Friday, November 27, 2020

Blog tour: North Fanger by Jayne Bamber, with giveaway!

A campy, vampy fusion of Pride & Prejudice with Northanger Abbey...

Elizabeth Bennet and her cousin Catherine Morland travel into Kent to visit the recently married Collinses in the village of Hunsford, near the great estate of Rosings Park. Elizabeth anticipates that the visit will be very dull indeed, while Catherine believes adventure and romance await them there, just as in the gothic novels she adores.

Within a week, both women have their expectations subverted by the sudden arrival of a vampire into their midst. The ladies at the parsonage take flight, accompanied by the outraged Colonel Fitzwilliam, his outwitted cousin, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy – and an out-of-control fledgling vampire.

Proving herself indispensable during the undead Darcy debacle, Elizabeth becomes the heroine her cousin Catherine always knew she was – and enviously wishes to be herself – as she leads them to Bath in search of the wily Silas Bennet, an expert in all matters vampiric.

But amidst the hunt for Uncle Silas, other predators enter the fray, all in search of one very old man, and a very young vampire. In Bath they encounter the Tilneys, the Thorpes, and an array of familiar faces and vicious villains bent on wreaking bloody havoc, leading a merry band of misfits to take shelter in a place too spooky not to hold secrets of it’s own: Northanger Abbey.


After Catherine and her new friend parted ways with Elizabeth, it was but a short walk to the Allens’ lodgings in Pulteney Street. She had already discovered the essentials about her new friend - Miss Tilney had lost her mother nine years before, and her oldest brother not long after. She was four-and-twenty, nearly a spinster, and perhaps this was why she rather reminded Catherine of Charlotte.

“I wonder that you have never married, Miss Tilney,” Catherine observed. “You are not so very plain, your manners are open and easy, and I think you said your father is a gentleman….”

Miss Tilney colored for a moment, and looked away. “Call me Eleanor, please.” She was quiet just long enough for Catherine to repent her impertinent question, but at length she answered, “I have wished to marry, to be sure - but I could never leave my brother Henry. I am all he has in the world.”

“What of your father?”

“My father is - well… Henry and I are very close, and he is so ill.”

“Oh! And he is not married, then?”

“No, and more’s the pity.” Eleanor smiled wryly. “He is very handsome, you know. He wished to be a parson, before… before he fell ill.”

“What is his affliction?”

Eleanor’s face belied a long-suffering melancholy. “It is a… a hematological disorder, a very uncommon thing - we have every hope of finding a doctor here in Bath who can cure him.”

“I hope you do! Is he very ill, then?” Catherine did not recognize the word Eleanor had used to describe her brother’s affliction, but she was too embarrassed to admit as much to her older and wiser companion. Her interest was captivated by the thought of her brave and kindly friend tending to a handsome, ailing brother - if he was truly so like Eleanor in disposition, Catherine thought she would very much like to meet him. “Is he confined to a sick bed, or might he take the waters? Shall he go out in society at all here in Bath?”

Eleanor bit her lip and knit her brow for a moment. “It is a curious thing - it comes and goes. I have every hope of coaxing him out of the house some evening - particularly as I now have some acquaintance here. He is generally unable to leave the house in the mornings and afternoons, but perhaps an assembly might tempt him.”

“Sick in the mornings! My mother was thus when she carried all my brothers and sisters - of course, I daresay your brother does not suffer that affliction. If he does not go out in the day, but only of an evening, I might guess he was a vampire!” Catherine laughed at her own folly, but Miss Tilney grew serious.

“He is very hopeful of finding a cure, and leading a perfectly normal life thereafter.”

“Oh - well, I am very glad for him, then,” Catherine said, fretting over her own silliness. By now they had reached the Allens’ lodgings, and Mrs. Allen appeared at the window, waving merrily at them. Eleanor was tempted to come inside and be introduced, though she insisted she must go away directly.

