Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: The Subsequent Proposal by Joana Starnes + Giveaway!!

Book Blurb:
A tale of pride, prejudice, and persuasion

A number of broken-hearted characters from Jane Austen’s best novels are thrown together by the vagaries of fate, and all manner of unwise decisions are taken at this vulnerable time. But then their past creeps up upon them – and what is there to do but face it, and hope that their convoluted paths will finally lead them to their proper place? 

“Elizabeth… Elizabeth… Elizabeth…” he murmured against her lips, her skin, her hair, and then her lips again. “I cannot forsake you! I cannot! I cannot lose you! I cannot bear to think of a life without you – ‘tis not worth living, ‘tis but a slow death! I cannot lose you! I beg you, do not send me away again! I love you! Elizabeth, I love you!” 

Friends, rivals, foes, wrong choices and a duel – Fitzwilliam Darcy’s life is never dull! ‘The Subsequent Proposal’ – a story that is primarily about him – follows Mr. Darcy in his struggles to decipher the troubling enigma of Elizabeth Bennet’s feelings – and to correct the worst misjudgement of his life… 

I’ve read lots of Pride and Prejudice variations, but none which crossed over with another Austen book as much as this one. What if, after the disastrous Hunsford proposal, Mr Darcy went off heartbroken, in the belief that Elizabeth Bennet would never reconsider her feelings towards him?  What if he felt he could never love another, but had found a friend in a lady who soothed his feelings and proved herself a genuine good friend to Georgiana? A friend who is unappreciated by her own family?  Darcy needs to marry at some point, and meeting and getting to know Miss Anne Elliot (from Persuasion) provides some balm to his wounds. He is persuaded by Colonel Fitzwilliam to think of matrimony and the story begins with Darcy actually proposing marriage to Anne (Nooooooo!).

Darcy is honest with her that he loves another, and Anne hints at her own disappointment in love. I felt quite sorry for Anne at this point, but let’s be honest, a loveless but respectful marriage with a good man would be better than having to live with HER relatives.  Sir Walter insists on a long engagement that will not be announced for some time, to give Miss Elizabeth Elliot chance to make a match rather than see the indignity of having two younger sisters marry before her (although there is no delay mentioned in Persuasion Captain Wentworth is less of a catch financially than Darcy, so I felt this was plausible). After sealing their tepid deal, Anne goes to stay with Lady Russell, and Darcy back to town.  Here he meets with Bingley who tells him that both of the elder Miss Bennets have been to Pemberley while travelling with the Gardiners, in the company of one of Mrs Gardiner’s school friends, Mrs Croft, her husband and her brother, Captain Wentworth, who seems disposed to court one of the Misses Bennet.  Darcy feels that his interference in Bingley’s affairs may have cost his friend his happiness so he sets off to Hertfordshire to give him what assistance he can, meaning that he crosses the path of Elizabeth Bennet once more, and starts to hope that her feelings towards him may have changed, even though it’s too late...

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  The story is told in the third person, but we are privy to Darcy’s thoughts and passionate feelings, which makes his decisions easier to understand. The early parts of it where Darcy is dealing with his misery were almost painful to read, but were really compelling. Once Darcy has hopes that Elizabeth has changed her mind towards him he is almost as miserable, because he’s not in a position to propose.  He is also very jealous of Captain Wentworth, who makes no secret of his plans to propose to Elizabeth, and the two men have a mutual distrust and dislike which was almost comedic, there are many looks of loathing directed at each other!

Poor Anne is almost completely forgotten by Darcy as he interacts with the bewitching Miss Bennet and gets caught up in events relating to the Bennet family. I felt even more sorry for Anne at this point, but knowing that she is supposed to end up married to Captain Wentworth, the man she loves really helped me forgive Darcy’s behaviour in overlooking his responsibilities somewhat.

“His first, his only thought had been of her. Her happiness, her comfort.  Not Georgiana’s, and certainly not Anne’s.”

