Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Miss Armistead Makes her Choice by Heidi Ashworth

I have loved all of Heidi's previous stories (to read my reviews of her other tales, have a look here) and so I was really excited for another story from one of my favourite authors! And I was not disappointed for it was brilliant! It is definitely one of my favourites from this author. Although I would say it is the most serious of her stories so far, it still had plenty of humour! I also believe it is her most romantic novel yet - no wonder it has become such a favourite with me!

"RONE Award Finalist for Historical: Post Medieval and the recipient of InD'tale Magazine's 4.5 star review and coveted Crowned Heart for excellence! Miss Elizabeth Armistead, India born and raised, is happily betrothed to British soldier, Duncan Cruikshank. When she arrives in London a month prior to the wedding she meets Mr. Lloyd-Jones and soon finds that he has invaded even her dreams. Besides Duncan, Mr. Lloyd-Jones is the only man who makes her feel as if he sees past her exceptional beauty to the person within. Her mother would prefer Elizabeth marry the rich and well-connected Mr. Lloyd-Jones while his sister is ecstatic that he is now free to woo Miss Armistead since he has broken off his engagement to the disgraceful Cecily Ponsonby. However, Elizabeth's commitment to the man she promised to marry is at odds with the likes of Mr. Lloyd-Jones who has cried off from one engagement already. How can she betray the man she believes to love her for her virtues so as to indulge her love for a man she fears she cannot trust?

Jaded and betrayed, Mr. Colin Lloyd-Jones and Sir Anthony Crenshaw make a solemn vow to avoid the Marriage Mart for the duration of the London season. When Sir Anthony is called away on a journey in the company of his grandmother's ward, Miss Delacourt, Colin finds he cannot abide by their agreement, especially when his father expects him to squire his sister to society's endless balls and routs. When Colin encounters the breathtakingly beautiful Miss Elizabeth Armistead, he is intrigued by her lack of fascination for his great standing in society, family fortune, and captivating charm. When he learns that she is already betrothed, he feels himself safe from hurt in her company until he discovers the secret she has been guarding, one that threatens to batter his vulnerable heart all past mending."

Let's start with the writing. As it had been a while since I read any of Heidi's tales, I had forgotten how brilliant a writer she is! It was so well written and flowed seamlessly and so was a very easy read. As I mentioned, this was a more serious story compared to her usual but there was still humour and I love her style of humour - comments, often sarcastic, thrown in here and there which just make you laugh out loud! (I never realised how useful a blancmange could be for pinning someone to the ground!)

The story and plot itself was also very strong, and so that along with the brilliant writing meant I was completely drawn into it as I read. It really was most engaging and evoked some very strong emotions and I found it very hard to put down (or rather, it was a test of my patience as I waited for the next chapters to be written and sent to me!)! I just had to find out what was going to happen next and how it was all going to work out!

And now onto the characters. Beginning with Miss Elizabeth Armistead. All her life her astounding angelic beauty has stunned many gentleman into falling in love with her... looks. She has always had to contend with the question of whether all the interest in her was because of who she was inwardly, or whether it was just her outward appearance. And so when the chance comes along to engage herself to a blind man, Duncan, she jumps at it. Surely a blind man cannot be marrying her for her beauty?

I absolutely loved Elizabeth. I really admired her wish to be loved for something other than her beauty. To be loved for herself. She was a really strong and likeable heroine. She has spirit and was very determined... to honour her engagement to Duncan. But then a Mr Colin Lloyd-Jones comes on the scene and unbidden thoughts start entering her mind of this handsome young gentleman...

Mr Colin Lloyd-Jones is suffering from a broken heart and the scandal of a broken engagement after his ex-fiancée turned out to be not so innocent as first thought. His good friend Sir Anthony (whose own story you can read about in Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind) is also nurturing a broken heart and so a pact is made between the two friends to avoid all women (and therefore the chance of another broken heart) through the season. But then who should show up on his doorstep but the beautiful - engaged - Miss Armistead. What could be the harm in befriending her?

What can I say about our perfect hero, Colin. He was just that; perfect! He was wonderful and there were lots of layers to his character; he could be charming and a little flirty, but he was also funny, and he was incredibly caring and considerate, and deep down, he was a true romantic. Adding to this was the bonus that he was a musician, or rather, he can play the piano! This was a lovely addition, especially for a musical lady such as myself!

