Thursday, April 17, 2014

Blog Tour - Interview and Giveaway: The Secret Betrothal by Jan Hahn


I am thrilled today to welcome Jan Hahn to my blog, as part of her blog tour for her latest release, The Secret Betrothal. I have asked her a few questions about herself and her love of Jane Austen and, of course, about her latest story! My thanks must also go to Jakki of Leatherbound reviews for asking me to be part of this tour.
 
I have very much enjoyed Jan's other two stories An Arranged Marriage and The Journey and I am very excited about this latest story! Jan has also been so kind as to offer 2 chances to win a copy of this story, so watch for the details of the giveaway at the end of this post!
 
Before I get to the interview, here is the blurb - a very interesting road to explore don't you think?

"Why would a gentleman ask a lady to conceal their betrothal?
 
Jane Austen writes of secret engagements in more than one of her novels, and in The Secret Betrothal, author Jan Hahn explores the question of what would happen if Austen’s most famous heroine from Pride and Prejudice reluctantly agrees to accept such a proposal.
When Fitzwilliam Darcy learns that Elizabeth Bennet has committed herself to such an arrangement, his hopes of winning her hand are shattered.  After circumstances continue to bring the two together—from Hertfordshire to Rosings Park to the seaside town of Brighton―he finds he is unable to tame his desire for the woman who has stolen his heart.
Will Darcy’s efforts to win Elizabeth succeed, or will his sworn enemy lead her to the altar?"

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Welcome Jan! Thank you so much for agreeing to this little interview with me. I absolutely love your work, as I think you know, and I am very interested in finding out a little more about one of my favourite authors!

1.     It is evident from the two wonderful stories you have already written, as well as this new release, that you are an avid Janeite and very much enjoy Jane Austen’s work. How did you first come across Jane Austen and fall in love with the regency world of dancing, carriages and courtship?

Back in the beginning of time when I was in high school, I studied Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  About all I retained from the book were memories of people sitting around in drawing rooms having long conversations.  You must understand that at fifteen, I was about as mature as Lydia Bennet and much more interested in the boy sitting next to me than classic literature.  For some reason, I did remember one name from the book―Mr. Darcy.  (I wonder why!)  Years later, when A&E broadcast the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice, I met Mr. Darcy again.  Believe me, I woke up when I saw Colin Firth!  From then on, I began to read everything Jane Austen wrote.

I believe the studying of an Austen novel, usually Pride and Prejudice, at school is the way in for quite a few people. I studied it at school when I was 15 myself! Although I loved the book at the time, I can't deny that watching the series didn't help fuel my passion - how could you not 'wake up' when Colin Firth walks on screen?!
 

2.      Of Ms. Austen’s six major novels, need I ask which your favourite is? I assume from your stories that it is Pride and Prejudice. What appeals to you so much about Pride and Prejudice? The characters, the story, the humour?

You are correct, of course; my favourite of Austen’s novels is Pride and Prejudice.  All of it appeals to me, especially the characters.  Austen not only created superb main characters, but memorable secondary characters as well.  No one can forget Mr. Collins’ bumbling attempts at flattery, Mrs. Bennet’s self-absorption, or Lady Catherine’s condescension.  Even though Mr. Bennet proclaims his three youngest daughters silly, each of the five Bennet sisters has her own personality―a difficult feat for any writer to accomplish.  The story will live forever in countless romantic comedies that begin with misunderstandings between a man and woman destined to be together.  Add Austen’s subtle humour and wit to the mix, and each page of the book comes alive.  I must have really been a nit-wit at fifteen not to have recognized the genius I was assigned to read.

You are completely right. As well as the wonderful Elizabeth and Darcy, everyone knows a flirt like Lydia or a gossip like Mrs Bennet; the characters have stood the test of time.
 

3.      Now, aside from Pride and Prejudice, which other work do you particularly like? And which is your least favourite work of Ms. Austen’s, if you have one?

Persuasion is my second favourite book of Jane Austen’s because I believe in second chances, and Mansfield Park is my least favourite simply because I don’t think Edmund deserved Fanny.  I wish he had been a better man.

I am with you regarding Edmund Bertram - he just didn't do it for me either!  
 

4.      In your three stories you take Ms. Austen’s plotline and explore a ‘what if’ idea and take the story down a completely different route. Why did you want to write these variations? Did you want to explore the world of Lizzy and Darcy a little more? I adore reading these ‘what if’ variations as I cannot get enough of Lizzy and Darcy, so please keep writing them!

