Wednesday, October 18, 2017

What Are You Reading? ~ Oct 18, 2017

* * 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! 

Wow! It's been a while since I've posted my Wednesday meme! I've been super busy, but I'm back! :) 

Here's my list: 

I'm currently reading The Goodness of Men by Anngela Schroeder. I'm enjoying it! I'm only about a quarter through so I can't really say too much  yet. 








I recently finished Anyone? by Angela Scott. Loved it! I love post-apocalyptic/survival stories, and this was a good one. 





I also finished A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin! Yay! Oh, but man, it dropped a bomb on the last page! So, now I want to jump into the next book. Haha! I was going to take a break from the series.  




And before that, I finished These Dreams: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Nicole Clarkson. This was really good too - intense with a lot of angst! Also, it's a long book at 732 pages. 







What's next? I'm not sure, but I'll let you know! ;) 

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


I was at the JASNA AGM earlier this month. You can see my pictures on So little time's Facebook page! It was a blast!

I hurt my back on Monday. :( I can't sit at my desk for too long. I've been laying on a heating pad for two days now, but I am feeling much better. I'm going to keep resting it. Have a great week! 

So, tell me, what are you reading? 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Merchant's Pearl Giveaway Winners!

Hey there, my friends! The winners of The Merchant's Pearl have been picked! I hope you enjoyed Amie O'Brien's guest post, Even a Harem Needs Jane Austenas much as I didI found the premise of her new book very interesting, and hope to read it soon! 

Thank you, Amie, for being a guest here! It was a pleasure to have you and to learn about your new book!



Without further ado, the randomly picked winners are:

Lee

DarcyBennett

Luthien84


Congratulations, everyone! 

Many thanks to all those who left comments! {{hugs}}



Buy: Amazon
Add to Goodreads.

FTC Disclaimer: Link 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!

Winners, if you haven't heard from me, please, send me an email! Thanks! 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Mistaken by Jessie Lewis Blog Tour ~ Guest Post & #Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! As part of the Mistaken Blog Tour, Jessie Lewis is stopping by with an interesting guest post. I hope you enjoy! And don't forget to enter the giveaway! Details are at the bottom of the page. 



Thank you, Candy, for inviting me to talk to your readers about my new novel Mistaken. There’s a lot to say about in a book that’s in excess of 420 pages long and took five years to write. It took a little while choosing what to talk about! In the end I thought, why not start at the beginning—with the prologue.

Anyone who’s read the book will now be crying, “What prologue?” because, well, there isn’t one. Mistaken, you see, has had a chequered history with prologues, and has boasted more than one over the course of its life, none of which survived the final edit. Before I talk about why I decided to get rid of them all, let me tell you why I wrote one to begin with.

Mistaken began life as a WIP (a work in progress, being posted online as it was written) on the wonderful JAFF site, A Happy Assembly. When I began posting, way back in May 2013, the story had yet to go through the many edits and iterations to which my growing experience as a writer would later subject it. I found the beginning of the story was excessively slow. In an attempt to capture interest from the outset, I wrote a rather enigmatic prologue that hinted at future action. It was comprised of two distinct scenes and was fairly well received online, but I soon realised this wasn’t the wisest move.

The problem was that readers were rather too intrigued by its ambiguity. Though it was enormous fun to have a comment thread buzzing with conjecture, before I knew it, speculation as to the meaning of the opening scenes had begun to overshadow the unfolding story, distracting readers from more important, if subtler, nuances in the narrative. Rather than an intriguing hook, the events described in the prologue became the sole focus of the tale. That would have been great, if I’d pinned it on a more significant plot point, but I’d chosen an event that, whilst suspenseful, was by no means at the heart of the tale.

In an attempt to overcome this problem, I wrote another prologue, set further into the story. Alas, rather than redirecting interest, it gave too much away, and readers soon began guessing large chunks of my plot. Needless to say, this one was swiftly relegated to the cutting room floor, never to be resurrected.

