Friday, October 21, 2016

The Courtship of Edward Gardiner...Nicole Clarkston

eBookPaperback at Amazon
Nicole Clarkston's The Courtship of Edward Gardiner, has just released and I am excited to be launching the blog tour for Nicole and her book here at More Agreeably Engaged. I have had the privilege of reading along as this Pride & Prejudice Prequel was being written and I knew from the onset that it was a winner. The Gardiners have always been two of my favorite minor characters in Pride & Prejudice. Having their own story is icing on that cake that I love! 

Ms. Clarkston does a remarkable job of bringing into her prequel, a little Lizzy, Jane, Georgiana and a teenage Darcy. (even a young Charles Bingley) As I was reading this novella, the events in it were so realistic and natural that I could see it happening exactly as it was portrayed! Well done, Nicole! 

Readers, if you love the Gardiners, you will adore their story. Today, Nicole Clarkston tells why she chose this couple for her tale. We also have an excerpt and a giveaway! Enjoy!


When I wrote No Such Thing As Luck and Rumours and Recklessness, I found that tag-teaming my books actually helped me break through the dreaded writer’s block. Therefore, while I was working on Northern Rain, I started playing with the idea of writing another Pride and Prejudice-inspired story at the same time. I toyed with a few possible plot lines, but the one which kept coming back was to look at some secondary characters whom I admired, and to develop their romance a little.

The Gardiners play such a pivotal role in the original story. Theirs is the common sense, the model of a loving marriage, and the mature intervention which helped to save Lydia and which brought two most deserving couples to the only sensible conclusion. Little, however, was given about their history in Jane Austen’s work, and they have continued to be only secondary characters in the JAFF world. When I picked them up and started studying them, I soon found out why.

One of my favorite sayings is “Perfect people are boring,” (and then I usually tack on some quip about being rather “interesting” myself, but I digress). In this case, the maxim tends to hold true. One of the things we love about Elizabeth and Darcy is that they are both terribly flawed people, who fortunately both possess good hearts and a desire to improve themselves. Even sweet Jane and her affable Bingley have their foibles, for their own troubles would never have proven so monstrous had Jane expressed her feelings and Bingley acted upon his. Every other character in the story (with the exception of Mrs Reynolds, perhaps) is absolutely full of imperfections and leaves the imaginative writer plenty of room for creativity.

Not so with this eminently sensible, reasonable pair of people. One must conclude that, being human, they would naturally have experienced their share of trials, but they are not the focus of Jane Austen’s work. What we do see is a man and a woman who are respectable above their station, who never utter a syllable that is not wise, and who care deeply about their relations. What is not to love, right? A great deal, if you are an author trying to dig up their past and make it interesting!

I wanted to stay as close to their canon characters as possible, so gross misunderstandings and misfortunes brought on by judgements in error were not an option. The sort of wisdom and maturity this couple exhibits did not seem to have grown out of such a background. We all have our difficulties, however, and Regency romances (or Georgian, as this story technically would have been) are rife with young women in need of a husband. From that idea, the story began to spin itself.

As is so often the case, Madeline is the beautiful vase left on the top shelf, and it is starting to get a little lonely up there. Even the shelf upon which she perches is shrinking, as she discovers her friends moving away for good and her father unable to continue much longer with his business. She desperately wants a home and children of her own, but as Elizabeth Bennet would similarly declare over a decade later, she wishes to marry only for love, and to find a man she can respect.

Edward is experiencing romantic woes of his own. As a successful tradesman just hitting his stride, he would have been well positioned to marry. However, he did not have a long pedigree to his name, so it is not impossible to believe that another, better established businessman might have snapped up the marital connection that Edward had desired for himself. In the opening chapters of the book, Edward is licking his wounds. We see him reevaluating what he really wishes for in a wife, and coming to the conclusion that perhaps his first choice was not truly the best one. Perhaps there is more to finding a life partner than just seeking a pretty face, and in the expected places. Perhaps, somewhere in the forest, there still lives a unicorn.

