Thursday, January 10, 2019

BLOG TOUR: A Very Austen Valentine by Various Authors ~ Review + Excerpt

I am excited to bring to the blog today six very talented ladies with another Austen Anthology this time for Valentine's Day!

Book Blurb: Six beloved authors deliver romantic Valentine novellas set in Jane Austen's Regency world. Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, and Barbara Cornthwaite, together with Susan Kaye and Mandy Cook, share variations of Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Sense and Sensibility, featuring your favorite characters in sequels, adaptations, and spinoffs of Austen's adored novels.

Experience uplifting romance, laugh-out-loud humor, and poignant regret as these authors deftly tug on your heartstrings this Valentine's Day.

My Review: As there are six different stories in this anthology I will be reviewing each one individually.

I Dream of You by Robin Helm ~ I don't even know how I feel about this story as it was just basically how Mr. Darcy was neglecting Elizabeth by building up the Dower house (why was he fixing up the dower house? I really have no clue) and she starts having dreams about their courtship and the fantasies that came with it. Granted Lizzy does manage to get Darcy to stop neglecting her and take care of his health. It was sort of cute but it left me with one question. Why was he already fixing up the Dower house when they had only been married for such a short time? I need to know.

Sir Walter Takes A Wife by Laura Hile ~ I was all hyped to read this story and it did not disappoint. This story was hilarious and I did not see that pairing coming but it works very well. This is the second story I've read by Laura Hile and I have loved them both.

My Forever Valentine by Wendi Sotis ~ I have to say I really enjoyed this story. I loved the fact that Anne found someone who was not Darcy or Colonel Fitzwilliam. Also, I really liked how Darcy gave Jane a chance after she married Bingley. This is a very sweet Valentine's day story.

Pretence and Prejudice by Barbara Cornthwaite ~ I loved how in this story both Darcy and Lizzy both think the other is a spy. It was hilarious. also, the romance was very sweet.

My Valentine by Mandy Cook ~ Well I like the fact the author tried to incorporate Sense and Sensibility into Pride and Prejudice but I just didn't care about Henry and Charlotte. Sorry. Other than that it was nicely written.

The Lover's Ruse by Susan Kaye ~ I loved this what if story about how if Anne didn't break off her and Frederick's engagement. I enjoyed the letter exchange between our dear lovers. I would have enjoyed this story more if it had been more fleshed out. As it was it felt very rushed but still a sweet story.

Rating: ★★★★☆

I have a double feature on the excerpts today. I have one from My Forever Valentine by Wendi Sotis and one from I Dream of You by Robin Helm.

My Forever Valentine
“So, tell us…” Richard, still standing near the door, cleared his throat. “You are interested in Miss Bennet?”

Darcy stumbled, but caught himself. He turned to face Richard. “Why would you ask such a thing?”

“Anne and I know you too well not to recognize a particular fondness in your behaviour.”

Darcy straightened his spine. “Miss Bennet and I were previously acquainted. It is a familiarity you have noticed. That is all.”

Anne said, “You expect us to believe there is nothing more between you? On your side, at the very least?”

Darcy whirled around to say to Anne, “Yes. I do.”

Richard came closer. “Then why is it that every time we visit at Hunsford, you sit there like a lump of coal and do nothing but stare at the lady?”

“What do you mean, stare at her? I do not stare at her!”

Anne nodded forcefully. “Yes, you do, Darcy. If someone stared at me the way you do at her, it would be… well, it is not appealing at all. In truth, it would be rather disturbing. Unsettling.”

“It is fearsome, if you ask me,” Richard added.

Darcy walked over to the window to look out.

Could he keep lying to his cousins? A sense of guilt weighed heavily on his shoulders. Disguise of every sort was his abhorrence. See what this obsession has caused me to do!

If he told them, they were sure to understand his position. Perhaps they could be of some use.

Darcy heard whispering behind his back. He did not turn around.

