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A Novel Sentiment

“I will fight any battle for you, crush any adversity. Because you are mine, beautiful girl. I love you so madly that the past before you feels sane...”

Born to be a Heroine by Christine Combe ~ Character Interview

I'm very pleased to welcome back to the blog today Christine Combe with her newest book Born to be a Heroine.


Hello everyone! I so very happy to be a guest once again at A Novel Sentiment – thank you, Kristina, for having me! I am also very eager to share the news of my latest Austenesque novel, Born to be a Heroine—a Pride and Prejudice variation with some Northanger Abbey characters thrown in!


Now that you’re really intrigued, here’s something else fun for you to read: a character interview. My guest today is none other than our lead heroine, Miss Elizabeth Bennet!

CC: How do you do today, Miss Bennet?

EB: I am very well, thank you. And yourself?

CC: Doing very well. Now tell me, please, how exciting it was to hear that Netherfield Park had been let at last.

EB: (half-grin) It was more exciting for my mother—and all the other mothers of single daughters in Meryton—than it was for me. Not that I have not enjoyed meeting our new neighbors, of course.

CC: I’m glad to hear you like them. I understand the estate was taken by a rich young man from the north?

EB: Yes, a Mr. Bingley. He’s a very amiable gentleman, and I daresay he very much admired my sister Jane from the moment he laid eyes on her. Of course, so did another gentleman…

CC: Oh my! Bingley has competition for Jane’s affections, does he?

EB: He does indeed. Poor Jane will not know what to do with two handsome admirers.

CC: And what about you, Miss Bennet? Have you an admirer? Is there someone you admire?

EB: Oh, do please call me Elizabeth. And according to my dear new friend Catherine, another of Mr. Bingley’s guests admires me—though I can’t imagine why she should think so. I will admit that Mr. Darcy is a handsome gentleman—don’t tell anyone this, but he has the most adorable set of dimples I think I’ve ever seen on a man—but he is so vexing! We got on well enough, I suppose, but he has a tendency to infuriate me.

CC: How so?

EB: The man is as stubborn as an ox, and whenever I am in his company, I get the feeling he is so very sure of himself that he does not imagine finding opposition with any idea of his.

CC: Let me guess… he’s a wealthy man used to getting his own way?

EB: Used to having his own way and also being catered to. I imagine most rich people are.

CC: So is there nothing you like about Mr. Darcy—aside from his adorable dimples?

EB: (sighs) Well, he is a very fine dancer, I must admit. When we can converse without arguing, he is intelligent and well-spoken. And he’s as competitive at chess as my father.

CC: Is there anything else you like about him?

EB: I will also own that I admire his brotherly side—his sister Georgiana is more than ten years his junior, and he dotes on her almost as a father. I also rather like to observe his relationship with his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, who seems to have as much ease getting a rise out of Darcy as I do.

CC: I met with Colonel Fitzwilliam the other day. Fine gentleman. He said something interesting about you and Mr. Darcy.

EB: Did he now? May I enquire as to the nature of his remark?

CC: Basically, he thinks you and Darcy like each other. A lot.

EB: (laughs) There must be something in the water at Netherfield. Really, I am sure Mr. Darcy is a fine gentleman, but he is very rich and I am not. His family would never approve—his uncle is an earl, you know.

CC: Maybe he’d be willing to marry you anyway if you truly loved each other. Is that not the most important thing?

EB: I like to think so. I have already sworn that only the deepest love will ever induce me into matrimony. I can’t imagine feeling that way about Mr. Darcy, but… Oh, it would be nice to see those dimples every day and be able to call them mine.

CC: So you do like him! Well, you admire his person, at any rate. Thank you so much for chatting with me today, Elizabeth.

EB: You are very welcome.

***

How do you like this little look at a conversation with Austen’s most-beloved leading lady? I do hope you enjoyed it.

Born to be a Heroine is available in eBook, paperback, and hardcover from Amazon, and UK readers can also get A Promise of Forever’s Kindle version for just £1.99 today!


 ***



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.

Links:
Blog: All That They Desire  Facebook: (1) Christine Combe | Facebook

Death of a Dandy by Riana Everly ~ Character Interview + Giveaway

Title: Death of a Dandy
Author: Riana Everly
Genre: Austenesque
Publisher: Bay Crest Press
Release Date: March 8th, 2022
Number of Pages: 310

Synopsis: The worlds of Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park meet when Mary Bennet lands in the middle of her third adventure with handsome investigator Alexander Lyons.

