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Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.

A Dance with the Fae Prince by Elise Kova ~ Review

Title: A Dance with the Fae Prince
Author: Elise Kova
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Release Date: August 19th, 2021
Number of Pages: 344
Version Read: Kindle ebook
Buy: Amazon

Synopsis: She knew her hand in marriage would be sold. She had no idea a fae prince was the buyer.

Katria swore she'd never fall in love. She's seen what "love" means through the cruelty of her family. So when she's married off to the mysterious Lord Fenwood for a handsome price, all Katria wants is a better life than the one she's leaving. Feelings are off the table.

But her new husband makes not falling in love difficult.

As their attraction begins to grow, so too do the oddities within her new life: strange rules, screams in the night, and attacks by fae that Katria never thought were real. When she witnesses a ritual not meant for human eyes, Katria finds herself spirited away to the land of Midscape.

Surviving the fae wilds as a human is hard enough. Katria must survive as a human who accidentally pilfered the magic of ancient kings - magic a bloodthirsty king is ready to kill her for in order to keep his stolen throne - and her new husband is the rightful heir in hiding.

The power to save the fae is in her hands. But who will save her from a love she vowed never to feel?

My Review: I really enjoyed this book but you figure out who the true heir is pretty quick or at least I did and I wasn't disappointed when it was that person. You don't have to read the first Married to Magic book to read this one. They are all set in the same world but don't interact with each other though they did make mention to Luella and Eldas. This book was great and I can't wait to read the third book next year. 

Rating: 4½ stars 

The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Christine Combe ~ Excerpt and Giveaway


I'm happy to welcome to the blog today for the first time Christine Combe with her newest novel The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy. Christine has been generous to bless us with an excerpt and a giveaway. Thank you, Christine! The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy releases on August 7th. 


Greetings, fellow Austenians! I’m so excited to be visiting A Novel Sentiment today to talk to you about my upcoming release, The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy. It’s my first standalone Austen variation and I really hope you’ll like it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.


In this new story, circumstances are vastly different for ODC: Elizabeth and her sisters are the daughters of a baronet and Darcy has no fortune. But as always, the stars align, and one of literature’s most beloved couples unite, determined to take on the world together!

In case you haven’t been following along as I posted the chapters at A Happy Assembly, here’s the opening of chapter 2:

***
Friday, 1 February 1811

“Master Fitzwilliam, you must come inside. It is time for luncheon.”

Fitzwilliam Darcy at first ignored the words, instead swinging the axe he held back and over his head and down again in a wide circle, splitting the log on the stump perfectly in two.

“I have but a few more logs, Reynolds. I shall come in when I am finished,” he replied as he took up one of the halves he had just cut and prepared to half it as well.

Percival Reynolds, a man near in age to Darcy’s late father—who had been with the family since before he was born—stepped closer. He boldly stayed the hand that held the axe before Darcy could swing it again.

“Sir, the woodpile can wait until you’ve had some rest and taken some refreshment,” he said firmly. “You’ve been out in the cold all day; it is time you should be inside and warm for a while.”

Darcy opened his mouth to argue, but the expression on the old butler’s face stayed his tongue. That disapproving look had long served its purpose, and even now that he was grown, he could not ignore it.

Heaving a sigh, he propped the axe up against the old stump and relented. “Very well, Reynolds. Lead on.”

Reynolds stood still until Darcy moved past him with a shake of his head. The two men walked the short distance to the old cottage where they resided together with Reynolds’ wife, Rosemary. He felt himself scowl, as he sometimes did on approach to the place. Oh, there was nothing wrong with the two-story, four-bedroom cottage—it was snug, but a respectable dwelling. A small family or newly married couple could do very well in it, to be sure.

But he was not a newly married young man. He was Fitzwilliam Darcy, the grandson of an earl, and he should not have had to make his home in a cottage with only two servants to tend him.

Of course, the Reynolds’ were, for all intents and purposes, not working for him. He wasn’t paying them a salary to remain—they had done so purely out of loyalty, and the excellent goodness of their hearts. As the old Pemberley butler had declared on their vacating of the estate house, “We go where our master goes, sir.” This had been followed by his wife’s teary, “Your family has always been so good to us, Mr. Darcy—we could not in good conscience betray that generosity by abandoning you in your hour of need.”