“You are correct,” he muttered. If they happened to hear him, it was meant to be.

I Dream of You
“You promised me!” he calls. “I shall claim my winnings! I won fairly, and you must give me what was agreed upon.”

I scurry up the hill, hiding behind first one tree and then another, darting between them to hide. My yellow gown flutters as I run, ribbons streaming behind me, and his laughter floats on the breeze, as if he knows some delicious secret he will not share.

His eyes twinkle as he plans his strategy. After all, he won the chess game by holding back, waiting until the perfect moment to execute his plan. The gentleman is accustomed to being patient while I am spontaneous, mercurial. He is completely other, quite different from me, and he fascinates me endlessly. I know no one else like him.

He leaves his coat and hat on a tree stump and begins to track me, moving very quietly through the underbrush. He tilts his head, listening to hear me, just ahead of him, breathing quickly, and he stoops to hide in the bushes, holding a few leaves to the side so that he can see up the hill.

He sees my skirt move in the wind as I lean against a tree with my back to him, catching my breath. My slight frame is obscured by the width of the tree. I do not realize that my dress cannot be still in the breeze.

He creeps closer and closer, taking a circuitous route to approach the tree from the side, knowing I do not expect him to come from the brush there. I peek around the tree, my eyes scanning the trees and bushes. Suddenly, I hear a deep chuckle behind me, and I whirl to face the hunter.

“Sir!” I exclaim. “It is not gentlemanly to sneak about in such a fashion!”

I turned to run again, but he catches me about my waist from behind and holds me fast, pulling me backwards into his embrace, pinning my back against his chest with his muscular arms.

“Elizabeth,” he says softly into my ear.

I shiver with delight, anticipating his actions.

“I will have my prize. You must honour your promise to me.”

He lowers his head, nuzzling me behind my ear, and I tremble at the sensation of his warm breath caressing my neck as his strong arms cage me, drawing me tightly against him. After a moment, he relaxes his hold. I see my chance.

Quickly I spin in his arms, reach up, and pull his head down toward mine, stopping just before our lips touch.

“You think you won by your superior strategy, my love,” I say. “I think I am the victor here. I tricked you into finding me so I could claim what I wanted.”

He allows me to finish drawing his face to mine, kissing me gently at first, and then with an urgency born of his love for me.

After he lifts his face from mine, I lay my cheek on his broad chest, listening to the steady beat of his heart, breathing in the scent of him, holding to him as tightly as I can while he caresses my back.

He does not argue with me, saying, “What does it matter which of us claims victory so long as we both win?”

Author Bios:
Robin Helm
Robin Helm's books reflect her love of music, as well as her fascination with the paranormal and science fiction.

Previously published works include The Guardian Trilogy: Guardian, SoulFire, and Legacy (a guardian angel protects a supernaturally gifted girl), the Yours by Design series: Accidentally Yours, Sincerely Yours, and Forever Yours (Fitzwilliam Darcy switches places in time with his descendant, Will Darcy), and Understanding Elizabeth (Regency romance).

She contributed to A Very Austen Christmas: Austen Anthologies, Book 1, an anthology featuring like-minded authors, in 2017. A Very Austen Valentine: Austen Anthologies, Book 2 was released on December 29, 2018. A Very Austen Romance: Austen Anthologies, Book 3 is planned for December 2019.

She lives in sunny South Carolina and adores her one husband, two married daughters, and three grandchildren.

Laura Hile 
Readers are loving Laura Hile's joyous Regency novels. Her signature style—with intertwined plots, cliffhangers, laugh-out-loud humor, and romance—keeps them coming back for more.

The comedy Laura comes by as a teacher. There's never a dull moment with teen students!

Laura lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a collection of antique clocks.
Her fiction is for everyone, even teens.