In hindsight, the most salient lesson I’ve learned about prologues—be they intended to set the stage or stage a mystery—is that they ought to be written last. Only when you know your story inside out, from beginning to end, can you write an introduction that does justice to the whole of it. My various attempts fell a bit short, which is why none of them made the final cut. That said, the first prologue is no less relevant to that part of the story to which it did allude, and can still be enjoyed as a teaser to the story. I’m delighted, therefore, to share with you one of the original prologues to Mistaken.


~~~~~


Saturday, 23 May 1812: Hertfordshire

     Despite the hour, shadows bloomed to fill every space as black clouds rumbled across the sky, obscuring the sun. Leaden air gusted through the open and forgotten door, whipping his coat tails about the backs of his knees, the fluttering movement accentuating his stillness. His head was bowed. With one hand, he gripped the back of a chair, the palm of the other he pressed to his dust-caked thigh, preventing the threatening tremor. He was too late.

     A door opened, releasing a burst of anguished wailing, then it closed and muted quiet descended once more. Gentle footsteps brushed across the floor, and a pair of delicately embroidered slippers stopped a short distance before his mud-spattered hessians. He frowned slightly.

     “You have changed your shoes,” he mumbled, without looking up.

     “Pardon?”

     “Forgive me.” He shook his head to dispel the niggling vexation. He looked up into her implausibly serene countenance. Struggling to bring his own expression under regulation, he enquired after her mother.

     “She does not do well with worry,” she replied, wincing slightly. “As you hear. Her nerves—”

     “It is to be expected. Once your sister is recovered, it will all seem less horrible.”

     She looked at him with widened eyes. “If she—”

     “Please!” he interrupted, holding up his hand. “Speak not of other outcomes.”

     “You are trembling,” she said in the softest of voices.

     “Yes.” He snapped his hand back to his leg. With tragic irony, the heavens chose that precise moment to open. He let out an incredulous huff of laughter and added bitterly, “It has been a trying afternoon.”

     He stood in silence, none of his thoughts in the room with him. After he knew not how long, she interrupted his mounting dread, her tone strangely reluctant.

     “I must thank you for—”

     “Pray, do not thank me! I cannot express the depth of my regret that I did not reach her in time.”

     “Neither did my uncle, or any of Colonel Forster’s men. You must not blame yourself.”

     “But when I think I could have prevented it.” He slammed his palm on the back of the chair. “I, who knew how she disliked him!”

     “I admit,” she said stonily, “I had not understood you to be in her confidence.”

     “I am hardly that, but I knew she did not wish for his attentions.” He threw his hands up. “What was his interest in her? Why her?”

     “I often ask myself the same.”

     “And now this!” He turned and began traipsing back and forth before her, his boots mixing the invading rivulets of rain with the mud yet to be cleared from the flagstones, besmirching the floor with muddy prints. “What transpired that could possibly have persuaded him to such recourse?”

     He heard her quiet sigh.

     “My sister is oft times impetuous. It grieves me to say it but … it is possible she brought this upon herself.”

     He halted his steps and regarded her in astonishment. “Surely you do not believe that?”

     She coloured and looked away, wringing her hands together before her. “I do not know,” she whispered, her voice quivering. “I do not know what I believe. It is all so horrible.”

     She burst into tears as she said this, and for a few minutes could not speak another word. In wretched suspense, he could only say something indistinctly of his accord and observe her in bewildered silence. At length she quieted and wiped her eyes, begging his forgiveness, the necessity of which he politely refuted and made the requisite enquiry as to her wellbeing.

     In response and amidst all the horror and alarm of the day’s proceedings, she actually smiled, then thanked him and gave him to understand she was much better for knowing she had his sympathy. He answered with only a slight inclination of the head and was grateful when they were interrupted and the conversation was ended.


~~~~~

Tuesday, 2 June 1812: London

     “You are a difficult woman to find.”

     A woman in drab, scruffy clothing started and spun around, pinning herself to the wall. Only the dim glow of flickering candles spilling from parlour windows gave any light, and the thick, malodorous smog swirling about them obscured even that. Nonetheless he knew he had found his quarry; they were well acquainted. He stepped closer and her eyes widened, her gaze darting frantically up and down the alley and back to him.

     “Nasty part of town,” he said, looking about and sniffing. “Far cry from your previous establishment. Shame you had to leave there, was it not?”

     She made no response, only pressed further against the damp wall.

     “Still, you really could not have stayed, could you?”

     The woman shook her head. Jameson took a moment to admire the buttons on his greatcoat, twisting one of them between his fingers and polishing it with his thumb. Then he looked up, his head cocked to one side. “You even care how the girl fares?”

      “They had you kick me out the same day with barely coin enough to get to Bromley. Why should I care how she fares?”