Together, Colin and Elizabeth are very sweet and it is lovely to see their friendship growing. However it very quickly becomes clear that neither truly want things to stop at just friendship.

The love triangle in this book makes it such a romantic and emotional story. You can't help but feel for Elizabeth and Colin, the former bound by a promise she feels she cannot break, and the latter faced with the knowledge that the woman he truly loves is already engaged to another. The tension between the two as they become closer and closer is electric and the sadness which is always tainting their meetings due to their unfortunate situation is heart-breaking! There are so many beautiful and romantic scenes between these two, as Colin tries and tries to save Elizabeth from a loveless marriage to blind man. But she is determined.

I always love stories which have the majority of the scenes with the hero and heroine both present, which is what happened in this one. There are plenty of stolen moments as the time comes closer and closer for Duncan to return to England and collect his bride-to-be (don't worry he doesn't come on the scene too quickly so there is plenty of time for Colin and Elizabeth before Duncan comes along to ruin everything!) My highly romantic nature was more than satisfied with the romance in this story! The reality of their situation just seemed to make the romance even more intense and every private moment between the two of them more precious!

As well as Colin and Elizabeth, there are some wonderful secondary characters, my favourite of which is most definitely Colin's sister, Analisa. She was such a lovely girl. The relationship between her and Colin was also particularly touching as the strong bond and love they had for each other was so clear.

She too, just like her brother, is a hopeless romantic, and so when she sees how well Colin and Elizabeth are getting on her matching-making skills jump into action, easily dismissing the rather problematic fact that Elizabeth is engaged as a mere trifle! She is a very good match maker and her attempts to get the pair alone and convince Elizabeth of how perfect her brother is was often rather amusing, but also very sweet and usually successful as she was a very good scheming match maker! When she isn't match making, she gets on very well with Elizabeth herself and the relationship between the two is very sweet. Analisa really was such a charming character.

Another character I liked was Mrs Armistead, Elizabeth's mother. She was a very sweet and understanding woman, who really cared about her daughters true feelings, even sometimes subtly persuading her to follow her heart rather than her head.

Elizabeth's aunt, Augusta, however, was a rather different character, who was keen on things being kept proper and correct, and promises being honoured. She was funny though and made me laugh quite a few times with all her strictures about what is and isn't right in the eyes of society!

Another character, Miss Katherine Hale, Elizabeth's friend, was an interesting character. She causes a few problems for poor Elizabeth as there is pretty much a second love triangle as Katherine too starts to realise that Colin is indeed a very charming - and handsome - gentleman.

I have already mentioned Duncan and as I don't want to give anything away, all I will say is that once he comes on the scene he pales in comparison to Colin!

I have already commented on the strong and engaging plot of the this story, but I must give a particular mention to the dramatic and surprising ending! It was really exciting and took a very unexpected turn! I knew something was going to happen, but what does happen I was not expecting!

As I briefly mentioned above, characters from her other stories appear in this story which I liked. After reading all the other tales, it was nice for some of the characters to make another appearance in this story. Heidi does this cross over of characters brilliantly in all her stories. (This is not to say that you need to have read all her other novels first, for you do not. They all work as stand alone stories - but the extra detail with characters you already know is a fun bonus if you have read the others!)

Overall, I really loved this story. It think it may even have become my favourite of this authors novels, for I loved the more serious nature as it resulted in such beautiful and heart-wrenching romance, the most powerful of all her stories in my opinion. But yet there was still some wonderful humour throughout. The characters, and not just the hero and heroine, were also brilliant and very strong, really adding to the story.

And so I leave you in suspense of revealing picnics, enlightening musicale evenings, significant and meaningful paintings and secret - and improper - brooches!

I loved it. Can you tell?

Your affectionate friend,
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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Blog Tour: One Love - Two Hearts - Three Stories by Joy King

Today I am pleased to be part of the blog tour for the lovely Joy King's new release, One Love - Two Hearts - Three Stories: A Pride &Prejudice Anthology. And there is a giveaway, which I will tell you about at the end of this post!


Thank you so much, Miss Lizzie, for having me on your blog. It’s been a year since I visited here last so I am happy to be back. And, I’m excited to tell you about my newest book, “One Love – Two Hearts – Three Stories: A Pride and Prejudice Anthology.

