Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Blog Tour: A Most Handsome Gentleman by Suzan Lauder - with giveaway!

I am thrilled today to be part of the blog tour for Suzan Lauder's new release, A Most Handsome Gentleman My thanks also goes to Janet Taylor for inviting me to take part.

"Elizabeth Bennet’s life is uncomplicated until she meets a quartet of new men: the haughty but handsome Mr. Darcy, the pert-with-a-pout Mr. Bingley, the confident and captivating Mr. Wickham—and then there is her father’s cousin, the happy man towards whom almost every female eye has turned.

Mr. Collins is HOT—well, incredibly handsome in Regency-speak—beautiful of face, fine of figure, elegant of air, his perfect clothing and hair matching his Greek god-like form. Unfortunately, when he opens his mouth, Elizabeth wishes he were mute. With affected servility and prideful self-conceit, he capitalizes upon his exquisite appearance and fixes on Jane Bennet as his bride.

Can Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy form an alliance to stop Jane’s suitors from issuing challenges—and will Elizabeth coax a smile from Mr. Darcy?

Bestselling Regency romance author Suzan Lauder delivers a hilarious Austenesque romance suitable for all readers of Pride and Prejudice."

It is with great enjoyment that I join Sophie today to share the second half of the vignette that was specially written for this blog tour. This new vignette is un-betad and not edited, so there will likely be a few extra commas! This scene shows the interview of #HOTCollins for the living at Hunsford. Thanks for hosting it, Sophie!
As a treat for the post, we’re wearing our Hallowe’en masks today! Special thanks to Janet Taylor, blog tour organizer and graphic artist, for putting gorgeous masks on Lady Catherine and Anne.

I am joining in with the masked look too! This was my first masked ball just a month or so ago during the Jane Austen festival. (Copyright: Owen Benson)

A New Rector for Hunsford Part Two
Note: To read Part One, refer to Austenesque Reviews

Mr. Collins was accustomed to ladies pausing when they met him and clever enough to know why—he had been told a number of times that he was so amazingly handsome, he rendered others speechless. He was bound and determined to impress these ladies and thus gain the coveted position of curate at the well-appointed parish of Hunsford. He prepared himself by running his hand forward over his perfectly mussed curly locks whilst the butler announced him in what seemed to be a deeper than normal voice for any man, let alone one so small and wizened in appearance.

Two ladies were in the room and, sure enough, the instant they set eyes upon him, their jaws dropped. He made his obeisance to the elder of the two, who must be Lady Catherine de Bourgh.The great lady’s eyes threatened to pop out of her head, they were so wide open in shock. To save her from embarrassment over her undignified facial expression, Mr. Collins quickly averted his gaze. He then perused the face of the lady who must be her daughter and the heiress to Rosings, Miss Anne de Bourgh.
The daughter fared no better upon gazing upon his exceptional countenance and form as she appeared almost as if she might faint. At first, she trembled and sucked a hard breath into her little chest through her wide open mouth, but when he made a perfectly practiced bow in front of this little woman, she giggled and fluttered her lashes at him. She was so swathed in Kashmir shawls that he had a hard time making out if she was plump or thin, but she was so small, she must be barely out of the schoolroom. But she was his future patroness’s daughter, and he would pay her respects as she was owed, so he bowed and scraped some more at her flirtatious reaction.