I’m with you, Sophie.  I cannot get enough of Elizabeth and Darcy.  I delight in seeing them fall in love over and over.  A slight variation at so many places in the story makes for a completely different tale than the original.  So far, I haven’t written a sequel to Pride and Prejudice simply because I haven’t reached my saturation point with the romance of Darcy and Elizabeth’s courtship. 

Well, personally, I much prefer plot variations to prequels and sequels for exactly the same reason as you, and so please do go on writing 'what if's for the time being!
 

5.      Do you think there is another one of Ms. Austen’s stories which would have the potential for a ‘what if’ variation, or do you think that Pride and Prejudice holds the most possibility with the plot and characters for such stories?

Oh, I know the potential exists for ‘what if’ variations of other Austen stories because I’ve read some excellent twists on Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility.  I think most readers are better acquainted with Pride and Prejudice, and that may be why there are so many available.  I have heard there are some who do not care for Emma, and Austen herself says she’s a character ‘no one but myself will much like.’  I happen to like her, and I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a ‘what if’ of Miss Woodhouse simply because there’s a treasure house of characters to play with in the story.

I would agree that Pride and Prejudice is the most well known. And poor Emma - she really does divide opinions, but I also like her a lot and as a reader would most definitely be interested to read an Emma 'what if'!
 

6.      What is your opinion of modern variations of Ms. Austen’s work such as Clueless, or the bollywood Pride and Prejudice or the recent YouTube series The Lizzy Bennet Diaries, or even paranormal variations such as Pride and Prejudice and Vampires? Would you ever think about writing a modern variation, or like me, do you prefer her stories to be kept to the era in which they belong?

I thought Clueless was funny, and I loved Bride and Prejudice simply for the glorious colour, music, and fun of the production.  I haven’t made it through The Lizzy Bennet Diaries, and I’m not a fan of paranormal variations.  I can appreciate a well-written modern take on any of Austen’s work, but a huge part of her appeal for me is the time period in which she lived and worked.  I love the clothes, the hairstyles, the manners, the music and balls, the furnishings, the mansions, and the elegance of the world she created.  I would not want to live in that era because most likely I would have been consigned to the servants’ quarters, but I love to escape into Austen’s graceful world for brief interludes whenever I have a chance.

I agree - reading such stories is a lovely escape to a completely different world, and so I like to keep today's modern world we are living in and Miss Austen's world separate.   
 

7.       Mr Darcy has to be one of the most famous heroes in all of literature and for many the saying ‘searching for Mr Right’ turned into ‘searching for Mr Darcy’ after coming across Pride and Prejudice (well, it did for me!). What appeals to you about Mr Darcy? Is he a fun character to develop and explore, as you do so well in your stories?

It’s obvious that I love Mr. Darcy.  I love his strengths and his flaws.  I’ve never been a member of the school that considers him shy.  I see him as knowing his place in the world, a man of wealth and breeding who is comfortable conversing with people on his level of society.  He inherited a great deal of responsibility early in life and feels the weight of it regarding his sister, the rest of his family, and his material holdings.  He has little patience with fools and in the beginning of Austen’s original, he did come off as arrogant.  In essentials, however, Darcy is a good man, and I love nothing more than to read the story of a good man. 

A gentleman with all the goodness over one with all the appearance of goodness any day, right?  
 

8.      There are many scenes in both your books (and I imagine in this new story as well!) which are highly romantic and had me sighing (and swooning!) with happiness! I really admire you for keeping your novels clean; it just shows how stories can be highly romantic whist remaining clean, unlike quite a few variations out there. How important is this to you? 

Thank you, Sophie.  That’s very kind of you.  Each time I sit down to face a blank screen, I’m attempting to write the kind of story I want to read.  I was happily married a long time before I lost my husband, I have five children, and I certainly am well acquainted with the pleasures of sex.  But the act itself is not what I care to read about.  I understand that some people do, but it’s not for me. I want to experience the intensity of strong feelings and the push-pull of emotions at play when two people fall in love.  To me, sex is not casual.  It’s not just a handshake.  It’s the ultimate expression of love.  If a couple meets and goes to bed together almost immediately, there’s no suspense, no thrill of the chase, no wondering if they will or won’t love each other.  Perhaps that’s why the propriety of Austen’s era lends itself to my kind of writing.  Frankly, I couldn’t write a steamy sex scene to save my life, but I adore reading and writing about pure romance.

