Monday, December 29, 2014

Letters from the Heart by Rose Fairbanks Excerpt + Giveaway!

Welcome, dear readers! I am pleased to announce today's guest author. Rose Fairbanks has recently published her second novel, Letters from the Heart. I am thrilled to see Ms. Fairbanks publishing more novels. In the past, I have enjoyed reading books where Darcy and Elizabeth exchange letters. Letters from the Heart sounds like another such story I will enjoy! I hope you enjoy the great excerpt Rose has provided! And be sure to comment for a chance to win an ebook copy of Letters from the Heart!!

Blurb: Resolved to forget Elizabeth Bennet during a winter in London, Fitzwilliam Darcy writes a letter in bitterness of spirit. Frustrated by her growing obsession with the arrogant man, Elizabeth commits her thoughts to paper. But angry people are not always wise, and secret thoughts do not always remain secret. Compelled to face their selfishness and fears, their actions encourage those dearest to them to change as well.

Excerpt: As the blurb states, secret thoughts do not always remain secret. Darcy and Elizabeth’s thoughts have been sent to each other and there is now the fear of gossip ruining Elizabeth’s reputation. Mr. Bennet has just informed Elizabeth he will demand marriage from Darcy if the letters are known. Meanwhile Elizabeth, who now esteems Darcy, is convinced her own harsh words destroyed any admiration he felt for her. But it’s not really Elizabeth’s way to just mope around.
With such disheartened thoughts Elizabeth entered the drawing room, and soon thereafter Mr. Wickham and some other officers entered to call on the ladies. He began his familiar complaints about Darcy, but Elizabeth could not stand for it.
“I wonder, Mr. Wickham, that you were not able to find another parish.”
He shifted his eyes uncomfortably and paused before answering. “My only contacts were through Darcy, and his malice was so strong he would not see me settled anywhere.”
“Surely he cannot have such power over the entire kingdom, sir. Perhaps when my ordained cousin, Mr. Collins, returns in a few days he might have a recommendation for you.”
Mr. Wickham winced, and Elizabeth continued. “I only thought, sir, it would be a shame for you to waste your education and what must assuredly be a vocation for you. If you have the opportunity to give sermons and get some part of your just due—after all a clergyman earns more than a militia officer—then it must be worth any pain to your pride.”
He gave her a glare at the reminder of his income.
“For you would have spent three years studying for ordination and two years since awaiting orders somewhere, I believe.”
Mr. Wickham’s friend, Captain Denny, perked up then. “Ordination? I know I met you three years ago when you lived at Lincoln’s Inn.” Wickham stomped on his friend’s foot. The following exclamation of pain brought the notice of the room.
He attempted to explain as all eyes focused on him, but sounded unconvincing. “Darcy had made it plain at his father’s death, just as I was finishing at Cambridge, that he would deny me the living. I sought to study the law instead.”
Elizabeth hid her smirk at how fast his story changed. “That would have been a very great thing for you, indeed! But whatever happened? How could you afford it in the first place?”
“I was given a bequest of one thousand pounds.”
“I am glad to hear Mr. Darcy was not so hateful after all, to not give you anything from the will and that you were able to study. Such a sum must have covered all your costs.” One thousand pounds to study the law was just sufficient but an additional three thousand pounds was more than enough for educational and reasonable societal pursuits alike.
“There is that…but the living ought to have been mine.” He clearly chose not to address the fact that apparently he did not face the bar and could only blame it on his poor understanding or running low on funds and not finishing his education.
“I rather recall you mentioning it could be treated as conditional only, as Mr. Darcy claimed you rather extravagant.”
She paused, and Mr. Wickham gaped, searching for something to say.
“But then, we cannot think so generously of Mr. Darcy. Instead, let us consider the good fortune his father bestowed upon you by ensuring with every lawful means you received the one thousand pounds, to give you such a start in life.”
“Yes, I will forever be grateful for the kindness of the father.”
“It does you credit that you have not forgot him.”
Elizabeth gave Mr. Wickham a knowing look, and she could tell he understood her perfectly. Not many weeks ago he had vowed to never say a negative word of Darcy unless he could forget the good of his father.
Having heard the officers from his library, Mr. Bennet came and sat with them. Elizabeth cast worried looks to him, and soon he pointedly engaged in monopolizing Wickham’s time exclusively for the remainder of the call. Lydia seemed displeased, but was easily consoled with attention from others.
When they had left, Elizabeth followed her father into the library.
“In light of Mr. Darcy’s information on Mr. Wickham, what do you plan to do?” He did not look up from his book.
“Plan to do?”
“He is a rake and a gamester, surely a threat to our community.”
At his silence, she persevered. “Please, Papa. I was so mistaken in Mr. Darcy’s character and so willingly spoke against him even more so in the last week. Please, some redress is the least I can do.”
Mr. Bennet sighed and finally focused on his daughter. “What would you have me do? Mr. Darcy did not authorize us, or I should say you, to say anything about Wickham –if he even meant to send that letter at all. He left the area without concern for us, surely he must consider Wickham no great threat to us.”
“Perhaps...but he also had no connections in the area.  It would be quite impertinent for him to tell the area’s residents how to protect themselves from such an unworthy man. Nor could he say anything on Mr. Wickham’s dalliances without risking too much about his sister. The whole area is very prejudiced towards him.  It would be the death of half the good people of Meryton to find out that Wickham is a cad from Mr. Darcy’s own mouth. Yet, you they may believe.”
Her father groaned, and Elizabeth hastily spoke. “You need not be direct, after all you have no information of your own, but you are clever and well-respected. You can plant the seeds of doubt. How much is he spending, and how much does he earn? Is he known to treat the ladies respectably? Use his words against him. Why, only a moment ago I found many holes in his story about Mr. Darcy denying him the living with only a few simple questions!”
“Did you now?” he asked with pride.
Elizabeth smiled, “Indeed! I cannot think of how foolish I was to fall for it in the first place. If he were prepared for ordination then he would have done the necessary studies and been able to find work somewhere. If he did not study then what did he do between his godfather’s death and the time when the living fell vacant, and how could he expect Mr. Darcy to give him the living unqualified?”
“Quite right.”
“After a friend gave him away he declared that he realized upon graduation from university that Mr. Darcy never intended to give him the living, and so he chose to study law instead.”
Mr. Bennet’s eyebrows shot up in silent query, and his daughter continued. “Of course, how could a penniless steward’s son afford that in the first place? He confessed to receiving a bequest of one thousand pounds, which ought to have been sufficient to study. I did not bait him further by asking him why he was not a lawyer, or telling him I knew of the additional three thousand pounds Mr. Darcy gave him, but I did subtly remind him of his declaration to me weeks ago, that he would not besmirch the Darcy name out of loving memory for his godfather.
“So you see, we just need to make some statements like so, and he will lose all credibility.  Hopefully the merchants will not extend him so much credit that they are hurt when he leaves the area, and when others know he is not to be entirely honourable, they will hopefully defend their daughters.”
“You might be correct.” He paused for a minute. “And we have a special advocate amongst us.”
Understanding him, Elizabeth suppressed a chuckle. “Do you think Mamma would like to visit my Aunt Phillips?”
Mr. Bennet laughed heartily.