A feeling of deepest gratitude had filled him then. They had stood with him as he said an emotional goodbye to his sister, who was taken in by his uncle—the present Earl of Disley—to be raised alongside his young daughter Cecilia. They had taken on the duty of laying cloths over every portrait and piece of furniture in the house, had been with him when he locked the doors to Pemberley for the last time, with no idea when they might be free to open them again.

It had been almost five years since they had been forced to abandon the ancestral home of the Darcy family, which had for centuries been a place of honor and prestige. Every day of that five years he had cursed the name Wickham, for it was his old childhood friend and his father—the latter of whom had once been trusted with the management of the estate—who had forced Darcy to give his sister into the care of others while he had to make do with a cottage on the grounds rather than the home of his youth.

“Good afternoon, Master Fitzwilliam. Percy my dear,” said Mrs. Reynolds as the two men entered the house. As expected, the table in their small dining parlor had already been laid out with cakes, biscuits, fruits, and cold meats; a steaming pot of tea sat center of it all. Darcy marveled, as he often did, that she could manage it all without Cook to help her—but the one time he’d asked, she’d sharply reminded him of where she had started her service to the family. Mrs. Reynolds had initially been a kitchen maid, had even served as Cook for a few years, before moving into the more eminently respectable position of housekeeper.

After discarding his outerwear, Darcy stepped over to the washstand to clean his hands and face, then took a seat at the table. He was soon joined by the two servants, and a short Grace was said before Mrs. Reynolds poured and served tea to each of them. They consumed the repast in silence, as was their habit, and were about finished near twenty minutes later when the sound of an approaching carriage drew their attention.

Carriages did not approach this cottage. It was rather out of the way of the other tenants, which is what Darcy had wanted. The seclusion suited him, as his pride had been deeply wounded by having to give up the estate house and live as though he were one of his tenants or servants. Though the last few years had served well in humbling him, making him more compassionate as regarded the lower classes who had heretofore helped make his life so very comfortable, he rarely associated with them. Thus, for the most part, only the Reynolds’ suffered his mortification alongside him.

Stepping outside, flanked by his most loyal people, Darcy watched the approach of a small but recognizable carriage. He recognized the livery of the driver, though he wore heavy outer garments to ward off the chill of winter.

What could his uncle want to speak to him about that would bring him all this way in person? Lord Disley usually sent a single footman on horseback to deliver any messages.

Georgiana, he thought, feeling alarm shoot through him. His sister—something had happened to his sister. Dear God, was she hurt? Was she—

No. He would not go there.

When at last the two-horse equipage came to a stop, Darcy immediately stepped up to it. No one exited the carriage, but the driver did climb down from the box. It was a young man his own age, whose face he recognized but whose name he could not at present recall. The young man bowed, which told that he had been recognized in return—a surprise, given his rather disheveled state. Darcy had learned quickly that function over fashion was key to maintaining one’s home and land with his own hands.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Darcy,” said the carriage driver as he reached into his jacket and pulled out a sealed letter. “As you may have guessed, sir, I have come on behalf of the Earl of Disley.”

“So I gathered,” Darcy replied in a droll tone as he broke the seal and unfolded the note.

Disley Court
1 February

Dear Nephew,

I hope this note finds you in good health and spirits. All here at the Court are well, and as I know it will bring you comfort, know that Georgiana continues to excel in her studies—she is absolutely remarkable at the pianoforte, and her cousin excels at singing. She and Cecilia compliment each other most excellently when they perform; they are as close as sisters could be, and do everything together.

But you do not want to be told things which you already know. I am sending the girls’ carriage to bring you to Cheshire as there is a matter I wish to discuss with you regarding Pemberley. I think it is best done in person. I shall expect your arrival by supper.

Sincerest regards,
Disley


Pemberley. What could the earl have to say about the estate—had he found the Wickhams? Or the massive Darcy fortune they had managed to purloin with their lies and trickery?