Well the level of romance in your books is perfect for me, as the strict rules of propriety in this era is another strong appeal of Miss Austen's stories for me as well!
 

9.      I have thoroughly enjoyed reading both your previous stories, The Journey and An Arranged Marriage, and I was thrilled when I saw that your third story was now published, The Secret Betrothal. The routes you choose to explore in your first two stories are both very interesting, but I believe the premise of this newest story is the most intriguing for me. What gave you the idea of having Elizabeth agreeing to a secret engagement to Wickham? Where does your inspiration come for?

Inspiration for my latest story probably came from my own life.  Many of us chose the wrong man the first time and lived to regret it.  People will say that Elizabeth was too intelligent to fall for Wickham, but smart women make foolish choices every day of the week when it comes to matters of the heart.  Elizabeth was young and inexperienced and really didn’t know what love was at the beginning of Austen’s novel.  She thought she was a good judge of character, but she was fooled by Wickham for over half of the book until she read Darcy’s letter and learned the truth. I also was fascinated by the secret engagements in Emma and Sense and Sensibility.  Breaking an engagement could be traumatic in that day and time.  Men were sometimes sued for breach of promise, and a woman could become known as a jilt, which didn’t do much for her reputation.  I wanted to see if Darcy’s love was strong enough to survive the gossip that would surround Elizabeth once her secret was made known.

The secret betrothals have also always held an interest for me, and so I am really looking forward to seeing how you play with the idea in the story and seeing how it all turns out - although I have no doubt that Darcy's love will be strong enough to overcome even the scandal of a secret engagement!  
 

10.  Of the three stories you have now written, which has been your favourite to write? Or do you not have a favourite and love all three equally?

My favourite story is The Secret Betrothal, but my favourite book to write was An Arranged Marriage because it was the first novel I wrote in first-person.  I felt like I found my voice when I wrote in first-person.  The Secret Betrothal is written in third-person, and it was much harder to write and took longer to complete.

That is interesting as I would thought it would have been more difficult writing in first-person and having the whole story written from only one person's point of view!  
 

11.  I will wrap up the questions now but there is one burning question that we all want an answer to; any further ideas for another story? Any clues or at least any assurances that there will, sometime or another, be a third story for Darcy and Lizzy for us to look forward to? You must excuse my impatience, for I realise that your third story has only just been released, but I had to ask!

Oh, my, you are such a dear to ask for more!  I do have another story just about ready, but I haven’t discussed it with my publisher yet, so I’ll have to say let’s wait and see. 
That is good news! Thanks for sharing!
 
Thank you so much for having me as a guest, Sophie.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my visit to your lovely site.  And I must say I’m thrilled that you are such an ambassador for Jane Austen.  Being as young as you are and such a great fan of Austen just proves that her gift truly is timeless.
You are most welcome Jan - thank you for stopping by! And thank you for such kind words. I discovered Jane Austen at 9, fell in love with Jane Austen at 15, and I am now 18 and completely lost to the wonderful world of the genius that is Miss Jane Austen - there is no going back now!   
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As I mentioned above, I am very lucky to be able to offer a giveaway of 2 copies of her book; one paperback and one ebook (Kindle or Nook), both open internationally.

To enter please leave a comment below and include your email address so that I can contact the randomly selected winners.

The giveaway will end on the 23rd of April, so that I have time to contact the winners and then pass on the necessary details by the 26th.

Good luck!

My thanks again goes to Jan Hahn for this interview and to Jakki for setting up this tour.

I wish Jan all the best with this latest release as well as any stories in the future! Keep an eye out for my review of this story which I hope to post in the next few weeks!


Your affectionate friend,
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58 comments:

  1. Hi, Soph! Loved the interview and would very much like to read Mrs. Hahn's novels. My e-mail address for giveaway is almacubana@gmail.com

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    1. Thank you, Samanta! I hope you like my books, and I wish you the best of luck with the giveaway.

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  2. Yet to read any of Jan Hahn books - on my wish list though - on the subject of variations I have tried a couple of modern day takes of Pride and Prejudice and I have yet to find one that I think really works

    meikleblog at gmail dot com

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    1. There are some good moderns out there, but I don't think I could write one. Thanks for stopping by, Vesper.

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    2. I am not one for modern either! One I did enjoy was Cynthia Hensley's The Heart Does Whisper - it wasn't Darcy and Lizzy brought into the modern day, but it was about their descendants :) good luck!