Although there are the characters from two Austen books here it’s very much a Pride and Prejudice variation.  We see very little of Anne, and other characters from Persuasion such as Sir Walter are only in the story briefly.  Characters from Pride and Prejudice such as Jane and Mr Bingley play a larger part in the story, and I felt that they were really captured well.  I particularly liked the affectionate way the embarrassing and voluble Mrs Bennet was portrayed:
“Mrs Bennet had taken up her post at one of the tall windows that overlooked the garden – and if the curtains did not twitch, it was only due to her mastery of the art.”

I felt this story had everything; there was emotion, there was passion, there was a lot of humour and a big tangle to unravel to ensure that both of our couples got a happy ending.  I read it in one sitting and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is the first book I’ve read this year and what a way to begin! I’d recommend this book without hesitation, I really did love it.

*Review written by Leatherbound Reviews contributor Ceri Taint

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Joana Starnes is kindly offering ONE (1) ebook copy of The Subsequent Proposal 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 February 3, 2014!
Best of luck!!

Friday, January 24, 2014

We Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor Guest Post + Giveaway

Many of you are familiar with Gloria Gaynor's song "I Will Survive." Now, Ms. Gaynor turns her iconic song into a story, sharing 40 short stories and life lessons inspired by one of pop culture's most famous songs. 

"I Will Survive - a timeless anthem empowering those reaching for positive change in their lives, a sing-along sound track supporting those in a period of change, often from a dark place to somewhere brighter" - Tina Turner

New York, NY -- For millions of music lovers around the world Gloria Gaynor’s name is synonymous with pop music. An undisputed disco sensation, she was enjoying tremendous success in the 1970’s, performing to sold-out audiences across the country and riding the top of the Billboard chart with her hit single, “I Never Can Say Goodbye”.  Little did she know that fate would soon strike in both tragic and triumphant ways. While performing a concert in New York City, Gaynor fell from the stage. She got back up and continued the performance, but the next morning she woke up unable to move. The singer required back surgery and a lengthy, painful recovery, and she nearly lost her recording contract. At the request of the label she went back into the studio (in a back brace) to record a cover version of a Righteous Brothers song called “Substitute”. The hastily selected B-side chosen for the single…a little tune you may have heard of called “I Will Survive”.

Over the last 35-years, “I Will Survive” has transcended from a surprise hit to a pop culture anthem.  From its instantly recognizable opening riff to its final chorus, the song has become an international inspiration for people everywhere struggling to find the courage and strength to survive and thrive against life’s challenges and setbacks. Gloria Gaynor and the song have both become legends, and the legend lives on!

Gaynor will celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Grammy Award winning tune with a new book and a new CD. WE WILL SURVIVE: True Stories of Encouragement, Inspiration and the Power of Song (December 2013, Grand Harbor Press), written with Vanity Fair reporter Sue Carswell, shares personal stories from fans across the country who have triumphed over incredible adversity, and for whom the song “I Will Survive” has become a mantra for perseverance and success.  The book recounts real-life experiences from people from all walks of life – from an Oklahoma Bombing rescuer to a 9/11mother to a Holocaust survivor. Gloria also opens up for the first time about her own personal life struggles including the murder of her sister and the break-up of her marriage.

WE WILL SURVIVE is both heart-wrenching and uplifting – a book that illustrates the unifying and healing powers of music. It also eloquently expresses Gloria Gaynor’s unique style – her fierce love of life, her devotion to faith and her enduring love for the song that has become the soundtrack of a million lives.  “I still love singing it in concert, and on tour I save it for last,” says Gaynor. “I sing the song to myself every time I face a problem. It always works.”

*A portion of the author’s proceeds will donated to the NY Chapter of the American Diabetes Association ( and Danny and Ron’s Rescue (


Behind the Song
I grew up in a single-parent home with a single mother and six siblings—therein lay the crux of my problems. Too few people know the devastating long-term effects that can ravage the life of a child raised without a father—or at least a good father figure. I had no uncles—my mother was an only child—and my father had two sisters but no brothers.

When I was five years old, we moved from an apartment building to a two-family house. There was a young, childless couple, John and Mary, who lived on the second floor. I often visited them, and they played with me every day.

