Monday, March 05, 2018

Blog Tour: The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn by Don Jacobson - with giveaway!

I am thrilled today to be part of the blog tour for Don Jacobson's new release, The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn My thanks also goes to Janet Taylor for inviting me to take part.

“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.”

From Whence the Countess Came

Many of my blog posts in this tour supporting The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn have explored facets of this book in specific and The Bennet Wardrobe Series in general. I imagine that my hosts have, at times, wondered at my sanity when they receive guest posts exploring solipsism, back covers, and holistic writing.
And now, with this last post in the tour (a big thank you to Sophie Andrews for hosting me here at Laughing With Lizzie) I would like to expand on the manner in which I write and how the character of Lady Kate Fitzwilliam grew into the wholeness that is her in The Countess.
First, though, a bit of history is required.
I finished writing The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey in March 2016. This first volume of the Bennet Wardrobe Series effectively set the stage for the underlying premise of the entire arc: that each of the three younger Bennet daughters (and the father as well) could realize a destiny behind marriage to Mr. Philip’s clerk, a minor clergyman deep in the country, and a rake. The Wardrobe would afford them that opportunity, perhaps, though, not precisely in the Regency timeline.
Miss Mary Bennet, as the eldest, had pride of position. She herself, though, did not use the Wardrobe to discover what would turn her from the prosy moralist who had fewer than ten lines in Pride and Prejudice. As we learned, she started the process on her own once her mother’s spirits had been calmed with the double wedding…and the two stars of the household (and, I imagine Lydia) were no longer in her way. Her emergence as Miss Bennet and encountering a love that could only come because of the Wardrobe, changed her life.
As I am wont to do, once I have finished a book, I need to flush the story and the characters out of my system. This allows me to approach the next book with a fresh spirit and clear eyes. So, with the final pieces of the Mary book in place, I sat back. I had planned to begin work on the next volume in the Wardrobe Series, The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque, in the early summer of 2016.
But, I had only written the scenes on that day in 1886 when young Kitty Bennet had tumbled out of the Wardrobe in Matlock House. And, I could not begin moving on the next novel. Blocked or confused? I knew not.
Except I was not blocked…just “percolating.” My brain must have been working on the Kitty book below the threshold of consciousness. Oh, to be sure, I had already determined that Kitty would leave Longbourn House through the Wardrobe to escape those who had been making her miserable. She assumed that was her father; determined as he was to send her to a Cornwall seminary. To an extent, t’was also Lydia who had led her into the trouble she faced as an accomplice in the elopement.
And then a few weeks after publishing Keeper, a “Kitty” Variation came to my mind as I was driving. What would have happened to the Bennets if Mr. Bennet had expired before the Netherfield Ball?
And, so, Of Fortune’s Reversal was born.
You see, I have often write novellas to sketch my characters. Thus, Miss Bennet’s First Christmas was my original character drawing of Mary Bennet. Later in 2016, immediately after finishing OFR, I wrote the novelette Henry Fitzwilliam’s War to comprehend the nature of the male lead in Part One of The Exile.
Those fit…as did Lizzie Bennet Meets the Countess…into the framework of the larger works. Each helped me fill in the contours of the hearts and minds of Mary Bennet, Edward Benton, Henry Fitzwilliam, and the older (38 years) Lady Kate Fitzwilliam. However, I always viewed Of Fortune’s Reversal (and its paired novella The Maid and The Footman) as apart from the Wardrobe’s Universe, rather being true P&P variations.
I was mistaken, dear readers; for only recently have I put OFR into its context. I should have realized that there was a reason why I picked up the story of Henry immediately after finishing a novella about Kitty.
I needed to know before I started to tell Kitty Bennet’s story in the Belle Époque what was inside of her…how she would change as she matured. I had to know if she would grow into an estimable woman or would she always be “the girl who coughed.”
Of Fortune’s Reversal was completed by the end of June 2016. However, I had no idea that the young lady who performed so heroically in Hyde Park that November day would find her home in the woman who streaked across the firmament from 1886 onward. Yet, look at young Miss Bennet as she matures in Belle Époque .
Her bravery is legend just as the Cecil Governess was on Guy Fawkes Day, 1815. Both are supremely self-confident…and both have their eyes wide open to accept the love of wonderful people. Both suffer through horrible tials and emerge on the other side transformed, shining brighter.
Simply put, the indomitable Lady Kate of The Countess Visits Longbourn could not have existed without the impertinent Miss Kitty Bennet of Belle Époque. And, that young lady could not have arrived on stage without my exploration of the nooks and crannies of her inner workings in a non-Bennet Wardrobe book, Of Fortune’s Reversal.