Author bio:
Rose Fairbanks fell in love with Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy twelve years ago. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, she also met her real life Mr. Darcy twelve years ago. They had their series of missteps, just like Elizabeth and Darcy, but are now teaching the admiring multitude what happiness in marriage really looks like and have been blessed with two children, a four year old son and a one year old daughter. 
Previously rereading her favorite Austen novels several times a year, Rose discovered Jane Austen Fan Fiction due to pregnancy-induced insomnia. Several months later she began writing. Letters from the Heart is Rose’s second published work.

Rose has a degree in history and hopes to one day finish her MA in Modern Europe and will focus on the Regency Era in Great Britain. For now, she gets to satiate her love of research, Pride and Prejudice, reading and writing....and the only thing she has to sacrifice is sleep! She proudly admits to her Darcy obsession, addictions to reading, chocolate and sweet tea, is always in the mood for a good debate and dearly loves to laugh.
You can connect with Rose on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog:


Rose Fairbanks is kindly giving away ONE (1) ebook copy of Letters from the Heart to ONE (1) lucky commenter! 
To Enter, please leave a comment about today's excerpt or your thoughts on Letters from the Heart's premise. What piques your interest about this story?
Please be sure to leave your Twitter handle or email address. 
Giveaway is open internationally!!
Giveaway ends January 5, 2015!
Good Luck!!

And thanks again, Rose, for the giveaway and wonderful excerpt! :)

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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

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.

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Kindle | Nook