A year?! WOW! I should have had you back sooner! Welcome back, I am glad to have you!


David Gandy by Serge Kerbel
My Mr. Darcy


First, though, I need to tell you about my Mr. Darcy. I do adore that man. This is surprising since I detested him the first time I watched the 1995 Pride and Prejudice mini-series with Colin Firth. Shocking!!! I found myself feeling the same disgust with him as Elizabeth Bennet did. And, I leaned towards Mr. Wickham, also just like Lizzy. Then came Hunsford. Not only did Darcy and Lizzy have a change to their thinking and their hearts. I did as well.

(Well this is exactly what Jane Austen wanted the reader to feel, so she did a good job didn't she! I was the same... I was with Lizzy and wasn't keen on Darcy!)  

Over the past three years my Mr. Darcy (yes, I claim ownership. Don’t you, too?) has morphed into a kinder/milder-tempered gentleman that is willing to set aside his pride because he recognizes the intrinsic value of Elizabeth Bennet. My Elizabeth Bennet is far less judgmental.

(Noooo, he is MY Mr Darcy! :P I am the same. I think this is also partly due to the influence of fan fiction.)

Therefore, in each of the three stories in this anthology, we have Darcy and Lizzy thrown together rather quickly. Their love grows rapidly, though never smoothly. Together they bond to battle outside obstacles that could tear a less loving couple apart. Darcy quickly becomes the hero and Elizabeth Bennet a heroine to be admired.

 (I am very much looking forward to reading them!)

David Gandy: Photo - Battersea
Dogs and Cats Home
Since my Darcy is a bit of a different bloke than Jane Austen gave us, I did not feel that either Colin Firth or Matthew MacFadyen would work for my imaginary protagonist. Who could I draw a mental picture of so I could write him as a real person? I chose Mr. David James Gandy. Why? For two reasons. First, he is undoubtedly handsome enough to be the most beloved male character in romantic fiction. He is very much a man’s man with varied interests in automobiles and animals. He especially loves dogs. And, would he not look spectacular in a cravat, top hat, and Hessians? Secondly, because of his fourteen years in the fashion industry, there is a plethora of photographs that show him in about every mood possible. Thus, for me as an author, it was a matter of popping over to a Pinterest board or a Google search to find just what I needed to be able to describe emotions and reactions for a man.

David Gandy: Photography by Laura
Pannack for the Sunday Times
Needless to say, my husband was more than pleased that I no longer asked him to show me his brooding face. John doesn’t brood or smolder very well. He smiles too easily.

So, what do you think of my Mr. Darcy? If you did NOT have Colin Firth or Matthew MacFadyen to choose from, who would your Fitzwilliam Darcy be?

(That is so hard! I need to think.... Good question though! I am sure I could think of other actors, but I liked your choice!)



About the Author:

As an avid reader, Joy Dawn King did not read Jane Austen until she was 55 years old. It was love at first read. While living in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador in 2014, she wrote her debut novel, A Father’s Sins: A Pride and Prejudice Variation. Joy is currently living back in the US, in the beautiful state of Oregon, with her husband, John, and is finishing the revisions for her Bingley/Jane story called Finding Their Way.


You can connect with Joy via her website, Goodreads, Facebook page or Twitter.


Book blurb:

One Love - Two Hearts - Three Stories: A Pride & Prejudice Anthology: The Library, Married!, Ramsgate

This is a collection of two novella length stories and one full-length novel. 


The Library - (voted #1 at for March 2015) 


What happens when Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are alone in the library at Netherfield Park and they decide to talk instead of ignore each other? In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the half hour passes without either our hero or our heroine speaking one word to each other. This sweet variation has them breaking their silence. What follows is a conversation filled with confrontation, clarification, and love. 


Married! (voted #2 at for April 2015)


Fitzwilliam Darcy needs a wife! Elizabeth Bennet needs a husband! 


What results when two strong-minded, kind-hearted strangers unite in this most sacred state? Will love grow? In this full-length novel, Darcy and Elizabeth are faced with frustrations and blossoming feelings of tenderness. Our favorite couple finally reach their happily ever after. Or, do they? 




When Miss Georgiana Darcy stumbles upon her beloved George Wickham willingly wrapped in a passionate embrace with someone else, the elopement is off. Running to her new friend, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, she involves her in a plan to get help from her brother, Fitzwilliam Darcy, and bring Wickham to justice. 


