Sunday, March 30, 2014

Pride and Persistence by Jeanna Ellsworth and giveaway!

I am very excited and honoured to be reviewer number one for Jeanna Ellsworth's newly published book, Pride and Persistence!  I read her first story, Mr Darcy's Promise (review here), quite a few months ago and it was brilliant and so I have been looking forward to the next story from this author for a long time!

"Undaunted by a threatening storm, Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley insists he must deliver his letter to Miss Elizabeth Bennet–– then tragedy strikes. Riddled with guilt, Elizabeth comes to the aid of the comatose Mr. Darcy and stays by his side until he regains consciousness. She soon learns that although Mr. Darcy has awoken, he has not returned to himself. And with no memory of his first disastrous proposal, he has concluded that there is nothing he wants more than to propose to Miss Elizabeth.  This humorous journey of love leaves one asking, does persistence pacify prejudice? Can Elizabeth see the real gentleman behind the injury, a man who persists in professing his love to her every chance he gets? In this Regency variation of Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet both learn the value of persistence."

If you would like to find out a little more about the author as well as the latest story, then have a look at my interview with her from a few days ago here.

My first reaction after finishing the story: brilliant! This was an amusing, yet romantic, journey to love for Darcy and Elizabeth, under very different, and difficult, circumstances.  The premise of the book intrigued me as I had not come across a story involving memory loss resulting in multiple marriage proposals before!

There is so much I could, and wish to, say about this book but I do want to give anything away, so you shall just have to read the story for yourself.

I shall mention a few things, however, to wet your appetite...

If you are anything like me with Pride and Prejudice variations, you want the most important people in the story, Darcy and Elizabeth, to have centre stage for most of the book. If this is the case, then read this book. Darcy and Elizabeth have plenty of screen time - or rather page time - due to the nature of Darcy's injuries confining him to one room, one room which Elizabeth is very rarely not in.  The relationship between the two of them is very unique and most certainly far from conventional, or proper; Darcy struggles with a broken ankle and memory problems and Elizabeth seems to be the only one who can calm Darcy in his confused state. As Elizabeth feels rather responsible for the accident, she refuses to leave his side and does all she can to help his recovery, even if it means enduring a  marriage proposal and declaration of love every day!  Seeing how Elizabeth's opinion and view of Darcy changes as she sees him for who he truly is, his real character becoming more evident and clear in his confused state, is touching. We are also able to see the more caring and compassionate side to Elizabeth's nature. It is possible to learn so much more about someone when the rules of propriety are abandoned due to extraordinary circumstances!

As well as having a very different relationship with Darcy, Elizabeth also has interesting relationships with other secondary characters in the story. A few favourites of those for me would be with Colonel Fitzwilliam, and two new additions; Madeline, the nurse in charge of Darcy's care, and Mrs Wilkinson, the Collins's cook.

The Colonel is a wonderful character, as he generally is expected to be! He plays an interesting role in the story and even turns his hand to match-making! The bond of trust and the sense of openness which he and Elizabeth build throughout the story is sweet, as well as results in some rather amusing situations!

Madeleine is a very caring lady who comes to know Elizabeth very well due to the amount of time she spends in the sick room with Madeline, thanks to the positive effect only Elizabeth seems to be able to have on Darcy. Madeline also begins to entertain thoughts about the true nature of the relationship between these two young people before her...

Mrs Wilkinson was a favourite of mine. She becomes, in a way, the mother Elizabeth never had, as she is able to confide in her very easily, and in turn, Mrs Wilkinson has some very beneficial advice for Elizabeth. They share a very special relationship, regardless of the fact that her skills as a cook are sadly lacking! 

You will find Lady Catherine to have a very interesting and interfering role in the story, as you would expect, but you also learn the truth about her past ,which, I can assure you, you will not be expecting!

You will also find Mr Collins to be a very silly character and this story will provide you with some... lasting images, let's just say. Mr Bennet, too, brings his share of the humour to the story, however with Mr Bennet you will be laughing with him, rather than at him as you with Mr Collins.