I picture Madeline Gardiner as a woman who is not given to drama, who is accustomed to tempering her own desires and caring for others. Hopefully we all have a woman like this in our lives. She is the woman who sows grace and comfort wherever she goes; who quietly and unobtrusively walks through this world lifting others up. Those of us blessed to know one of these gems understand her true worth far better than she herself does. She has a ready and understanding smile to light our day, and we never go near her but that we come away feeling a little better about ourselves and about humanity in general. Such is the woman that Edward Gardiner encounters, and he recognizes that fact the instant he sees her.

Austen gives us only few hints about Edward’s character. He is intelligent and gentlemanly, he must be a clever businessman, he maintains close ties with his two eldest nieces, and bears little resemblance to his sisters. He is a cheerful man who is interested in fishing, and a devoted husband. Perhaps it is inevitable that I filled in the remaining gaps of his character with traits from another man I admire: my husband. From him, I borrowed Edward’s slight bashfulness at the beginning, his easy sense of humor, and his almost immediate decisiveness regarding Madeline. Several times during the course of the story, Edward has an opportunity to either do what he most wishes to do, or stop to help someone else. Just as he does in Austen’s original story, he consistently chooses the later. What woman would not love such a man?

It was a treat to bring together two such admirable people, and to plant the seeds for all that we know is to come. They are not a flamboyant couple. They are as most of us are- simple hearts searching for another to love; honest folk who make this world a little better by having lived in it.

A modern saying goes something like this: “If you really want to know a person’s character, give them a slow internet connection.” It is how we approach our difficulties which defines us, be they earth-shattering or comparatively trivial. As Edward says at the end, “All roads are not perfectly smooth,” but their journey was an enjoyable one for me.


Madeline delivered the letter for her father and sucked in a delicious breath of the summer air as she stepped out of the office door. She loved this time of the year. Spring had spoken of its promises long enough, and the time had come to deliver them. Closing her eyes briefly as she strolled down the street, she relished the fragrance of the growing hay fields near the village. So enraptured was she by the vibrancy of everything touching her senses, she tipped her chin yet higher and claimed another refreshing breath. It seemed the whole world was warm and alive!
Without warning, something else warm and very much alive assaulted her about the knees. Madeline nearly stumbled in shock. She opened her eyes and put her hands protectively forward, fearful of either falling or dropping her precious parcel. “B-beg your pardon!” tumbled automatically from her lips.
There, splayed on her bottom in the dust of the road, was a young girl in a light green traveling smock. She was turning her indignant little face slowly upward to survey her attacker. Her brow puckered and her dark eyes sparkled curiously.
Madeline gave a start. She shifted her parcel at once to help the little girl to her feet. “I am so sorry! Did I hurt you?” she inquired gently.
The child looked back thoughtfully for about two seconds, then her face lit with good humour. She began to laugh merrily and accepted Madeline’s offered hand. “No!” she answered brightly. “I am not hurt! It is such a lovely town, and there was a bird just there that I was watching and… oh, I think I am also to ask if I hurt you. Did I?”
Madeline chuckled at this extraordinary child. “Not at all. Where do you come from, my little bird-watching friend?”
The child’s eyes became at once suspicious. “Papa told me when we set out that I was not to speak to strangers.”
“Oh, of course he is quite right,” Madeline agreed seriously. “A lady can never be too careful!”
The child grinned happily again. “I suppose it is all right, if you are a lady too. You look like a lady- oh, my, your dress is such a pretty colour! I so love lavender. My mama does not like me to wear that colour because she says I stain it so in the grass, and green hides it better, but when I am old enough to wear my hair up I will wear lavender every day!”
Madeline was, by now, biting back a peal of laughter. What an unusual and interesting child this was! She dipped a slow, exaggerated curtsey. “Well, I am not forbidden to speak to strangers, my young friend, and I would very much like to make your acquaintance. My name is Madeline Fairbanks.”
The girl made an answering curtsey, her radiant smile now allowing Madeline to count her missing teeth and make an approximate guess at her age. “Pleased to make your aqu- acquain-tance, Miss Fairbanks,” she answered in the scripted way of a child using words she did not fully understand. “My name is….”
“Lizzy! Where did you go off to?” A young man now turned the corner of the building from where, Madeline guessed, the child had just come. He was striding quickly, his manner intimidating and agitated. He was peering right and left until his eyes lit on the girl and his face set into a look of great annoyance. “Lizzy!” he repeated as he drew closer, his voice growing more threatening. “I told you to stay with the coach and not to wander!”
Madeline’s protective instincts flared, and she stepped a little nearer to the child, perhaps intending to shield her from a less than amiable parent. The child, whose name apparently was Lizzy, looked up to him with complete unconcern.
“I did not wander, Uncle. I was following something. I think it was a robin, but I do not see it now. I have not gone far, Uncle- you see, the inn is just there.”
“Elizabeth,” the man clearly fought back his temper to keep his words civil, “your father may allow you to speak back to him in such a way, but I will not while you are under my care! Come, your sister is resting now, we must go!”
Madeline made a soft noise. Perhaps it was understandable that the man was flustered by his precocious and lively young charge, but it was more than a little mortifying that he had yet to even notice her, standing three feet away. She had not thought herself so invisible as that!
The man looked up to her quickly and blanched in horror. “Forgive me, Miss… er, I hope my niece did not trouble you!”
“Not at all,” she answered coolly. “I sometimes find children more amiable than their elders.”
The man grimaced, obviously understanding her meaning. He tugged his hat from his head and offered her a much-belated bow in greeting. “Edward Gardiner, at your service, Miss. My apologies again for just now. I was… well, in truth, I have no excuse.”
She lifted one expressive brow and the edge of her mouth tipped very slightly. “You are quite forgiven, Mr Gardiner. I have had occasion to learn before that the most sensible of people can appear quite unreasonable when trying to manage a child.”
A slow, hesitant smile began to grow on his face- and a rather pleasant face it was. At last he gave a light chuckle. “I see you have gotten to know my niece rather well already. Might… might I have the pleasure of your name, Miss…?”
“Fairbanks, Uncle!” Elizabeth spoke up pertly, happy to be of service. “Her name is Madeline Fairbanks, and is she not just lovely?”
Both parties reddened profusely. Madeline’s fingertips flew to her mouth and her eyes widened in embarrassment.
Mr Gardiner cleared his throat. Clearly he had little choice but to agree with his niece, so he smiled, nodded uncomfortably, and answered, “Yes, of course… I mean, it is very lovely to make your acquaintance, Miss Fairbanks. I am afraid we must be going, however. My brother-in-law is waiting for us.”
She drew an uncertain breath. “If you are going into that inn just there,” she nodded toward the back of the building, “that is my destination, as well.”
The man brightened in interest. His eyes revealed, far more than the words his niece had coerced from him ever could have, what his first impression of her truly was. He flushed shyly, perhaps wishing to escort her, but little Lizzy spared him the trouble of asking.
“We can walk you there, Miss Fairbanks!” she bubbled. Madeline found a small, somewhat sticky palm thrust into her own, and she had little choice but to fall into step with the pert young girl and her uncle.


