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A Novel Sentiment

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

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

Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words by Shannon Winslow ~ Review

Title: Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words
Author: Shannon Winslow
Genre: Pride and Prejudice variation
Publisher: Heather Ridge Arts Publication
Release Date: May 4th, 2021
Number of Pages: 261
Version Read: Kindle ebook
Buy: Amazon

Book Blurb: What was Mr. Darcy’s life like before he met Elizabeth Bennet? – before he stepped onto the Pride and Prejudice stage at the Meryton assembly? More importantly, where is he and what is he doing all the time he’s absent from the page thereafter? And what is his relationship to a woman named Amelia?

With "Fitzwilliam Darcy, in His Own Words," the iconic literary hero finally tells his own story, from the traumas of his early life to the consummation of his love for Elizabeth and everything in between.

This is not a variation but a supplement to the original story chronicled in Darcy’s point of view – a behind-the-scenes look at the things Jane Austen didn’t tell us. As it happens, Darcy’s journey was more torturous than she let on, his happy ending with Elizabeth in jeopardy at every turn in his struggle between duty and his heart’s desire, between the suitable lady he has promised to marry and the woman he can't stop thinking about.

My Review: I was really happy to see this book get published because while we have some we almost never get to read Pride and Prejudice from Darcy's point of view. We get some backstory with Mr. Darcy's father on how to choose a wife and damn that was some advice. This ultimately gets Darcy to think about offering for a Miss Amelia Albright and then he actually does it but she doesn't immediately accept him. It was great to see him agonize over Elizabeth and Amelia (though let's face it Amelia never stood a chance). 

This book was great and I can't wait to read any other Pride and Prejudice books that Shannon Winslow puts out in the future. 

Rating: 4 stars

Dragons Beyond the Pale by Maria Grace ~ guest post

 I'm happy to have Maria on the blog today with a guest post about the many rabbit holes she went down while researching for this newest book in Jane Austen's Dragons. 


Book Blurb: Smugglers. A kidnapping. A fire-breathing fairy dragon? The Blue Order is falling apart at the seams.

After months in Bath mentoring Dragon Keepers and Friends, Dragon Sage Elizabeth Darcy actually anticipates traveling to London for the Keeper’s Cotillion. Which says a great deal considering the she-dragons who make up the Cotillion board would very much like to show the Sage her proper place.

The she-dragons, though, are no match for what Sir Fitzwilliam Darcy finds waiting for him in London. Threats to the Order on every side, and Lord Matlock demands he keep them secret from Elizabeth. No one keeps secrets from Elizabeth.

In the meantime, Anne and Frederick Wentworth arrive in London with hopes of finally being accepted in good Blue Order society, unaware of the burgeoning maelstrom about to engulf them.

Darcy manages to keep matters under control until a fairy-dragon’s prank unleashes sinister forces who perpetrate an unthinkable crime that could spell the end of the Pendragon Accords and usher in a new age of dragon war.

Can Elizabeth and Darcy, with the Wentworths’ help, restore balance to the Blue Order before the dragons decide to take matters into their own talons and right the wrongs themselves?


                                    


Hi Tina! It’s great to be able to visit with you and share a little about the research that has impacted my dragon series.


Now wait, stop. My mom-sense just went off and I swear, I can see you rolling your eyes and hear you muttering, “Dragons? Really? Seriously—dragons? Please tell me she didn’t just say dragons!”

Well yeah, I’m sorry. I really did say dragons. You’re not the first to roll their eyes at me and mutter. Moreover, you’re probably expecting an answer like “Because zombies, vampires and werewolves have already been done.” And while that is utterly true, and the sort of thing I might say if you caught me at just the right—or wrong—moment, I’d really like to offer a better—or at least less snarky—answer than that.

But believe it or not, I really do have an excellent answer. You’re rolling your eyes at me again—cut it out—and hear me out. There’s a very good reason to consider dragons. If you take a glance at English mythology, it is FULL OF DRAGONS. Seriously, they are everywhere, some days it feels like you can’t swing a cat without hitting one.

Take for example, The Dragon of Loschy hill.

I was minding my own business, researching the Nunnington Estate to use as a possible Dragon Keeping Estate in the latest book when I discovered, low and behold, there was actually a dragon there already! I still get chill bumps thinking about it.

The legend of the Dragon of Loschy Hill was described in the 1888 book ‘Yorkshire Legends and Traditions’ by Rev Thomas Parkinson. While this is slightly outside the timeframe of my books, the legend dates back far before my stories begin, so, fair game, right?