“Of course - it is nearly sundown, and we cannot let you walk all the way back to Laura place in the dark,” Mrs. Allen observed, simultaneously admiring the lace and intricate trim of Eleanor’s day dress. “But you must stay for dinner - what a fine thing, Cathy, for James is to bring guests tonight - my old school friend Mrs. Thorpe is in Bath, and her daughters - and your brother James is intimately acquainted with them - but surely your father will not object, Miss Tilney!”

Miss Tilney gently declined, Catherine pressed, Mrs. Allen pressed more, and in the end an engagement was formed for the following night instead - Miss Tilney would dine with them at seven in Pulteney Street, and convey the invitation to her invalid brother. 




Mr. Tilney, as it happened, was very handsome. He was fair, like his sister and looked no older than Eleanor, and though his countenance might be called pale, his face conveyed such candid affability and mischievous energy as to render him uncommonly good looking. He was tall and lean, but nothing about his person indicated the slightest detectable ailment. 

His vitality was coupled with impish charm and easy manners; ten minutes served to acquaint him so well with his six new friends as to rival a friendship of many years. Only when they sat down to dinner did Catherine recall his illness. 

He waved away the soup with a self-deprecating laugh, “You will think me far older than I appear - but I cannot possibly take a morsel of food - I hope I do not offend your gracious hospitality, Mrs. Allen. I am an invalid, you see.”

“You have come to the right place, then, sir!”

Now he turned to address Catherine in particular. “Do you think me very odd, Miss Morland? I must regiment my diet ever so carefully, until Dr. Bennet can advise me. But when I am cured, I am sure I shall devour every pheasant, quail, and pig in the county!”

Elizabeth coughed, and Mr. Darcy, seated at her side, quickly patted her back and gestured for her to drink some wine. Catherine gave her brother a knowing look, and he rolled his eyes from further down the table. Once she had recovered, Elizabeth asked incredulously, “Dr. Bennet?”

“Yes,” Eleanor replied. “When I asked after your relations yesterday, I thought there might be some connection. My father is hoping to secure my brother a meeting with Dr. Bennet, though I understand he is rather elusive - quite in demand, I imagine.”

“Ah. Well, my uncle is a merchant, not a physician,” Elizabeth replied. Catherine happily observed that her cousin and Mr. Darcy now appeared to be holding hands under the table. 

“You have not answered my question, Miss Morland. Do you think me very odd?”

“Very odd,” she said with a smirk.

He held her gaze for a moment, suppressing a smile as he pretended to pout. “I shall make but a poor figure in your journal tomorrow.”

“My journal?”

“Yes, I know exactly what you will say: Sunday, dinner at Pulteney Street. Appeared much to advantage, but was strangely harassed by a queer, half-witted invalid, who refused to eat any of Mrs. Allen’s fine fare, and distressed me by his nonsense.”

Catherine laughed. “Indeed I shall say no such thing.”

“Shall I tell you what you ought to say?”

“If you please.”

“I dined with a very agreeable man - danced a reel after, thought him exceedingly light on his feet and heavy with praise of me - seems most an extraordinary genius - I hope I may know more of him, so I have agreed to join him and his relations at the theatre tomorrow. That, my dear Miss Morland, is what I wish you to say.”

Catherine grinned at him, and he laughed at himself, smiling at her as though she were the only person in the room. Catherine felt a warm, pleasant sensation spread across her chest - a frightening fluttering of her heart - she realized she was being flirted with by this exceptionally handsome, charming, and entirely vital man - at last! 

Before she could reply, Mrs. Allen cried out with excitement. “But we are already engaged for the theatre tomorrow! What a fine thing - we are sure to see you there!”

“And will you come to the theatre Miss Bennet, Mr. Darcy?”

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy exchanged a look of private conversation before the gentleman answered. “My sister is not yet out in society, and the widow Collins is a guest of the house….”

“I shall attend,” Elizabeth declared, with a look of teasing defiance at Mr. Darcy. “I should not like to be out very late, but I should like to accompany you, Cathy. And Cousin James, I hope your Isabella will be in attendance.”

“I believe she will be.”