Unlikely, he mused bitterly. After all, it had been nearly five long years, and nary a trace had been found of either.

“I will prepare your trunk, sir,” said Reynolds, though he had not seen the note.

“I will lay out a change of clothes for you,” added Mrs. Reynolds, and she followed her husband into the house. The presence of an entire carriage was enough to tell the two servants that he had been summoned.

Darcy just stopped himself telling them not to bother; after all, it wasn’t as though his uncle was unaware of how he lived. He’d been offered the chance of joining Georgiana in removing to Disley Court but had declined. His pride would not allow him to run away—Pemberley was his home, and he would not abandon it completely.

There must always be a Darcy at Pemberley, he’d said, quoting an old family saying.

Stifling a sigh, he looked to the carriage driver—Marcus, that was his name; the footman was his younger brother Robert—and said, “I should not be long. You and Robert must come inside; Mrs. Reynolds will see that you have tea to warm you while you wait.”

“Thank you, Mr. Darcy. Most obliging,” said Marcus, who gestured to his brother before following Darcy into the house.

Darcy encountered Mrs. Reynolds on the landing after climbing to the first floor. “Please see to some tea for the coachmen, if you would.”

Mrs. Reynolds merely smiled and nodded, and allowed him to pass her in the narrow space before continuing to the ground floor. As he entered his room, he found her husband just closing a small trunk; clean attire was laid out on the bed.

“As we’ve no notion of how long you’ll be away, sir, I’ve packed three days’ worth of your good clothing for you,” said Reynolds. “I’ll take this down and see to putting it in the carriage.”

“See to it the horses have some water as well if it’s not too much trouble,” Darcy added as he moved to sit in a chair in the corner and remove his dusty boots; a clean pair sat next to the bed.

As Reynolds helped him with tending the few animals they had on their small plot of land, he would doubtless comply with the request. “Of course, sir,” was all he said as he picked up the trunk and headed out with it.

Darcy made quick work of changing and making himself more presentable. Glancing in the small looking glass over the wash stand, he noted that he needed a shave—and his hair could certainly do with a trim—but those were hardly reasons to delay setting out. The earl would just have to put up with his having four days’ growth of beard, and hair long enough at the back to brush his shoulders.

On his reappearance downstairs, the two coachmen immediately stood. They quickly thanked Mrs. Reynolds for the tea and headed out the front door. Darcy walked up to her as her husband stepped inside.

“I can’t imagine what my uncle has to say that he could not have relayed on paper, but you can be sure I will inform you as soon as may be done,” Darcy said.

“May I be so bold as to ask what the note you were given said, sir?” asked Reynolds.

“Little beyond that the earl had need to speak to me about Pemberley, and that it was best done in person,” Darcy replied.

“I shouldn’t dare hope he’ll allow us to open the house again,” said Mrs. Reynolds. “If he’s not been able to support keeping it open all these years, I doubt we’ll get to move the master back home again.”

The lady flushed then as her eyes flicked up to meet Darcy’s. “I do beg your pardon, Master Fitzwilliam. I should not speak of Lord Disley so; I know he’s been very generous to take your dear sister in and supply you with an allowance.”

Supply me with a pittance, Darcy thought bitterly of the five hundred a year he’d been allotted, then he drew a breath and released it slowly. He could not be angry with his uncle, who had done all within his power just to keep the estate from falling into the hands of another whilst seeing to the management of his own vast holdings. He and his wife had indeed been generous in being so willing to take Georgiana into their home and raise her along with their young daughter, despite the scandal that broke when word got out that George Darcy had been swindled by his steward and lost nearly everything.

“It’s quite all right, Mrs. Reynolds,” Darcy assured her, though he agreed silently that it was unlikely his uncle wanted to talk about reopening the house.

What he could wish to speak to him about… he had not the slightest idea.

***

I bet you’ve already figured out what Darcy’s uncle wants to talk about. If not, tell me what you think in the comments below to enter for a chance to win an ebook copy of The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy!


The contest is open until August 14, 2021. Good luck!