Something which I loved about this author's first story was the use of metaphors and symbolism throughout the story. There were similar metaphors to be found in this second story, thanks to Colonel Fitzwilliam in this one. The Colonel's metaphor of the 'storm' is a very clever metaphor and it is extremely important for Elizabeth and her relationship with Mr Darcy - but I shall not ruin it for you! I loved how the metaphor is slowly explained, little by little, throughout the story. The clever use of symbolism and metaphoric language is one of my favourite aspects to this author's style of writing.

I have often remarked on the humour in this story, however it is also a very romantic story (whilst staying completely clean, which is how I like my stories to be.) While Darcy continually forgetting the fact that he has already proposed to Elizabeth, multiple times, is amusing to read (at times during his confused state I just wanted to hug him he was so sweet!) it is also very touching to see how his proposals are improving each time, making it harder and harder for Elizabeth to refuse him.

However you can be assured that it all works out eventually! Something I particularly enjoyed in Mr Darcy's Promise was that the understanding was reached between Darcy and Lizzy before the last page of the book, as is the case with many stories. I like to read about the occasional stolen kiss and the intimate and open conversations between the pair once the majority of the obstacles have been overcome.  So, of course, I was thrilled to find that this was also the case for this second story; it was not 'they kiss, they marry, the end', all on the last page!

As well as this, there is a delightful epilogue, set not long after the conclusion of the story (which I much prefer to skipping to years and years later) and never has an epilogue made me smile so much! All loose ends and the futures of the characters we have come to love are tied up in a very neat, satisfactory and perfectly appropriate way considering all the events of the story - I defy anyone not to smile and sigh with contentment whilst reading the concluding pages of this wonderful story! Who doesn't love a happy ending?

Read chapter one of Pride and Persistence here, as well as find out about her other stories due to be published soon here.

A thoroughly enjoyable read, particularly when you need a good book to cheer you up, and it is the perfect book for curling up with after a trying day at work; brilliantly funny and wonderfully romantic which will leave you feeling perfectly content and with a huge grin on your face - well I did anyway!
**GIVEAWAY - ends Friday, April 4th**

In celebration of the release, the lovely Jeanna is offering 1 paperback copy (US only) and 1 ebook copy (international) of her story.

To enter, leave a comment below and the two winners shall be picked randomly.
Please leave your email address and state whether you will be entering for the paperback or the ebook. I will then pass on the winners email addresses to Jeanna who will be in touch.

This will only be a short giveaway - I'm going on holiday! - and so it will end Friday, April 4th!

Good luck, and thank you again to Jeanna for offering this giveaway! And good luck with the book!

Your affectionate friend,
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Monday, March 24, 2014

An Interview with Jeanna Ellsworth

Today I have the very great pleasure of welcoming the wonderful author Jeanna Ellsworth to my blog. Jeanna is the author of the brilliant story Mr Darcy's Promise (read my review here) and she has her second story coming out very soon, Pride and Persistence, which she will be telling us a little more about in the interview. I cannot wait for this second story for it sounds like a lot of fun...  

"Undaunted by a threatening storm, Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley insists he must deliver his letter to Miss Elizabeth Bennet–– then tragedy strikes. Riddled with guilt, Elizabeth comes to the aid of the comatose Mr. Darcy and stays by his side until he regains consciousness. She soon learns that although Mr. Darcy has awoken, he has not returned to himself. And with no memory of his first disastrous proposal, he has concluded that there is nothing he wants more than to propose to Miss Elizabeth. 
This humorous journey of love leaves one asking, does persistence pacify prejudice? Can Elizabeth see the real gentleman behind the injury, a man who persists in professing his love to her every chance he gets? In this Regency variation of Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet both learn the value of persistence."


Welcome Jeanna! 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 and about your upcoming release!

1. It is evident from both your first story and 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?

Thanks for having me! I admit that I am a young Janeite, just reintroduced in January 2012. I had loved the 2005 movie and even owned a copy of the book Pride and Prejudice that I got from a garage sale but did not earn the title of Janeite until my sister KaraLynne Mackrory started writing JAFF and would send me her chapters to read. Since she was not able to satisfy my thirst fast enough (an author can only write so fast) she would tell me to read other JAFF books that were published. One book led to 50, which led to more, which led to writing! It is a slippery slope, so readers, beware! You have been warned!

How well I understand this! Once I had read one JAFF story I was lost, completely and utterly addicted!

