Tuesday, 18 August 2015

My first novel ever was An Improper Suitor -- published by Robert Hale in the UK. It is a sweet Traditional Regency.
An Improper Suitor has now been re-released in a boxset with four other Bestselling Regency Authors Amanda Grange, Melinda Hammond, Liz Bailey and Fenella Miller.

Regency Quintet Summer Edition is 
EReader News Book of the Day!! 
Woohoo! Better still, it is selling at the amazing discounted rate of $.99c or £.99p!! Time limited offer!! 
Amazon US
Amazon UK


Here's an excerpt from the novel:

The few riders at this unfashionable hour in Hyde Park moved out of their way and watched as they galloped by. Fashionable society did not approve of the Ladies’ Cavalry Charge, as Lady Bullfinch jokingly called it, but that had never stopped her.
She spurred Hamlet on. This was as close to flying that any mortal could reach. Certainly with the whoosh of air past her ears and the sensation of hovering above her side-saddle she could imagine herself a swallow in flight, or even a sparrow hawk swooping down on its prey.                   
A high pitched scream brought her down to earth.
Julia checked her horse. Colours resolved themselves into shapes. Hyde Park settled back into green grass, Rotten Row, South Carriage Drive, and lines of oak.
From the corner of her eye she glimpsed a lady fighting to control her mount. It reared, then suddenly broke into a fierce gallop. The rider pulled at the reins, and for a moment it looked like the horse had slowed down. But it was only objecting to her clumsy handling. It tossed its head then bolted, running as if pursued by a colony of bees.
There was no time to think. Julia veered off the path and chased after the renegade horse, urging Hamlet onwards. Delighted to show the racing skills for which he had been bred, Hamlet lengthened his stride and accepted the challenge.
So far the girl was still on the horse, hanging on precariously. Julia willed her to remain seated for a few minutes longer, until she could reach her.
They departed the avenue of tree and headed into an area that was more thickly wooded. Julia redoubled her efforts. She did not want the girl to be felled by a low hanging branch.
Not far behind her, the beating of hoofs showed that she was not the only rider who had witnessed the event. She did not look back. Her gaze stayed fixed on the unfortunate girl, as though her eyes themselves could pin the girl to her saddle.
Then something large hurtled into Julia, emerging from behind a copse of trees to her right. The impact jolted her. She slid down in her side saddle, dangerously close to losing her seat. An iron arm wrapped itself round her throat. A hand reached out and gripped the reins of her horse, pulling them from her.
In a daze, her mind registered that someone was abducting her. She recalled horrible tales she had heard about foolish debutantes who rode in the park without a chaperon or groom. Tales of kidnappings and ransoms. Only this time, she was in the tale. 
She glanced desperately around her, but there was no-one else in sight. The trees hid her from the main path and apart from the endangered rider some way ahead of her, there was not a single person who could help. Perhaps someone was around, out of view but not out of earshot. She opened her mouth to scream.
The iron arm clamped down on her mouth. “Don’t be bird-witted,” said a man’s voice close to her ear. The voice did not sound uncouth. His accents were refined, clearly those of a gentleman. But gentlemen of the ton, too, could be villains. “If you scream,” he continued. “We’ll have everyone within earshot descending on us.”
Why exactly did he think she was going to scream? To frighten the magpies?
She sank her teeth into the flesh of his palm and bit down hard. She could feel her teeth cut the skin.
He yelped. “Damnation, woman! What did you do that for?” But to her utter surprise, he did not take his hand away. He kept it firmly in place. A grudging respect for his resilience passed through her.
“If you give me your word not to start shrieking, I’ll remove my hand.” She nodded as well as she could. How did he expect her to give him her word when his palm was smothering even the tiniest squeak?
He removed his hand and examined it. She noted with satisfaction the red marks she had made. An impulse to scream as loudly as she could rose up in her, but she restrained it. She would not act dishonourably. There would be opportunities to escape him, she was certain. It was possible, of course, that he was a bedlamite. The idea gave her more confidence. She was used to dealing with unreasonable people. Her grandmother was one of them, as was her aunt Viola.
“You may wish to reconsider what you are doing, sir,” she said in a firm, no nonsense tone. “I do believe you have mistaken me for someone else.”
He did not answer. Her words had no effect at all. She tried to pry his fingers off the reins, but he held onto them fast. All his effort was concentrated on keeping hold of the reins.
Julia realized that he would soon be running into difficulties, trying to control not only his own horse, but Hamlet and her all at once. So far, he seemed to be managing, and a tiny traitorous part of her admired his skill. However, she was certain that if she kept thrashing about, he would sooner or later be forced to let go of one of the three. So she wrestled with his arm and thrashed around as much as she could, waiting for him to tire and lose his grip.
A vigorous twist brought her assailant’s face to view. He was exactly the kind of figure they warned young girls about – a ruthless-looking man with a pronounced jaw, thunderous brows and piercing black eyes. What made matters worse, he was gnashing his teeth, which made him seem like a villain straight out of a gothic story.
Then Hamlet reared. My worthy horse. He came to her rescue, attempting to throw off her assailant and escape his clutches.  
“Well done, Hamlet!” she cried.  
But instead of releasing the reins, the man tightened them, forcing Hamlet down. Hamlet succumbed with an angry snort. The reins pressed into her right shoulder cutting into her. 
“Let go at once, sir,” she said, mustering as much arrogance as she could, but growing worried now that she would not be able to get away. “And let go of my horse. You’re injuring his mouth.”
“If you weren’t so hen-witted and just stopped struggling, I’d be able to let go,” said the villain. “I’m only trying to protect you from injury.”
Definitely a bedlamite.
“I…do … not … need … protection,” she said, very slowly, articulating each word clearly.
He did not react. He held on grimly with that iron grip, refusing to let go.
A different strategy was called for, clearly. Julia went limp. It was worth a try. Perhaps he would relax his hold if she pretended to give up.
She had not realized that going limp would imply leaning into him. Her position on the side-saddle meant that now her whole back moulded into his chest. His breath tickled her ear. The musky scent of his shaving cream filled her nostrils.
Julia felt a strange sensation go through her – a warmth and a yearning she had never experienced before. She closed her eyes, driven by the temptation to give in to that feeling. 
The man shifted away and let go of the reins abruptly. “Your horse appears to have settled down.”