***

Christine, like many a JAFF author before her, is a long-time admirer of Jane Austen's work, and she hopes that her alternate versions are as enjoyable as the originals. She has plans to one day visit England and take a tour of all the grand country estates which have featured in film adaptations, and often dreams of owning one. Christine lives in Ohio and is already at work on her next book.

Mistress of Netherfield by Julia Winter ~ Review, Excerpt + Giveaway

Title: Mistress of Netherfield
Author: Julia Winter
Genre: Pride and Prejudice variation
Publisher: Glass Hat Press © 2021
Release Date: June 28th, 2021
Number of Pages: 490
Version Read: Kindle ebook

Synopsis: It is a truth universally acknowledged that on escaping an unhappy marriage, a young widow will be delighted to remove to the dower house and lease the marital abode to a single man in possession of a good fortune, provided he looks elsewhere to fulfil his want of a wife.

Five years after being forced into an unwanted marriage at the age of sixteen, and freed six months later by the death of her abusive husband, Elizabeth Grayson (née Bennet) has finally found a measure of peace. The inheritor of her husband’s estate, Netherfield Park, Elizabeth is now a wealthy young widow, independent and self-reliant. With an eye always on improving her four sisters’ woefully small dowries and providing for her mother, who will be homeless when her father dies, Elizabeth is pleased to lease out Netherfield to the Bingley family, making her home in the dower house in Meryton and vowing that she will never remarry.

Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley in Derbyshire is rich and well connected but reserved in company with anybody outside the very few he counts as friends. Towards those friends, he is loyal and steadfast, the staunchest of supporters. So when a young man comes to him with a tale of the clandestine marriage and mysterious death of Darcy’s old school friend, James Grayson, and begs Darcy’s help to investigate the widow’s role, Darcy agrees. Visiting Charles Bingley, the new tenant of Netherfield, Darcy is very soon torn between his loyalty to his dead friend, and his burgeoning attraction to the widow.

Throw two unprincipled rogues and an elopement into the confines of Meryton, and how will Darcy’s dilemma over Elizabeth ever be resolved? And is she willing to put aside her misgivings, and trust again?

My Review: I'm not the biggest fan of either Darcy or Lizzy being married before they meet but it works in this book. I had a suspicion that her husband was a piece of work and I was right. Abuse in any form is not alright and if you are in a situation like that seek help. This book is not so much a mystery as I had one person describe it, it is more of a story where a person is trying to get an estate that isn't theirs and sticking their nose where it doesn't belong. Darcy got so dupped in this story by that person and he felt so guilty afterward. I don't want to say anymore because I don't want to spoil the story, especially what goes down after that takes place. 

I really enjoyed this book and I'm looking forward to seeing what the author has in store in the future. The writing was great and it didn't feel so basic like a lot of debut authors. I really recommend this book if you are looking for a good romance.

Rating: 4 stars



At Netherfield, while Jane is recovering, and the return to Longbourn:

The next day dragged.

Jane came downstairs after breakfast, well enough to rejoin normal life. She spent much of the day before the fire in the morning room chatting amiably with Mr Bingley and his unmarried sister. She was tempted out for a walk around the garden at one point, so wrapped in shawls and scarves that she was quite double her normal width as she promenaded slowly on Mr Bingley’s arm. Miss Bingley went along with them, to play propriety. She hung grimly onto her brother’s other arm and was a third in their conversations all day.

Elizabeth spent the hours mostly in the company of Mrs Hurst. They were more at ease with each other than Elizabeth could ever be with Miss Bingley. Louisa Hurst might one day prove to be a friend.

Elizabeth had two things vex her that day. Her mother’s response to her note requesting the carriage for the next day was a tart No! Indeed I will not send the carriage! Do not be so selfish, Lizzy Bennet!—indignation having got the better of Mrs Bennet’s memory as to Elizabeth’s married name—Jane must stay at least a week—these last words heavily underlined for emphasis—and make sure Mr Bingley notices her and pays his addresses. He cannot fail but love her, if he can but spend time with her. You must make certain he has the opportunity. I will be extremely vexed—more savage underlining—if you spoil her chances of gaining him!