Parkinson writes:

In the church of Nunnington, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, is an ancient tomb, surmounted by the figure of a knight in armour, in a recumbent posture, the legs crossed, the feet resting against a dog, the hands apparently clasping a heart, but no inscription to determine to whom the monument belongs. The traditional account current in the neighbourhood is that it is the tomb of Peter Loschy, a famous warrior, whose last exploit was killing a huge serpent, or dragon, which infested the country, and had its den on a wooded eminence called Loschy Hill, near East Newton, in the parish of Stonegrave.

The details of the combat, as related by tradition, are as follows:

Having determined to free the country from the pest, the redoubted Peter Loschy had a suit of armour prepared, every part of it being covered with razor-blades set with the edges outwards; and thus defended, armed only with his sword, and accompanied by a faithful dog, he went forth to seek the destroyer, which he quickly found in a thicket on Loschy Hill.

The dragon, glad of another victim, darted upon the armed man, notwithstanding a wound from his sword, and folded itself around his body, intending, no doubt, as it had often done before, to squeeze its victim to death, and afterwards to devour it at leisure; but in this it was disappointed. The razor-blades were keen, and pierced it in every part, and it quickly uncoiled itself again, when, to the great surprise of the knight, as soon as it rolled on the ground its wounds instantly healed, and it was strong and vigorous as ever; and a long and desperate fight ensued between the knight and the serpent, without much advantage to either. At length the sword of the knight severed a large portion of the serpent, which the dog quickly snatched up in his mouth, adn ran across the valley with it nearly a mile, and there left it on a hill near Nunnington Church, and immediately returned to the scene of combat, and, snatching up another fragment, cut off in the same manner, conveyed it to the same place, and returned again and again for other fragments until they were all removed, the last portion conveyed being the poisonous head. The knight, now rejoicing at his victory, stooped to pat and praise his faithful dog; the latter, overjoyed, looked up and licked the knight’s face, when, sad to relate, the poison of the serpent imbibed by the dog was inhaled by the knight, and he fell down dead in the moment of victory, and the dog also died by the side of his master.

The villagers buried the body of the knight in Nunnington Church, and placed a monument over the grave, on which were carved the figures of the knight and his faithful dog, to witness to the truth of the story.

There are different accounts about the fine details of exactly what sort of dragon it was (though many retellings call it a wyrm), whether or not it liked to binge drink milk, whether it damaged crops or ate villagers (or both), and how exactly Peter and his dog were poisoned, all the legends end the same way. The dragon, knight, and dog all were dead at the end of the encounter.

Here’s where it gets especially interesting. There is actually a grave in the Church of All Saints and St. James in Nunnington with the effigy of a knight and animals which are probably most properly identified as lions, but some might see dogs there. The grave dates to the 1300’s and is said to be Sir Walter de Teyes, Lord of Stonegrave Manor, joint Governor of York with Robert de Hastings in 1309.

What makes that so interesting? For me, in crafting the Blue Order world, I see the ideal opportunity for the Blue Order to have crafted a myth to cover up a very real dragon which could have suddenly disappeared from the countryside after officially allying itself with the order and establishing a Keeper relationship with the master of Nunnington estate. A bit of a stretch, maybe, but, that’s all it takes to get a writer thinking. And when you get a writer thinking…


Author Bio: Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16 year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development and counseling. None of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences.

She blogs at Random Bits of Fascination, mainly about her fascination with Regency era history and its role in her fiction. Her newest novel, The Trouble to Check Her, was released in March, 2016. Her books, fiction and nonfiction, are available at all major online booksellers.



Website: Jane Austen’s Dragons (https://www.JaneAustensDragons.com )
Amazon: Dragons Beyond the Pale (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09255L534)
Jane Austen’s Dragons Series (https://www.amazon.com/gp/bookseries/B071DNSYV8)

Five Daughters Out at Once by Jayne Bamber ~ Excerpt and Giveaway

Hello Dear Janeites, it is a pleasure to be back at A Novel Sentiment to share more details of my new release, Five Daughters Out At Once.


Available on Kindle April 7th


Those of you following my blog tour will know that this Pride & Prejudice variation sees the orphaned Bennet sisters taken in by Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who has rented Netherfield after a fire at Rosings Park. Mr. Darcy and his sister Georgiana, as well as their cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam also take up temporary residence there, and later in the tale, Lady Catherine will be hosting a house party that features a wide cast of characters from the pages of other Jane Austen novels.


