Category Archives: Regency

Mailbox Monday

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, the weekly meme created by Marcia from A girl and her books (formerly The Printed Page) where book lovers share the titles they received for review, purchased, or otherwise obtained over the past week. Mailbox Monday is now on tour, and this month’s host is Diary of An Eccentric. Visit all other Mailbox Monday posts at her blog for the month of March!

My giveaway ended this weekend, and the whole point of obtaining followers didn’t exactly work out so I grabbed some of those books and I went to HalfPrice Books and traded them in.

I purchased:

Love’s Pursuit by Siri Mitchell (2009) I read some reviews of this one, and it was said to be centered around tough and surprising plot lines and that it is well-written and thought provoking. This is not Amish fiction, although the cover evokes that feel. The brief synopsis gives it little justice:

In Stoneybrooke, Massachusetts, Susannah Phillips obeys the rules.
Dress the right way. Believe the right things. Live the right life.
But when love interferes, she faces a choice:
Follow the rules or follow her heart.

She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell (2010) I picked this one up because of the back cover touting the era of the Gilded Age..
For a young society woman seeking a favorable marriage in the late 1890s, so much depends on her social season debut. Clara Carter has been given one goal: secure the affections of the city’s most eligible bachelor. Yet Clara wonders if this is the life she really wants.

The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen  (Winner of 2011 Christy Award for Historical Romance) After reading Klassen’s newest release, The Lady of Fairbourne Hall, (one of my favorite reads of 2012!) I knew I had to find every single Klassen novel ever written.
Miss Mariah Aubrey, banished after a scandal, hides herself away in a long-abandoned gatehouse on the far edge of a distant relative’s estate. There, she supports herself and her loyal servant the only way she knows how–by writing novels in secret.

Captain Matthew Bryant, returning to England successful and wealthy after the Napoleonic wars, leases an impressive estate from a cash-poor nobleman, determined to show the society beauty who once rejected him what a colossal mistake she made. When he discovers an old gatehouse on the property, he is immediately intrigued by its striking young inhabitant and sets out to uncover her identity, and her past. But the more he learns about her, the more he realizes he must distance himself. Falling in love with an outcast would ruin his well-laid plans.
The old gatehouse holds secrets of its own. Can Mariah and Captain Bryant uncover them before the cunning heir to the estate buries them forever?

And I was lucky to have a friend pass on some goodies, and here is a sampling:

The Glass Harmonica by Dorothee E. Kocks (2011)
Dorothee Kocks steals intimate details from American history to craft a novel of sensuality, ecstasy and music that reads at the pace of a thriller.Young Chjara Vall is exiled from Corsica sold as a servant to an opium addict in Paris. Music paves the way for her to flee with Henry, her love, to post-revolutionary America.
Read Arleigh’s review at http://historical-fiction.com/?p=4387

The Golden Hour by Margaret Wurtele (2012) I’ve had my eye on this one for a while!..
In this stunning debut set in the summer of 1944 in Tuscany, Giovanna Bellini, the daughter of a wealthy aristocrat and vineyard owner, has just turned seventeen and is on the cusp of adulthood. War bears down on her peaceful little village after the Italians sign a separate peace with the Allies-transforming the Germans into an occupying army.
Read Arleigh’s review at http://historical-fiction.com/?p=4345

The Secret Keeper by Sandra Byrd (2012)
The author of To Die For returns to the court of Henry VIII, as a young woman is caught between love and honor.
Juliana St. John is the daughter of a prosperous knight in Marlborough. Though her family wants her to marry the son of her father’s business partner, circumstances set her on a course toward the court of Henry VIII and his last wife, Kateryn Parr.

Mr. Bishop and the Actress by Janet Mullany (2011)
Janet Mullany, Little Black Dress’s historical star, returns with another fantastic Regency page-turner.