The two friends are travelling back to Mary’s home after a visit to the Darcy family at Pemberley when their journey is interrupted by the news that Tom Bertram, the heir to Mansfield Park, has disappeared. Alexander is asked to take the case, and he and Mary find themselves as guests at the estate. The house is abuzz with activity as plans go ahead for a fox hunt and the performance of a play, and Mary sees intrigue in every interaction between the beautiful residents of Mansfield Park and their sophisticated guests.

When the hunt ends in tragedy with the discovery of a body, Alexander’s involvement grows even deeper, but every clue leads to even more questions. The more Alexander digs, the more it seems this death might involve people much higher up than he can reach. And the biggest question of all is who, exactly, was the intended victim of what is surely murder most foul?

Mary and Alexander find themselves hard at work to unravel a web of secrets and dark goings-on that enshroud the elegant estate of Mansfield Park. But Alexander is hiding a secret of his own, one which he knows will forever doom any possible future for him and Mary.

Will they solve the mystery before somebody else dies? And will any hearts remain unbroken if they succeed?


Thanks for hosting me today on my blog tour for Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery. This is the third mystery in my Miss Mary Investigates series, and once more, Mary is up to her eyebrows in something quite puzzling.

Since this is her story, I thought I would let her speak for herself. And so, allow me the honour of presenting to you Miss Mary Bennet.

Mary: Thank you. I am… I am rather unaccustomed to speaking before large groups of people and feel quite shy. At home I was always the sister everybody ignored, and it is still unexpected when people listen to what I have to say.

Riana: You are with friends and have no need to feel shy. But surely, your friend Mr. Lyons listens to you. Have you not helped him solve some mysteries in the past?

Mary: Well, yes. I do not wish to be immodest, but I do believe my ideas did help Alexander at his tasks. He quite surprised me when we first met, for after an unhappy first encounter, he did listen to me, and he took my suggestions seriously. Together we found the true killer when my sister Elizabeth was accused of murder. I discovered some matters and Alexander paid me the honour of hearing what I had to tell him. He is a remarkable man, and rather handsome as well. But… forgive me. I ought to compose my thoughts on more serious matters.

Riana: He is fine to look at, I agree. I quite fancy copper hair myself. But I am interested in your current adventure. How did you end up at Mansfield Park? What can you tell us about it?

Mary: Alexander was escorting me home from a visit to Lizzy and Mr. Darcy when he was asked to investigate Mr. Tom Bertram’s disappearance. Mr. Edmund Bertram, the missing man’s brother, thought it best that we stay at the estate, and Alexander agreed. It is fine here, oh so elegant and refined. The house is grand in every way, and it is beautiful as well, as are the people who live here. I feel quite out of place, a lowly moth in a field of butterflies. They are kind enough, and are gracious with their hospitality, but the only person who seems genuinely pleased to know me is not one of the Bertram sisters, but their neighbour, Miss Crawford. She reminds me in many ways of Lizzy – smart and witty, with a cheerful disposition and a charming air of impertinence. But she flirts a little too brazenly for my taste. Still, she is a friendly face and I like her.

Riana: And what of the men? Are they kind as well?

Mary: There are a great many men in the house. Mr. Bertram is putting on some theatricals, and he has an old friend here for that purpose. Miss Maria Bertram’s betrothed – James Rushworth - has taken a role as well, as has Miss Crawford’s brother, Henry. Furthermore, two young gentlemen from the neighbourhood have been invited as an audience and are in residence, and the house is quite overflowing with their exuberance. They are all polite and gentlemanlike, but they have motives that feel not entirely appropriate, I feel. Tomorrow, they have planned a hunt. I have a bad feeling about it, although I cannot say precisely why. I fear something terrible is going to happen. I would prefer not to talk about it.

Riana: Very well. Is there anybody else in the house? It sounds like Mansfield Park is a busy place.

Mary: There is one last person of interest, the Bertrams’ cousin Fanny Price. She reminds me a bit of myself. She is shy and overlooked, and takes refuge in edifying books. I have determined to befriend her whilst I am here. I hope she likes me.

Riana: Thank you for speaking with us today, Mary. I shall let you return to your friend, for I believe Alexander wishes to confer with you about his findings today. For our friends, I shall provide a short account of some of your tale.

Here is an excerpt from Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery.

* * *

Edmund invited them to sit and called for coffee and cakes. Alexander stopped him with a raised hand. “I thank you for your gracious hospitality, Mr. Bertram, but we are not here to impose as guests. Whilst I would not refuse a cup of coffee, you have no need to entertain us. We are here to make our inquiries.”