Book Blurb:

Every great love has a beginning. 

In Austen's Pride and Prejudice, we meet with perhaps the most sensible, caring relatives a lovelorn young woman could hope for: Mr and Mrs Gardiner. What is their story?

Edward Gardiner has just been refused by the lovely young woman he had intended to make his wife. Heartbroken and eager for a diversion, he accepts an invitation from his brother-in-law, Thomas Bennet, to accompany him along with his two eldest daughters to the north on family business. Gardiner's pleasure tour is interrupted, however, when his eldest niece falls ill and is unable to travel farther. 

Stopping over in the scarcely remarkable village of Lambton, the men decide that Bennet must continue on, while Gardiner and the children remain. The only trouble is that Gardiner has not the least idea how he should care for one ailing niece and another who is ready to drive him to distraction... until he meets with Madeline Fairbanks.

Author Bio:

Nicole Clarkston is the pen name of a very bashful writer who will not allow any of her family or friends to read what she writes. She grew up in Idaho on horseback, and if she could have figured out how to read a book at the same time, she would have. She initially pursued a degree in foreign languages and education, and then lost patience with it, switched her major, and changed schools. She now resides in Oregon with her husband of 15 years, 3 homeschooled kids, and a very worthless degree in Poultry Science (don't ask). 

Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties- how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project (undertaken when her husband unsuspectingly left town for a few days) she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Nicole's books are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.