What could be more important than a lady’s reputation?Although initially alarmed by their unconventional ways, strait-laced Harry Bishop is content in the service of Lord Shad and his family. But when he is sent to London to rescue Shad’s wayward relation from debt and self-destruction, he also has the dubious honor of dealing with the man’s illicit lover – troublesome actress Sophie Wallace. A man of dignity and decorum, Mr Bishop is desperate to disassociate himself from the scandalous Sophie. Unfortunately, avoiding her proves harder than he could ever have imagined and soon she’s causing him all kinds of bother…

And last but certainly not least, an e-reader from a generous friend made its’ way to my house.. this one is a Pandigital Novel tablet, and it takes some work arounds and technical patience to go forth and conquer.. but after a few nights of wigging out with its’ medieval Android firmware, I think we will learn to be fast friends. I have already read one e-galley off of NetGalley! Thank you to my best blogging buddy! =)

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Filed under Christian Fiction, Julie Klassen, Mailbox Monday, Regency

GIVEAWAY & GRAND TOUR! JANE AUSTEN MADE ME DO IT Guest Post by Laurel Ann Nattress

Please welcome to the Burton Book Review author of Jane Austen Made Me Do It, Laurel Ann Nattress! I read and reviewed it last month and really enjoyed these Austenesque stories. See below for how to enter for your chance to win this book.

Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart edited by Laurel Ann Nattress

Ballantine October 11, 2011
Hi Marie, it is such a pleasure to be here at The Burton Book Review during my Grand Tour of the blogosphere in celebration of the release of my new Austen-inspired anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It. I know that you are very fond of Austenesque fiction, so I thought I would talk today about how Jane Austen has influenced authors over the centuries and has inspired a whole new book genre.
When Jane Austen was writing her novels in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, they were written at contemporary pieces. It is amazing to look back at them two hundred years later. They seem timeless. Her themes of financial struggles, social mobility, and romance are still fresh and relevant today, and her characters are so finely drawn and realistic that it makes us realize that human nature has not much changed either. Who among us can deny meeting some of her most famous archetypical personality in our lives? Perhaps an odious Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice was that blind date from hell, or a self-serving Fanny Dashwood type from Sense and Sensibility has permeated your work place, or, some of life’s first lessons made you feel a bit impressionable like young Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey? Some of us are even lucky enough to claim to have met a Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, and others even luckier to have married one!
Being lost in a Jane Austen’s world is such a pleasure. Unfortunately she only completed six full novels and one novella in her short lifetime. It is just not enough to satisfy her readers. In the 1830’s Jane Austen’s niece, Anna Austen Lefroy, was the first family member to take up the banner and write a completion of Sanditon, Jane’s last and unfinished novel. She could not complete it either. Next was another niece, Catherine-Anne Hubback, who wrote The Younger Sister in the 1850’s. Borrowing heavily from her aunt’s other unfinished fragment, The Watsons, it is the first completion of a Jane Austen novel. Over fifty years later in 1913, the novel Old Friends and New Fancies, by Sybil G. Brinton would be the first Austen sequel in print. A clever amalgamation of characters from each of Austen’s novels worked into Brinton’s own unique plot, one could say that it was the first Austen “mash-up,” published close to a century before Pride and Prejudice and Zombies would make the bestseller lists in 2009.
Now there are hundreds of novels in the Austenesque genre continuing, retelling, and inspired by Jane Austen’s original stories, characters and philosophies on life and love. Twenty-four authors have contributed stories to the genre in my new anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It. The depth of their experience ranges from veteran bestselling literary fiction author to debut new voice. The list contains many recognizable in the Austenesque genre and a few surprises too:
Pamela Aidan • Elizabeth Aston • Brenna Aubrey • Stephanie Barron • Carrie Bebris • Jo Beverley • Diana Birchall • Frank Delaney & Diane Meier • Monica Fairview • Amanda Grange • Syrie James • Janet Mullany • Jane Odiwe • Beth Pattillo • Alexandra Potter • Myretta Robens •   Jane Rubino & Caitlen Rubino Bradway • Maya Slater • Margaret Sullivan • Adriana Trigiani • Laurie Viera Rigler • Lauren Willig
From Regency to contemporary to romantic to fantastical, each of the stories in Jane Austen Made Me Do It draws from the authors unique and personal influence that Austen had on their writing in a new and exciting way. I hope readers will enjoy reading it as much as I had editing it.
Cheers, Laurel Ann
Editor bio: A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of Austenprose.com a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington. Visit Laurel Ann at her blogs Austenprose.com and JaneAustenMadeMeDoIt.com, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.
Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress. (Ballantine Books • ISBN: 978-0345524966)
Giveaway of Jane Austen Made Me Do It:
Enter a chance to win one copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It by leaving a comment by 11/12/11, stating what intrigues you about reading an Austen-inspired short story anthology. Winners to be drawn at random and open to followers with US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck to all!