Wendi Sotis 
Wendi Sotis lives on Long Island, NY, with her husband and triplets. While searching for Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s point of view, she became thoroughly enamored with Jane Austen Fan Fiction or JAFF. In early 2010, she dreamed of an idea for a story and hasn’t stopped writing since: Promises, Dreams and Expectations; All Hallows Eve; The Keys for Love; Safekeeping (with just a dash of Austen); The Gypsy Blessing; Foundation of Love (The Gypsy Blessing 2); and A Lesson Hard Learned.

The Marriage Pact and some of Wendi’s works-in-progress have branched away from JAFF to Regency Romance (the Loving an Aldridge Series) and Contemporary Romantic Mysteries (the Implicated series). Wendi will also continue bringing Darcy and Elizabeth together again and again in an unusual manner.

Barbara Cornthwaite 
Barbara Cornthwaite lives in the middle of Ireland with her husband and children. She taught college English before "retiring" to do something she loves far more; her days are now filled with homeschooling her six children, trying to keep the house tidy (a losing battle), and trying to stay warm in the damp Irish climate (also a losing battle). She is surrounded by medieval castles, picturesque flocks of sheep, and ancient stone monuments. These things are unappreciated by her children, who are more impressed by traffic jams, skyscrapers, and hot weather.

Susan Kaye 
Susan Kaye discovered Jane Austen and writing at about the same time. She leads a quiet life with her husband and dog, Harley. "I don't know a lot, but I do know I've probably spent more time with Frederick Wentworth and Anne Elliot than just about anybody else."

Mandy Helm Cook 
Mandy Cook was an RN for over ten years, half of which she served in the Navy, living in far-flung places, enjoying experiencing the world while following her calling. Just before she and her handsome Marine were both deployed to different places, they married. They now have three children, ages four and younger.

She previously published The Gifted, using her nursing experience to lend accuracy to her story about an ER nurse who is handed a gift that changes her life forever. Adversity, and a long history of secrets, constantly battle against her natural instinct for truth and justice, but will the truth be worth the dare?

Buy Link:

A Very Austen Valentine Blog Tour Schedule
01/06 Just the Write Escape; Guest Post, Giveaway
01/07 Margie’s Must Reads; Review, Giveaway
01/08 So Little Time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
01/09 Babblings of a Bookworm; Author Interview/Character Interview, Giveaway
01/10 Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt
01/11 Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, Giveaway
01/12 My Love for Jane Austen; Vignette, Giveaway
01/13 open
01/14 From Pemberley to Milton; Excerpt, Review or Vignette, Giveaway
01/15 My life journey; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway
01/16 My Vices and Weaknesses; Guest Post or Vignette. Excerpt, Giveaway
01/17 open
01/18 Diary of an Eccentric; Review, Giveaway
01/19 open
01/20 Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway

01/21 Austenprose; Author Interview


  1. Enjoyed the reviews and excerpts. I look forward to reading this collection.

    1. Thanks, darcybennet. This diverse collection is written by friends for friends -- like you!

    2. Hi, darcybennett! You're such an encouragement. Thank you@

    3. Thanks for stopping by, darcybennet! :-) I'm glad you're enjoying the blog tour.

  2. Hi, Tina. Thanks for hosting us. Since you asked, here's the purpose of a dower house. A recently married man with a MIL whose house is entailed would think of the possibility she might need it. It would be his responsibilty to provide for her. To say that to Elizabeth would be indicate, and she would already know it, in any case.

    1. Indelicate, not indicate. Doggone autocorrect. 😂

  3. Tina, thanks for reviewing our anthology. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Our goal was to offer a variety of stories; something for every reader. I chose to make readers laugh instead of sigh. This was a risk, because Sir Walter Takes A Wife is not very romantic! And romance is what Valentine's Day is all about.

    Well, unless one counts self-love! :D

  4. Thank you, Tina, for hosting us here today, and for the review! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  5. The reviews and excerpts were wonderful. Thank you for sharing andvfir the generous give away.

    1. Thank you, Deborah Ann. Good luck in the giveaway.