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 need not ask, Pride and Prejudice is by far my favorite. I love it mostly because the moral of the story (and I kind of like books with morals to the story) is that in order to attract a Mr. Darcy, you kind of have to be an Elizabeth. And in order to attract an Elizabeth, you have to be willing to be a Mr. Darcy!  The other reason I am obsessed with Darcy is because he represents to me how a devoted, persistent man can earn the love and respect by doing only that which life requires of all of us . . . change. I like the saying that if you do not like the results you are getting, than change how you do things. I enjoy cooking and so it correlates that there is no reason to think that if you use the same ingredients that you will come out with a different dish! Darcy had no guarantees or even any hope that changing himself would alter Elizabeth’s view of him, but it did!

That is precisely what I love about Pride and Prejudice, or more specifically, Darcy and Lizzy - they both change for the other.

3. Now, aside from Pride and Prejudice, which other work do you particularly like?

Since I have three girls, the oldest full of sense and logic, the middle daughter with a strong passion for life, and a youngest who can be found exploring at any given time, I admit that Sense and Sensiblity if my next favorite. It is even the last Jane Austen book I read. I had a date night with my girls and watched the movie the other day and they giggled at the similarities.

Well I can see why this comes second! I have a special love for Sense and Sensibility for a similar reason actually; my older sister is very much like Elinor, and I am rather like Marianne!   

4. In your two 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 wrote because I was questioning my sanity. Truly. I had a psychology class in nursing school and even though it was 15 years ago, I’m pretty sure that hearing voices in your head was a bad thing. Ha Ha. I had read so much Jane Austen Fan Fiction that the characters were literally alive in my head (and heart!) I had plots and entire scenes playing out in my head. I would dream about “what if’s” and I decided that I should either start writing them down or start taking medicine! It has been nonstop ever since I wrote the first plot outline. I’m currently half way through with my fifth book and it has only been 2 years since writing. I love it and will probably never stop so I’m glad you can’t get enough.

Miss Austen's characters are so well written and known to us that I can understand how the characters could come alive in your head - you just know very easily what Mrs Bennet would say, or how Lady Catherine might act!

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?

At this time I’m sticking with Pride and Prejudice, however, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I have this little urge to try a non JAFF regency romance with all original characters! It feels scary but kind of a fun challenge too!

Oh how exciting! It would be a challenge to come up with all your own characters but it would also be fun!  I hope you do try this one day.

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?

The hardest part about many of the modern takes is they lose the innocence of the Regency romance; the stolen looks or touches that exaggerate the attraction. There are some great ones out there but I imagine it would be hard to write a modern take on P&P without letting the relationship turn into something modern. It is so common place now to kiss and even sleep with who you date, but there is just something so much more romantic and long lasting (and are we not wanting to read a happily ever after?) when the relationship is based on respect and friendship. I’m not saying it isn’t possible to write a modern take without the sex, but there are not many who keep it off the page. I certainly enjoy reading it when the authors let my imagination do all the work!

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 did so well in Mr Darcy's Promise?

My daughters do not fully grasp the man Mr. Darcy is and who he represents to all us who adore him. I tell them he is the perfectly-imperfect gentleman. By that I mean, he is sooooo imperfect, but like our smartphones, he autocorrects into something that is just right. And just like autocorrect, he occasionally makes a big mistake (Hunsford) and has to atone for his sins. But he does it like a real gentleman. He realizes that his pride and prejudice are his greatest hurdles to finding happiness and his every action from that realization on are efforts to humble himself. He changes into a man who is worthy of the woman he loves, but only after realizing that she was worth changing for. A man who can love so deeply and passionately that he makes the change within himself without any promises of securing her hand is a man worthy of an Elizabeth.
That is a very interesting comparison! But what you say is actually very true - he does autocorrect into something just right. He really is the 'perfectly-imperfect gentleman', as you say, which is why we love him!

8. Now aside from Mr Darcy, which other characters do you enjoy developing in your stories? The humorous Colonel Fitzwilliam perhaps, or the rather shy Georgiana? Who do you find the hardest to write about? And the easiest? 