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Filed under 2011 Releases, Austen, Author Post, Regency

Review: Jane Austen Made Me Do It: An Anthology edited by Laurel Ann Nattress

Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
Ballantine October 11, 2011
Paperback 464 pages
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:

22 Austenesque short stories: Regency or contemporary, romantic or fantastical, each of these marvelous stories reaffirms the incomparable influence of one of history’s most cherished authors.

Whatever it is about Jane Austen and her nuance, it has inspired and entertained for two hundred years. The classiness of her writing and of the era is what hooked me.. a romance can just be a romance (without the nowadays obligatory embarrassing sexual entanglements) and it is pure good natured fun and witty humor. In this anthology edited by Laurel Ann Nattress, the myriad of traits that made Austen into a genre of her own are embodied full force and unabashedly displayed much to our delight as it infuses the old fashioned and the modern together seamlessly.

Favorite Austenesque authors are featured, and then a few that I had not heard of, as well as an aspiring writer’s short story all make up this homage to Jane Austen that would make her smile. Who would’ve thunk that after a mere six novels that she could inspire so much creativity and wit? And despite the recent rise of Austen sequels, this anthology of many quaint stories never got old for this reader, and I was impressed with all the clever approaches in which Austen themes can be recreated, intriguing and entertaining me with new characters and their stories. This collection of stories is a must for all fans of Jane Austen, and it is a great tool for introducing the authors of the Austenesque genre as well.

All of these short stories were very well done, omitting the epistolary one that bothered me Because of the Way that All the Words Were Capitalized and I just Could Not Function for More than Two Pages Reading like That. I did have a few favorites, one by Monica Fairview, an author I had read and enjoyed before, and the other by an author I knew I had to get to soon, Amanda Grange. Jo Beverley evoked a Louisa May Alcott vibe with her mistletoe story, and Captain Wentworth may have eclipsed the legendary Mr Darcy within these stories. I want to make clear that the stories within Jane Austen Made Me Do It are all original stories that you have not read anywhere else, as another anthology in a different genre perturbed me as they were all regurgitated stories.

I must admit to being a bit blasphemous.. as I seem to be on the verge of reading everything sequel-related and thus far I have only physically read Pride and Prejudice. Yet, I’ve seen the movies, and read some sequels, and read this anthology, I feel quite at home with almost all of Austen’s original characters. So if you haven’t read all of Jane Austen’s novels, never fear: you will be quite at ease with this clever presentation, as there really is a little bit of everything for everyone. Kudos to Laurel Ann Nattress, an Austen Blogger Extraordinaire (http://austenprose.com/) who was able to make her dream come true, and I hope that there is a Jane Austen Made Me Do It Sequel, which would of course be in fashion with the recent Austenesque trends.

I am proud to be a part of Laurel’s Grand Tour of which she will stop by Burton Book Review on November 3rd, but until then, you can ride along with Laurel and try to snag your own copy of the book during her tour stops. The list of stops on her Grand Tour can be found here.

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Filed under 2011 Releases, 2011 Reviews, Amanda Grange, Austen Sequels, Lauren Willig, Monica Fairview, Regency

Review: The Gilded Shroud (Lady Fan Mysteries #1) by Elizabeth Bailey

The Gilded Shroud (Lady Fan Mysteries #1) by Elizabeth Bailey
Berkley Trade September 6, 2011
Paperback 368 pages
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:

First in a new series that has the perfect mix of Regency murder and mystery.
When the marchioness is found murdered at Polbrook mansion, the Dowager Lady Polbrook’s new companion, Ottilia Draycott, finds herself in a house of strangers and every one of them a suspect. Only she can unmask and outwit a desperate killer and keep a Polbrook family secret buried.