He cleared his throat to prepare to speak, but all that accomplished was Lady Catherine, a large woman who at one time would probably have been called handsome, glancing at her daughter as if to admonish. But this lasted only for a second, and then she was staring at him again, agog.
Mr. Collins dared not wait for introductions whilst both were so overwhelmed they could not remember their names. In truth, he had nothing to lose by launching into his speech. After all, he had their undivided attention and could only hope that his words would reach beyond their ears and into their understanding so they might be as impressed with him as a cleric as they were of his fine face and figure—because he was well aware that he had the finest face and figure they had ever encountered in their lives.
“Lady Catherine, Miss DeBourgh. I assure you in the most of unadulterated of opinions that I am overwhelmed by my esteem for your venerable positions as I offer myself in the most charitableof traditions to serve as rector of Hunsford parish. Indeed, it is only due to my intellect and the strength of my admiration in anticipation of your affability towards me that gives me confidence to lay my services at your trusted and lovely feet. Please allow me to share my God-given talents with the parishioners, so that I may honour the position with the exceptional observances of those rites and ceremonies so appreciated by those who are fortunate enough to be in the way of my great sympathetic existence. In return, I flatter myself to say that I can promise—”
“You are very handsome for a clergyman,” said Lady Catherine.
He was unprepared for such frankness, so he paused, gathering his wits about him. He then brushed his hands over his slim hips and responded, “Indeed. It is one of my many important capabilities.”
Both ladies raked their eyes over his figure as he had anticipated. He took this opportunity to speak more about himself.
“Many important ecclesiastical quotations can be found related to the value of a fine appearance, and nothing suits a clergyman better than his own comforting appearance in front of those he shepherds. In truth, combined with my exceptional speaking ability, you will find that the position of cleric was made for a man such as me. Not just any handsome man, but the handsomest of all men. Many have said so.”
The ladies mumbled their approval as expected. Miss de Bourgh once again fluttered her lashes as she said, “You may count on my approval, Mr. Collins.”
Lady Catherine nodded. “You need not work harder to convince me. The position is yours. Now, I will call for refreshment to celebrate whilst you answer a few questions.”
Yes, his confidence had not been misplaced, and he said as much to his new patroness and her daughter. He had known that from the moment he had laid eyes upon them that they were exactly the sort of condescending members of the church who would find he must suit them very well. His exalted patroness’s questions and directions were indeed so well appreciated that he rushed off as soon as he was allowed so he could prepare sermons as per the fine lady’s useful direction. He could hardly wait for her to inspect the parsonage and offer design advice.
I suppose every fine lady of the manor who likes to make herself useful would hope to find a handsome man to carry out her officious orders! What do you think?

Author Bio:
A lover of Jane Austen, Regency period research and costuming, cycling, yoga, blogging, and independent travel, cat mom Suzan Lauder is seldom idle.

Her first effort at a comedy, A Most Handsome Gentleman is the fourth time Lauder has been published by Meryton Press. Her earlier works include a mature Regency romance with a mystery twist, Alias Thomas Bennet, a modern short romance Delivery Boy in the holiday anthology Then Comes Winter, and the dramatic tension filled Regency romance Letter from Ramsgate.

She and Mr. Suze split their time between a loft condo overlooking the Salish Sea and a
150-year-old Spanish colonial home near the sea in Mexico.

Suzan’s lively prose is also available to her readers on her blog, road trips with the redhead www.suzan.lauder.merytonpress.com, on her Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/SuzanLauder, and on Twitter @suzanlauder.

Contact Info:

Buy Links:
 Amazon US (paperback)

 Amazon UK (paperback) 
 Amazon UK ( Kindle and Kindle Unlimited)
The Amazon UK shows separate links for the Paperback and eBook.

Blog Tour Schedule:

10/20My Jane Austen Book Club; Character Interview, Excerpt, Giveaway
10/21My Love for Jane Austen;Guest Post, Giveaway
10/23Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, Giveaway
10/25Babblings of a Bookworm; Guest Post, Giveaway
10/26From Pemberley to Milton; Review, Giveaway
10/27Just Jane 1813;Guest Post, Giveaway
10/28   Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway
10/29My Vices and Weaknesses; Character Interview, Giveaway
10/30Half Agony, Half Hope;Review, Excerpt
10/31Laughing With Lizzie; Vignette, Giveaway
11/01Diary of an Eccentric;Review, Giveaway
11/02So little time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
11/03   Margie’s Must Reads; Review, GA

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.

A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook of A Most Handsome Gentleman by Suzan Lauder. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

My thanks again goes to Suzan for this great extract! My thanks also to Janet for setting up this tour.

I wish Suzan all the best with this release as well as any stories in the future!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Blog Tour: Mistaken by Jessie Lewis - with giveaway!

I am thrilled today to be part of the blog tour for Jessie Lewis's new release, Mistaken.  My thanks also goes to Janet Taylor for inviting me to take part.