      He stepped closer, his bulk looming over her scrawny frame. “Perhaps you ought to have considered that eventuality before engaging in skulduggery with your friend.”

     Again she did not reply, though she cowered and paled. A man stumbled drunk from a tavern farther down the alley, light spilling with him onto the cobbles, and the woman made to run. Jameson’s palm slammed into the wall to the side of her head bringing her up short. He leant to whisper in her ear. “Where is he?”

     “Who?”

     Her trembling belied the cockiness of her retort. He leaned back and glared at her. “Where?” he said, more insistently.

     “What’s it to him?” she blurted. “Why has he sent you?”

     “I believe your friend was explicitly cautioned to behave himself in my employer’s last communication. This latest little misdemeanour has rather vexed him.”

     “It was an accident!” she cried, all outrage.

     “Well that is terribly comforting to know. Perhaps, if she dies, that will go in his favour in court.”

     The woman blanched.

     “Let us hope she does not,” Jameson continued, “lest you be nabbed for harbouring a murderer.”

     She swallowed noisily. He leaned close enough to smell the wine on her breath. “Where is he, Younge? Where is Wickham?”

     With one last helpless glance along the blind alley, she closed her eyes and blew out a breathy sigh. She pushed away from the wall with a grunt and wrapped her shawl more tightly about her shoulders. “This way.”


~~~~~



Thank you, everyone, for popping in to So Little Time… today to take part in my blog tour. Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below, or you can contact me via my social media pages (links in the author bio, below). I’d love to hear from you!





Blurb: 

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.

Buy: Amazon USAmazon UK  -- Mistaken is also available on Kindle Unlimited
Add to Goodreads.

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! 


About the Author

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.


Blog Tour Schedule

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






* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

It's giveaway time! Meryton Press is giving away EIGHT E-copies of Mistaken by Jessie Lewis! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below!


  • 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.
  • Giveaway is international.
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Many thanks to Jessie Lewis for stopping by here today! I enjoyed her thoughts on writing a prologue! And I enjoyed the prologue she didn't add to her book, and it left me with many questions! Oh, it looks like I'm going to have to add another book to my ever growing TBR list! 

Also, a big thanks to Meryton Press and Janet Taylor for including me on this tour! 

Any thoughts? We'd love to hear from you! 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Dangerous to Know ~ Cover Reveal & #Giveaway!

As many of you know, Christina Boyd has pulled together some of our favorite Austenesque authors and has edited a new anthology of our favorite and not so favorite of Jane Austen's bad boys called Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen's Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues. I'm very excited to be part of the cover reveal. So, without further ado... 



Jane Austen’s masterpieces are littered with any number of unsuitable gentlemen—Willoughby, Wickham, Churchill, Crawford, Tilney, Elliot—adding color and depth to her plots but often barely sketched out to the reader. Have you ever wondered about her rakes, rattles, and rogues? Surely, there's more than one side to their stories. Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues, the book designed to expose certain histories about Jane Austen’s anti-heroes, reveals its cover today.

Shari Ryan from Mad Hat Books created the gorgeous book cover from a rough sketch by the editor, Christina Boyd, and she quickly and professionally created the beauty it is today. The back cover suggests the stories might have some steam (the collection is about Jane Austen’s bad boys after all!) Like in The Darcy Monologues, these authors can turn up the heat with but the turn of a phrase. However, the love scenes are not graphic, and the handful of stories with “mature content” are marked as such in the Table of Contents.

Author Beau North came through again by creating the stunning individual short story promotional graphics. She is quite an accomplished woman. Those individual story graphics will roll out over the next days from their Facebook page The Darcy Monologues, et al., and other social media.

As an editor, Christina Boyd has been extremely fortunate to work with some incomparable authors. Several authors from The Darcy Monologues anthology including Karen M Cox, J. Marie Croft, Jenetta James, Beau North, Sophia Rose, and Joana Starnes joined Amy D’Orazio, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Katie Oliver, and Brooke West in crafting this current collection. The intent: create clever, well-informed short stories, each from one of Austen’s male antagonists’ point-of-view—a backstory and, or parallel story from off-stage of canon. This Dream Team certainly upped their game accepting this challenge by undertaking characters that few even like and slyly earn the reader’s sympathies—maybe even adoration—whilst remaining steadfast to the characters we recognize in Austen’s masterpieces. This wickedly delicious anthology is scheduled for release mid-November.