In this novella length story, does Darcy marry Elizabeth? Does Colonel Fitzwilliam find the woman of his dreams? And, what happens to the nefarious Mr. Wickham? Enjoy this alternate path to our favorite couple’s happily ever after.


This book is available to buy in print and kindle formats - Amazon US - Amazon UK


Giveaway time!

Joy has very kindly offered a giveaway of one eBook and one signed print copy of her newest release, ONE LOVE – TWO HEARTS – THREE STORIES. This giveaway is open internationally. Just leave a comment below to enter the giveaway, ensuring that you leave your email address for me to contact the winners, and please state if you'd only like to enter for one format or both. I will draw the print copy winner first. The closing date to enter the giveaway is 24th June 2015.

In addition, as a welcome to Joy’s website, if you go to and leave a comment, follow her, or sign up for her newsletter, you will be entered for a HUGE giveaway of Jane Austen memorabilia which will be drawn on 31 July 2015. Again, this giveaway is open internationally. 


Good luck! My thanks again goes to Joy for the giveaway and the lovely guest post!

I wish Joy all the best with any stories in the future!

Your affectionate friend,
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Friday, June 05, 2015

Interview with Sarah Price, author of Amish variations of Jane Austen

Today I am pleased to welcome Sarah Price to my blog. I have asked her a few questions about her latest novel, Second Chances.

"At twenty-five years of age, Anna Eicher has never married. When she was seventeen, her parents convinced her to break off her courtship with Freman Whittmore, the youngest son in the Whittmore family and her best friend. Afterward, a distraught Freman moved away from Lancaster County.
Eight years later Freman has returned to visit his sister, who is renting the Eichers’ house for the winter. Now the owner of the largest dairy farm in his church district, Freman has neither married—nor forgiven Anna.
Although he begins courting someone else, Anna hopes to convince him that she has never stopped loving him. Will Freman be persuaded to forgive Anna and open his heart again?"


1. Ok, a boring but very important question! How did you first come across Jane Austen and fall in love with the regency world of dancing, carriages and courtship?

My Aunt Alice gifted me a leather bound copy of Jane Austen’s collection of novels when I was quite young. I’ve always been a voracious reader—the number one priority for all writers, in my opinion—so that was my introduction to the regency world. And I am also a diehard romantic. I can watch two people say goodbye at the airport and get lost in the moment, my mind creating an entire story about the before and after of that meeting.

To me, there is nothing more romantic than restraint in a relationship that requires a conquest of intelligence and emotions, not just the physical aspect.

In today’s world of social media, there is an element of restraint that is missing on all three fronts. I have a teenage daughter and son so I know how easily they fall into and out of love. I’m not even certain that many of today’s young people could read a Jane Austen novel and recognize the development of a real love that transcends the “moment.”

While we are on the topic, let’s talk about fashion. I recently started participating in pro-am ballroom dancing competitions with the Fred Astaire Dance Studios. The American waltz and Viennese waltz are my favorites because of the emotion that is expressed in the movements of the head, arms, torso, and feet. And dressing in amazing sparkling ballgowns is a wonderful change from hanging around the house in shorts and a T-shirt. I’ve actually begun to wear only pretty dresses, even at home, because they are so feminine. I don’t even think I own a pair of sweatpants, a sweatshirt, or sneakers.

I wish we would bring corsets back into fashion. They just make you feel like a woman, even if no one sees them.

At the risk of getting hate mail, I’m going to venture out on a limb when I state that, to me, the regency period defines what it means to be a lady.
(I actually completely agree!)


2. Of Ms. Austens six major novels which is your favourite? Do I assume Pride and Prejudice as it was the first book for which you wrote an Amish re-telling? What do you like about it, and Ms. Austen's writing in general?

Actually, I really enjoyed Emma and Sense and Sensibility. Of course, all of Jane Austen’s books are written so well that each one is a favorite on its own merit. But Emma made me laugh out loud and I can relate to her. How often do we say things with the best of intentions that are misunderstood or taken out of context? For me, it’s a daily occurrence. I tend to speak before I think, or, rather, I speak what’s on my mind without any sort of filtration system on my mouth.

Needless to say, it gets me in trouble quite frequently.