"Fitzwilliam Darcy is a single man in possession of a good fortune, a broken heart, and tattered pride. Elizabeth Bennet is a young lady in possession of a superior wit, flawed judgement, and a growing list of unwanted suitors. With a tempestuous acquaintance, the merciless censure of each other’s character, and the unenviable distinction of a failed proposal behind them, they have parted ways on seemingly irreparable terms. Despairing of a felicitous resolution for themselves, they both attend with great energy to rekindling the courtship between Darcy’s friend Mr. Bingley and Elizabeth’s sister Jane.     Regrettably, people are predisposed to mistake one another, and rarely can two be so conveniently manoeuvred into love without some manner of misunderstanding arising. Jane, crossed in love once already, is wary of Bingley’s renewed attentions. Mistaking her guardedness for indifference, Bingley is drawn to Elizabeth’s livelier company; rapidly, the defects in their own characters become the least of the impediments to Darcy and Elizabeth’s happiness. 

Debut author Jessie Lewis’s Mistaken invites us to laugh along with Elizabeth Bennet at the follies, nonsense, whims, and inconsistencies of characters both familiar and new in this witty and romantic take on Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice."

Thank you, Sophie, for inviting me here today to talk to your readers. I’m nearing the end of the blog tour for Mistaken now, and there’s one fundamental aspect of the book I haven’t yet talked about: Jane Bennet’s journey. 

Love it or hate it, read it with relish or revulsion, there’s no getting away from the fact that Jane takes a very different path in Mistaken than Austen led her down in canon. This wasn’t an arbitrary change; the decision to test her strength of character under trying circumstances was very deliberate. The reason can be summed up in one word (or one name): Darcy.

I’ve always been fascinated by the journey Darcy makes in Pride and Prejudice. He is often touted as one of the most enduring romantic heroes in literature—largely, in my opinion, because he actually changes his ways for the woman he loves. Yet, before he earns his Romantic Hero stripes, he’s very far from perfect. Granted, Elizabeth’s wilful misunderstanding causes much of his initial antagonism, but there is plenty of which to disapprove in his character at the beginning. In Austen’s words, he is “haughty, reserved and fastidious…continually giving offence.” He owns himself to having a resentful temper and admits at the end of the novel to having been selfish all his life. Given how much we all come to adore him, it is conveniently easy to forget quite how unlikeable he is to begin with.
Austen doesn’t show us his descent into resentment and conceit, we only see his scramble out of it after Elizabeth’s rejection at Hunsford. Nonetheless, my question has always been: how did he end up so thoroughly disagreeable without forfeiting the esteem of his nearest and dearest? It’s true that those we’re closest to aren’t exactly predisposed to look for our faults; thus, Darcy’s loved ones seem wholly oblivious (or indifferent) to his flaws. We see Bingley tease him for “standing about … in [a] stupid manner” at the Meryton assembly, but teasing is a far cry from condemnation. We hear Colonel Fitzwilliam accuse Darcy of not making small talk with strangers because “he will not give himself the trouble,” yet there is no admonition in this pronouncement, only vague amusement. Even Caroline Bingley is blind to Darcy’s faults, claiming he “may hug himself” because he has no defects at which Elizabeth can laugh. It takes Elizabeth, a relative stranger, to see the imperfections in Darcy’s character.
This led me to wonder how far down the path of bitterness and conceit an essentially good character could travel before anybody tapped them on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, but you really are behaving like an almighty twit.”
Enter Jane Bennet. Similarly to Darcy, she is inherently good and surrounded by loving friends and family, none of whom are anticipating that she will undergo any remarkable character alteration. But perhaps they ought to have, because as Elizabeth tells us, “people themselves alter so much, that there is something new to be observed in them for ever.” (P&P ch9)
Austen’s Jane Bennet is portrayed as sensible, kind, and saccharinely modest, but she is not without faults. She is excessively diffident, something we see when she refuses to blame Bingley for abandoning her, insisting there had merely been “an error of fancy” on her side. Mr. Bennet accuses her of being too complying, and Elizabeth teases her (with a hint of exasperation) for her credulity.
“Oh! you are a great deal too apt, you know, to like people in general. You never see a fault in any body. All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I never heard you speak ill of a human being in my life.''
“I would wish not to be hasty in censuring any one; but I always speak what I think.”
“I know you do; and it is that which makes the wonder. With your good sense, to be honestly blind to the follies and nonsense of others! Affectation of candour is common enough; -- one meets it every where. But to be candid without ostentation or design -- to take the good of every body's character and make it still better, and say nothing of the bad -- belongs to you alone.” (P&P Ch24)
These were the traits I accentuated in Mistaken to set Jane on the slippery slope away from her canonical forgiving nature. Some bad advice, a want of perspective, and certain run of the mill human sensibilities such as jealousy, insecurity and disappointment, soon land Jane in such a muddle of resentment that she’s “in the middle before she knows she’s begun.” And just as Darcy’s friends did, Jane’s loved ones remain oblivious to the change in her until it’s too late.
It’s easier to read Darcy’s early hubris and resentment, because readers never see him before he becomes that person and thus there is no comparison, whereas Jane Bennet has been immortalised as sweetness and light since Pride and Prejudice first went to print. Watching her make bad decisions is difficult, but readers shouldn’t be put off. I wanted Jane’s journey to mirror Darcy’s after all, and we all know that after Elizabeth’s rejection, he well and truly redeemed himself. Mistaken Jane hasn’t had the advantage of a “Hunsford” moment, but she is equally good at heart, and what better proof of virtue is there, than the ability to reform? All she requires is a little self-awareness. The question that fascinates me now is, will readers forgive her as readily as they did Darcy?
The snippet below, from early in the book, shows how Jane’s disappointment, diffidence, jealousy—and mother!—are beginning to work against her reason to change her outlook on life. Thank you, everyone, for dropping in today to join in the Mistaken blog tour. Please feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section, or you can contact me on any of the social media pages listed in the author bio below. I’d love to hear from you!
Wednesday, 20 May 1812: Hertfordshire
Jane started when the parlour door was flung open and her mother swept in.
“Ah, good, you are both here,” said Mrs. Bennet, dropping into her favourite armchair. “Come closer, girls. I would speak with you.”