Colonel Fitzwilliam is my favorite minor character. In Pride and Persistence, he is downright loveable! So wise and so smart and has such tender (friend-like) moments where he helps Elizabeth through the trauma of Darcy’s head injury and helps her find humor in his multiple proposals. He is the main character of the book I am writing now, called Hope For Fitzwilliam. I do love Georgiana and Charlotte too. I can’t say I’m all that fond of Bingley (don’t respect a man who will not fight for the love of his life) or Jane who always feels so weak. I find them hard to write because I don’t love them. This logic doesn’t hold true with every character I do not like. I admit I kind of love writing scenes with Caroline Bingley even though I hate her character, but she is just so nasty! It is too much fun to write her set down!
I also love Colonel Fitzwilliam - I look forward to your story where the Colonel takes centre stage! And I always love to see Caroline Bingley getting a set down!

8. There are many scenes in your book (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? 

Even though Mr. Darcy’s Promise was a forced marriage scenario where it would be appropriate for them to make love, I found that leaving that stuff off the page was fun, even forcing me to get creative! I have to admit I have ulterior motives as well. One, my kids read my books and I do not want them to imagine their mom writing love scenes. Yuck! Two, I’m single and getting sexually frustrated is not pleasant! Ha ha! I started keeping a list of all the clean books I have read on my website that I feel represent what I would be willing to let my daughters read. Check out my Recommended Reads page on my website, I am always willing to add a book if it is clean and entertaining and since I started the list after I read so many JAFF books, it is not all inclusive. I do not intend to omit any of the good clean ones intentionally and love recommendations from other readers who appreciate all the sex and language being left off the page.

9. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Mr Darcy's Promise and I was thrilled when I saw that your second story was being published soon, Pride and Persistence. The routes you choose to explore in your first story was very interesting, but I believe the premise of this newest story is the most intriguing for me. What enticed you down the route of head injuries and memory loss? Where did your inspiration come for? 

I am a neurological ICU nurse and one day I was trying to take a nap before a night shift and suddenly I started giggling to myself because I was imagining Mr. Darcy with a frontal lobe injury. I was imagining scene after scene where he lacked memory, emotional control, reasoning, and logical complex thought. Pride and Persistence starts out with a tragic accident where Mr. Darcy gets a head injury but as his limitations become apparent, the tragedy becomes more than just a little humorous. Many events that occur in the book are true to life events or behaviors that a real patient with a frontal lobe injury would have. To be honest, my inspiration comes from every single experience I have in life. It could be a sermon at church, it could be a grocery store janitor, it could be the man who flipped me off, either way, I see stories all around me, and I feel compelled to write them. Head injuries can be the hardest thing to cope with as a patient or family member so my goal in writing this book, and writing it as a romantic comedy, was to help those who struggle see and feel the hope at the end of recovery. I even dedicate the book to those patients and families as well as the staff of Neurological ICUs.

How wonderful! It is brilliant where your inspiration comes from, particularly for Pride and Persistence, in that many of the situations and events which occur as a result of the head injury are actually things you have seen in real life! I really can't wait to see it!

10. The story to Pride and Persistence sounds like a lot of fun. Although your first story had its share of humour, would you say that this was more of a comedy than your first story? I believe you have described it as "Pride and Prejudice meets 50 First Dates"? 

It could be called 50 first proposals! I wrote so many proposals, with them showing subtle improvements each time (showing Darcy’s condition was improving) that I now almost cringe when it is time to write a proposal. But I admit this is by far the funniest book I have written. My fellow author JAFF addict junkie, (My sister KaraLynne Mackrory who has published 3 JAFF books) deems this her favorite of all my books. Although it takes a few chapters to get past the initial suspense of the accident and his precarious condition, soon the world of finding joy, laughter, and healing in head injuries opens up. It was a very fun book to write.

I always love humour in a book, as well as romance, so I am sure this will be just up my street! (I highly recommend KaraLynne Mackrory's stories as well!)

11. I will wrap up the questions now, but one final thing; I think I see from your website that you have some other stories written or are in the process of writing? You must excuse my impatience, for I realise that your second story has only just been released, but I had to ask!