Contact Info:

Goodreads Author Page
Goodreads Blog
Amazon Author Page

Buy Link: (eBook and Paperback are both available at Amazon)

The Courtship of Edward Gardiner


Blog Tour Schedule:

10/21: Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
10/22: Review & Giveaway at Just Jane 1813
10/27: Review & Giveaway Savvy Verse & Wit
11/01: Excerpt & Giveaway at Half Agony, Half Hope
11/08: Guest Post & Giveaway So little time…
11/10: Review & Giveaway My Kids Led me Back to Pride and Prejudice
11/11: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm
11/15: Review & Giveaway at My Vices and Weaknesses
11/17: Guest Post & Giveaway at A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life
11/26: Excerpt & Giveaway at Margie’s Must Reads
11/30: Review & Giveaway at  Diary of an Eccentric
12/01: Guest Post & Giveaway at From Pemberley to Milton


It's been my pleasure to have you visit again and I'm honored you wanted me to launch your blog tour. Thank you, and thank you also for telling us why you chose to write about the Gardiners. I found it fascinating to read your reasons. I loved your comment, 'Madeline is the beautiful vase left on the top shelf'. That was brilliant, as was your statement, 'Perhaps, somewhere in the forest, there still lives a unicorn'. 

I'm so happy you chose to write about the Gardiners. Their story was delightful. (so were the nods to the original with hints of what is to come) I will be reading this again. I wish you much success with this novella. I look forward to seeing you here when you release another N&S or P&P variation You are always welcome.

Thank you, Rita Deodato, for setting up the tour. You did a fantastic job.


It's giveaway time! Nicole Clarkston is offering one paperback of The Courtship of Edward Gardiner and the giveaway is international! That's wonderful news and we thank you, Ms. Clarkston. Please be sure to include your contact info when you leave a comment. Tell us what you think of the Gardiners. Who are your favorite minor characters? The giveaway will end at 11:59 PM on the 26th of October. Good luck to all.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy...Beau North & Brooke West

Beau North and Brooke West stop by today on their blog tour for The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy. I don't know about you, Dear Readers, but I am intrigued by this book. It sounds fascinating and a bit perplexing for dear Darcy! Don't think I would enjoy living the same day over and over! Well, there have been a few that I might like having a 'redo'! :) 

The cover is fascinating and an excellent depiction for the premise! As many of you know, I'm all about the cover fitting the story! This one seems to do just that!

We are truly privileged today because the authors are sharing an exclusive vignette with us! Don't we feel special!? I hope you will enjoy this as much as I did! I adore vignettes! Thank you, thank you.


Our thanks to Janet and the readers at More Agreeably Engaged for the warm welcome on our blog tour! We have been so overwhelmed by the response so far and would like to take a moment to thank everyone who has followed the tour thus far.

When the idea of a vignette was suggested to us, we leapt at the opportunity. There is one character in particular we felt needed a bit more time in the sun (so to speak) and that was Colonel Fitzwilliam. In this book, Darcy truly finds himself in need of a steadying hand, and there is no one he trusts more than the colonel. In his predicament, Darcy is able to observe his friends and relations with a closer eye than they suspect, and it is revealed in time that Colonel Fitzwilliam may be harboring a secret of his own. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into his character!


The brandy poured smoothly despite the slight tremor in his hand. Colonel Fitzwilliam was not inexperienced in the ways of the world. He’d seen men torn apart by war—injuries to the mind that one might never recover from—but this time was different. Those men were soldiers, never his own family. He knew that Darcy had borne his fair share of suffering since the death of his father and in the unseemly business with Wickham, but Fitzwilliam never thought he would live to see the man so broken. It felt unnatural somehow, Darcy was the most stalwart person he knew.

With a deep breath, Fitzwilliam schooled his features into his usual, pleasantly affable mein before turning and handing a glass to Darcy.

“Here, take your medicine and there’s a good lad,” he commanded. Darcy’s own hand shook as he raised the glass to his lips and drank. Fitzwilliam observed there was still grass on his trousers from the scene in the park and suppressed a shudder at the memory of it. He refused to acknowledge Darcy’s claim that he had gone “quite mad.” Distressed, yes, but madness?

