Sunday, July 13, 2014

A 'No Reason Not to Have a Giveaway' Giveaway!

The lovely and talented author KaraLynne Mackrory is feeling generous and wishes me to host a giveaway! KaraLynne has been a regular guest to my blog and I am happy to welcome her back yet again!

A little while ago, I interviewed KaraLynne about her inspiration and her stories - to find out more about the author, read the interview here!

In case you didn't already know, I am a huge fan of her stories. She has written three wonderful stories...

Falling for Mr Darcy (see my review here!)

"In this Regency adaptation of Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice, the simple truth is proven that sometimes a gentleman never knows his heart until a lady comes along to introduce it to him.  When Mr. Darcy encounters Elizabeth Bennet injured after a fall, his concern for her welfare cracks the shell of his carefully guarded heart and a charming man emerges.   Elizabeth sees an appealing side of him she never believed possible from the stoic, proud master of Pemberley.  They find the simple gentlemanly act of assisting her home will test both Mr. Darcy’s resolve to keep his heart safe and Elizabeth’s conviction that this is the last man on earth she might have ever been prevailed upon to marry.  Soon, falling for Mr. Darcy becomes a real possibility."

Bluebells in The Mourning (see my review here!)

"Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice is re-adapted in this regency tale of love in the face of tragedy.  Mr. Darcy is thwarted in his attempt to propose to Elizabeth Bennet at Hunsford when he encounters her minutes after she receives the sad news from Longbourn of her sister’s death.  His gallantry and compassion as he escorts her back to Hertfordshire begins to unravel the many threads of her discontent with him.  While her family heals from their loss, Darcy must search London for answers – answers that might bring justice, but might also just mark the end of his own hopes with Elizabeth.  Is it true that nothing can be lost that love cannot find?" 

and Haunting Mr Darcy: A Spirited Courtship (see my review here!)

"What happens to the happily ever after when the ever after has already happened?
A spirited courtship indeed! Jane Austen’s much adored Pride and Prejudice is transfigured in this regency adaptation.  That fickle friend Fate intervenes when an unexpected event threatens the happily ever after of literature’s favorite love story.  The gentlemen from Netherfield have left, winter is upon the land and after a horrifying carriage accident, Elizabeth Bennet finds her spirit transported as if by magic into Mr. Darcy’s London home.  Paranormally tethered to the disagreeable man, it doesn’t help that he believes she is a phantasm of his love struck mind, not the real Elizabeth.  Somehow they must learn to trust, learn to love and learn to bring Elizabeth back to her earthly form before it is too late."

My favourite story has to the latest one, Haunting Mr Darcy! It was so unique and clever! But Falling for Mr Darcy will always have a very special place in my heart as it was my first Pride and Prejudice variation which introduced me to the world of Fan Fiction! Bluebells in the Mourning was also a fantastic read with a very interesting twist! I highly recommend them all!

**GIVEAWAY - ends Sunday, 20th July **

KaraLynne is giving away some lovely Jane Austen cookies along with a copy of one of her books - you choose which you would like to read! Due to the perishable (and breakable!) nature of the biscuits, this giveaway is open to entrants in American only.  (KaraLynne is very sorry for having to limit this giveaway - she is very against restricting giveaways!)

To enter, leave a comment below and the winner will be picked randomly.

Please leave your email address and which book would like a copy of out of the three choices. If you are the lucky winner, I will pass on your email to KaraLynne who will be in touch to get your mailing address.

Good luck!

Thank you again to KaraLynne for this giveaway! I need another book to read please soon so get writing!

Your affectionate friend,
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Sunday, July 06, 2014

A Father's Sins by Joy King - with giveaway!

I was very pleased when I was asked if I would review A Father's Sins for the lovely Joy King.(I was provided with a review copy but this is my honest, unbiased opinion.) And I was not disappointed as I really, really enjoyed this book! It was perhaps a more serious variation than I usually would choose, however it was very unique and a very interesting idea to explore.
Joy was a guest on my blog a little while ago where she gave us an insight into the character of Miss Bingley in her story, as well as a very funny extract! Follow this link to read it!

"How do Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet overcome the consequences of poor decisions made by their fathers when Darcy and Elizabeth were young?

In A Father's Sins, Mr. George Darcy, father of an illegitimate child raised by his steward, Mr. Wickham, agreed with his wife, Anne, that the firstborn son of their marriage would be heir to Pemberley. However, Mr. Darcy loved his eldest son, George Wickham, and indulged him by bringing him to Pemberley to live after the death of his wife. His heir, Fitzwilliam Darcy, paid a heavy price for this decision.