Yes, since I self-publish, it takes a bit of time to get my work to the public. I firmly believe that I should not go into debt to fund the editing or cover so I use the royalties from the previous book to fund the next book. I also am rather addicted to having an original painting done for the cover that I can hang in my living room and that takes months to paint. Pride and Persistence should be published by April 1st, if not sooner, and my third book, To Refine Like Silver, is tentatively planned for a November 2014 publication. My fourth book is the first in a series of 4 books called The Hope Series. I am hoping to publish them fairly close together which means they may not start publication until a year or more from now. I do like to post them on the online communities like and because the readers have such interesting comments and it is very rewarding to see how each chapter influences them.
I will be keeping my eyes out for all your other stories!

Thank you so much for interviewing me! They were wonderful questions and I hope you all will get a chance to read Pride and Persistence when it comes out! I always love to hear from my readers! This is one way I get one step closer to you all! Thank you so much for this opportunity, Sophie. It is amazing how this world that Jane Austen created 200 years ago is affecting so many people today. I can only imagine her being in awe at the scope of her influence.

Thank you again for participating in this interview with me. Good luck with your new book – it will be just as successful as your other story, I know it will. I cannot wait to read it! And I completely agree with you; it is amazing how Ms. Austen's work can bring so many people together 200 years later!

I really look forward to reading this story when it is (hopefully!) published April 1st! Keep an eye out for my review which I should be posting in a few weeks. Thank you again to Jeanna Ellsworth and good luck and all the best for future stories! To find out more about all her stories - published and works in progress - visit her website !

Your affectionate friend,
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Debut Novel from Gianna Thomas

Darcy and Elizabeth is Gianna’s first Pride and Prejudice variation. The novel is scheduled for publication in the Spring of 2014. It has amusing moments, plenty of angst and family interference that mimic that found in the original Pride and PrejudiceFollow along with the highs and lows of one of the most romantic couples of all fiction history.

Three short story prequels lead into the Pride and Prejudice: Darcy and Elizabeth novel:

Pride and Prejudice: Attending a Ball recounts the three days before the beginning of the novel from Elizabeth Bennet’s perspective.

Pride and Prejudice: Darcy and Bingley recounts Darcy’s and Bingley’s first encounter, some of their history together and their current activities a few days before the start of the novel. 

And Pride and Prejudice: Pemberley and Beyond looks at the history of Pemberley House, how Darcy is truly Master of Pemberley and what his vision is for the future of his beloved home.

I was contacted asking if I would like to read and review these stories and I was only too happy to.  So far, two of the prequels mentioned above have been released and I liked both of these prequels, particularly ‘Darcy and Bingley’. As is always the case with short stories, the story sometimes feels a little rushed and the characters underdeveloped, but I am looking forward to reading a full length story which allows for this development, and besides, these prequels are exactly that; prequels which are just preparing us for the main story. I do feel that these two short stories have set the story up well in preparation for the full length novel, especially with the cliff-hanger ending.

Pride and Prejudice: Attending a Ball

This was a short story which covers the time before the start of Gianna Thomas’s new novel, from Lizzy’s point of view.

It was enjoyable to see more about each of the Bennet sisters; Lydia and Kitty as they become excited about the prospect of a ball at Netherfield and then the news that the militia are to be quartered at Meryton. Jane and Lizzy are also interested in this news about the militia but are more so about their new neighbour, a Mr Bingley, who they look forward to meeting. Mary is not interested in either of these events in the slightest, but is looking forward to further perfecting her latest Mozart piece.

In general the characters seemed as we would expect - Lydia was spot on. I enjoyed seeing a little more between Lizzy and Jane and the sisterly bond they share. I also enjoyed seeing the relationship between Lizzy and her father, which is just as strong as you would imagine.  Mrs. Bennet was also very accurate and how you would expect her to be, and between her and Lydia, they provided plenty of humour.

Lizzy also has more to be happy about as her and her dear friend Melanie are to head to London to buy some new materials for a new ball gown. We meet Lizzy’s good friend Melanie, and also see a little more to Charlotte Lucas. The three of them seem like the best of friends, and Melanie was a nice addition and I look forward to seeing more of her in the coming novel.

It was clever in that it set up lots of questions and hinted at many events which are to come in the main novel. It was good at enticing the reader in, especially with the dramatic cliff hanger - the carriage ride to London, which a certain handsome gentleman is also part of, doesn’t go quite as smoothly as hoped.  I look forward to reading the novel to see what is going to happen.