Jane looked enquiringly at Elizabeth, who looked back at her with equal bemusement. Both set their work aside and moved to sit on the sofa.

“It is clear after yesterday,” began Mrs. Bennet, “that you are both in dire need of some direction. Jane, I shall begin with you. Mr. Bingley arranged that picnic in your honour, yet you spent most of the afternoon sitting out of games and refusing to speak to him. He will think you are not interested if you continue to be so unforthcoming.”

Her mother could not have made a more distressing observation, for Jane was all too conscious that the easy and treasured friendship she and Mr. Bingley once enjoyed had been eclipsed by awkwardness and reserve.

“You like him, do you not?”

“I love him!”

“Then you must show it, or he will never offer for you.”

Jane gasped.

“I think what Mama is trying to say,” Elizabeth interjected, reaching for Jane’s hand, “is that perhaps Mr. Bingley needs a little encouragement. If you only spoke to him a little more—”

“Oh, as you do?” Jane had not meant to say the words aloud, and she was sorry when Elizabeth recoiled. Yet, now it was said, she found she could not regret it. All day at the picnic, whilst she had struggled to think of a thing to say, her sister had delighted the guests—and, more particularly, the host—with her easy conversation and clever wit. Watching Mr. Bingley watch her at archery had been deeply troubling, akin to watching the entire neighbourhood watch them dance together at the assembly. Both incidents had kindled a wholly unfamiliar yet potent sentiment in her mind: envy.

“She is quite right, Lizzy,” Mrs. Bennet said. “You must desist from flirting with Mr. Bingley.”

Elizabeth’s expression of pained disbelief was nothing to Jane’s dismay. Surely, her dearest sister would never usurp Mr. Bingley’s attentions by design. Yet, if her mother believed it…

“I assure you, ma’am,” Elizabeth said tightly, “I flirted with nobody yesterday, and certainly not Mr. Bingley. Indeed, it grieves me that you consider me capable of it.”