The Bennet Wardrobe books are best read in the following order:

The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey
Henry Fitzwilliam’s War
The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque
Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess
The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn

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 SeriesThe 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).

Contact Info:

Buy Links:  Paperback & Kindle

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. 5Laughing With Lizzie; Guest Post, GA

Terms and Conditions:

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 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 and the giveaway is international.

My thanks again goes to Don for this great post! My thanks also to Janet for setting up this tour.

I wish Don all the best with this release as well as any stories in the future.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Blog Tour: Cake and Courtship by Mark Brownlow - with giveaway!

 I am thrilled today to be part of the blog tour for Mark Brownlow's release, Cake and Courtship. 

"When John Barton falls in love with the elusive Anne Hayter, there is only one man he can turn to for advice. Unfortunately, that man is Mr Bennet of Longbourn, a world-weary gentleman with five daughters pursuing their own marital ambitions.

To help John, Mr Bennet must emerge from his beloved library and face the challenges of the tearoom and dance floor one more time. In doing so, he finds his own romantic past catching up with him.
In this Pride and Prejudice variation, Mark Brownlow takes you on an Austenesque journey full of wry humour and Regency romance (with a few slices of sponge cake)."

It's great to be here at Laughing with Lizzie. I got my start in the Austenesque world coming up with the emails of Elizabeth Bennet, so it seemed like a good idea to commemorate the blog tour for Cake and Courtship with Mr Bennet's! Here you go...

Mark Brownlow is a British-born writer living in Vienna, Austria. His debut novel, Cake and Courtship, is a Regency romance narrated by Pride and Prejudice’s Mr Bennet. He has also written a novella, The Lovesick Maid: a cozy mystery set in Jane Austen’s fictional village of Hunsford. You can find Mark at, where he is known for his reimagining of classic literature as emails. When not writing or teaching, he watches costume drama and football (though not at the same time).

Mark’s website
Mark’s author page at Goodreads
Mark’s author page at
Mark’s author page at
Mark on Twitter
Mark on Facebook

***GIVEAWAY - ends March 15th***

Today’s international giveaway is to win either a paperback copy of Cake and Courtship, or some yummy Viennese chocolates - the winners choice!

All you need to do to win is to comment on this blog post telling me which email is your favourite. 
Please include your email so I can contact you easily if you are they lucky winner. The winner will be chosen at random.

My thanks again goes to Mark for this brilliant inbox! I wish Mark all the best with this release as well as any stories in the future!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Blog Tour: A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity by Amy D'Orazio - with giveaway!

I am thrilled today to be part of the blog tour for Amy D'Orazio's release, A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity. My thanks also goes to Claudine Pepe for inviting me to take part.

"Is not the very meaning of love that it surpasses every objection against it?

Jilted. Never did Mr. Darcy imagine it could happen to him. 

But it has, and by Elizabeth Bennet, the woman who first hated and rejected him but then came to love him—he believed—and agree to be his wife. Alas, it is a short-lived, ill-fated romance that ends nearly as soon as it has begun. No reason is given. 

More than a year since he last saw her—a year of anger, confusion, and despair—he receives an invitation from the Bingleys to a house party at Netherfield. Darcy is first tempted to refuse, but with the understanding that Elizabeth will not attend, he decides to accept. 