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  3. I loved the interview and I wish Jan's publisher can make her new novel a reality!
    LorenDushku at gmail dot com

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    1. From your lips to my publisher's ears, Loren. Thanks so much!

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    2. Lets hope so! Good luck!

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  4. Great questions, Sophie. Exactly what I wanted to know from the author.

    Jan, maybe your fans should gather signatures, paint placards, hand out tracts, hire billboards and BEG, BEG, BEG Meryton Press to accept anything you offer and rush it to press. Good interview. This has been an awesome blog tour, though I feel like a stalker - almost.
    jdawnking at gmail dot com

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    1. Oh, Joy, you make me laugh! Meryton Press has been extremely good to me, and I love working with them. Thanks for your comments - I enjoyed them.

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    2. Thank you very much! And good luck!

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  5. Very well asked questions. I really enjoy reading your guest posts. I have yet to read any of her books but am dying too! I hope I win this giveaway! :) I am entering for the paperback version and my email address is
    dramaqueen4ever96 at gmail dot com

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    1. Those were great questions! Thanks for your comments and good luck with the giveaway. By the way, I love your dramaqueen name. Last Christmas, some of my friends gave me an apron with that name on it. I wonder why...

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    2. Thank you very much Lydia! I am glad you enjoy them! Good luck!

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  6. I would LOVE to read a copy in paperback! :)
    flutterbug95@gmail.com

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  7. Fantastic interview questions, 'Mrs. Darcy'. Loved your answers Jan. Thanks for such a great interview. I'm with the rest and hope Meryton Press will happily accept any book you offer!

    Don't enter me in the giveaway, Sophie, as I already own and have read this excellent book!

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    1. Thanks for your support, Janet, and thanks for creating the beautiful front and back covers for my book!

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    2. Thanks for stopping by! I won't enter you though ;) yes - fantastic cover art!

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  8. This looks like a really good book and I loved the interview :D
    i_lovenuk@hotmail.com

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    1. Thank you, Anne! I'm glad you stopped by.

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  9. How fun! Here's hoping to winning a paperback :) MKMissy01@gmail.com
    Thanks for the generosity!

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    1. Thanks for joining in the fun, Melissa! Good luck with the giveaway.

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    2. Good luck and fingers crossed!

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  10. I am a huge fan of Jan's stories, as you can probably tell by the length of this comment! Thank you very much for the interview. So many great questions!

    About the question regarding sex, I think although Jan's books are free of the mature scenes they definitely don't lack the sexual tensions two people attracted to each other often have. They are very nicely depicted in the stories, even very intense at times. As Jan pointed out, the lack of the actual details adds suspense and thrill to the stories.

    Jan also mentioned about writing in first person in the interview. That's one thing I've always been curious about her books. There aren't many P&P Sequels/Variations written in first person style but Jan has written stories with Elizabeth as first person and Mr. Darcy as first person. I wondered what made her decide to write in first person and which one she likes to write more, as Elizabeth or as Mr. Darcy?

    One last comment: Another thing I love about Jan's book is the epilogues (even though they aren't categorized as epilogues). Her epilogues don't just give a report of what happens after. They are often very poignant and just as nicely written as the story itself. I lost count how many times I sigh after finishing the last sentence. :-)

    I would love to have a copy but I've already had The Engagement. I'd love to find out the differences between the two. On the other hand, perhaps the free copies should be given to people who are new to Jan's wonderful P&P variation world. :-) Anyways, my e-mail is jb927y1@gmail.com

    Thanks!

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    1. Hi, Susie, and thank you for such interesting comments! Re writing in first person - I've kept a journal off and on throughout my life, and I just happen to love the intimate feeling I experience both when I write it and read it back. I decided to see if I could accomplish the same thing with an Austen story. I definitely prefer writing as Elizabeth in first person. I've written one story as Darcy, and it was a struggle, plus I wasn't happy with it when I finished it. I think you'll find The Secret Betrothal different from The Engagement. Wickham gives Elizabeth a different reason for the secrecy of the betrothal; there are seven additional chapters; and the book has a completely different ending. Those are just a few changes off the top of my head.

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    2. Hello Jan,

      Thanks for the reply! I think I know which story you meant. I admit it isn't my favorite of your stories but I still enjoyed reading it. Even though Dr. Darcy's emotions come through loud and clear in every of your story, it is still wonderful to know Mr. Darcy's intimate thoughts and see things through his eyes.