Ottilia Draycott finds herself in a rare situation first day on the job as a companion. She supposed she would be bored to death when taking on the task of amusing the Dowager, but it turns out she is investigating a death the first day on the job. Not one to shy from others, Ottilia immediately forges herself into the family dramas and attempts to become a private detective of sorts. The Dowager’s daughter-in-law is murdered in her bed, and her son the Missing Marquis is the prime suspect. The other son is Francis, affectionately call Fan-Fan, who runs the Hanover House, and encourages Ottilia’s interference with curiousity. Of course we wonder if theirs’ will be a love match in the making since Ottilia keeps flushing at Fan’s smiles.

There is a limited cast of characters, despite the many servants, thus the whodunit was plausible to be this one person from the start, but I hadn’t totally pinned it on one person till the end. Yet the whole plot of going about uncovering the clues by Ottilia was witty and entertaining, as the author has a fluid writing style that reads quite well. The life of the party was not supposed to be the Dowager, but the old lady was amusing as well as the relationship she had with others. The family was an interesting odd bunch, and the fact this is book one in a new mystery series excites me to know that I can visit these characters again.

This historical mystery would be entertaining for those who like Georgette Heyer’s mysteries. The tone is a bit different than that of the more antiquated Heyer, but is still a very enjoyable Pre-Regency-style read. With fluent writing and a fabulous ending, author Elizabeth Bailey is sure to have a hit mystery series on her clever hands.

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Filed under 2011 Releases, 2011 Reviews, Mystery, Regency

Review: The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer

The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer
Paperback, 368 pages
Sourcebooks Casablanca Reissue May/June 2011, originally published 1951
ISBN: 9781402238833
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:Faboulous Heyer Fun!

Returning to his family seat from Waterloo, Gervase Frant, seventh Earl of St Erth, could have expected more enthusiasm for his homecoming. His quiet cousin, stepmother, and young half-brother seem openly disappointed that he survived the wars. And when he begins to fall for his half-brother’s sweetheart, his chilly reception goes from unfriendly to positively murderous.
One of Heyer’s most suspenseful Regency romances, The Quiet Gentleman combines an ingenious mystery plot with her signature witty style and effervescently engaging characters.


Although most of Heyer’s romances seem to follow a formula of witty heroine vs the world who doesn’t realize the direct path to everlasting love, The Quiet Gentleman sets itself apart. Focusing on Gervase Frant, the Seventh Earl of St Erth, the novel strays from the female point of view and even adds a bit of gothic and mysterious tones. Our hero, Gervase, returns to his (estranged) deceased father’s estate after serving in the army to claim his inheritance, much to the dismay of his half-brother and stepmother who didn’t actually think he’d survive Waterloo. Gervase is of the character where he could shrug off their dislike of him, but things get dicey when strange happenings occur that put Gervase in harm’s way. Could his half-brother Martin really detest him so much as to wish that Gervase were dead? Is the step-mother the epitome of the evil witch? Or, is the house really haunted?

The romance comes in when Gervase meets Martin’s love interest, Marianne, who is a beautiful and cheerful young lady with many admirers. Martin is quite protective of his invisible tie to her, and Gervase is a bit more dashing than Martin and an immediate rivalry occurs. Luckily, Gervase’s cousin Theo is on Gervase’s side and acts as a bit of a buffer between the brothers and is a trusted confidante of Gervase. And when Gervase’s friend Lord Ulverston comes to stay, Martin earns another foe. Thrown into the mix was Miss Drusilla Morville, neutral friend and loyal companion to all (who could always be counted on to do the Dowager’s tedious tasks).

It has been my previous experience with Heyer that her novels take a bit to get used to its jargon of Regency speak and a myriad of characters who normally take a bit of time to comprehend. With The Quiet Gentleman, there was not an immediate onslaught of unfamiliar names and we are taken right to the action after the opening description of the magnificent homestead of Stanyon, which is somewhat of a medieval fortress turned castle turned grand estate, which in itself becomes a bit of a character in the story.