“I shall take Jane home in my own phaeton,” Elizabeth said, putting aside the note with a sigh. Her mother learned nothing from her mistakes.

“Your father’s carriage is not available?” Mrs Hurst asked, and when Elizabeth owned to this, answered, “If you are determined to return home tomorrow… and I do understand, Mrs Grayson, that Jane may be more comfortable recovering in her own home—I would be myself! Well, I will ask my brother to lend his carriage for the trip. We will be very sorry to see you go, and though you must do as you think best, I cannot think a ride in an open phaeton will do her good.”

Which was the sort of kindness Elizabeth had come to expect from Louisa Hurst. It was a great pity that when in company with her sister she grew smaller, less clearly delineated, sitting in Miss Bingley’s shadow with her nervous fingers playing constantly with her bracelets. She was a much brighter light when separated from the irresistible cavalry charge that was Miss Bingley.

That difficulty overcome, Elizabeth went to the library after a bite to eat at noon, and there faced the second of her day’s vexations. She was joined there by no other than Mr Darcy, who, although he stopped short at seeing her, did not retreat. Instead, he returned her greeting in a tone so glacial that she expected to see icicles depend from the bookshelves and all the books wearing snowy caps over their spines.

Gathering the cold around himself like a mantle, he took a seat on the far side of the room, and devoted himself to the book he had brought with him. When she quietly slipped out of the room a half hour later, she doubted he even noticed. Unless, of course, the temperature rose from the depths of winter to the dizzy heights of spring when she softly closed the door behind her.

All in all, it was quite a relief the next day to have one of Mr Bingley’s footmen hand her down from the borrowed coach onto the gravel sweep before Longbourn’s doors. Before she could do more than thank him and turn towards the house, the front door burst open and a tall, heavyset man dressed in clerical garb hurled himself down the shallow steps to grasp her hand and raise it to his lips to slobber over it. An ecclesiastical whirlwind, he spun on one foot to catch Jane’s hand and do likewise.

“Oh, my dear cousins! I have been awaiting your homecoming, most anxiously!” He rocked back on his heels to survey them, his large hand still enclosing Jane’s. “Oh, your beauty is beyond compare. Nothing I have heard does either of you justice! My dear, dear cousins, I am so happy to see you.”

“Mmn.” Elizabeth stepped forward until the stranger had perforce to relinquish his hold on Jane’s hand and take a step or two away. “And you, sir, I assume, are Mr Collins.”

The cleric beamed. “Indeed I am, cousin. Indeed, I am!”

“Mmn,” said Elizabeth again, looking him up and down. “How… splendid.”


About Julia

Once Julia was a communications specialist with several UK government departments. These days she's thankfully free of all that, and writing full time. She lives in the depths of the Nottinghamshire countryside with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockapoo, who’s supported by Mavis the Assistant Editor, a Yorkie-Bichon cross with a bark several times bigger than she is but with no opinion whatsoever on the placement of semi-colons.

Contact Julia:

Email | Website | Twitter | Facebook


Giveaway

Between 21 June and 3 July, enter this Rafflecoptor for the chance of the first prize of a copy of Mr. Darcy’s Hunsford letter (complete with seal, and tied in red ribbon) and a copy of the eBook, or one of the two second-place prizes of an ecopy of Mistress of Netherfield.

The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid ~ Review

Title: The Wolf and the Woodsman
Author: Ava Reid
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: June 8th, 2021
Number of Pages: 448
Version Read: Kindle ebook
Blurb: In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. When soldiers arrive from the Holy Order of Woodsmen to claim a pagan girl for the king's blood sacrifice, Évike is betrayed by her fellow villagers and surrendered.

But when monsters attack the Woodsmen and their captive en route, slaughtering everyone but Évike and the cold, one-eyed captain, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except he's no ordinary Woodsman - he's the disgraced prince, Gáspár Bárány, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power. Gáspár fears that his cruelly zealous brother plans to seize the throne and instigate a violent reign that would damn the pagans and the Yehuli alike. As the son of a reviled foreign queen, Gáspár understands what it's like to be an outcast, and he and Évike make a tenuous pact to stop his brother.