Pride and Prejudice: Darcy and Bingley

I enjoyed this short story, recounting the history to Darcy and Bingley’s friendship, and what they get up to in the few weeks leading up to the beginning of Gianna Thomas’s new novel, from Darcy’s point of view. 

It was fun to see how Darcy and Bingley met, at Cambridge, and seeing how their friendship developed on from that through the years. They really do have a strong bond and it is explained well why two such different gentlemen get on so well. As Darcy helps Bingley go through the process of letting out an estate, Netherfield Park, the trust and respect Bingley has for Darcy is clear, and Darcy is a very good friend to him.

Where would we be without Caroline Bingley, who is just as annoying as ever, but I have to say, her obvious attempts to capture Darcy’s attention as well as seeing what Darcy really thinks about her was rather amusing.  

Georgiana also came into this story and she is just as shy as she is meant to be, but the strong bond shown between her and her brother was lovely.  
The way in which the two stories collided and ended in the same way has set it up for an exciting opening to the full length story.

Your affectionate friend,
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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Death Comes to Pemberley, the Television Adaptation

I was very excited when I heard that a television series of Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James was being made, and I was looking forward to it. Christmas Day I received book and then Boxing Day the series began! I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the series actually. It was quite dark and serious, but that is the nature of the story, but I still really enjoyed, and I am looking forward to reading the book (which I still haven’t gotten around to reading yet!). It will be interesting to see how similar the adaptation stayed to the book.  

"Elizabeth and Darcy, now six years married, are preparing for their annual ball when festivities are brought to an abrupt halt. An adaptation of PD James's homage to Pride and Prejudice."

Book blurb...
"The year is 1803, and Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for six years. There are now two handsome and healthy sons in the nursery, Elizabeth's beloved sister Jane and her husband Bingley live nearby and the orderly world of Pemberley seems unassailable. But all this is threatened when, on the eve of the annual autumn ball, as the guests are preparing to retire for the night a chaise appears, rocking down the path from Pemberley's wild woodland. As it pulls up, Lydia Wickham - Elizabeth's younger, unreliable sister - stumbles out screaming that her husband has been murdered."

What I will say was that really it is just a murder mystery which happens to use Miss. Austen's wonderful characters, and it wasn’t, in fact, very Austen-y at all! But I enjoyed it nonetheless, and even my sister, who is not an Austen fan, also really, really enjoyed it and wishes to watch it again.  I thought it was well cast and acted, Mr. Wickham in particular, and I loved the use of Chatsworth for Pemberley again, like in the 2005 film.

So let’s start with the most important thing, the mystery. I am pleased and proud to be able to announce that I guessed “who dun’ it” correctly! Ok, so I didn’t quite get all the small details and ins and outs of the case as it was quite complex, however I worked out some of it and who was responsible. Although I did fathom some of it out, that is not to say it was not a good murder mystery, because I think it was clever and quite involved with a few unexpected twists and turns, and characters you wouldn’t expect to becoming involved.

I thought that, on the whole, the characters were cast and acted well, some particularly well. Let’s begin with the two characters everyone was waiting to see how they were portrayed; Elizabeth and Darcy. I liked the portrayals. Beginning with Lizzy; I have heard some comment that they found her lacking in screen presence and didn’t seem to be lively enough to be the Lizzy we know and love, however, I think she was shown to be a good mistress who can handle Pemberley, still the Lizzy we love but clearly now a wife and mother. Changes between the 20 year old, unmarried Lizzy from Pride and Prejudice and the 26 year old, married Lizzy from Death Comes to Pemberley are to be expected. I will admit that she had to grow on me, however, as the series progress I very quickly warmed to her and I think Anna Maxwell Martin did a good job.

As for Darcy, I very much enjoyed Matthew Rhys portrayal. I think he was suitably handsome enough for Fitzwilliam Darcy (and his appearance grew on me even more through the series and I considered him completely handsome by the end!) Aside from his looks, to the more important question of his character, I think he did well. Again, Pride and Prejudice Darcy is going to be different from Death Comes to Pemberley Darcy. What I particularly loved seeing was Darcy as a father. He seems like such a wonderful father and it was nice to see this side to him.