I enjoy Heyer’s writing because of the way she writes with class, and I love knowing that I will be entertained just because of a silly situation or a witty remark. I am not expecting a thrill-ride or something so extraordinary to knock my socks off; I simply appreciate the story and the setting. Heyer had such a clever mind and writing style, and she did it very well.  Heyer is similar to Austen and I often feel that Heyer is overshadowed by Austen, even though Heyer was so much more prolific. I have read ten Heyer’s and one full Austen now, and I have not been disappointed with Heyer’s romances and mysteries yet. I think I enjoyed this one most of all because of its slightly different formula. It is put in her romance genre, yet I enjoyed the mystery of it most of all. And the fact that it didn’t focus on a woman and instead followed the gentleman (and then the women in his life) was a nice change of pace for me. For real Heyer and Austen fans, this one should not disappoint in the least.

Read an excerpt here. In honor of Georgette Heyer’s 109th birthday, Sourcebooks is temporarily offering ALL 46 of Heyer’s titles in e-book format at $1.99 each:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MS. HEYER!
eBooks Available for $1.99
Sale prices are only good August 15-August 21, 2011
Heyer’s Birthday: August 16, 2011

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Filed under 2011 Releases, 2011 Reviews, Georgette Heyer, Regency

Review: Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer

Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer
Paperback, 368 pages
Sourcebooks Casablanca reissue June 2011, originally published 1955
ISBN: 9781402238796
Review copy provided by the publisher, with many thanks!
Burton Book Review Rating:

A Delightful Tangle of Affairs…
The Earl of Spenborough had always been noted for his eccentricity. Leaving a widow younger than his own daughter Serena was one thing, but leaving his fortune to the trusteeship of the Marquis of Rotherham – the one man the same daughter had jilted – was quite another.
When Serena and her lovely young stepmother Fanny decide to move to Bath, Serena makes an odd new friend and discovers an old love. Before long, they’re all entangled in a clutter of marriage and manners the likes of which even Regency Bath has rarely seen.

Bath Tangle is another one of Georgette Heyer’s witty romances, and this one really had me laughing towards the end. Lady Serena is a willful young woman, destined to be a spinster, who now lives with her younger mother-in-law who has no idea how to reign in Serena’s wild ways. Lord Rotherham has been named as a guardian of her inheritance, which really should not be of a huge concern except that he must also approve of whom Serena chooses to marry. This could become tangled due to the fact that there is some prior history between Lady Serena and Lord Rotherham where Serena backed out of their marriage negotiations at the last moment.

Serena is a wonderful character to read of, and she was the exact opposite of the ladylike of her sweet-natured mother-in-law, Fanny. After Serena’s father’s death, we wondered what exactly would happen to Serena, and how the arrangement between her and Rotherham would wreak havoc. Lo and behold, Serena becomes reacquainted with a previous suitor and they contrive to hide their relationship until the proper mourning period has passed. All this seems simple and straightforward, yet as only Georgette Heyer can divulge, Regency hijinks galore follows Serena everywhere she goes. Rotherham is left to wonder at her, as he obligingly lets her live her wild life, but poor Fanny is all in a flutter and Serena’ betrothed doesn’t know whether to be besotted or scornful.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the reader knows that Lady Serena is making another mistake by betrothing herself to Major Hector Kirkby. And there are more love tangles in Bath as Rotherham is engaged to a young lass who has no idea what she is getting herself into besides the idea of a coronet. As always, Bath Tangle contains a lot of witty remarks and colorful Regency dialogue with a bit of action at the end, making for a typical Georgette Heyer romance that demonstrates her clever prose with ease. For readers who are new to Heyer, they may not appreciate the prose at first, especially as this one started off hard to follow with many characters. It turns out that the story ended up following along with just a few of these initial characters and thus became easier to follow after a few more chapters. Moreover, it was a bit slow to reach any feverish pitch, so Bath Tangle would be best suited  for those already with an admiration for Georgette Heyer. This was my eighth Heyer novel, and I am still ready for more of Heyer’s classy writing and charming Regency situations. I have enjoyed both her romances and her mysteries, and if you have enjoyed Jane Austen, you really need to discover Georgette Heyer as well.