He had, of course, observed some unusual behavior from Darcy during this visit. It had not taken Fitzwilliam long to identify Miss Elizabeth Bennet as Darcy’s la belle mystère. When Darcy was not near her, he became sullen and distracted. When he was in her presence he was struck silent, watching her from a distance. Fitzwilliam’s suspicions were confirmed when Darcy delayed their return to London not once but twice. Only the most hopeless of love could keep Darcy at Rosings for such an extended visit. Not that Fitzwilliam had minded the delay so much. He’d had his own struggles to endure, temptations of his own to overcome. His nights became increasingly more restless, closing his eyes only to see a serious gaze from a pair of changeable grey eyes.

Damn and blast, man, that is not for you, he reminded himself once again. It had been some time since he had last visited Rosings as he’d been dispatched to Spain with his regiment the previous Easter. The year prior, an obligation to his father had kept him from Kent. When he’d arrived at Rosings Park with Darcy, it had been several years since he had set eyes on Anne. He remembered her as thin and sickly, but in the years since he had seen her last, she had blossomed into an elegant creature.

He never could have imagined the surprise he felt when she raised her eyes to his, sending a shock through him, followed by an ache he had only just begun to understand. It was a whisper in the dark, a beacon that became clearer as he mapped the paths of his own dutiful heart.

Perhaps the war had changed him, winnowing away his youthful indolence and allowing him to see what had always been in front of him. Anne de Bourgh was still quiet and reserved, but he’d seen flashes of humor and cunning when she thought herself unobserved. He knew her mind to be sharp and her opinions well-reasoned and steadfast. She would make an excellent mistress of Rosing Park one day and a superior wife to whatever fool was lucky enough to marry her. Fitzwilliam was certain now more than ever that it would not be Darcy, hopelessly smitten with Miss Elizabeth Bennet as he was. But he also knew that it could not be him, a penniless soldier and second son. His jaw flexed in silent frustration.

Shoving his own struggles aside, Fitzwilliam focused on his other cousin, the one currently in extreme distress. Once he had calmed somewhat, Darcy managed to recount a tale so fantastical that Fitzwilliam found himself caught up in it.

“. . . and that is how you find me in such a state now.” Darcy finished his story, staring morosely into his empty glass. Fitzwilliam paused before speaking, taking a moment to admire the rather stunning detail of the world that Darcy’s mind had created.

Fitzwilliam considered Darcy’s predicament before an idea struck him. And while he could not say that he believed his cousin’s tale, the light of hope in Darcy’s eyes as he explained his strategy was enough to make him want to try.

He did not know if Darcy was going mad or if his plan would meet with any success. He only knew that it was going to be a long night.

Book Description

“He could no longer claim to be Fitzwilliam Darcy of Derbyshire, brother to Georgiana, master of Pemberley. In that moment, he was but a man. A man filled with more frustration than most souls could bear. A man torn asunder by his desperation, his fruitless dreams and desires.”

After Elizabeth Bennet rejects his marriage proposal, Fitzwilliam Darcy finds himself in the most unusual of circumstances. At first believing the extraordinary turn of events has granted him an inexplicable boon, he is eager to put the humiliating proposal behind him.

He soon discovers that he is trapped in the same waking dream with no end in sight and no possible escape. All that he holds dear—his name, his home, his love—remains ever out of reach. How will he find his way back to his normal life? Will one mistake haunt the rest of his days? It will take all of his fortitude to weather the storms of his strange new fate, and all of his courage to grasp the promise of his future. 


Book Title: The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy
Authors: Beau North & Brooke West
Tour Dates: October 8-20, 2016
Genre: Fiction-Romance, Historical-Regency and Fiction-Historical
Purchase Link: Amazon


Author Links:

Blog: (coming soon)

Brooke West
Facebook:  Brooke West   
@WordyWest and @BrookeWest

Author Biographies

Beau North is the author of Longbourn’s Songbird and a contributor to the anthology Then Comes Winter. Beau is a native southerner who now calls Portland, Oregon home with her husband and two cats. She attended the University of South Carolina where she began a lifelong obsession with Literature. In her spare time, Beau is the brains behind Rhymes With Nerdy, a pop culture podcast and website, and a contributor at the San Francisco Book Review.

Brooke West is a contributing author to the anthology Then Comes Winter. Brooke has a naturally creative soul that pulls her into myriad artistic endeavors.  While writing fiction always has been her life's passion, Brooke also finds joy in silversmithing, sculpting, and costuming. Between projects, she runs and practices yoga.  She lives in South Carolina with her fiancé, son, and three cats. 


