Wednesday, February 21, 2018

What Are You Reading? ~ Feb. 21, 2018

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What are you Reading?  Let me know what your current read is, what you recently finish reading, and what you plan on reading next! 

Here's my list:

I'm currently reading Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser. It's so fascinating! I'm really enjoying it, but I'm taking my time reading it. It's not just talking about Laura Ingalls Wilder, but pa's family tree and ma's. Plus, the native Americans, politics of the time, the land grabs, natural disasters. It's very detailed. 

I recently finished reading Rehabilitation (Unbelief #1) and Ruin (Unbelief #2) by C.B. Stone. Both stories are short 171 to 141 pages and have a continuing storyline. Basically, with the third, it would be a novel. It's a pretty good dystopian/post-apocalyptic story, and I would like to read the last one - I still have to buy it. Fortunately, I got the first two for free! :) 


What's next? All the Things I Know by Audrey Ryan is calling my name!  I love the cover and the title! So, maybe that. :)








Disclaimer: Links to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks!


I'm linking up with This Week In Books hosted by Lipsyy Lost & Found.


And with Sam @ Taking on a World of Words


So, tell me, what are you reading? 

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn Blog Tour ~ Excerpt & Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! I'm excited to be part of The Exile Blog Tour! Wow! Don Jacobson has a wonderful excerpt for you to read. I hope you enjoy! Don't forget to enter the giveaway! Details are at the bottom of the post.




This excerpt is ©2018 by Donald P. Jacobson. No other use or reproduction in any form without the expressed written consent of the creator of this work is prohibited. Published in the United States of America in both print and electronic versions.

This collection of short scenes falls in the days and weeks after the great Madras House Twelfth Night Ball of 1812. Some set the stage for looping forward while others clarify events described in previous works. By this point, The Countess, Lady Kate Fitzwilliam has worked with the great law firm of Wilson and Hunters, long the Bennet family solicitors, to establish the Bennet Family Trust. With her final business completed, she returns to Meryton to use the Wardrobe located in the Longbourn bookroom in order to return to her own proximate present in the future. Laura Jenkinson, the near-spinster sister-in-law of Mrs. Jenkinson of Rosings Park, has managed Lydia Wickham’s brief visit to London at the behest of young Mr. Hunters and (working behind the scenes) The Countess. As much as she taught the young matron, Miss J also learned from Mrs. Wickham: she resolves to follow her heart in spite of class distinctions.

Chapter XXXIII
Moments

The Mews, Madras House, January 9, 1812

     Mr. Wickham’s batman, Tomkins, was having about as much success finding his master as Lord Wellesley had had in salting that French blackbird’s tail. He had prowled throughout all of the Madras House spaces that had become the young officer’s favorite haunts: no joy thus far. Tomkins had worried about Wickham ever since the Twelfth Night ball. He had lost his—Now how did the Frogs put it—joy duh vivray. The Chosen Man laid it at the doorstep of that Lady in Red…the Queen of the Ball. She had broken the Lieutenant’s heart, poor smitten fool that he was.

     Huh…not that he is alone in that. That overgrown piece of meat, Wilson, has been mooning around here for nearly the past sennight. He’d’ve been worse if Mr. Hunters hadn’t sent him that letter. Whatever that old geezer wrote sure made a difference. Now Henry is just lovesick but not desperate, but he had best stir his stumps and make it right with that lady what works for Hunters. Mr. W, though, is hurting sore bad. 

     Tomkins knew that young Mr. Hunters was an old man for he had accompanied Wickham and Lady Robard to a session at Lincoln’s Inn. As Wickham and the Lady were leaving the partner’s office, he had also overheard the Lieutenant asking Mr. Hunters if he might invest £250 in something called the Bennet Family Trust for the benefit of his lady wife in case the worst may happen to him. The Countess immediately pounced upon that with a promise to match his principal.

     Tomkins finally found his master sitting on a mounting block by the carriage house honing his great sword with a whetstone. The Corporal approached him and stood for a few moments observing the care with which Wickham treated his killing tool.

     Tomkins coughed to gain the officer’s attention and said, “If you will pardon my saying so, sir, before you get over there, we need to find you something that will work in tight quarters. That battle sword of yours is all well and good for those who can use it properly…a man astride a charger. I’ve seen Colonel Fitzwilliam spit a frog trooper and then gut a mustache [1] without ever having to get his boots dusty. 

     “But you are an infantry officer. Once we get past the musketry, it will all be up-close and personal, if you get my drift. A Naval Cutlass would work nicely. Sergeant Harper’s Nock gun is truly awful…seven barrels and all…but only someone the size of Wilson could take the kick without getting knocked on his ass.” [2]

     Tomkins chuckled at his unintentional—and bad—pun.