* * * GIVEAWAY * * *




The international giveaway: When Christina published The Darcy Monologues, readers expressed how the blend of the authors’ writing styles worked well to make the overall collection stimulating. One reader suggested that she was so familiar with some authors’ writing styles, she was sure she could match the writers to their stories without being told. This Giveaway Challenge was thus inspired. To win a $25 Amazon gift card, follow the Google link and complete a multiple-choice quiz, matching lines of prose to the author and her rake/gentleman rogue. Last day to enter is October 18. In case of a tie, a winner will be chosen at random in a Facebook Live drawing. Since it’s for an Amazon gift card, of course, it’s a worldwide giveaway. Gotta play to win. “Dangerous to Know” Challenge:





Wow! Just Wow! I think this cover is beautiful! How about you?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Goodness of Men Blog Tour ~ Character Interview and #Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! Anngela Schroeder has a new book out, The Goodness of Men! I'm delighted to help her celebrate it's release by being part of her blog tour! 

I hope you enjoy this interview with Mrs. Gardiner! And don't forget to enter to win a copy of the book! Details for the giveaway are at the bottom of the page. 






Interview with Mrs. Gardiner:

Why do you choose to vacation with your two eldest nieces?

Jane and Lizzy are both good girls. They remind me of myself when I was their age. We want our nieces to have opportunities to meet other young people of their own caliber, and Meryton is very limited in that society.

Do you believe Elizabeth is as good a judge of character as she thinks?

I think Lizzy has as much sense as any other young woman. I do believe that she knows a little more than other girls her age, but think she believes herself to be slightly more clever than she is.

What is your opinion of Mr. Darcy?

I have known of the Darcy family since I was a young girl. They are an excellent family, and if the current Mr. Darcy is anything like his father, he is an excellent man as well.

By reputation, how do you see Mr. Darcy/Mr. Wickham?


I believe Mr. Darcy is an honorable man. I have not thought of Mr. Wickham since he was a child, other than what I have been told. I do not wish to disparage someone without proper consideration.

Describe Elizabeth to us.

Elizabeth is like the fireworks at Vauxhall Gardens. She is full of light and sparkle. Her energy is infectious. She is intelligent, clever and witty. She will bring light and life to the man lucky enough to be her husband.

What type of man do you think would most suit Elizabeth?


(she snickers) Well…I think a man who imagines himself more serious than he truly is. Elizabeth needs someone who respects her, values her intelligence and tolerates all her relations.

You walked in on your niece in a most compromising situation with Mr. Darcy. How were you able to remain calm?

I know Elizabeth. And I know the reputation of Mr. Darcy. It was an unfortunate mistake, not a compromise. I am just grateful it was I who walked in on them.

If you could offer one piece of advice to young women, what would it be?

That you must remember who you are, and not settle for what you do not want to please others. However, you must also remember to not be too headstrong when what you seek is right before you all the time.






Book Blurb:

“This will not do,” said Elizabeth. “You never will be able to make both of them good…Take your choice, but you must be satisfied with only one. There is but such a quantity of merit between them; just enough to make one good sort of man…” -Pride and Prejudice  

From her youngest days, Elizabeth Bennet’s ability to accurately judge the character of others has been recognized and noted by those around her in such a consistent manner as to lead her to believe it herself. The misfortune of meeting Mr. Darcy, a wealthy landowner from the north, only solidifies this belief. The memory of his disapproval of her family, proves his character is lacking and sadly unlike his childhood friend’s, the charming and affable Mr. Wickham, who is esteemed by all he meets. Although her opinion once lost is not lost forever, the effort to regain her favor is great.  

With Elizabeth’s youngest sister fortunate to be in company with Mr. Wickham in Brighton since the spring, and her own travels to Kent cancelled, she must await the pleasures of a summer holiday to the North with her aunt and uncle Gardiner. However, it is there that she is once again thrust into Mr. Darcy’s presence and must determine if he is truly the architect of the many wrongs she has laid at his door. 

Fitzwilliam Darcy cannot exorcise Elizabeth Bennet from his thoughts. A chance meeting at the estate of his friend reignites all the flames he has attempted to suppress since their last meeting. Believing in her partiality, he is stunned to overhear her true estimation of him and is determined to change her opinion. Battling with memories and secrets from his past, Darcy must fight against his natural reserve to win the heart of the woman he loves. 