“Of course he’s settled down.” she said, angry at herself for letting down her guard. “I’m sure he’s a great deal more comfortable now that you aren’t mangling his mouth."



Thursday, 5 March 2015

Songs & Stories: The Darcy Brothers Tour: Character Interview with ...

Songs & Stories: The Darcy Brothers Tour: Character Interview with ...:     Hello! Today it is my pleasure to host Messrs. Fitzwilliam and Theophilus Darcy, stars of the exciting new literary collabora...

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

More Agreeably Engaged: My share in the conversation...The Darcy Brothers

More Agreeably Engaged: My share in the conversation...The Darcy Brothers: A Book Review:  The Darcy Brothers by Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Susan Mason-Milks and Abigail Reynolds One of ...

Monday, 2 February 2015

The Darcy Brothers Launch on Austenprose


Well, the day is finally here. The Darcy Brothers is now LIVE.

We are celebrating the occasion on Austenprose today on February 2nd 2015, where you can find out more about the novel and have the opportunity of winning a copy. Many thanks to Laurel Ann Nattress for kicking off the launch tour!

You can follow Theo Darcy (who always has a great deal to say) on his launch page today and on his Facebook page.




Saturday, 24 January 2015

Flawed Motivations in Pride & Prejudice


"If one could but go to Brighton!" observes Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, "A little sea-bathing would set me up for ever." In my novel Mr. Darcy’s Challenge, she has an opportunity to do so, though not under the best of circumstances (Lydia has gone missing). Not surprisingly, despite Mrs. Bennet’s anxiety about her daughter, she is not about to give up the chance of a lifetime to experience some sea-dipping.

In Pride and Prejudice, Lydia’s trip to Brighton plays a pivotal role. The basic themes of the novel – pride and prejudice, which are two sides of the same coin in many ways – are centered on the fact that people are limited by one-sided perceptions of the world. These perceptions, moreover, are flawed. In a few skilled strokes of the quill, Jane illuminates her characters’ motivations while at the same time showing how each one, in very different ways, is responsible for the disastrous consequences of Lydia’s trip to Brighton.


Lydia

It comes as no surprise that Lydia’s whole world revolves around the officers, and who can blame her, really? She is fifteen, and in a small village like Meryton there are few opportunities to meet young men. For her, the departure of the militia is nothing short of a disaster – so much so that it is almost one of the first things she mentions when she goes to meet Lizzy and Jane at the inn after they return from Hunsford/London.

"They are going to be encamped near Brighton; and I do so want papa to take us all there for the summer! It would be such a delicious scheme, and I dare say would hardly cost anything at all. Mamma would like to go too of all things! Only think what a miserable summer else we shall have!"
Jane Austen provides us with an insight into the workings of Lydia’s mind – and indeed into the fantasies of many a hormone-driven teenager, revealing her vanity as well as her hopes and dreams.

“She saw, with the creative eye of fancy, the streets of that gay bathing place covered with officers. She saw herself the object of attention to tens and to scores of them at present unknown. She saw all the glories of the camp … and, to complete the view, she saw herself seated beneath a tent, tenderly flirting with at least six officers at once.”