In this story, while Darcy is off trying to get to the bottom of the case, Lizzy is left at home (law courts and such not being a suitable place for a lady!) doing some investigating of her own. Both Darcy and Lizzy go through a lot during the story, and this causes a few problems for the couple. I think this was something I was not keen on, the rifts and coldness which arises between them as a result of the events going on, however I do understand why this happens, and it does add to the drama of the story (and of course it all ends well!)

One of the characters I feel for the most is Darcy. He is married, a father and finally settled and happy and then what happens? His nemesis Wickham turns up to ruin his happiness and invade into his life once again, this time in a very serious manner indeed, being the chief suspect in a murder investigation, of a murder which has taken place in the grounds of his own home! I think Rhys did a very good job of portraying all the struggles and pains Darcy goes through trying to work out whether or not Wickham, his childhood friend turned enemy, could really be capable of murder.

Now the other main characters of the story are Lydia and Wickham, but mainly Wickham. I think I can say that George Wickham was my favourite character in this story (shocking I know!) as Matthew Goode’s portrayal was just outstanding. It must have been, for I found myself pitying Wickham! I have always hated Wickham the most out of all the Austen bad boys, but yet, I grew to feel sorry for him, pity him and hope that he is in fact innocent and not hung! I never thought I would be able to say I feel sorry for Mr George Wickham!  Matthew Goode could portrayal the full spectrum of emotions Wickham experiences; we see the roguish, scoundrel side that we know him for, but also the afraid, anxious and fretful side, as things start to look worse and worse, and he edging closer and closer to the noose...

Lydia also was acted very well by Jenna Coleman. She was just as insolent and annoying as we expect her to be, that is until things start to look rather shaky and take a turn for the worse for her beloved Wickham. There is one scene in particular which springs to mind when Lydia is visiting Wickham in prison and the scene between them is very moving and full of emotion. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them both many times throughout the story.  

Georgiana was all that was sweet and lovely and she seemed to have a wonderful, sisterly relationship with Elizabeth, which was nice to see. Georgiana has her own problems to deal with through this story and I think Eleanor Tomlinson did Georgiana justice and I felt she was very much like the Georgiana we would expect to see, 6 years on. There was a fun new addition of a Mr Alveston played by James Norton, who is also a love interest for Georgiana. He was a nice addition to the story; a very amiable, charming young man who offers all the help he can with the murder inquiry.

Although their roles were not massive, I thought Mrs Bennet very well acted. Rebecca Front captured her spirit and she is just as we know her to be - you can imagine what such a thing as a murder investigation would do to her poor nerves... I liked Mr Bennet’s portrayal by James Fleet, however, I felt a little of the sharp wit we love him for seemed to be lost, but his relationship with his daughter was shown to be just as strong as ever, which was lovely to see.

I think my main problem with the story would be what happened to Colonel Fitzwilliam. This, I assume, is not down to the adaptation but to what P.D. James had chosen to do in the book in the first place. All I will say it that Colonel Fitzwilliam fans out there might not like the alteration and changes to the personality and character of the Colonel. I shall say no more but you have been warned. But I do think Tom Ward did a good job, given the new side to the Colonel which comes to light which is vastly different to the Colonel Fitzwilliam we know.

The other things I wished were different were that I would have liked to have seen more of Jane and Bingley – in fact, Bingley didn’t appear at all and Jane’s appearance was very fleeting. Lady Catherine, played by the wonderful Penelope Keith, had only a very small amount of screen time as well, which was a shame. Again, I cannot comment on whether this is the TV adapters or whether this is just as it is in the book. I really must read the book to find out!

On the whole I found it a really, well done series which was highly enjoyable. There was intriguing mystery, plenty of drama, moments of comedy, some romance thrown in, and the return of characters we already know and love as well as a few new additions; a good series worth watching for both Janeites and mystery lovers alike.

Georgiana comforts a distraught Lydia as she watches her beloved husband being taken off to prison...

         Mr Henry Alveston arrives...

Is Wickham guilty and to be hung for murder?

Lady Catherine offering Elizabeth some... useful advice - well she thinks it is useful anyway!

Jane comforts her sister as the whole ordeal is starting to become too much, especially now that her husband seems to have turned a little cold towards her...

Mr and Mrs Bennet arrive for the annual ball. All is still well at this point...