“Well!” Mrs. Allen clapped her hands. “What a fine thing! How very merry we shall be!”

Catherine shivered with anticipation, and in her mission to live as the heroine from one of her novels, she was far from disappointed. By the end of the evening she was satisfied enough that she knew she could, in all sincerity, make exactly the journal entry Mr. Tilney had predicted. They spoke of books between themselves at such length, even while dancing the promised reel, that Catherine fell asleep with her head full of romantic scenes between a dashing, fair-haired hero and a rather lusty heroine who looked remarkably like herself.


Jayne Bamber is a life-long Austen fan, and a total sucker for costume dramas. Jayne read her first Austen variation as a teenager and has spent more than a decade devouring as many of them as she can. This of course has led her to the ultimate conclusion of her addiction, writing one herself.

Jayne’s favorite Austen work is Sense and Sensibility, though Sanditon is a strong second. Despite her love for Pride and Prejudice, Jayne realizes that she is no Lizzy Bennet, and is in fact growing up to be Mrs. Bennet more and more each day. link

Giveaway link

Thank you so much for stopping by Jayne! Your book sounds like a lot of fun! Great extract. Good luck with it! 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Blog Tour: Back to the Bonnet by Jennifer Duke









What if it was Mary Bennet who was really behind the important events of Pride and Prejudice? In Back to the Bonnet, Jennifer Duke explores how the story could look from the unique perspective of plain, overlooked but clever Mary who happens to have inherited a bonnet that allows her to travel in time.

‘Mary Bennet takes matters into her own hands in this hilarious and enjoyable time-travelling version of Pride and Prejudice.’ 


‘This is a sweet treat of a book: exciting, insightful and enormous fun.’ 



Book blurb:


“Oh really, Miss Mary!” He lowered his voice and leant closer. “Does convention hold you back? You who deny all conventions of time, twisting it from its proper course?”

Matrimony is not a destiny that attracts plain but clever Miss Mary Bennet.

With her family’s fortunes threatened by their own foolish mistakes, deceptive rogues and the inconvenience of male heirs to her family home, the future looks unstable, even bleak. But Mary possesses a secret weapon . . . a bonnet that allows her to travel in time. 

In orchestrating events according to her own inclinations, Mary takes an unconventional route to protect her family from ruin. However, she is unprepared for the dark path down which duty and power will lead her.


In the following excerpt, Mary discovers another power the bonnet possesses in addition to that of time-travel.


Excerpt from Volume One, Chapter Two ‘A Stitch Lost’


. . . I winced at the shrill laughter coming from Kitty and Lydias room. Their chatter was indistinct. However, I surmised that they were discussing the new occupant of Netherfield Park. My tidying task done and books on botany, anatomy and philosophy chosen, I set my mind to reflect upon my observations of the previous evening. Mr Thorpe clearly found novels of the supernatural enjoyable, though he attempted, several times, to persuade us that he did not think much of novels at all. He spent much time with Kitty but persistently looked about for Jane. He gave the impression of someone rich but asked pointed questions in an effort to establish what our level of wealth was, something a gentleman of means would be unlikely to do.

    If only I could know Mr Thorpes mind,” I said to myself.

    At that moment, the door of my closet creaked open several inches. I had felt no draught; the window was shut and the unmoving trees outside testified to the stillness of the air. The closet door opened further and this time the grating of the hinges was accompanied by a sound I could not account for. It was as if two fat birds were warbling to one another in a far off tree – only the sound came from a pile of blankets and linen. I shifted the folded bedclothes out of the way.

    The sounds were coming from the band box.

    I recoiled, staring at the lid. Impossible,” I said, whilst acknowledging that the evidence of my own ears suggested otherwise.

    Eventually, I drew closer, noticing how my heart galloped as I took out the box from the closet, placed it on the bed and removed the lid. The muffled sound was more akin to human speech now, though still quiet. Taking the bonnet in my hands, I hesitated before placing it on my head. As soon as it was in place, the twittering voices became as clear as if the bodies they came from were in the room with me.