To her side, Mary could see another look of surprise upon Fanny Price’s face. She even seemed about to speak, before closing her mouth with an almost audible snap. The girl would never be so bold as to ask the question which must be burning in her mind. Mary chose to answer it, regardless.

“I have,” she turned to the timorous girl beside her, “been of some minor assistance to Mr. Lyons in his investigations in the past.”

“Minor assistance!” Edmund fairly shouted. “My dear Fanny, allow me later to share what my former classmate Elton wrote to me about Miss Bennet. She is most capable, a most valuable asset to Mr. Lyons indeed. Why, Elton told me…”

Whatever Elton had told remained unexpressed, for at that moment the coffee tray was brought in by a colourless maid, a glamorous and very pretty young woman trailing behind her.

“Edmund? Company? And so early in the morning, and with Tom still not returned? What can you have been thinking? Oh, Fanny,” the young lady added, her eyes alighting on the girl at last. “Aunt Norris was asking after you. Have you finished sewing the curtain hem yet?”

Fanny shifted as if to rise, but Edmund stayed her motions. “Our aunt and her curtain can wait. Finding Tom is of far greater importance. Julia, allow me to present to you Mr. Lyons and Miss Bennet, who have graciously offered to assist us in locating our brother.” He turned to Mary and Alexander and continued the introductions. “My younger sister, Miss Julia Bertram.”

Mary took a moment to examine the baronet’s daughter. Edmund had given a very brief family history during their short journey and had explained his father’s choice of wife some three decades before. Miss Ward, as Lady Bertram was at that time, had been a most inappropriate match, her family being of lesser means and no importance. Mary had assumed the man’s choice had been made at least partly on the lady’s loveliness, and seeing Julia, she understood Sir Thomas’ reasons. Edmund was a handsome man, and Julia was exceedingly pretty. Unless Sir Thomas was an Adonis of his age, Lady Bertram must have been an unparalleled beauty in her youth.

She knew not exactly what to think of this, of selecting a wife on the basis of a lovely face alone. Her own father readily confessed to having been turned by her mother’s high spirits and pretty face, and theirs was not a happy match. And yet, she could hardly begrudge her father’s choice, else she would not exist. Rather, she hoped the Bertrams were better matched in temperament than her own parents, and resolved for the thousandth time that if ever she should marry, it would be to a man of sense rather than appealing looks.

Although, should such a man exist who would consider her for his bride, she would not object to a handsome face. Brown eyes tending to hazel in the sunlight would be fine, and an unfashionable but still attractive head of copper-red hair… Her eyes darted towards Alexander and she forced her thoughts back to Miss Julia Bertram.

Author Bio: Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

Riana’s novels have received several awards and citations as favourite reads of the year, including two Jane Austen Awards and a Discovering Diamonds review.

You can follow Riana's blog at https://rianaeverly.com/blog/, and join her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RianaEverly/) and Twitter (@RianaEverly). She loves meeting readers!

Give-Away

I am delighted to be giving away five eBooks internationally of Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery. I have set up a Rafflecopter draw, but for anybody who cannot use the link, please email me your name and preferred email address and I will add you manually to the list for the draw. My email is riana.everly@gmail.com
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

An Affectionate Heart by Heather Moll

Title: An Affectionate Heart
Author: Heather Moll
Genre: Pride and Prejudice Variation 
Publisher: Excessively Diverted Press
Release Date: April 1st, 2022
Number of Pages: 385
Version Read: Kindle ebook
Buy: Amazon

Synopsis: Are love and affection enough to overcome the pain of grief and anger?

In the spring of 1812, Elizabeth and Lydia are the only Bennet daughters still unmarried after the death of their father. Elizabeth's health and spirits worsen as she moves among relations as an unwanted, dependent sister. She returns to Mary and Mr. Collins at Longbourn to learn that the neighbourhood gossip centers on the reclusive Mr. Darcy.

Darcy and his sister live an isolated life in a small rented lodge near Netherfield after the events at Ramsgate. As Georgiana's health is failing, Darcy has his own regrets to bear. He tries to keep them secluded, but a young woman arrives who is determined to befriend his lonely, ill sister.

When Elizabeth receives disastrous news, she makes a daring plan to find happiness for herself while she still can. Misunderstandings and secrets abound for them both but in the end, Darcy and Elizabeth will find greater strength together than they ever had apart.

