic read too. I would wholeheartedly recommend reading this!

*Review written by Leatherbound Reviews contributor Ceri Tanti
*Review copy provided by the author

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Joana Starnes is kindly offering ONE (1) ebook copy of The Second Chance for giveaway!!
To enter: Comment on this review
You MUST leave email or Twitter handle so I know how to contact the winner!
For extra entries, you can tweet this review once daily. Just comment with your tweet URL for the entry.
Giveaway ends June 26, 2014!
Best of luck!!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Guest Post: The Earl's Enticement by Collette Cameron

It is with great pleasure that I welcome the talented Collette Cameron back to Leatherbound Reviews. I was fortunate enough to host Collette for the releases of Highlander's Hope and The Viscount's Vow. I want to say that if you have yet to read one of Collette's books, you are missing out. I found myself not wanting to put down either book as I read them and am eager to get my hands on The Earl's Enticement
Talk about *hot* Scottish men! Major swoons for Ewan and Ian. 
Without further ado, let's see what The Earl's Enticement holds in store for its readers.  

She won’t be tamed.
A fiery, unconventional Scot, Adaira Ferguson wears breeches, swears, and has no more desire to marry than she does to follow society’s dictates of appropriate behavior. She trusts no man with the secret she desperately protects.

He can’t forget.
Haunted by his past, Roark, The Earl of Clarendon, rigidly adheres to propriety, holding himself and those around him to the highest standards, no matter the cost. Betrayed once, he’s guarded and leery of all women.

Mistaking Roark for a known spy, Adaira imprisons him. Infuriated, he vows vengeance. Realizing her error, she’s appalled and releases him, but he’s not satisfied with his freedom. Roark is determined to transform Adaira from an ill-mannered hoyden to a lady of refinement.
He succeeds only to discover, he preferred the free-spirited Scottish lass who first captured his heart.


I’m not sure which whether it was my love for Regency, Scottish/Highlanders, or castles that gave me the urge to write the Castle Brides Series.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I had written Highlander’s Hope, which despite its title, is really a Regency-Scottish historical, and I wanted a castle on the front cover. After all, Ewan and Yvette find love, at last, at Craiglocky Castle. (I made the name up just because we author’s get to do that. J)

I always knew Highlander’s Hope would develop into a series  . . . or two. You know, I had to do something with all those characters I dared to introduce in the book. I might add they gave some reviewers fits.  *Snort.*

But, since I like reading books with large casts of characters, as long as I can keep track of who’s who, I did what I wanted in my book. We authors get to do that, too! Ah, the power.

By-the-way, in hindsight, I wish I’d titled the book, The Highlander’s Heiress. But since I didn’t, I’m using that title for another story which will be part of a Viking/ highlander anthology releasing from Soul Mate Publishing late this year or early next year.

Okay, back to the whole castle business.

When I wrote Vangie and Ian’s story in The Viscount’s Vow, naturally he had to have a magnificent estate and an enormous manor house with turrets. I had to have those turrets you know, because the south tower is where Vangie’s off-her-rocker mother-in-law has Vangie locked up. Somersfield is also where Yvette takes refuge when she flees London in Highlander’s Hope.

Once again, a castle appeared on the front cover of the book. So, it was only natural to have another castle on The Earl’s Enticement. A great deal of that story takes place in Craiglocky’s dungeon.
For those of you who read Highlander’s Hope, you’ll remember Roark and Adaira. Well, The Earl’s Enticement is their story, and trust me, when I tell you, all kinds of stuff happens both in and out of the keep’s dungeon.

Once the third book was done, I had this “duh” moment. I had no series title. No, I really didn’t.

All along I’d known the books were going to be a three-book series, but did I come up with a title? Nope. I ran a couple ideas by my fabulous Regency critique group and then asked what they thought of the Castle Brides Series. They gave me the thumbs up, and I passed the information along to my wonderful publisher.

The cover of The Earl’s Enticement you see here today, does not have the series title or cover quote on it yet. They are, however, on the cover that is released. And lest you, dear readers, be worried that some of the other characters you met and fell in love with in previous books should be left out ... fear not!

I’ve started a new six book series, The Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, and I promise you’ll be seeing much more of your favorite people from the Castle Brides series.  



Adaira punched the pillow in her lap. Legs crossed, she sat in the middle of her bed.
“I won’t do it. I won’t. They cannot make me. I’ll run away to Tante Floressa’s. She’s invited me to visit her many times over the past two years.”

Never mind the French Wars had prevented any such thing. Tante Floressa was somewhat of a flibbertigibbet. The one time Adaira had visited France, her aunt nearly swooned when she spied freckles on Adaira’s nose. She hadn’t even been six yet.

Wonder what she’d make of my breeches?

A momentary smile hitched the corners of Adaira’s mouth before shifting into a scowl. There would be no more breeches.

She punched the pillow twice more with sharp hard blows, pretending it was the Earl of Clarendon’s smug face. “I’m glad I hit him,” she muttered.

“Wish I’d hit him harder. Wish I’d broken that perfect, straight, arrogant nose of his.”
Whap. She slugged the pillow again, this time hard enough, it flew across the room. The cushion bounced off an armchair before tumbling to the floor. She knew she sounded like a petulant child, and was acting like one too. She didn’t care. She hugged another small pillow to her chest.