     Then he added with a snort, “I think a pair of those American tomahawks would do well on top of your brace of pistols. Scare the crap out of the crappauds, too.”

     Wickham overcame his ineffable sadness and wryly smiled, “All right Tomkins. See if you can dig up a set of those tomahawks. Make certain that you refresh the handles. Would not do to have dry rot rear its ugly head the first time I take a stroke. And, if you wish to remain my batman, leave off with the word play, if you please.”



❖❖❖


La Maison au Chocolat, Meryton, January 17, 1812

     Kitty had stepped down from the carriage onto the streets of her girlhood. She was stunned by the leveling destruction that had been visited upon the village. The town’s body seemed to have been ravaged by a great predator that had indiscriminately mauled what it could grab while leaving the remainder untouched. The violation of Meryton’s innocence saddened the Countess who had returned in order to finish her passage Home.

     Now, as she whiled away the hours until she could safely approach Longbourn and access the Wardrobe, Kitty paid what she knew to be the last visits to her favorite places ‘before the Wardrobe.’ A stop at the bookseller’s allowed her to purchase an inexpensively-bound copy, but none-the-less first edition, of Sense and Sensibility, as well as a more recent printing of Mrs. Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Women. Then, for old-times’ sake, she visited the milliners, purchased a bonnet and a selection of ribbons, and then paid to have it all shipped to Lydia in Newcastle.

     Her last port-of-call was at M. et Mme Rochet’s Maison au Chocolat, long a fixture on any Meryton itinerary planned by the gentle daughters of Meryton’s Four-and-Twenty families. The aroma of pastry and cocoa had combined in that unreachable near past to create an indelible memory that was only reinforced this chilly winter afternoon. As always, even though Henry had been gone these two long years, she ordered two éclairs and four macarons. She ate one of the glacé and one of the sec and left the others for her missing love. Looking out over the street scene, she nursed her cocoa, loath to leave such a congenial space.

     She had spent her last evening at Madras House, quiet for several days since the departure to Newcastle of Wickham and the two soldiers. While Kitty had been infatuated with Wickham—or was it Denny—as a young girl, she had come to appreciate the texture of his personality as it had begun to grow post-nuptials.

     If only what was started on the Twelfth Night can flourish!

     As the clock on her sitting room mantle had wound toward the new day, she occupied herself writing two letters: one to Mr. Hunters and one to her father.

     The note to Hunters was what Henry would have called ‘blocking-and-tackling.’ While pleasant enough, this was, after all, a letter from client to solicitor, so the tone was direct and non-sentimental, although it had closed with a fond farewell to a man who would be dead for over 110 years when she awoke tomorrow morning after returning to the Beach House.

     Amongst the key points was her command that Hunters discuss with Mr. Bennet and Mr. Gardiner the possibility of the sale of Madras House. She further requested that all of the Madras’ servants receive £50 and stellar characters should they wish to continue in service. She asked that the Hudsons receive £500 in recognition of their dedication to the House. In addition, Kitty directed that property on Baker Street in Marylebone be purchased by the Trust and deeded over to the couple. 

     She further stipulated that a stipend of £20 per month be sent to Lydia in Newcastle or at Longbourn where she would reside after her husband accompanied his battalion to the Continent. She asked that her sister also be sent Madame Robard’s entire wardrobe with the instruction to keep her ten favorite pieces and distribute the rest amongst the wives of the battalion’s Lieutenants and Captains.

     However, I imagine that my last “strong desire,” to use Lydie’s words, would probably ruffle Mr. Hunters’ feathers.

     Although Uncle Edward and Aunt Maddie had only recently finished renovations on their home in Gracechurch Street, Kitty knew that the family was destined to grow by two more over the next three years. Even now, the addition of more than one adolescent niece strained the close quarters of the pretty home near the warehouse district. What Lady Fitzwilliam ‘strongly desired’ was that the deed to Oakham House be transferred free-and-clear to Uncle Edward in recognition of his services to the Trust. However, the information about the gift would be tightly held in Mr. Hunters’ (or his successor’s) strongbox until one year after Napoleon had been finally dispatched from Europe.

     That will prevent the ‘false ending’ after Leipzig and Toulouse from short-circuiting that which must still happen in Gracechurch Street. [3]

     The letter to her father did contain some housekeeping injunctions, but was mostly personal. Of all the paragraphs, perhaps the most heartfelt was near the end of her missive.