      Thanks for letting me know the difference between the Engagement and The Secret Betrothal. It sounds so exciting! A completely different ending! Oh my I hope it is still a happy ending. :-) I can't wait to read it!

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    3. Thank you for such a lovely comment! I agree with you - while clean her books a full of romance and tension - that is how I like my books! I also love the epilogues as well - a perfect way to end! I will still enter you anyway :)

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  11. I so want to read this book! I absolutely loved An arranged marriage and The journey, so this must be a treat too! I would love to win a paperback (don't have an e-reader), thanks for the giveaway!

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    1. Thank you, Arjanne!

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    2. They are brilliant aren't they? Good luck!

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  12. I like this interview and I enjoyed her others works. Thanks for the giveawaway.
    My e-mail address: chiarapiccirilla@hotmail.it

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  13. That was a very enlighting interview! I just adore Jan's work and this one is on my TBR pile. I have heard such great things that I just know I will love it! And Janet's cover is lovely!!

    Thanks for the giveaway! ��

    Liz
    Csuexc(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Thank you and good luck!

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    2. Thank you, Liz! I agree that Janet does beautiful work.

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  14. I love knowing how the author head comes up with the idea for their story and what they think about Jane Austen-related stuff. Thanks for posting this interview, Sophie.

    evangelineace2020(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. You are welcome! Good luck!

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    2. Thank you for your comments. Sophie gave me some great questions to answer.

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  15. Amazing interview, Sophie! Thank you both for sharing it with us :) I couldn't agree more about question number 3. Edmund did not deserved Fanny!! Thanks for the giveaway ;)

    newyorkgirl82(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thank you, Maria! I recently went through Mansfield Park again, and I still don't like Edmund.

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    2. Thanks Maria and good luck! :D

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  16. Thank you, ladies, for great and very interesting interview! I fully agree with you regarding Mansfield Park and Edmund Bertram. Compared with other Austen heros he is rather undeserving, but it is good that he is outnumbered by all other main male characters created by Jane Austen:). And it's great to know that Jan has another story almost ready for discussion with publisher! So hopefully, more Lizzy and Darcy variations coming our way:) I can't help being astonished at creativity of Austen authors who come out with unique and very engaging what ifs. Please do not enter me in the giveaway, as I'm already so lucky to own a copy.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment and taking the time to comment even though you already have a copy! I am absolutely hooked by these variations so I hope they just keep getting written, especially to such a high standard as Jan's wonderful stories!

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  17. I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book already, which I plan to read next month, so please don't enter me for the giveaway, but I wanted to comment for two reasons. Firstly, to beg Jan to try her hand at an Emma variation/sequel if she has an idea for one, because there aren't enough Emma books out there. Secondly, I want to say a word in defence of Edmund, who I feel gets a raw deal with readers. He is a good man (in fact, considering how his siblings turned out, he's a very good man) and a kind cousin to Fanny. He's about the only person in MP who is kind to her from the beginning and who sees her worth. He is attracted to Mary Crawford, but I don't think less of Emma for liking Frank Churchill, or less of Elizabeth for being attracted to Wickham. It's just a shame that Austen didn't give a lot of page time to the part of the story where he falls in love with Fanny Price because I think a lot of people come away from that book feeling that he settled for her, which I don't believe does their relationship justice.

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    1. I forgot to say how much I enjoyed the interview ladies, very interesting :)

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    2. Thank you Ceri! I won't count you now :) let me know what you think of it! And you are right about Edmund and Mary in regards to it being similar to Wickham and Elizabeth and things. And I always wished there was more time for Fanny and Edmund at the end of the book as it would have helped to endear Edmund and Fanny's relationship. I am glad you enjoyed the interview :)

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  18. I recently finished reading The Journey and I'm so happy that there's another book to read. I loved the interview and have loved reading following your blog tour.

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  19. I so agree with Jan's interpretation of Darcy's character it describes him perfectly. I am pleased to hear another book may be on the horizon. Thank you for the giveaway! tamaraausten77@gmail.com ( I already have a kindle copy)

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  20. Thanks for sharing! I've read Jan's other books and look forward to reading this one! dermodymm at gmail.com

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    1. Sorry you just missed the giveaway! I have a quite a few giveaways so hopefully you can be part of another one I have soon! Sorry you just missed out!

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"I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible," therefore I would dearly love for you to comment and let me know what you think!

Thank you for stopping by Laughing With Lizzie and I hope you will take the time to visit again before too long!