Jane Austen is careful to show us that, behind that extraordinary vision, however, there is a certain insecurity. It is no coincidence that after she initially breaks the news of the Brighton plans to Lizzy and Jane, she brings up the subject of marriage, showing that to her, flirting is not just an idle pursuit.

“Have you seen any pleasant men? Have you had any flirting? I was in great hopes that one of you would have got a husband before you came back. Jane will be quite an old maid soon, I declare. She is almost three-and-twenty! Lord, how ashamed I should be of not being married before three-and-twenty!... Lord! how I should like to be married before any of you!”

Under Lydia’s flighty silliness, there is in fact a sense of determination, and she accomplishes what she is determined to do. Unlike her sisters, she will not come back without a husband and she will be married before them. Her perspective is flawed, however, because she does not care how she achieves this goal.

Mrs. Bennet

Mrs. Bennet is most adamant about having her daughter go to Brighton. There is a certain wistfulness in her desire to send Lydia to the coast that shows how much she identifies with her youngest daughter. You could almost feel sorry for her, in fact. It is clear that she is saddled with a husband who has little interest in travelling or doing anything exciting. He doesn’t even like to go to London.

“Lydia's going to Brighton was all that consoled her for the melancholy conviction of her husband's never intending to go there himself.”

Evidently Mrs. Bennet feels she has missed out on her own youth. Her lively spirits have been given no outlet when she is married to a man who spends as much time as possible in his library. It is as if Mrs. Bennet has chosen to live vicariously through her daughter. This need to see her daughter enjoy life makes her blind to the dangers of sending her away with the equally giddy Mrs. Forster.


Mrs. Bennet was diffuse in her good wishes for the felicity of her daughter, and impressive in her injunctions that she would not miss the opportunity of enjoying herself as much as possible -- advice which there was every reason to believe would be attended to.

Mr. Bennet

Of the four characters I’m dealing with, Mr. Bennet’s motivation is perhaps the most flawed. In his avoidance of conflict at all costs, he is unwilling to take a firm stance and is so good at side-stepping the issue that even Lizzy is taken in by him.

“Elizabeth saw directly that her father had not the smallest intention of yielding; but his answers were at the same time so vague and equivocal, that her mother, though often disheartened, had never yet despaired of succeeding at last.”

Lizzy believes she understands her father. She thinks he sees things the way she does, but she is proven wrong. The moment the Fosters offer to take Lydia with them, Mr. Bennet is more than happy to yield, as long as it doesn’t require any effort on his part. His initial refusal to allow Lydia to go doesn’t stem from concern for Lydia. It stems from his reluctance to travel. “We shall have no peace at Longbourn if Lydia does not go to Brighton. Let her go, then,” he says.


Lizzy

Apparently, Lizzy is the only one that shows any alarm at the possibility of sending Lydia off unaccompanied. She feels it so strongly, that she is willing to “betray” her sister by arguing against it.
"…detestable as such a step must make her, were it known, she could not help secretly advising her father not to let her go.

Since we identity with Lizzy, it is easy to think that at least she was being sensible. However, Jane Austen doesn’t let her main character off the hook. She very quickly reveals that Lizzy has her own self-interest in mind, and Mr. Bennet is quick to seize on that.

"If you were aware," said Elizabeth, "of the very great disadvantage to us all which must arise from the public notice of Lydia's unguarded and imprudent manner -- nay, which has already arisen from it, I am sure you would judge differently in the affair."
"Already arisen?" repeated Mr. Bennet. "What, has she frightened away some of your lovers? Poor little Lizzy! But do not be cast down. Such squeamish youths as cannot bear to be connected with a little absurdity are not worth a regret. Come, let me see the list of the pitiful fellows who have been kept aloof by Lydia's folly." 

Elizabeth’s attempt to persuade her father not to send Lydia fails precisely because it is centered on herself. She is thinking of Darcy and of what he would think of her. This becomes even more complicated when it comes to not mentioning what she knows about Wickham to her father. Again, she shows her motivation is not primarily concern for Lydia. After all, knowing what she knows about Wickham, and knowing that Lydia is bound to meet him, the least she could have done is warn Lydia not to trust him (even if it fell on deaf ears).


Having revealed the flaws inherent in the Bennet’s perception of Lydia’s trip to Brighton and what it means, Jane Austen leaves us with a sense of inevitability. No one person alone is to blame for Lydia’s disastrous choice. Everyone is. Consequently, the Bennets stare ruin in the face.


Thank heavens for Mr. Darcy, who sails right in and makes everything alright. What would we have done without him?


(This post appeared yesterday on Austen Variations
@copyright Monica Fairview
All quotes must be linked to this address or to Austen Variations