     Time travel creates some interesting anomalies. Here is a woman, born in 1794 writing to her father in 1812 when she, herself, is physically 63 years old—11 years his senior. Yet, over all those years, my love for you has never dimmed. I only wish we could have spent more time together. The stories I could have told you. The people you could have met. But that was my future not yours. Only know that the woman I am today is rooted in the girl you and Mama created. I pray every night for you, Mama, and my sisters. What fun we would have had! Would that you could visit me in Deauville. [4]

     After a lengthy time contemplating the street scene outside of the window that occupied half of the front of the shop, Kitty’s concentration was disturbed by the entry of three energetic young women. Maintaining her discipline as a paragon of propriety, Lady Fitzwilliam did not look at the boisterous trio. She did not grasp who they were until they were seated at an adjacent table. Only then did she connect the voices with persons who were known to her: Maria Lucas, Georgiana Darcy, and, most surprising of all women to be a participant in youthful noisemaking, her older sister Mary!

     Then propriety was thrown to the wind and Kitty frankly stared. As Mary’s back was to her, she did not fear that her sister would observe her Bennet Eyes. Neither Maria nor Georgiana would be a threat to her disguise. However, within moments, a vigilant Miss Darcy felt the weight of the Lady’s observation. She then blistered Kitty with the full force of a Darcy glare of disapproval.

     Utterly abashed, Kitty immediately found her hands to be of the greatest interest. Waiting a few minutes to allow the dust to settle and her impertinence to be forgotten, she eventually signaled Madame Rochet, seeking to settle her bill and also to ask her assistance in delivering a package to Longbourn. That mission accomplished, she prepared to depart the shop.

     Even though she had averted her eyes and body to give the impression she was no longer eavesdropping, the Countess remained attentive to the girls’ conversation. T’was Georgiana’s voice, so much stronger now since Kitty had last heard it at Lizzy and Jane’s wedding breakfast, continuing to go on about her dreams of France that hardened Kitty’s resolve.

     She could not leave without speaking to the threesome. Before turning to the girls’ table, she dropped a delicate deep blue lace veil that softened her features and neutralized her china blue eyes. With this adjustment completed, Kitty glided over to the group and waited until the conversation had ebbed and all eyes were on her.

     Speaking softly in heavily accented English, she said, “Please excuse my interruption. I could not help but overhear some of the young lady’s,” at this she nodded toward Georgiana, “comments discussing her wish to visit France. If I may offer some suggestions from my experience in that unfortunate land, you will be able to direct your reading.

     “Once the present trials have been concluded in the next few years, I am certain that she would find the nearby Norman town of Deauville to be a delightful escape. It is located directly on La Manche and has many miles of beautiful beach. It is peaceful beyond words, and its vistas are breathtaking. Not many people live there today, perhaps no more than 100, but its proximity to Paris suggests that it will not remain undiscovered for long.

     “Again, please forgive my intrusion into your private conversation, but I imagined that you would enjoy my information,” she concluded, gently curtseying and leaving the shop.

     Stopping a few storefronts down the raised walk, Kitty Fitzwilliam, née Bennet, rested a trembling right hand against the wooden wall and softly wept for the loss of those she would never again see in the world beyond the Wardrobe.



❖❖❖


Newcastle, Officers’ Row, January 20, 1812

     Laura Jenkinson had finished her latest commission for her elderly employer. Mrs. Lydia Wickham, her young new friend, had been deposited at her digs near the Regiment’s winter quarters with ardent protestations of exchanges of letters and visits if one or the other was nearby. Miss J’s Wilson and Hunter’s carriage had yet to leave the dirty track which ran in front of the row of cottages when another chaise, this one bearing the distinctive markings that bespoke of Madras House ownership, pulled up across from her own. She watched as Lieutenant Wickham opened the door and dropped the step before gracefully descending to the street. He turned and said something to those remaining inside. Then he launched himself toward the pleasant little hovel where Laura knew that Lydia Wickham was waiting.

     Miss J shook her head as she made the connection between her journey just completed and the apparent conclusion of a parallel jaunt. 

     Oh my Lord…the Countess would make Machiavelli redden!

     In short order, Corporal Tomkins tumbled out and jogged around to the back of the coach and started to fumble with the straps holding several traveling trunks in place. The next figure, this one taking time to unfold from the cramped quarters of the cabin, caused Laura’s heart to catch in her throat.

     Henry Wilson, resplendent in his new uniform of a Color Sergeant of the 33rd Regiment, grasped the hem of his uniform coat and snapped it tight over his broad shoulders and lean hips. His great French Hussar’s boots shone in the light of the setting sun. He squared his shako, and then he froze when his ever-rotating eyes caught Laura’s as she stared at him from across the street.