Mr. Thomas Bennet, an educated gentleman and father of five daughters, favored his second born, Elizabeth. Unexpectedly, his wife gave birth to a son and heir. Mr. Bennet, at the persistent urging of his wife, chose not to have his youngest children vaccinated for smallpox. When the plague hit Longbourn it devastated their family. Elizabeth paid the heaviest price for this decision of her father.

What happens when Darcy and Elizabeth meet? Will they be able to overcome the consequences of the choices their fathers made? When George Wickham, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. William Collins, and the Fitzwilliam family arrive in Meryton, how will that impact their growing attraction? How does the same decision by Mr. Bennet influence the relationship between Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley? Will love have a chance?"

I found the writing in this book to be very good, especially being this author's debut novel. The language seemed appropriate and it flowed well as I read. There was a good balance between dialogue and passages of internal thoughts or description as well.

As I said, the story and theme of the book - how a father's bad choices or actions can affect the children and even the grandchildren - was quite serious and very sad at times because of seeing the effects on the children, most prominently on Elizabeth and Darcy. It was a really interesting route to explore and very cleverly done, I felt.  As well as Elizabeth and Darcy, there are other characters that have been affected by the decisions of their fathers and the theme really was masterfully weaved through the story. What was also interesting was that to begin with, the story happens very much in canon to the original - Jane falling ill at Netherfield, Mr Collins coming to visit etc - but Lizzy is in a very different situation!

As well as the serious side to this tale, it was also very drama filled and fast moving! Joy certainly knows how to capture the reader’s attention from the very start! I was hooked into this story from very early on and it stayed that way until the end! It was very powerful and intense at times, but completely compelling and captivating - it resulted in a late night as I just had to race to the end to see how it would resolve!

As well as the drama and the sadness caused by the seriousness of the story, there is also some humour which lightens the mood, so don't worry that this is a story with no laughs - I certainly laughed quite a bit!  And of course, unsurprisingly, there is a lovely, romantic and satisfying happy ending!

Both Elizabeth and Darcy are very much characters to be admired in this story, particularly Elizabeth, after what they have been through as a result of their fathers.  Beginning with Darcy; Wickham actually is his half-brother in this variation and Wickham is the favoured son. And Darcy pays heavily for this favouritism, and subsequent bitterness from Wickham when he doesn’t receive what he believes is his due, being the eldest son.

We see a different Darcy in this story, thanks to a brief meeting between him and Elizabeth quite a few years before the rest of the story is set. They happen to meet each other in a book shop, and both are impressed by the other. When they meet again years later, thanks to the much more favourable first impression from all those years ago, they get on much better! Darcy is charming and polite to Elizabeth from the off, and we also get to see his brotherly nature and love of his sister much sooner which again is lovely.

Let alone the difficulties of the past, Darcy has a hard time of it through this story; due to an incident, which I shall not give away the details of, Darcy ends up injured for quite a bit of this book. Things change when illness occurs and we see a new side to Darcy. As well as some fun, fever induced conversations, we get to see a rather vulnerable Darcy. And who doesn’t like a Darcy who needs to be taken care of for a while? (I would have loved to be Elizabeth caring for him!) We get to see his true nature much faster – for it is rather hard to keep up the ‘master of Pemberley’ act while in a fever!

As I said, Elizabeth really is one to admire in this story. Her problems with her father and her past are really shocking and you can’t help but feel sorry for her. However, she still is recognisable as the Elizabeth we know and love as she takes her misfortunes and tries to make the most of them and enjoy her life regardless of the past. She has such a strong and determined spirit. We see her caring side as she nurses Darcy through his illness, her comforting side as she helps Georgiana to cope with all that is happening and her powerful side as she deals with some challenging situations and confrontations.

Due to the similar situations regarding problems with their fathers, I think the fact that Darcy and Elizabeth get off to a much better start and have a good relationship from the beginning is perfect. Through all the problems facing them from other people, they at least don’t have problems with one and other, and instead have each other to turn to and find comfort.  There is no previous pride or prejudice getting in the way and they are open with each other. Elizabeth is so caring of Darcy when he is ill, and they really become close during this time. I really loved them in this story and the way their relationship develops in the different and most unusual circumstances.