I am amassing a collection of Heyer novels, and I am tracking my reading progress with them at Burton Book Review. The green navigation button at the top of this page titled “Heyer” also leads to this page.
Read an excerpt of Bath Tangle here and one from later in the book can be found here.

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Filed under 2011 Releases, 2011 Reviews, Georgette Heyer, Regency

Book Review: Wickham’s Diary by Amanda Grange

Wickham’s Diary by Amanda Grange
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (April 1, 2011)
ISBN-13: 978-1402251863
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:4 stars

This prequel to Pride and Prejudice begins with George Wickham at age 12, handsome and charming but also acutely aware that his friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy, is rich, whilst he is poor. His mother encourages him to exercise his charm on the young Georgiana Darcy and Anne de Bourgh in the hopes of establishing a stable of wealthy social connections.

 At university, Darcy and Wickham grow apart. Wickham is always drinking and wenching, whilst Darcy, who apparently has everything, is looking for something he cannot find. Wickham runs through the money Darcy gives him and then takes up with the scandalous Belle, a woman after Wickham’s own greedy, black heart.

Wickham’s Diary is a quick little foray into Austen’s famous Pride and Prejudice characters and is worth each little page it is printed on. It can be seen as a sort of prequel to P&P from wicked Wickham’s point of view as he grows more and more jealous of the brooding Darcy. Everything Wickham has he owes to the elder Mr Darcy’s generosity, yet George Wickham had known from the start that he must marry an heiress in order to sustain his lifestyle. Not a very likable character is he, but a fun read nonetheless as I really enjoyed the inside look at George as he schemes for his fortune.

The best part of the story was learning the background of George’s parents, and I loved the character of his mother. Our favorite Darcy himself is not a big feature, as this novella is written diary style through Wickham and speaks of how annoyed Wickham is with Darcy. Georgiana is indeed a more featured character as George sets his sights on her, and I really wish the ending hadn’t ended the way it had because it felt like there was a lot more to occur at that particular moment. There was no real sense of closure, but perhaps the author was leaving that up to Austen’s Pride and Prejudice itself. Also, one must take into account this is a novella, and was seemingly meant as a explanatory precursor to the wild antics of George Wickham in Pride and Prejudice. I enjoyed it very much, and would have loved to have read it as an in depth novel. Grange’s writing is perfect for evoking Austenesque tones and I look forward to perusing her backlist such as Mr. Darcy’s Diary: A Novel, Captain Wentworth’s Diary and Colonel Brandon’s Diary.

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Filed under 2011 Releases, 2011 Reviews, Amanda Grange, Austen Sequels, Regency

>Book Review: A Darcy Christmas by Amanda Grange, Sharon Lathan and Carolyn Eberhart

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A Darcy Christmas by Amanda Grange, Sharon Lathan and Carolyn Eberhart
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (October 1, 2010)
Review copy provided by Sourcebooks, thank you!
ISBN-10: 1402243391
ISBN-13: 978-1402243394
The Burton Review Rating: The Burton Review, 4 stars

This is something different for Darcy fans: a novella collection! Christmas and the spirit of Jane Austen. Bring on the cinnamon and apple cider aromas! Each author’s individual story is reviewed separately:

Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Carol by by Carolyn Eberhart
This was the first story in the book and is also a debut for the author. Right away she remonstrates that the elder Mr. Darcy was dead as a door nail, several times, which made me wince. Thankfully, she gets past that quickly enough and goes into the lamentations of the younger Mr. Darcy (our favorite Mr. Darcy) of how Lizzy spurned his request for her hand. Georgiana, Darcy’s younger sister, is featured as she adds a nice touch to the story by being a sweetheart and treated as such. Warm and fuzzy feelings! Hold on to your reticules, as ghosts are haunting Pemberley!

Starting off as more of a macabre type of story, the typical elements of ghosts and spirits take over as Darcy goes on journeys to see the past, present and future. Predictable for both Darcy and Dickens fans this is not a suspenseful read, but the ending makes up for its weak beginning as everything is tied up into a happy package for a Darcy lover.