Darcy and Elizabeth walking around the grounds of Pemberley, talking over all that has happened in such a short time...

Your affectionate friend,
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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

A Phantom Affair by Jo Ann Ferguson


 Pretty, wealthy Ellen Dunbar has had three Seasons in London - and still remains unwed. A stubborn Scot, she refuses to settle for anything less than her heart's desire, which makes meeting dashing Lord Corey Wolfe all the more magical. Ellen knows at first glance that he is the man of her dreams. Until an accident spirits Corey to the 'other side'....

 Now Ellen and Corey live in different worlds, and even love cannot cross the chasm to the great beyond. So Corey does the noble thing: He decides to find Ellen a living husband who can make her happy here on earth. Though the tabbies of the ton think her odd for having conversations with thin air, suitors are soon forming a line for her hand. With Corey's divine intervention, Ellen should make a wonderful match. But, heaven help her, it is the irresistible, ghostly Corey she the flesh, in her arms...and forever in her heart.”

I will be the first to admit that me and paranormal don't usually mix, in fact, I generally wouldn’t even think of reading a paranormal story, but a good friend recommended it to me and the way she described the story to me intrigued me – how could a story where the hero dies and becomes a ghost possibly have a happy ending? And so I just had to find out and I can truly say that I am so glad that I read it for I loved the paranormal aspect to the story and I just couldn’t put it down! It was brilliant - very clever, really funny and highly romantic! What more could I want?

Beginning with the hero and heroine; Lord Corey Wolfe was a very fun hero, even as a ghost.  He is such a charming, albeit teasing and slightly roguish, gentleman!  I fell completely in love with him, just like our heroine, Miss Ellen Dunbar, who was a sweet girl, but she has spirit and a lively wit, Lizzy Bennet style - a good match for our hero.
As I said, I actually loved the paranormal aspect and how Corey is a ghost and what this added to the story; the cross conversations that occur as a result were brilliantly clever and really funny! I did feel sorry for Ellen at times though, trying to hold two conversations at once, one with someone only she can see, whilst trying to make sure she doesn’t appear completely mad to the other person she is trying to converse with! Corey is very funny with all his sarcastic, and often rude, comments about the potential suitors who call on Ellen. He also ends up being a rather useful invisible chaperone, able to control, or rather deal with very amusingly, the over amorous and bold suitors vying for Ellen’s attention! He is a handy one to have around, even if Ellen doesn’t always think so!

As well as the humour which came from fact that Corey is a ghost, I loved the liberties and the relaxed nature to Ellen and Corey’s relationship.  They are very easy with each other, and very teasing and flirtatious at times, as the rules of propriety don't really seem to apply to them thanks to the peculiar situation they have found themselves in. It was very sweet!

I was wondering all the time while I was reading just how a happy ending was going to be reached – was Ellen going to die and join Corey on the other side, or was, somehow, Corey going to come back to life? I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen! And what does happen is very clever and works very well - but I shan’t ruin the ending for you!

My good friend who recommended this to me said it was romantic, but I thought, how can this be so romantic when the hero and heroine can't even touch each other?! But she was right – it was very romantic! One of the most romantic stories I have read for a while in fact. The emotion between Corey and Ellen was so strong and it was so sad to see them so in love with each when they both know it is impossible for them to be together - so romantic, and yet very sad and heart-wrenching at the same time!
As well as Corey and Ellen, there were some amusing secondary characters. Given that Corey, as well as Ellen’s good friend Marian, are trying to find her a husband, there are some very amusing, bold, over amorous, vain, arrogant and interesting suitors thrust in Ellen's way...

The writing, as well as the story, was brilliant. It flowed remarkable well, it never dragged or was boring, but it also didn’t race through the story at a rate of knots, without fleshing out the characters and the scenes.  In addition, there were never long stretches of the book when Corey and Ellen were not around, which is always a good thing.

Can you tell I just loved loved loved this story? It really surpassed my expectations! Such tension and romance, and yet humour as well.  Even if you are not normally a reader of paranormal stories, like me, I still highly recommend giving this story a chance.

I really don't know how to describe the extent of my admiration for this book, or what to say except... just read it – oh and also, please can I have a Corey Wolfe haunting me as well?

Your affectionate friend,
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