     Matching blushes faced one another. 

     Neither looked down as Wilson strode across the road. Laura lowered the sash allowing January’s bracing blast to infiltrate the warmish fug of damp cloth-covered squabs. Her grenadier halted at the doorframe and rested his hand upon the sill.

     “Miss Jenkinson.”

     “Sergeant Wilson.”

     Then came that moment when both spoke, effectively cancelling out each other.

     Miss J chuckled and held up her hand.

     “Perhaps you would wish to go first, Sergeant,” she said hoping that he would do what a lady could not.

     The big man looked uncomfortable and one index finger crept up to probe a blouse collar that had suddenly grown two sizes too small. Then he shook his head before reaching up and removing his enameled shako. This he cradled under a bicep that stretched the red woolen sleeve to its limits.

     He cleared his throat and leaned closer to reach into the cab and clasp her gloved hand in his naked one.

     “Miss Jenkinson. I am not a man for fine speeches and pretty words. I know that I am far beneath your station, and that my attentions could be seen as impertinent arrogance. However, for my own peace of mind, I knew that I had to ask if there might be any hope that a genteel woman like you might find the company of a man of my nature to be something you would consider,” he said, the end of his appeal tapering off as the anxious look on his face increased.

     Laura’s face softened recognizing that this inordinately cautious giant was terrified of being broken by a little woman such as she.

     “Oh, Henry, how can I assure you that love knows no class distinction. Look at Mrs. Wickham and your Lieutenant. You know that he is the son of a steward and she the daughter of a gentleman. I am the daughter of a gentleman of no estate, and so am perhaps even less than Mrs. Wickham. 

     “You may be a Sergeant, but I see you as one of King Henry V’s men at arms, helm tossed aside, striding across the furrows of Agincourt to bring down the French Marshal.

     “Not only is there hope, my love, but if you do not hurry and offer for me, I will be forced to jump down and beg you to carry me home.”

     Her delicate fingers wove through his and she brought his hand to her lips.


     In short order, Sergeant Henry Edward Wilson had nearly torn the coach’s door from its hinges so that he could bend a knee in the doorway and secure Miss J’s promise. Handing her down from the coach, the new couple flew to the door of the Wickhams’ house and interrupted the couple’s homecoming celebration.

[1] Slang for a member of Napoleon's Old Guard...the Emperors most ferocious supporters.

[2] http://sharpe.wikia.com/wiki/Patrick_Harper%27s_Volley_Gun

[3] See Edward Benton (Bennet) and Edward Gardiner meeting in June 1815 found in Ch. XXXIV of The Keeper: Mary Bennet's Extraordinary Journey.

[4] Please see Ch. XXIV in The Keeper for the full letter.




Blurb: 

“I have been shaped by the events of over forty years. The world is a nasty place full of awful persons, Mr. Wickham, and does not get any lighter through complaining or blaming.” 

The Countess: An Enigma? A Mystery? Or a young girl all-grown-up? 

Kitty Bennet, the fourth daughter of the Master and Mistress of Longbourn, had spent far too long as the shadow of her youngest sister. The all-knowing Meryton chinwaggers suggested that young Miss Bennet needed education—and quickly. 

How right they were…but the type of instruction Kitty Bennet received, and the where/when in which she matriculated was far beyond their ken. For they knew nothing of that remarkable piece of furniture which had been part of the lives of clan Bennet for over 120 years: The Bennet Wardrobe

Forty-six years from when she left her Papa’s bookroom, the Dowager Countess of Matlock returned to that exact same moment in 1811 to tend to many important pieces of Family business. 

In the process, Kitty Fitzwilliam helped her youngest sister find the love she craved with the hero who, as the Duke said, “saved us all.” 

Who can resist the magic of time-travel? Pages of worldwide history rustle back and forth between Regency grand salons, Napoleonic battlefields and more recent conflicts as, guided by Don Jacobson’s masterful pen, the Bennet sisters grow as people and come into their own. ‘The Countess Visits Longbourn’ is a wonderful new instalment, and we cannot fail to revel in the excellent writing and the abundance of detail as the mysteries of the Wardrobe continue to unfold. This captivating series, that brings together real and much-loved fictional characters from all walks of life, is one to savour, and I will revisit it again and again. ~Joana Starnes, author of Miss Darcy’s Companion 

Buy: Amazon USAmazon UK
Add to Goodreads.

FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon US. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks!