 The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy” Blog Tour Description _________________________________________________________

After Fitzwilliam Darcy finds his suit rejected by the only woman in the world he would ever marry, he looks to make a quick exit out of Kent and go back to his life before he met Elizabeth Bennet. Yet, when he wakes the next day he discovers that getting back to everything he still holds dear may be more challenging than he ever imagined. What if finding his way back means getting another chance to win Elizabeth’s love?

Beau North and Brooke West, co-authors of Holiday Mix Tape from the Meryton Press winter anthology, Then Comes Winter, tour the blogosphere from October 8-October 19, 2016, to share their latest collaboration, The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy. Thirteen book bloggers, specializing in Austenesque fiction and romance stories, will share excerpts, guest posts, an exclusive interview with the authors and book reviews from this highly anticipated Austen-inspired novel. Four ebooks and four paperbacks are also being included in our giveaways and entry is available to anyone who participates in this blog tour.


Beau and Brooke are giving away 8 copies of their book, which includes 4 ebooks and 4 paperback copies. To win a paperback copy, the winners must have a U.S. mailing address. Be sure and check the Rafflecopter at the blogs with giveaways listed below.


Blog Tour Schedule
October 8/ My Jane Austen Book Club/Launch Post & Giveaway
October 9/ Just Jane 1813/Interview with Beau and Brooke
October 10/ Pemberley to Milton/Book Review & Giveaway
October 12/ Austenesque Reviews/ Excerpt & Giveaway
October 13/ Margie's Must Reads/ Book Review & Giveaway
October 14/ Babblings of a Bookworm/ Book Review & Giveaway
October 15/ The Calico Critic/Excerpt & Giveaway
October 16/ Obsessed with Mr. Darcy/ Guest Post
October 17/ Diary of an Eccentric/Book Review & Giveaway
October 18/ My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice/ Book Review & Giveaway
October 19/ More Agreeably Engaged/ Fitzwilliam Vignette
October 20/ So Little Time... So Much to Read/ Excerpt & Giveaway


To vote for your favorite image of Fitzwilliam Darcy from the images shown below, go to The Many Faces of Fitzwilliam Darcy Contest LinkThe winning image and the winner will be announced on October 20, 2016, at our last blog stop, So Little Time… So Much to Read.

The reader whose image receives the most votes will win the following prizes: A paperback copy of Then Comes Winter by Meryton Press, edited by Christina Boyd, a paperback copy of Longbourn’s Songbird by Beau Northpaperback copy of The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Beau North & Brooke Westa $15.00 Amazon gift card, assorted Jane Austen postcards and Pride and Prejudice Post-its by Girl of All Work. (The details of this contest were also announced on Just Jane 1813.)

For readers who wish to vote in our The Many Faces of Fitzwilliam Darcy contest, the choices are shown below:

   Richard Maddon                          Matt Bomer                       Eduardo Verastegui


A special 'thank you' goes to Claudine Pepe of Just Jane 1813. She does a fabulous job of organizing her blog tours. She makes it easy on us as bloggers. I do appreciate you, Claudine!


Thank you ladies for visiting my blog today. I am so happy to have you. It is a first for both of you to be here but I hope it certainly will not be the last visit for either. I appreciate the privilege of sharing your vignette with my readers. It is a great vignette and made me want to read even more. Again, I thank you, ladies, and I hope you have much success! It sounds like your book is being wonderfully received from all I have been reading! Congratulations! 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

And the winners are...

I have some winners to announce!
Are you ready to see if you are one of them?
Okay, let's do it!

Obligation and Redemption 
by Georgia McCall


Sophia Rose

Congratulations to the winners! Thank you for participating and giving us your thoughts. I always appreciate your support of my blog.

Thank you to Georgia McCall for visiting and telling us why she feels her book has caused such a stir. I hope your visit has answered some questions for readers and helped you have a place to state your case! :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Maria Grace with The Courtship & Marriage in Jane Austen's World

Today, I welcome Maria Grace back to More Agreeably Engaged. Her latest release, Courtship & Marriage in Jane Austen's World, is about a topic that I have always found interesting. We read so much about that theme and its importance in all the books by Jane Austen and others of that time period. It was such a different world in that respect than today's world in the US, but not so much different in other parts of the world. 