Each of the five daughters has their own unique experience at Netherfield, but Lydia’s journey to HEA might be the most surprising of all. Shaped by the tragedy of losing both parents, Lydia’s formative years have been influenced by her sister Elizabeth enough to make her fond of reading – especially novels. With this as a common interest, as well as their respective ages, she and Georgiana Darcy are fast friends. The excerpt I am sharing today picks up as the house party begins – not quite seventeen yet, the two young ladies are not present for the introduction of Lady Catherine’s guests, but they are certainly capable of entertaining themselves….


***

“This is my greatest secret,” Georgiana said, her cheeks pink but her posture triumphant. She held the papers close to her chest until she had crossed back to the sofa and sat down beside Lydia once more. Once seated, she carefully laid the pages in her lap and untied the ribbon with slow deliberation; Lydia suppressed her impulse to reach for the pages at once, and waited for her friend to speak.

“I have only two chapters – two very short chapters – but I have never been so well pleased with myself. What do you think, Lydia? I am writing a novel!” Georgiana handed the bundle of papers over to Lydia as though it were her greatest treasure.

“How wonderful,” Lydia cried, examining the pages with alacrity. “The Three Sisters – is that the title?”

“Yes – it is about three tragic orphans who are sent to the country to live with a frightening widowed aunt and a benevolent spinster cousin.”

Lydia made a droll face at her friend. “Where might you have gotten such a notion?”

Georgiana giggled, momentarily hiding her face in her hands – finally she peered back over at Lydia. “I hope you think it a compliment.”

“But why only three?” Lydia smiled archly at her friend.

“Well – oh dear! Mary does not strike me as especially romantic, and Kitty is so very like Jane that I have combined them to form the beautiful Cassandra, the eldest sister, who is kind and diffident. The second is Isabel, who is witty and bold; the third is Laura, both loveliest and liveliest.”

Lydia sputtered with indecorous laughter. “Tell me more of them,” she said, glancing through the pages.

“Cassandra is favored by Aunt Augusta, Isabel is often in league with Cousin Marianne about some manner of mischief, and they are all of them often scolding young Laura for her novel-mania. It is the greatest lament of the whole family that there should be such a want of gentlemen to amuse them – there is only the vicar, who is a dreadful bore and very ill-featured. That is all I have written, but I mean to write more – as you may have guessed, I mean to make something of a study of all the new houseguests here at Netherfield, and find a hero for all of my heroines.”

“And they shall have happy endings, I hope!”

Georgiana smiled fondly at her pages as she took them back from Lydia. “They shall have, after a little trouble, all that they desire.”

“That is just what I like,” Lydia replied. “Only, perhaps they ought to have more than a little trouble. Can you not imagine them in a few fearfully gothic scenes? Perhaps the vicar is really a terrible villain indeed.”

“I had imagined him rather too foolish to be very fearsome, but I suppose it is possible there may be some evil scheme afoot,” Georgiana mused.

Lydia leaned back into the plush sofa, twirling a lock of loose hair as she considered. “An abduction, perhaps? We must think on it. Oh! I hope you do not object – it is your story, after all.”

“I should like all the help I can get,” Georgiana replied. “Perhaps we might commence directly? We shall not be wanted until supper.”

Lydia agreed at once, and Georgiana carried her papers to the large wooden table in the center of the room, where she sat down and availed herself of the inkwell – she began a new page and scrawled a few notes upon it. Lydia pursued her, perching on the edge of the table as she stared abstractedly out the window. “I only require a moment to consider – to recollect recent events rationally, you know – I should not like my imagination to run away with me.”

Georgiana nudged her playfully. “Indulge your imagination in every possible flight, for I mean to chiefly exercise my powers of observation. We shall combine these, and the result may be a fine thing indeed. Oh! I am so glad I have told you my great secret – I was rather afraid you would think it a misguided pursuit. Whether from pride, ignorance, or fashion, novels are often decried and dismissed as silly or insipid. I am sure I could not bear to be so undervalued, which is why I have kept it a great secret.”

“No indeed, you know that we are of one mind on the matter,” Lydia cried. “I could never slight a performance which has only genius, wit, and taste to recommend it – nothing gives me such unaffected pleasure as a novel, and I do not care who knows it! Nor shall I endure your being so ashamed, Georgie. We shall make a very good job of our collaboration; it will be entirely beyond reproach. Though perhaps I presume too much in my own contribution, I am sure it shall display the greatest powers of the mind and the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the liveliest effusions of wit and humor, and the best-chosen language.” Lydia held her chin up high; behind her, there came some raucous, unexpected applause.