One day Mary went to the hospital to deliver their first child. I had come to think of them as an aunt and uncle, so it was not strange to me when John invited me up to their apartment to have cookies and milk. I innocently allowed him to lead me into the bedroom, where he proceeded to lift me onto the bed and remove my panties. As he began to molest me, I looked up at him and said, “My mommy’s not gonna like this!”

He responded angrily: “Your mother’s not gonna know!”

“Yes, she will, cuz I’ll tell her,” I timidly said.

At that he hurriedly replaced my panties, snatched me from the bed, and dragged me to the front door of the apartment, where he shoved me out with a growl: “Git on back downstairs. You make me sick.” Looking back on it now, I think he probably meant, “You make me scared.”

My mother was a no-nonsense, take-no-crap-from-anyone kind of person, and John knew it. Because of that, I never told her what happened that day. I believed she would probably have hurt him seriously, which would have meant jail time and that I would be left without a mother as well as a father. I had no way of realizing then that John had stolen my innocence that afternoon and had reinforced the low self-esteem and abandonment issues I already suffered, born of fatherlessness.

Fatherlessness, coupled with this incident, set the stage for my behavior in male relationships from then on. I grew up feeling that every rejection or maltreatment from any man for any reason was because I wasn’t worthy of better treatment. When I was twelve, my mother had a relationship with a man she grew to love. For two years she kept him away from my siblings and me, so as not to have someone around who might, in some way, harm her daughters. Eventually he came to live with us, and we grew to like him a lot. He was a father figure—until one day he sexually molested me while I was asleep in my bedroom and my mother was asleep in hers.

“Why are you doing this?” I asked as I awoke.

“I was just trying to see if you were messing with those little boys,” he answered.

“You could have asked me that,” I snapped back.

I stopped him before he had gone too far, but the damage to my psyche had already been done. Again I didn’t tell my mom, even though her greatest fear had come to pass. I had seen her alone and lonely for years, and I didn’t want to get in the way of her happiness with the man she loved. I also didn’t want her to get into trouble for trying to seek retribution against him.

The incidents with my stepfather and John, as well as my reactions to them, set the tone for my future relationships with men and became par for the course. I ended up being rejected, disrespected, and neglected in every relationship, from puberty up to and including my marriage. When I was eighteen, I was na├»ve enough to trust the cousin of an ex-boyfriend. I allowed him to take me to visit his girlfriend—only to find that not only was she not home, there was no one there at all. He raped me. “Don’t even think of screaming,” he threatened. “No one else is here, no one will hear you, and you will only piss me off. So, act like you like it!”

When I got home that night, I went straight to the bathroom and tried to scrub away the guilt and shame I felt. It did not work. I never told anyone about it because, again, I didn’t want anyone to get in trouble for trying to defend me. Legal recourse never crossed my mind. Again, I just considered it all par for the course.

When I met my husband, Linwood, I thought he was my knight in shining armor. He was handsome, intelligent, gallant, chivalrous, generous, and so much fun. After two years I made him my manager. As artist/girlfriend and manager/boyfriend, our relationship was great for two years that was followed by a not-so-terrific one.

In the midst of my trouble in paradise, I received a notice from my record company. For no apparent reason, they were not renewing my recording contract, which would expire at the end of the year.

One night, at one of my shows, I had an accident onstage and woke up the next morning paralyzed from the waist down. I ended up in the hospital for spinal surgery. People were going around the record company saying, “The Queen is dead.” Was I simply a one-hit wonder with “Never Can Say Goodbye”? During the three-month hospital stay that followed, God got my attention. Gripped with fear of abandonment, physical handicap, and showbiz obscurity, I reached out to Him for help.