    But do you not agree that it would be a d— fine thing?” It was Mr Thorpes voice.

    But after you were married – assuming you succeed – what do you imagine your wife would think then?” I recognised this voice too, it was Mr Denny, one of Lydias favourite officers.

    Well, I only intend to get a rich wife. As long as she brings money to the marriage, she need not care about my lack of it.”

    Risky way of going about it though, Thorpe. My friend Crawford would have had no trouble with the rent. He was deuced annoyed with me when he got to Hertfordshire, upon my own suggestion, only to discover that Netherfield was no longer available.”

    Well Im mightily glad I got there first!”

    I dont envy you the rent though.”

    It need only be for a few months, Ive more than enough inheritance for that. In any case, its an investment. Families with rich girls dont seem to favour my sort.”

    The aspiring sort?”

    Indeed. So you see its d— logical to pretend to be another sort altogether.”

    The landed gentry sort.”

    But of course you wont mention any of this to anyone? Word spreads fast in a small town.”

    Its usually you who spreads it, if memory serves.”

    Mr Thorpe laughed.

    You know me, though. A gentlemans business is his own, I say.”

    I knew I could rely on you, Denny.”

    I could hear other sounds now, a there you are, sir, followed by a clink of china and the laughter of gentlemen in the background. Mr Thorpe was likely at The Bull, the lodgings used by Mr Denny and several other officers in Meryton. He began talking of carriages and horses, subjects I did not have the patience to pay attention to. I had barely formed this thought when his voice grew muffled, as though he were talking from behind a wall. Then all sound faded from the bonnet. Perhaps I had imagined it, but it appeared as though the bonnet ribbons twitched a few times before hanging limp and still. Whatever oddness the bonnet exhibited though, my priority was to process the truths it had illuminated for me.

    I shook my head, my lips pursed. You wont get away with this, Mr Thorpe,” I growled before hurrying down the stairs.

    Where are you going, Miss Mary?” said Mrs Hill as she carried a tray of toast from the kitchen.

     Id left my usual bonnet in my room, hardly realising that I still had Great Aunt Gardiners in my hands. It would have to do. I put it on, flung on my cloak and shoved my feet into my boots. Im going to Meryton.”

    At this hour? What about your breakfast?”

    I snatched a couple of slices of toast from the tray. I need to see an officer,” I said, not realising how much of a joke it sounded until Mrs Hill burst out laughing.

    I would have expected to hear such a thing from Miss Lydia but not you, Miss Mary. Why, only the other day she—” Hills speech faded, failing to compete with the crunch of gravel beneath my feet.


Author Bio


Jennifer Duke grew up in Basingstoke - a town in Hampshire, England, which Jane Austen visited for shopping and balls when her family lived in the nearby village of Steventon. Loving stories from a very early age and being the second of four sisters, Jennifer delighted in reading stories to her younger siblings.

She went to Bath Spa University to study English Literature with Creative Writing and gained a 2:1, later going on to achieve a distinction for her MA in English Literature at Oxford Brookes University.

She has had many jobs - including coffee barista, trainee English teacher, nursery nurse, nanny, housekeeper and dog walker - but kept returning to writing fiction.

A longstanding love of Jane Austen's novels led to her first published novel Back to the Bonnet.

As well as writing, she is interested in mindfulness, environmental issues and painting. She loves animals, history, art, travel and being out in nature. Currently, she is working on a fantasy novel inspired by ancient art at Chauvet-Pont d'Arc cave in the south of France, a story set 35,000 years ago - a slight change from Regency England! She also has plans to write a post world war two romance inspired by Jane Eyre.

Back to the Bonnet is available now on Amazon in paperback and Kindle eBook formats.

You are cordially invited to sign up to Jennifer Duke’s newsletter via her website homepage or contact page.



Author Website:

Goodreads page

Twitter: @JenniferEDuke

Facebook: @inkwellies

Youtube: Jennifer Duke - author


Book purchase links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia

Thank you so much for stopping by Jennifer! Your book sounds most interesting. Great extract. Good luck with it!