As their mission takes them from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, their mutual loathing slowly turns to affection, bound by a shared history of alienation and oppression. However, trust can easily turn to betrayal, and as Évike reconnects with her estranged father and discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gáspár need to decide whose side they're on, and what they're willing to give up for a nation that never cared for them at all.

My Review: I really don't know how to start this review since I have many thoughts about it. So my understanding is that this book is about antisemitism and I can sort of see that. It seems like every religion and culture is treated like trash in this story except for the Regyar. The main heroine Evike is part wolf girl and Yehuli. Which is just bad all around apparently. Even the other wolf people treat her like shit because she can't use magic (but she actually can later in the story). 

So the King of Regyar and his adopted second son Nandor just pretty much want to wipe out the wolf people and the Yehuli. Gaspar, who is the King's legitimate son is hated because his mother was Merzani. The Merzani are another hated race of people. There is so much hate in this book. The King has soldiers that are called The Woodsmen and they have to commit to their faith by losing body parts and they have to remain celibate. Most Woodsmen are trained from childhood but Gaspar was basically forced into it when he hit the age of twenty and his father took one of his eyes. Evike and Gaspar are attracted to each other but Gaspar fights against it because he is a Woodsman. They eventually do end up together though. 

This tale was hard to get through just because of all the hate in it. If you can get past that it's a good book. I'm not even going to lie I almost didn't read this book just of all the Twitter drama that she engaged in with several other authors when a certain's author's book was released. That wasn't cool and if they had beef with that author they shouldn't have waited two years to say anything. The fact they did it on her book's release day was really shitty. 

Rating: 3½ stars

*I received an eARC from NetGalley and a finished early copy of the book from the publisher. All opinions are my own. 

Some Natural Importance by Jan Ashton ~ Review

 Title: Some Natural Importance
Author: Jan Ashton
Genre: Pride and Prejudice variation
Publisher: Quills & Quartos Publishing
Release Date: May 10th, 2021
Number of Pages: 384
Version Read: Kindle ebook
Buy: Amazon

Synopsis: “It is the way of the world, Elizabeth. Men hold power over women, but I am not a man who wants to wield such power. I would prefer a woman who has some power over me.”

Fitzwilliam Darcy already has one arranged marriage in his past. The last thing he envisions for himself is another, yet he has somehow become entrapped in a promise to a dying man. Not only must Darcy overcome his resentment in order to live up to his sense of honour, but when he realises how deeply his heart may be engaged, he must convince Elizabeth Bennet of his true feelings.

Elizabeth never expected the imperious Mr. Darcy to become a good friend of an idle gentleman like her father. And she certainly never anticipated they would form a secret pact compelling her marriage to a man she dislikes. She must set aside grief and resentment, as well as her suspicions: Is Darcy using her to avoid another bride pushed onto him by his family, or to gain riches Elizabeth never knew she had?

Or is it possible he loves her?

My Review: I went into this book a little apprehensive because Darcy had been married before but it was marriage to prevent a scandal and she died within a year or so so it's fine. His family kept trying to push him to marry another cousin but thankfully Darcy held firm in his refusal. I really didn't like Darcy's family at all in this story as they were all trying to push him towards his cousin Cecelia and they were all for badmouthing Elizabeth and the Bennet's. Even Colonel Fitzwilliam joined in until he learned the truth. Oh yeah, they also badmouthed Darcy for refusing his cousin and for his first marriage to Anne. 

I really loved how Darcy and Mr. Bennet got along and that they spent long hours together playing chess. Darcy took over Lizzy's spot in Bennet's study and she held a grudge over that. But I'm glad everything got settled between Lizzy and Darcy with the help of a meddlesome Mr. Bennet. 

This novel is very good and I have enjoyed Jan Ashton's books in the past and I'm sure I will continue to enjoy them in the future. I recommend this book if you enjoy a slow burn/arranged marriage romance featuring Darcy and Lizzy. 

Rating: 4½ stars

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