When a letter arrives, confirming Elizabeth’s intention to join them, Darcy resolves to meet her with indifference. He is determined that he will not demand answers to the questions that plague him. Elizabeth is also resolved to remain silent and hold fast to the secret behind her refusal. Once they are together, however, it proves difficult to deny the intense passion that still exists. Fury, grief, and profound love prove to be a combustible mixture. But will the secrets between them be their undoing?"

Good morning, Sophie. Thank you for hosting me here at your lovely blog, Laughing with Lizzie. It’s wonderful to have this opportunity to share a vignette that I’ve written just for your readers. This vignette is not from the time period described within the book. This story takes place in April 1816 when the Darcy have been married under two years. Darcy made Elizabeth a promise during their engagement that he would always cut a bouquet of roses and place them in her bedchamber in the morning.

For nearly two years, Elizabeth Darcy woke to fresh-cut roses in her bedchamber whenever she was at Pemberley. Sometimes red, sometimes pink; sometimes from the garden and otherwise from the hothouse. Large arrangements, small arrangements, even posies draped in jewels on her first anniversary of marriage!

But today there was nothing.

Darcy was absent from her bed—perhaps he had slept longer than usual and had just now gone to pick them for her? She resolved to pretend to sleep when he returned so that he might have the pleasure of seeing her eyes opening to them.

She soon heard his footsteps in the hall and hurriedly buried herself back in the covers. Seconds later the door opened, and he stepped in. She opened her eyes the merest slit to see him, trusting in her lashes to conceal her gaze. 

He was empty handed and looked down at her with a wry expression on his face. “Mrs Darcy, you fool no one with those pretend snores.”

She laughed and sat up. “I did not snore!”

“You might well have! It might have persuaded me more. In any case, do you intend to lie abed all day? I must ride to Matlock later and need to get an early start. I hoped I might have the pleasure of your company at the breakfast table.”

So no roses. It was a queer little disappointment to see their tradition begin to stumble. But of course it did not signify. She knew her husband loved her, and it was most likely he had merely forgotten them today. Forgotten or been too busy…it said nothing of his affection for her.

“I am glad you are leaving early,” she said. “I think we may expect rain later.”

“In April, one can expect rain nearly every day,” he teased. “It is only the sunshine that surprises us.”

“In any event, I have not yet dressed so perhaps you would do best to begin without me.” She knew how he was when he travelled. Delays vexed him exceedingly.

“No, no. Your maid is waiting for you in your dressing room. I will await you in our sitting room.”

Such ceremony! She laughed. “Please, dear, do go on without me. I would not like to make you wait.”

“I am afraid I shall insist. But pray do not tarry.”

It seemed there was nothing for it but to remove herself from her bed and begin the day. Her maid attacked her with curious haste, bustling her into the many layers of attire with such alacrity that Elizabeth cried out, laughingly, “Are we in some sort of race?”

The maid, shamefaced, apologised and slowed her pace, giving Elizabeth more time to consider her lack of roses. It was April of course, and the flowers in the hothouse were less abundant. Perhaps the gardeners needed the cuttings to begin the outdoor gardens?

Darcy was likely quite anxious about his business at Matlock as well. No doubt something to do with Colonel Fitzwilliam who had returned from the war in Upper Canada seriously injured.

Nevertheless, Darcy’s habit of placing roses in her bedchamber could not have been expected to endure forever. Would she be seventy and still expect him to bring her roses? Not seventy, but I suppose I did expect that, having endured thus far, it might have lasted a bit longer.

But she would not repine over such things, nor would she indulge in creating a tempest in her teacup. Her husband loved her, and she did not require roses to know it.

He waited for her in the sitting room, the only sign of his impatience was the way he lightly tapped one finger against his leg. “Ah! Looking as handsome as you ever have, my darling wife.”