My Review: In this tale, Jane married the man who wrote her some poetry when she was fifteen which sets into events that Mary and Kitty married got married too. Mr. Bennet dies from a heart attack two years before this story takes place so Mr. Collins took possession of Longbourn earlier than in canon. Mary is just plain mean in this book to everybody. She has had an over-inflated ego since she married Collins. Lizzy is suffering from having anxiety attacks whenever she has an altercation with her family which makes her believe she is dying especially after she steals part of a private letter between the apothecary and his apprentice. Georgiana is dying from consumption and she and Darcy are in Meryton hiding from society which thinks they are in Madeira. 

I enjoyed this book but I thought Darcy was a major asshole especially when Georgiana was dying. I get that he was under stress from that and trying to track down Wickham but that's no excuse to be a dick to your new wife. There was a mention of the Bingleys but they never actually show up in the book. If you love drama and angst this is the book for you. 

Rating: 4 stars

*I received an advanced copy of the book from the author. All opinions are my own. 

My Dearest Miss Fairfax by Jeanette Watts ~ Review

Title: My Dearest Miss Fairfax
Author: Jeanette Watts
Genre: Emma variation
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: March 14th, 2022
Number of Pages: 278
Version Read: Kindle ebook

Synopsis: While Miss Emma Woodhouse is occupied with matchmaking among the residents of Highbury, Miss Jane Fairfax has much more serious problems.

A secret engagement is one of the most unforgivable of sins in Surry, England in 1814. But Jane couldn't resist Frank Churchill's charms and agreed to wait for him while he persuaded the rich aunt who controls his life to allow their marriage.

Days stretched into weeks, weeks into months. The lovers are able to visit through the coincidence of Jane's grandmother living in the same town as Frank's father. But the necessary permission proves to be elusive. Meanwhile, their secret becomes harder and harder to conceal.

Can their love survive the social pressures that threaten to tear them apart?

My Review: This book tells the story of Emma from the eyes of Jane Fairfax. We get to see how Jane and Frank met while she was staying with the Dixons while the Campbells were away. She of course goes to stay with the Bates while Frank is trying to get his aunt's permission to marry. Jane basically has a bad opinion about everyone in Highbury and she is savage about what she mentally says about them. There is a scene right before the Box Hill strawberry party when Jane and Frank have an argument and she does not hold back on him. That scene made me like Jane so much more than I did. 

I have to say that the writing was very good and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The only thing that I have to complain about is that at the end it just abruptly ends. It seems like there should have been more but maybe that's just how it was meant to be ended.  

Rating: 4 stars

*I received an advanced copy from the author. All opinions are my own. 

Reputation, An Easy Thing to Lose by E.M. Storm-Smith ~ Review

Title: Reputation, An Easy Thing to Lose
Author: E.M. Storm-Smith
Genre: Pride and Prejudice variation
Publisher: Storm Haus Publishing, LLC
Release Date: February 3rd, 2022
Number of Pages: 273
Version Read: Kindle ebook
Buy: Amazon 

Synopsis: Elizabeth Bennet hotly rejected Fitzwilliam Darcy’s marriage proposal nearly four months ago, but now she wonders if that was the biggest mistake of her life. Orphaned and living with her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner in London, Elizabeth is determined to take a position as a governess or companion. There is no need to wait, she believes Darcy could not renew his attentions to her after her family’s disgrace. Which is a shame because she now knows that she might just love him.

Fitzwilliam Darcy would do anything for Elizabeth. He rushed to London as soon as hearing about Lydia Bennet’s elopement to try to find Wickham and put everything to rights. But his journey was fruitless. Then all Darcy’s effort was wasted when Mr. Bennet died of his wounds before Darcy could bring a doctor to tend to him. Now, he must convince Elizabeth to forgive and marry him before all hope is lost.

Elizabeth and Darcy are left to try to salvage what is left of their reputations after Mr. Bennet dies and Lydia’s shame becomes complete. Follow our favourite Austen lovers through sacrifice, frustration, a secret marriage, and a whole lot of shenanigans from the marriage-minded ladies of London.

My Review: I didn't know what to expect out of this book as it is the author's debut book. It was interesting. Darcy and Elizabeth have to hide their marriage so the scandal from the Bennet family doesn't taint Georgiana's marriage prospects. But Darcy literally makes it so that it appears like Lydia actually got married so like at that point why even hide the marriage? So many people went after Darcy and Elizabeth trying to get them to marry them but that wasn't going to happen. The worst out of all of them was Caroline Bingley and oh wow the length she went to get Darcy. 

 I did enjoy this book and I am looking forward to the next one. 

Rating: 4 stars

*I received an advanced copy of the book from the publisher. All opinions are my own. 

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