Will the unexpected appearance of a stranger encourage Elizabeth’s change of heart? Might an episode from Mr. Darcy's past force Elizabeth to see the man within? Can one man have all the goodness and the other only the appearance of it?  

Join us for another sweet "Pride and Prejudice" reimagining, suitable for ages teen and up.

Buy: Amazon
Add to Goodreads.

Disclaimer: Link 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!



About the Author



I have a degree in English with a concentration in British Literature and a Masters in Education. I love to travel, bake, and watch college football with my husband of 17 years and 3 rambunctious sons. My goal in life is to make not only my children, but also my students feel that they are loved, and to bring magic into everyone's world. My weaknesses are yellow cake with chocolate frosting, French bread with real butter, and my father's Arabic food, namely grape leaves, and falafel. I live in California where I dream of Disney adventures and trips across the pond.


Connect with Anngela Schroeder




* * * GIVEAWAY * * * 

It's giveaway time! During this blog tour, Anngela is giving away two Kindle e-copies and one signed hardcopy of The Goodness of Men! Woot! 

  • Two winners will receive one e-copy (Kindle version) of The Goodness of Men - (open internationally)
  • One winner will receive a SIGNED hardcopy of The Goodness of Men - (USA only)
  • One prize per winner.
  • To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below.
  • Winners will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter.

Good luck! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway




Congratulations, Anngela, on the release of The Goodness of Men! Also, many thanks for providing us with this interview with Mrs. Gardiner, and for the generous giveaway! 


That is some excellent advise Mrs. Gardiner is giving young women, don't you think? 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Guest Post with Amie O'Brien ~ #Giveaway!

Hello, friends! I'm so happy to have Amie O'Brien here at So little time...! I've had the pleasure of getting to know Amie a bit in the past few weeks as we chatted through email. She is the author of The Merchant's Pearl. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but it sounds like a fascinating story. I'm looking forward to reading it!

Amie's here today to share how The Merchant's Pearl has threads of Austen running through it. I hope you enjoy! 





Even a Harem Needs Jane Austen

By Amie O’Brien

If it’s "a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife,” then it must be presumed that a prince in possession of his father’s palace and four beautiful concubines can only be in want of a wife. . . a fifth one.

Unless, that is, his next beauty has been embittered by the same injustices of love and freedom that weaker women have easily forgotten. And, unless she is secretly in possession of something forbidden in the palace—one rather unlikely savior—Fanny Price. Yes, as in heroine of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, only on this occasion, masked by a French translation. At least, that’s the sentiment that my story, The Merchant’s Pearl, begins with.

So why did I infuse an 1875 Muslim-Christian love story, set within the fiery confines of a Turkish harem in an empire on the brink of fallout, with a thread of hope from the likes of Jane Austen? 

Because the same compelling truths that inspired Jane Austen in every one of her stories two hundred years ago still compel us all today:


  • We desire to be loved, solely and with abandon. 


  • We desire to have one person blindly see our worth to be, for them, above all others. 

  • And, because love and sensuality (and all the intricacies of the human heart) are never to be purchased, only earned. And this earning must take place through continued perseverance and steadfast, warm attention.

So yes, inspired by my literary heroes, Austen and Bronte, I wrote a novel about an opinionated British girl. She is Sarai Elizabeth, sold into slavery at the tender age of eleven—right after her missionary parents have been murdered. Upon arrival at the palace, she’s immediately stripped of everything visible from her past, including her name. Repackaged as Leila, she is raised as a palace concubine-in-waiting for a middle-aged sultan that already possesses hundreds of girls just like her. Her only ambition in life should be to first catch his eye and then capture his heart, (just enough to earn one of the many rankings he permits those who serve him so fully). She should be satisfied with as much, as it is, of course, a blessing to have her future secured, her every need attended to.

She will not, of course, give her heart, her flesh, or her future to someone so unworthy, regardless of comfort or title.

In her eyes, the palace is her prison. A loveless life is her sentence. That is, until the sultan’s second son, Prince Emre, steps in to claim her for his own harem.

Though Leila may be snarky like Lizzy Bennett, have the strong conviction of Fanny Price, and quite the iron-clad romanticism of Marianne Dashwood, this is nothing to prepare her for her newest master.

Harboring a long-held infatuation for Leila, Prince Emre is not your typical Austen hero. If he were, I suppose he would be a cross between the soft-hearted Edmund and perhaps, the tortured-past Willoughby. 