Georgiana dropped her pen and gave a soft cry of surprise; Lydia spun around, still seated atop the table, to turn her gaze from the window to the doorway. There was a gentleman there, observing them with a look of high humor. He seemed to be about four or five and twenty, was rather tall, had a pleasing countenance, a very intelligent and lively eye, and, if not quite handsome, was very near it. Lydia could not determine whether he was laughing at them or flirting with them, but she was so pleased by his appearance that she prepared to make herself agreeable, no matter what he had meant by such an intrusion.

“I wonder at your approval, sir – surely you understand, if you have been spying on us, that I have spoken in defense of novels - but I know that gentlemen never read such things.”

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid,” the stranger replied. “I have read all Mrs. Radcliffe’s works, and most of them with great pleasure. The Mysteries of Udolpho, when I had once begun it, I could not lay down again; I remember finishing it in two days, my hair standing on end the whole time. I am proud when I reflect on it, and I think it must establish me in your good opinion.”

“I am glad to hear it, and now I shall never be ashamed of liking Udolpho myself,” Lydia replied. “But I really thought young men despised novels amazingly.”

“It may well suggest amazement if they do, for they read nearly as many as women. I myself have read hundreds and hundreds,” their new friend said with a wide smile. “If we proceed to particulars, and engage in the never-ceasing inquiry of ‘Have you read this?’ and ‘Have you read that?’ I shall soon leave you as far behind me as – what shall I say? – I want an appropriate simile – as far as your friend Emily herself left poor Valancourt when she went with her aunt into Italy.”

“I am sure we could do no such thing,” Georgiana said. “We have not even been introduced.”

“Yes – and we are very busy at present,” Lydia added with a bright smile that she hoped might delay his departure a little longer.

The gentleman peered over his shoulder, into the corridor behind him, and then turned back to them and stepped fully into the room. “It appears I have been left behind. Lady Catherine was obliging us all with a tour of the house, and I heard your laughter – I thought it perhaps one of the chief attractions of the place – but I suppose the great lady would rather dazzle her guests with some other pleasing view. Now they are all moved on, and nobody remains who might properly introduce us.”

Lydia laughed heartily, glancing down at her friend, who seemed not to know what to make of this newcomer’s nonsense. “My sisters and your aunt have quite abandoned this poor young fellow,” she whispered to Georgiana. “We might have been banished ourselves, but I cannot imagine being forgotten entirely.”

There was a decided twinkle of mischief in the gentleman’s eyes. “You mean to give me such hints that I might guess your identity – I might unravel the mystery of Netherfield – but there can be little cause for such haste. I mean to remain a fortnight at least.”

“What – in the library?”

“Perhaps. Are you fond of reading?”

“I prefer novels, but I sometimes read poetry and plays, and things of that sort. But history, real solemn history, I cannot be interested in. My sister Lizzy has tried to make it otherwise, but history tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all – it is very tiresome: and yet I often think it odd that it should be so dull, for a great deal of it must be invention. The speeches that are put into the heroes’ mouths, their thoughts and designs – the chief of all this must be invention, and invention is what delights me in other books.”

“Yes,” the gentleman cried, “we have already established how well you value the liveliest effusions of wit and humor – but this also gives me some hope that I shall find myself a welcome interloper whenever I visit the library.” He gave a roguish waggle of his eyebrows, but something drew his attention back to the corridor.

“Henry!” a lady’s voice called out, just beyond what Lydia could see out in the hall.

“Good day to you both – but my sister has come in all her villainous state to abduct me directly – with any luck I shall break free of her clutches and meet you both at supper.” The young man dipped into an exaggerated bow and made a pantomime of being dragged away as he sidled out the doorway.

Lydia bit her lip as she let out a breathy laugh. “Henry,” she mused aloud.

“I believe our Laura has encountered a promising hero indeed,” Georgiana observed, scribbling down her notes with tremendous animation.


Georgiana and Lydia will be serving up a novel within a novel, and I will be serving up one last excerpt and giveaway tomorrow!


Rafflecopter:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/01b2829a9/

Book on Amazon/Kindle:
Five Daughters Out at Once: A Pride & Prejudice Variation - Kindle edition by Bamber, Jayne. Romance Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Jayne Bamber on Audible:
Jayne Bamber – Audio Books, Best Sellers, Author Bio | Audible.com

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