Mrs. Bennet clicked her tongue impatiently. “Do not get on at me, girl. I did not say your manner was at fault—only your focus. Leave Mr. Bingley alone and—”

“You speak as though I am Lydia, pestering the poor man for attention! If Mr. Bingley and I have become better acquainted, it is only through my attempts to help you, Jane, when you have been too shy to speak to him.”

“You have no business being friends with Mr. Bingley!” her mother objected, negating the necessity of Jane saying the same thing. “No, you must direct your efforts towards Mr. Greyson.”
Elizabeth’s eyes widened. “Mr. Greyson?

“Why, yes! He likes you very well. You could secure him in an instant if you would only use the same charm on him you have done with Mr. Bingley.”

“Madam, I have used no charm! And I do not wish to persuade Mr. Greyson of anything.”

Mrs. Bennet’s expression grew pinched. “You will do as you are told. If you had done your duty and married Mr. Collins, none of this would matter. Then, you could have flirted with whomever you chose!”

Elizabeth surged from her chair with an angry growl and stormed to the door. Mrs. Bennet followed her, screeching at her even after she quitted the room about wilful ways and ingratitude. Elizabeth’s only reply was to close the front door with excessive force. Mrs. Bennet turned back into the parlour, her lips pursed and her face and neck suffused with a deep flush.

“Obstinate, headstrong girl!”

Jane was unused, but not entirely averse, to the sense of vindication that overcame her. “Not quite so charming now, Lizzy,” she muttered. Her complacency was not to last. In the next moment, her mother rounded on her.

“You could learn a good deal from your sister. She has gentlemen eating from the palm of her hand. You would do well to take a leaf from her book before Mr. Bingley changes his mind again and disappears off to this Nova Scotia place he keeps wittering on about forevermore!”

She stomped from the room shouting for Hill, and Jane was left to all the satisfaction of having forced her to say what gave no one any pain but herself.

Author Bio:

I’ve always loved words—reading them, writing them, and as my friends and family will wearily attest, speaking them. I dabbled in poetry during my angst-ridden teenage years, but it wasn’t until college that I truly came to comprehend the potency of the English language.
That appreciation materialised into something more tangible one dark wintry evening whilst I was making a papier-mâché Octonauts Gup-A (Google it—you’ll be impressed) for my son, and watching a rerun of Pride and Prejudice on TV. Fired up by the remembrance of Austen’s genius with words, I dug out my copy of the novel and in short order had been inspired to set my mind to writing in earnest. I began work on a Regency romance based on Austen’s timeless classic, and my debut novel Mistaken is the result.
The Regency period continues to fascinate me, and I spend a good deal of my time cavorting about there in my daydreams, imagining all manner of misadventures. The rest of the time I can be found at home in Hertfordshire, where I live with my husband, two children, and an out-of-tune piano. You can check out my musings on the absurdities of language and life on my blog, Life in Words, or you can drop me a line on Twitter, @JessieWriter or on my Facebook page, Jessie Lewis Author, or on Goodreads, Jessie Lewis.

Buy Links:

Mistaken(Amazon US)
Mistaken(Amazon UK)
Mistaken is also available on Kindle Unlimited

Blog Tour Schedule:

10/03My Jane Austen Book Club; Vignette, Giveaway
10/04Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway
10/05Just Jane 1813; Review, Giveaway
10/06Diary of an Eccentric; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
10/07My Love for Jane Austen;Character Interview, Giveaway
10/08Of Pens and Pages; Review, Giveaway
10/09From Pemberley to Milton; Guest Post, Giveaway
10/10Half Agony, Half Hope;Review, Excerpt
10/11Savvy Verse and Wit; Review, Giveaway
10/12So little time…; Guest Post, Giveaway
10/13Babblings of a Bookworm; Vignette, Giveaway
10/14Interests of a Jane Austen Girl; Review, Giveaway
10/15Laughing With Lizzie; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
10/16Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, GA

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.
A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook of Mistaken by Jessie Lewis. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

My thanks again goes to Jessie for this great extract! My thanks also to Janet for setting up this tour.

I wish Jessie all the best with this release as well as any stories in the future!