“You say that as if we have been married an eternity.” She smiled up at him as she slid her arm into his but he said nothing, only smiling at her as they descended the stair and began to walk towards the dining hall—not the usual breakfast room they used but the one that was much larger and had a dining table that would seat forty people.

“Shall we not go to the breakfast room?”

“I think not. I have a little something arranged in here.”

“Oh? Is there some occasion?”

“Only an anniversary”

“Anniversary?” Elizabeth stopped short. “Sir, I am loath to inform you that it shall be several months until we may celebrate two years of marriage.”

“Not that anniversary.” They had reached the dining room, and a footman moved to open the door. Darcy dismissed the man with a nod, and he bowed, leaving them.

Darcy turned to Elizabeth. “Five years ago on this day, I believed I had the right to declare myself to you, to tell you I loved you. Indeed, I dare say I had even the foolish arrogance to suppose you were likewise attached to me.”

“Five years since…” Elizabeth did some quick calculation in her head. “Since that night at Hunsford parsonage! Can it be five years! How the time did fly!”

“Indeed it did. The time has been short, though the journey from where we came is long. It is almost too much to believe when I think back on it.”

“We were different people then. I scarcely remember being that girl who thought herself so clever to dislike you so.”

“Having recollected on those days, you must allow me to tell you this. I am privileged to be with you today and to be able to profess my ardent devotion to you having the superior knowledge of what it is to love you. So I shall repeat those words that I said back then, knowing now that I at last understand them.”

“What did you say then?”

He smiled mysteriously then opened the door, leading her to the dining table on which was spelt, in rose-petals:

You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.

“You did not, I hope, miss your posy today? I think I put it to good use.”

Elizabeth could not answer for a moment, her heart too full as she looked down on the words that she remembered so well, words that she had reflected on often herself.

“This is much better than any posy,” she said softly.

There were some petals arranged in the shape of a heart. She looked him and asked, “May I?” He nodded.

There weren’t enough petals nor enough space to spell more than a few words, so she thought carefully before she set to work.

“And I, you.”

Amy D’Orazio is a former breast cancer researcher and current stay at home mom who is addicted to Austen and Starbucks in about equal measures. While she adores Mr. Darcy, she is married to Mr. Bingley and their Pemberley is in Pittsburgh PA.  
She has two daughters who are devoted to sports which require long practices and began writing her own stories as a way to pass the time she spent sitting in the lobbies of various gyms and studios. She is a firm believer that all stories should have long looks, stolen kisses and happily ever afters. Like her favorite heroine, she dearly loves a laugh and considers herself an excellent walker.
Contact Links:

Buy Links:

8 eBooks of A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity are being given away by Meryton Press and the giveaway is open to international readers. This giveaway is open to entries from midnight ET on February 21 – until midnight ET on March 8, 2018.

Terms and conditions:
Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once each day and by commenting daily on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to this tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented.

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Each entrant is eligible to win one eBook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My thanks again goes to Amy for this adorable vignette! My thanks also to Claudine for setting up this tour.

I wish Amy all the best with this release as well as any stories in the future!

A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity Tour Schedule

February 21 More Agreeably Engaged/ Book Review & Giveaway

February 22 From Pemberley to Milton/ Book Review & Giveaway

February 23 Austenesque Reviews/ Guest Post & Giveaway

February 24 My Vices and Weaknesses / Excerpt Post & Giveaway

February 25 My Love for Jane Austen/ Vignette & Giveaway

February 26 Babblings of a Bookworm/ Book Review & Giveaway

February 27 Savvy Verse and Wit / Guest Post & Giveaway

February 28 Laughing with Lizzie / Vignette Post & Giveaway

March 1 So Little Time / Excerpt Post & Giveaway

March 2 Of Pens and Pages/ Book Review & Giveaway

March 3 Liz’s Reading Life / Author Interview

March 4 Just Jane 1813 / Book Review & Giveaway

March 5 Diary of an Eccentric/ Guest Post & Giveaway

March 6 Margie’s Must Reads/ Book Review & Giveaway