Christmas Present by Amanda Grange
This was a short and sweet little story about Lizzy and Darcy as they expect the birth of their first child during the Christmas season. Lizzy’s older sister Jane has just had her little boy and the extended family members are spending the holidays with Jane and Charles Bingley at their new house, which was just enough far out of reach so that Mrs. Bennet wouldn’t drop by every day on Jane. The story was complete with the characters that we loved from Pride & Prejudice, and the “scandalized” Lady Catherine and the pushy busy-body Caroline and does a good job of bringing holiday cheer, Jane Austen style. Grange’s next book, Wickham’s Diary, is due in April 2011.

A Darcy Christmas by Sharon Lathan
Off to a weird start was this last novella in the collection. It featured Darcy feeling depressed that Lizzy had spurned his proposal, and yet he couldn’t get her out of his mind. The theme of sexual tension was a bit overly played, as the one reason I enjoy classic novels like Austen’s and Heyer’s is the mere fact that they are always clean and fun. I was a bit put off by Lathan’s sensual undertones, but eventually they went away, which was a good thing because I had half a mind to not even attempt to finish it once it started up about some sex books that Darcy kept locked up. I plodded on, and of course I am glad that I did, because it eventually became a pleasant Christmas story that had a little bit of everything involved. I enjoyed the clan of the Darcys that Lathan created and the personalities of the family members who managed to annoy each other in a loving way. And upon further research, I have learned that Lathan’s Darcy sequels are marketed as sensual Pride & Prejudice sequels, and the 5th in the series is coming in April 2011.

All in all, the collection of Christmas themed Darcy stories was a hit, and I enjoyed the book as a whole. I can’t even pick a favorite out of the bunch, but I think that Darcy and Lizzy fans would be pleased with this Christmas collection which should definitely help the reader get into the holiday spirit!

5 Comments

Filed under 2010 Releases, 2010 Review, Austen Sequels, Regency

>Mailbox Monday

>Please don't steal my images!Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.
Mailbox Monday is on a blog tour! The popular meme started over at The Printed Page blog is being hosted by Chick Loves Lit for the month of August!

This week was a good one.. I received from Paperbackswap:

Silent In The Grave by Deanna Raybourn, which is Book One in the Lady Julia Grey series. I had received book 4 in last week’s box for October publication, and want to get some background first. I wish I could read all of them before the fourth… it seems like the series is a lot of fun. I sat down and read the first chapter of book one when it arrived and it looks like a fun read! I can’t wait to start it, but I am stuck in a long winded studious read right now.

“Let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave.”

These ominous words, slashed from the pages of a book of Psalms, are the last threat that the darling of London society, Sir Edward Grey, receives from his killer. Before he can show them to Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent he has retained for his protection, Sir Edward collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests.

Prepared to accept that Edward’s death was due to a longstanding physical infirmity, Julia is outraged when Brisbane visits and suggests that Sir Edward has been murdered. It is a reaction she comes to regret when she discovers the damning paper for herself, and realizes the truth.

Determined to bring her husband’s murderer to justice, Julia engages the enigmatic Brisbane to help her investigate Edward’s demise. Dismissing his warnings that the investigation will be difficult, if not impossible, Julia presses forward, following a trail of clues that lead her to even more unpleasant truths, and ever closer to a killer who waits expectantly for her arrival.

Also from PBS:

An Uncommon Woman – The Empress Frederick: Daughter of Queen Victoria, Wife of the Crown Prince of Prussia, Mother of Kaiser Wilhelm by Hannah Pakula
An epic story of wars and revolutions, of the rise and fall of royal families, and of the birth of modern Germany is brilliantly told through the lives of the couple in the eye of the storm–Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter, and her handsome, idealistic husband, Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia.

 1997, 704 pages!