True to form, the Lord didn’t fail me. Within a year I had a massive hit with “I Will Survive,” and Linwood and I were married. Like so many innocent women, I thought, now that we’re married, things will be different; our focus will be on building a happy family together. I wasn’t the perfect wife, but I was attentive, trusting, reassuring, supportive, affectionate, loving, caring, and faithful. Linwood wasn’t all that bad as a husband. He was supportive as far as my career was concerned—physically protective and affectionate. But he took disrespect and disregard to a whole new level. I think he became so self-absorbed that he didn’t care if he was being hurtful to me. He had no concept of commitment and thought a grown man should be free to do whatever he wanted, stay out all night as many nights as he liked—so he did. It’s enough to say, as I often do, that I stayed at that party way too long.

What Linwood didn’t count on was the impact of “I Will Survive” and how much it would do for me. When I recorded the song, I thought of it concerning the courage it produced in me regarding my career, my mom’s passing, and the surgery I’d just had, and how it would encourage and inspire other people as well.

Now it became my mantra. It guided me in holding on to my faith and trusting God to bring me victoriously through all my trials and tribulations. I learned that internal scars—like those caused by fatherlessness, my stepfather, my ex-boyfriend’s cousin, and Linwood—put holes in your soul. Those scars can be just as deep as physical ones. They are just as painful and damaging, and generally hurt longer and are more debilitating. It took a while, but I grew strong, and I truly learned how to get along. My courage grew, and I began to recognize my own strength and the power God had placed in me. I spent several more years trying to make my marriage successful. But, as I told my husband on several occasions, “The problem with pushing a person to her limit is that no one knows what her limit is until she reaches it, and then it’s too late.”

Indeed, it became too late. I had reached my limit and came to the conclusion I couldn’t make the marriage work on my own and it was time to end it. My husband had taken up permanent residence in the state of denial and it was time for me to make a move as well. When I told my pastor I was getting a divorce, he asked me how I felt about it. After a long pause, I said, “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I’m free at last!”

I never missed Linwood because, to tell the truth, he had left me years before the divorce. But it was great getting to know the new me, the me so many abusive men had caused to hide deep down inside. Well, she’s out now. I love her, and God loves her, and she’ll never go into hiding again.
Indeed, I will survive.
In the following pages, you will find compelling stories that will likely mirror the experiences of yourself, family members, friends, and acquaintances. They are real-life stories of real people who valiantly climbed mountains of seemingly insurmountable obstacles to reach the pinnacle of triumph.

This book came about in a special way. My team—Sue Carswell, Stephanie Gold (my manager), and I—put out the word across the world that we were looking for survival stories for this book. We eventually received stories from as far away as Africa—including one story of a woman who was encamped in Auschwitz, another from a 9/11 mother, and the story of an autistic boy ordering flowers for his mother for Mother’s Day. We contacted blogs and writing magazines and reached out to various organizations that had members’ stories depicting the true essence of the song. Several of these groups included healing resources for abused women and men. It seems we used every connection we could find. Some in this book are even our friends’ stories. In the end we narrowed it down to forty stories we felt best illuminated the lyrics of my song. They vary in dimension, but I am very proud of each and every contributor for making this book come true.

My sincere hope is that these stories will provide inspiration, encouragement, and empowerment to you—no matter what challenges you might be facing. If the remarkable people in these stories can survive as I did, I know you can too!


Grammy Award-winning singer GLORIA GAYNOR took the music world by storm in the 1970s, striking platinum with her disco hit "I Will Survive." “I Will Survive” was the only song to earn a Grammy for Best Disco Recording and was one of only 25 songs inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2012. Gaynor has appeared on countless television and radio shows, received numerous national and international music and humanitarian awards, and continues to perform around the world for legions of fans. Her most requested song is, of course, "I Will Survive."

Coauthor SUE CARSWELL, author of Faded Pictures from My Backyard (Ballantine), is a reporter-researcher at Vanity Fair and has ghostwritten numerous books. She is a former executive and senior editor at Random House Inc. and Simon and Schuster, a former story producer for Good Morning America, and correspondent for People magazine.

Grand Harbor Press is giving away ONE hardback copy of We Will Survive! U.S. residents only
To enter, please leave a comment to this blog post with your email address or Twitter handle so I can contact the winner. (If you DO NOT leave the aforementioned requirements, you will be be entered into the giveaway)
Giveaway ends January 30, 2014
Best of Luck!