Emre has no airs about him. It is true, he is a prince, but that same heritage has kept him a prisoner to his father’s palace even longer than Leila. He lives in a world where although you are a son, you are also a threat—to your father’s throne, to your own brothers and cousins’ future. For hundreds of years, being a second son was its own death sentence, not just an I.O.U. for say, Pemberley or Mansfield.

Then, there’s handsome and charming. Although highly blessed with both, Emre has no need to be either. Never permitted to live a life of his own outside of the palace, his father is still sympathetic enough to send a steady supply of girls to stave his boredom. They are slaves, so there’s no confusion as to their purpose. This is Ottoman tradition.

But then there’s Leila. Although she’s a slave, she’s already made it known to Emre years before just what it costs her heart and her conscience to serve him. He hasn’t forgotten her. Like a jilted Darcy still standing in a Netherfield ballroom, he’s not only challenged by her, he’s somewhat convicted.

And so the two, Leila and Emre, are presented to one another, and this time Emre has secured her services indefinitely. But, Emre is thoughtful and patient. He’s familiar enough with his feelings for Leila to know she is worthy of a little patience—a certain spell of time for softening. Much to her shock, he privately offers her freedom from the one thing she most fears and permits her friendship rather than immediate servitude.

And this is where the fun and games begin. Now that the burden has been lifted, can Leila resist such a young man? Would she knowingly make the same decisions for love that she resisted and deemed sinful when they were pressed upon her? Is it possible to love someone that you ultimately share with others?

And for Emre, is it possible the tables might be turned? If so, can he rise to Leila’s expectations—expectations mostly built on fictional characters written by an infidel nation? Or worse yet, based on scattered memories of her own Christian parents? Will he change his ways, erase his past, forsake all others? 

Perhaps there is hope for him, at least a smidgen. After learning of her forbidden book, Emre doesn’t condemn her. He sends his head eunuch in search of more Austen titles…with the sly intention of reading them aloud to her. With a bit of Austen in both of their hearts, who knows where their love could go, even in a harem?




Book Blurb:

As a missionary’s daughter, Sarai was taught that love and faith conquer all. But when her parents are murdered, she quickly learns that the world doesn’t stop for love.  

 As a teen, Sarai—now called Leila—is enslaved, a palace concubine-in-waiting for the Ottoman Sultan Aziz. Though she does her best to elude him, she’s forced out of her shell when his son, Prince Emre, claims her for his own. Tossed into competition with the other girls in his harem, Leila must face the lavish attention of her young master and the resulting retaliation from his prior favorite, Aster. But it’s an unexpected gift and a glimpse inside his family’s struggles that collide headfirst with Leila’s upbringing. Soon, despite her better judgment, she finds her heart has a mind of its own. 

Can she subject her faith and independent spirit to such a future—a future in which the best she can hope for is to be his favorite? How will she stand sharing him with the other girls in the harem? As the sultan’s fragile kingdom unravels around them, will it even matter? 

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About the Author

Looking back, I've always believed that story matters. Pouring over Jane Austen novels and living through the lens of an overconfident, beautiful, and desperate-to-be-corrected heroine was exactly the distraction that carried me through years of teenage captivity. My one and only sibling, a reckless brother, rocked the parental boat quite thoroughly. This left me distrusted, vehicle-less, and with a ten o’clock curfew (even in college) right up until I met my own Mr. Darcy.

Perhaps that’s why I love the ultimate freedom of what I do now: a woman traveling to some of the world’s most beautiful and often misunderstood places, humbled by sharing stories that represent countless women whose entrapment is far more genuine.​



Connect with Amie O'Brien




* * * GIVEAWAY * * *  

It's giveaway time! Amie has generously offered to give away three e-copies (for Amazon's Kindle only) of The Merchant's Pearl to three lucky So little time... readers!  

  • Only one e-copy per winner.
  • Three winners will be picked.
  • To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment below and include your e-mail or twitter name. Please put parentheses around (at) and (dot) on your email addresses. 
  • Winners will be picked randomly.
  • Open Internationally! 
  • Last day to enter the giveaway is October 11, 2017, 11:59 PM Pacific Time.

Good luck!

Amie, thank you so much for stopping by today, and for your generous giveaway! I love how you have incorporated your love for Jane Austen into this story! I also love that your heroine, Leila, has a forbidden book and that it's an Austen to boot! 

Friends, what did you think?
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