Again from PBS:
Seven Days to the Sea: An Epic Novel of the Exodus by Rebecca Kohn (2006)

As a child, Miryam foretells the birth of a leader who will save their people from oppression—a vision so vivid that she dedicates her life to seeing it fulfilled in her brother, Moses. But after many years, she wonders in the deepest confines of her heart if her sacrifices mean anything, if her calling is real.
Tzipporah, a desert shepherdess who knows nothing of her husband’s divine purpose, suffers as he is torn from her by a strange god, a foreign people, and an unforgiving sister. In her heart, she harbors terrible secrets that haunt the love she shares with Moses and threaten her tenuous peace with Miryam.
Together, Miryam and Tzipporah weave a narrative that gives voice to the women of Exodus—their lives, their community, and ultimately, their sisterhood.

From Sourcebooks  an advance release of A Darcy Christmas (October, 2010) An omnibus of novels by
Carolyn Eberhart, Amanda Grange and Sharon Lathan:
From two bestselling and a debut author comes heartwarming Christmas tales sure to delight Jane Austen fans:

From Amanda Grange, the bestselling author of Mr. Darcy’s Diary and Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, Christmas finds the Darcy’s celebrating the holiday with preparations for a ball, but the festivities are interrupted by the arrival of a very special gift… Ever sensual and romantic, Sharon Lathan highlights everything that’s best and most precious in the celebrations of the holiday season. After a quarter of a century together, Darcy and Elizabeth reminisce… Jane Austen meets Charles Dickens! Carol Eberhart’s Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Carol finds Darcy encountering ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, who show him his life if pride keeps him from his one true love.

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Filed under Deanna Raybourn, Mailbox Monday, Regency

>Book Review: Bellfield Hall: Or, The Observations of Miss Dido Kent, by Anna Dean

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Bellfield Hall: Or, The Observations of Miss Dido Kent, by Anna Dean
Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books, February 2010
ISBN: 978-0-312-56294-6
304 pages
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:Three Stars

1805. An engagement party is taking place for Mr Richard Montague, son of wealthy landowner Sir Edgar Montague, and his fiancee Catherine. During a dance with his beloved, a strange thing happens: a man appears at Richard’s shoulder and appears to communicate something to him without saying a word. Instantly breaking off the engagement, he rushes off to speak to his father, never to be seen again. Distraught with worry, Catherine sends for her spinster aunt, Miss Dido Kent, who has a penchant for solving mysteries. Catherine pleads with her to find her fiance and to discover the truth behind his disappearance. It’s going to take a lot of logical thinking to untangle the complex threads of this multi-layered mystery, and Miss Dido Kent is just the woman to do it.

This is one of those novels that I wanted to evoke Georgette Heyer with a dash of Agatha Christie. While straining to do so, the novel starts out with Dido Kent, unprofessional lady sleuth, writing a letter to her sister. This continues off and on throughout the novel and is where the wit shines through regarding Dido’s character. Otherwise, Dido seemed a bit annoying and obtrusive. Dido was called by her niece Catherine to visit Bellfield Hall because Catherine’s betrothed of two weeks has disappeared. There has been a murder of an unknown woman in the shrubbery. Are these two things related? At first, Dido thinks not. But she has some questions to put forth.

Bellfield Hall has several interesting characters much like your basic game of CLUE. It felt a lot like Dido was roaming from room to room on the CLUE board badgering the other players. It went on like that for days and it takes awhile to get used to before you actually start to understand more of the intricacies behind the two mysterious events at Bellfield Hall. Nothing new was really happening to Dido or around her, except for her unraveling the past with her excellent abilities at detective work. Every now and then Dido considered her personal life and the fact that she never married. One of the interesting duos in the book were the Harris girls who have quite emphatically decided not to marry and this also plagues Dido as she is destined to be a spinster herself.

The entire novel can be summed in a few sentences, but it was full of interesting characters in the quaint Regency setting that lovers of that genre would like. Although it was not fast paced enough to feel like a page turner (are Regencies even supposed to be?), I enjoyed the picturesque setting of Bellfield Hall that other Jane Austen lovers would appreciate, and this is a story that can be summed up as a quaint mystery with a few surprises. There were a few quibbles against probability of certain events that I had thought of along the way, but all in all this was entertaining enough to warrant me looking for book two in the series, A Gentleman of Fortune.

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Filed under 2010 Releases, 2010 Review, Regency