Author Bio:

     Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years.  His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio.  His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards.  He has previously published five books, all non-fiction.  In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series—The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey, novel that grew from two earlier novellas. The Exile is the second volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series.  Other JAFF P&P Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” and “The Maid and The Footman.” 
      Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations.  As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing.
     He is a member of JASNA-Puget Sound.  Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective (see the internet, Facebook and Twitter).
     He lives in the Seattle, WA area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Ms. Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty pound cat, Bear.  Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the JAFF world, Don also enjoys cooking; dining out, fine wine and well-aged scotch whiskey.  

     His other passion is cycling.  Most days from April through October will find him “putting in the miles” around the Seattle area (yes there are hills).  He has ridden several “centuries” (100 mile days).  Don is especially proud that he successfully completed the AIDS Ride—Midwest (500 miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-A-Wish Miracle Ride (300 miles from Traverse City, MI to Brooklyn, MI).


Connect with Don Jacobson



Blog Tour Schedule:

Feb. 14 Austenesque Reviews;  Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
Feb. 15 My Jane Austen Book Club;  Guest Post, GA
Feb. 17 My Love for Jane Austen;  Character Interview, GA
Feb. 19 So little time…  Excerpt, GA
Feb. 20 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl;  Review, GA
Feb. 21 Babblings of a Bookworm; Guest Post, GA
Feb. 23 More Agreeably Engaged;  Review, Excerpt, GA
Feb. 24 Darcyholic Diversions;  Character Interview, GA
Feb. 26 From Pemberley to Milton;  Excerpt
Feb. 28 Just Jane 1813;  Review, GA
Mar. 2  Diary of an Eccentric;  Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
Mar. 3  My Vices and Weaknesses; Author Interview, GA
Mar. 5  Laughing With Lizzie; Guest Post, GA


* * * GIVEAWAY! * * *

It's giveaway time! Don Jacobson is generously 12 books! That 10 eBooks and 2 Paperbacks! Woot! Thank you, Don!!


Terms and Conditions:


  • A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook or Paperback of The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn by Don Jacobson.
  • Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter.
  • The giveaway is international.
  • 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 (which will be verified). If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Many thanks to Don Jacobson for this wonderful excerpt! This story sounds amazing! Also, thank you again for your very generous giveaway!

And to Janet of More Agreeably Engaged, thank you for organizing this tour and for including me! 

Other books in this series:

The Keeper: Mary Bennet's Extraordinary Journey
Henry Fitzwilliam's War (novella)
The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Epoque
Lizzy Bennet Meets The Countess (novella)

FTC Disclaimer: Links to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks!

So, what did you think of this excerpt? Have you read any of the others in the series? I have a couple in my Kindle begging to be read. I wish I was a speed reader because there's so much to read!! Lol!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

What Are You Reading? ~ Feb. 14, 2018

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Happy Valentine's Day, Friends! 

What are you Reading?  Let me know what your current read is, what you recently finish reading, and what you plan on reading next! 

Here's my list: 


I've started reading Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser. I've read a few biographies about Laura Ingalls Wilder, but it's been many years. I'm excited to dig into this one! I don't think I'll read it quickly so I may put it aside to read a novel here and there. It may even get me in the mood to read the Little House on the Prairie series again (for the umpteenth time)! 


I recently finished reading Conceit & Concealment by Abigail Reynolds. I LOVED it! What an adventure! Elizabeth is very brave in this story, and I loved the altered history twist! 5 stars!






What's next? I'm not sure, maybe The Young Elites by Marie Lu. 









Disclaimer: Links to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks! 



I'm linking up with This Week In Books hosted by Lipsyy Lost & Found.


And with Sam @ Taking on a World of Words


So, tell me, what are you reading?

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

What Are You Reading? ~ Feb. 7, 2018

* * Post contains affiliate links. * *


What are you Reading?  Let me know what your current read is, what you recently finish reading, and what you plan on reading next! 

Here's my list: 


I'm currently reading Conceit & Concealment by Abigail Reynolds. This P&P variation is also an altered history story where England has been taken over by the French! A different twist for sure! I'm enjoying what little I've read so far! 

I recently finished reading Love, Stock, & Barrel by Crystal L Barnes. I really like this story! This is the second book of the Marriage & Mayhem series. Someday I'd like to read another in this series.  


What's next? I'm not sure. My mother-in-law sent me Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser. She knows I used to read the Little House on the Prairie books all the time. I even when to Missouri to see Laura's house!  So, maybe that.






Disclaimer: Links to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks! 




I'm linking up with This Week In Books hosted by Lipsyy Lost & Found.


And with Sam @ Taking on a World of Words


So, tell me, what are you reading? 
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