Father had confiscated her riding crop after his lordship squawked she’d attacked him in the crofter’s cottage. She hadn’t meant to strike Lord Clarendon with the weapon, and the earl knew it. Now, how was she to protect herself? She supposed she’d have to start toting a dagger sheathed to her thigh like Yvette’s Romani cousin, Lady Warrick. 

Wouldn’t that put the earl in a dither?

The punishment Adaira’s parents levied on her, dictated by the earl, of course, was far too harsh for her crimes. He’d not been seriously injured. His detainment hadn’t been torturous or lengthy. Yet, the sentences imposed on her were both of the latter. A year at Miss Hortensia Doddington’s Finishing School or a Season in London.

Adaira had to choose.

Three months of torture or nine?

Hell or Hades?

Connect with Collette Cameron
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Award winning, Amazon best-selling, and multi-published historical romance author, Collette Cameron, has a BS in Liberal Studies and a Master's in Teaching.  A Pacific Northwest Native, Collette’s been married for thirty years, has three amazing adult children, and five dachshunds. Collette loves a good joke, inspirational quotes, flowers, the beach, trivia, birds, shabby chic, and Cadbury Chocolate. You'll always find dogs, birds, quirky—sometimes naughty—humor, and a dash of inspiration in her novels. Her motto for life? You can’t have too much chocolate, too many hugs, or too many flowers. She’s thinking about adding shoes to that list. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Review: Pride and Persistence by Jeanna Ellsworth

From the classic novel, Pride and Prejudice, we know that Darcy’s heart is persistent in his love of Elizabeth Bennet and part of reason so many of us love the story. In Pride and Persistence, we learn how far Darcy’s persistence will go to win the heart of Elizabeth.

Our story starts right after Darcy’s disastrous proposal and Elizabeth’s gut-wrenching refusal. He has returned to Rosings and is determined to write a letter to Elizabeth to explain his actions. After a restless night from both parties, each is determined to see the other. Darcy to give Elizabeth his letter and Elizabeth to tell Darcy she is sorry for how hurtful her statements were during her refusal, although not sorry for refusing him. A storm is approaching fast; however, they still venture out in search of each other, determined in their separate purposes. After searching for Darcy for as long as she could, Elizabeth turns and heads back towards the parsonage when she hears someone calling her name; as she turns, she see Darcy on horseback heading towards her. They meet up and neither is able to say a word for several minutes; at last, Darcy asks Elizabeth to take his letter, which of course she does, and he turns to mount his horse. However, the storm has started and Darcy’s horse is frighten and starts to take off with Darcy half in the saddle and half out. A concerned Elizabeth watches as Darcy is jostled about and then thrown onto the ground with the horse rolling on top of him. Elizabeth runs to his aide and assesses the situation, checks his pulse, checks for broken bones, wraps his cravat around the wound on his head, and stares at his chest, checking for injuries of course. With the help of the Collinses and their servants, they are able to move him into the parsonage. Elizabeth takes control and orders everyone about; her concern for Darcy’s welfare is endearing to say the least, and one must question why her reaction is so strong about someone she claims to hardly know let alone like.

Once the storm settles, the doctor finally arrives and examines Darcy; he is impressed with Elizabeth’s quick thinking. He states that Darcy cannot be moved, much to Lady Catherine’s vexation, and arranges for a nurse to come and care for Darcy during his time of recovery although suggests that Elizabeth also stay and assist. All the while, Elizabeth’s concern is noted by all who witness it and suspect there is more than friendship between the two even if Elizabeth cannot yet see it. She sits with Darcy most of the night just talking and reading to him, which seems to keep him calm in his unconscious state.

The following morning, to everyone’s relief, Darcy regains consciousness and all quickly learns that he is suffering some memory loss; Darcy does not remember the accident or the previous two days. Darcy is being stubborn and will not listen to reason, until the lovely Miss Elizabeth walks into the room. Darcy, being so besotted, will do just about anything Elizabeth tells him even if it means how to up the chamber pot! The whole scene is just priceless!

And so the story unfolds of Darcy trying to recover from his injuries while trying to win the heart of his true love.  The evolution of Darcy’s many, and I do mean many, proposals are at time hilariously rushed through while at other times heartfelt and enduring. All the while not truly accepting Darcy’s proposals, Elizabeth takes the time to examine her feeling of what heart truthfully desires.

Colonel Fitzwilliam also plays a pivotal role in keeping Lady Catherine at bay while helping Elizabeth realize her love for Darcy. I have always enjoyed Colonel Fitzwilliam, and his easy manner endears him even more as our story unfolds. Lady Catherine is as dreadful as always and tries to find a way to manipulate Darcy into a marriage with Anne, but there is nothing to be done to come between our favorite couple.

Along with some well-known characters and some new ones, this variation is humorous and charming. Darcy’s persistence is certainly fascinating and added a whole new level to his character that make you fall more in love with him with each passing page.

*Review written by Leatherbound Reviews contributor Liz Castillo
*Review copy provided by author

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