Aside from Darcy and Elizabeth, my other favourite character in this story was Georgiana. As I said earlier, she is in the story from the very beginning so we really get to know her and she is lovely! I love the journey she has through this story; she grows and matures and flourishes thanks to the friendship of Elizabeth. You see an interesting side to Georgiana as well, again due to Darcy’s illness, watching her trying to cope and deal with what is happening.

Elizabeth and Georgiana really get on well in this story. I always think Georgiana and Elizabeth would be great friends, and so it is lovely to see them spend so much time together in this tale. Elizabeth is a real comfort and a wonderful role model for Georgiana and she really helps to bring her out of shell and to mature into a strong young woman. As well as Elizabeth and Georgiana, when Darcy is with these two as well the scenes are just wonderful. The three of them complement each other perfectly and have such a brilliant relationship. They all, in turn, comfort each other through a variety of trying situations.

Now to a less pleasant subject... Mr Bennet. As you can see from the blurb, the fathers in this story are not nice, and I am afraid the Mr Bennet we know and many of us love is a monster in this story. He is very different and be prepared to not like him, at all. But do not fear – he is very easy to separate from the Mr Bennet we know and love in Pride and Prejudice!  Mrs Bennet is also not much better, and even Jane is slightly changed as a result of the influence of her father and being away from Lizzy for 5 years. But, this is a variation and changes are to be expected, and I did enjoy these changes and this new and unique twist on the Bennet family as a change. It is not all bad for Elizabeth; while Lizzy’s own family is not kind to her, the Gardiners are very sweet and caring to her throughout!

Where would we be without Wickham causing trouble? He causes plenty of problems and grief for poor Darcy in this story! He is a real menace and because of the twist with his connection to the Darcy family, you will hate him even more and feel even sorrier for Darcy - I did anyway! (Although I will also admit that I did actually feel a little sorry for Wickham at times - but only slightly!)

Who could forget the Bingleys! Mr Bingley is just as sweet and affable and Caroline is just as jealous and determined to become the Mistress of Pemberley as ever. Bingley really grows from a slightly na├»ve young man into a mature gentleman through this story and it was nice to see this development. (I can't wait for his own story which Joy is currently working on!) Caroline, on the other hand, is still a pain but she gets her comeuppance which is hilarious -  you can read about this here in the guest post Joy posted a little while ago.

I love Colonel Fitzwilliam, and it is always great to see more of him in these variations. And I was not disappointed with the Colonel in this story! He is brilliant; funny and loveable as we know him to be. Again, because of Darcy’s illness, we get to see his caring side which was a lovely change. (I can't wait for his story either which will be written after Mr Bingley!)

A wonderful addition is the Matlock family, and I love them! The relationship and obvious love of their niece and nephew is touching. They also are quickly pleased with and impressed by Elizabeth, and are kind and really respect her. Lord and Lady Matlock are both very strong characters and I defy anyone who doesn’t love them to bits by the end of the book! It really was interesting to see the family behind the wonderful Colonel Fitzwilliam.

How could we have a story without some interference from Lady Catherine? She turns up to cause problems, and plenty of them! Lady Catherine is just as horrid and scheming as we expect from her. Anne, however, is rather changed from how we know her and this was a lot of fun to read!  One of my favourite Lady Catherine scenes was the iconic confrontation between her and Lizzy, however this time it is Darcy holding his own... “She is the daughter of a gentleman, as I am the son of a gentleman. In that, we are equals.”

To end this drama filled story there was a particularly lovely epilogue. I do love it when there is an epilogue tying up any loose ends and letting us know what happens to all the characters!

As you can probably see, I really enjoyed this story. It was unique and different. This is a much more serious variation than I usually read, but it was an interesting and enjoyable change. I particularly loved the more positive start to Lizzy and Darcy’s relationship as well as the friendship between those two and Georgiana. Also, the addition of the Matlock family was wonderful! The story was very dramatic and fast paced but had romance and humour - a perfect mix! Joy really is a talented author and I can’t wait for more!

**GIVEAWAY - ends Wednesday, 16th July **

Joy has provided me with yet another giveaway!  Three lucky winners will receive an ebook copy of A Father's Sins. This giveaway is open internationally. 

To enter, leave a comment below and the winners will be picked randomly.

Please leave your email address and which format you would like for the ebook. If you are one of the lucky winners, I will pass on your email to Joy who will be in touch.

Good luck!

Thank you again to Joy for this giveaway! I wish you all the best with this story as well as the future ones!

Your affectionate friend,
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