Just last week, something popped out of my mouth before my mind caught up to it. Not only was I red-faced and embarrassed, the cloud of doom because of my verbal diarrhea lingered for a few days.

Fortunately, most people who know me expect nothing less than honesty and a lack of inner monologue.

As for Sense and Sensibility, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the conflicting personalities of Elinor and Marianne. I know how it is to have siblings that are completely different. It’s hard to relate to a sibling who is practical when the other lives in a fantasy world. And I fell in love with Colonel Brandon. He is a true romantic and his patience in waiting for Marianne, as well as his gentlemanly protection of her honor, is my ideal of the perfect man.


3. And how about your least favourite work of Ms. Austens? 


And that’s really interesting since I just released my adaptation of Persuasion, Second Chances. The book is getting wonderful reviews but I could not relate to Anne. Giving up a first love is one thing, but being trampled over by her family, especially Mary? Well, maybe I can relate to it, but I wanted to shake Anne and tell her to snap out of it. At some point, we have to say NO to people who take, take, take without giving back. Anne was long overdue.
(That is funny as you have just written a variation!)


4.  So, in your novels you take the classic story and give it an Amish twist. How did you go about approaching this? Why did you want to do it? Was it quite easy to do or was it hard to give it such a different twist?

Believe it or not, it was easier to come up with the storylines than I originally thought. Writing them was not as easy. I want to stay true to Jane Austen’s style of writing and character development. That’s hard because she has so many characters and her novels are so rich in plot. Since the Amish culture and religion is not quite as complex, I did have to make editorial decisions as far as what elements to include and how to weave subplots into my books.

One of the reasons why I wanted to do this was to raise the bar on my writing. I love to learn new things. I don’t believe just anyone could retell classics in the style of Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters. It takes a lot of studying and research and exploration of literary techniques. Additionally, the Amish fiction genre has not always had the greatest reputation for being fine literature. It would be nice to earn some respect in that category. When people read this series, they cannot dismiss the books as “just another Amish romance” or (and I cringe as a write this) a “bonnet book.”

My family heritage is Mennonite and I’ve been involved with the Amish communities of Lancaster since I was nineteen years old. My grandparents introduced me to the culture even earlier than that and I fell in love with their lifestyle right away. On the surface, it looks like a plain and simple way of living. In reality, they are as complicated as the English society of the early 1800s. There are rules, hierarchy, and values that must be adhered to. Everyone has a role to play and, if they stray from it, there are consequences.


5.  You have written an Amish Pride and Prejudice and now Persuasion. Are you planning to do this to all 6 of Ms. Austen's novels? Was Persuasion or Pride and Prejudice easier to re-imagine?

Actually, I have also written an adaptation of Emma and I’m finishing Sense and Sensibility this week. I’m also contracted to adapt Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey in 2016. For 2017, I’m moving onto the Bronte sisters. I also have a proposal into a publisher to adapt Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

The classics tell romances in a way that is so much more involved than regular 21st century novels. They explore culture, society, and characters in such a way that, when reading them, you feel as if you are standing beside the characters. There is a reason that these novels are considered to be timeless classics. Their stories survive over the centuries because people can still relate to them. That is something I strive to replicate.
(Yes exactly, and this is why I love to read them!)
Thank you for answering those questions Sarah, and for explaining to us more about your reasoning and how you go about adapting the classics.


The author of more than two dozen novels, Sarah Price brings twenty-five years of experience of living among the Amish to her books, many of which have been Amazon Top 100 Bestsellers. In 2013, she signed with Realms, a division of Charisma House, to publish the Amish Classics series. Initially focusing on the retelling of Jane Austen’s timeless classics from within an Amish setting, her first traditionally published book, First Impressions, A Retelling of Pride & Prejudice, debuted on the ECPA bestseller list.

She intends to continue retelling classics, including the Bronte sisters and Victor Hugo, as she enjoys “raising the bar” on her own intellectual stimulation as well as that of her expansive base of loyal readers.

In 2014, she signed with Waterfall Press and published An Amish Buggy Ride which became a #1 bestseller in Religious Romance.

Get the latest news about Sarah Price on Facebook, Twitter, and

Second Chances is available now on |Amazon|CBD|B&N|BAM

Thank you to Sarah for the interview and good luck with this latest release as well as any future stories!

Your affectionate friend,
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