Maria Grace is going to give us some answers to questions that may have arisen for many of us as we read these novels. Thank you for sharing these enlightening answers, Maria.


Thanks so much for having me, Janet!

One of the biggest challenges for fans of Jane Austen’s works is the two hundred years that have passed since she wrote. Customs have changed so dramatically that things which were obvious to her original readers leave readers today scratching their heads and missing important implications. It’s amazing how much of Austen’s stories we miss not understanding the context she wrote it.

One of the most bewildering aspects of courtship in the regency era was etiquette and customs surrounding marriage proposals. I’d like to tackle a few ten big questions readers have about the courtship and marriage in Jane Austen’s world.

Why did so many Austen heroines have dowries? Did all women have them? 

The purpose of the dowry was to compensate the husband for the woman’s maintenance for her lifetime. Ideally interest off it provided a woman’s spending money, it provided for daughter’s dowries and younger son’s portions, and established her support in widowhood.

Not all women had them and those who did rarely had even the one thousand pounds each that the Bennet sisters had. Often lower class women would take positions as servants to earn money for their dowries hoping to save fifty or so pounds for their marriage.

What was a marriage settlement and how was it worked out?

A marriage settlement was a prenuptial agreement written by lawyers representing both families. Both families would have to accept the agreement.

It specified the financial arrangements of the marriage. These included what, if anything, the two families would contribute to the couple, what the woman’s spending money (pin money) would be, what amount would be set aside for daughters’ dowries and establishing younger sons, (Only the lump sum was set up, the distribution would be decided later), an provisions for a woman’s widowhood, through establishing an annuity called a jointure. The process was expensive and only about ten percent of marriages had them.

When Darcy proposed to Elizabeth the first time, she had no idea he had any interest in her. Could this have actually happened?

It could have. Rules of the day insisted neither should openly declare their feelings for the other until a proposal was actually offered. To make matters worse, both men and women were strongly cautioned to be very discrete in their interactions with one another and they would always be chaperoned when together. All that together makes it possible that a young woman could be completely surprised by a proposal.

If young women were supposed to be constantly chaperoned, why did Mr. Knightley spend time with Emma without a chaperone?

In Emma, we see the ‘close friend or family’ clause invoked. Mr. Knightly has been a family friend for at least a decade. He and Emma are allowed liberties to walk and talk and keep company together because of the closeness of their connections. In Mansfield Park, Edmund is also permitted the same liberties with Fanny Price for the same reasons.  She is family and not considered a marriageable partner in any case because of her low status (being a cousin did not disqualify her from being an eligible match.) Edward shares unchaperoned moments with Elinor in Sense and Sensibility because his is considered a family connection through his sister, their half-brother’s wife. In contrast, in Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth walking in the woods at Rosings Park with Mr. Darcy or Col. Fitzwilliam—with whom she has no such connections—is highly improper.

 If people needed to be introduced to be able to even have a conversation, how did you meet people if you didn’t know anyone to introduce you?

At a public ball, the Master of Ceremonies could conduct this service to enable gentlemen and ladies to dance, though he might not be acquainted with either party. In Northanger Abbey Henry Tilney fetches the Master of Ceremonies to introduce him to Catherine and Mrs. Allen so that he might properly converse with them.

Why did Julia Bertram elope after her sister, Maria, ran away with Henry Crawford?

Maria's actions were so egregious they could permanently ruin her standing in society.
The stain might easily extend to Julia as well, possibly ruining her chance for a good match. Thus, she elopes, whether to attain a good match before it becomes impossible or just to avoid getting blamed for Maria's misdeed, the reader is left to decide for themselves.

Was it a favorable match? Julia elopes with The Honorable John Yates, who had been pursuing her since their introduction. Although the book doesn't tell us much about Yates, his title reveals he is the son of a peer, and thus, not an entirely inappropriate match for the daughter of a baronet. So that is some good news for the poor girl.

Why did Maria Bertram bring her sister on her honeymoon?

Often, the bride's sister or closest female friend accompanied the couple. To the modern eye, the custom seems weird at best, but since the bride and groom might have spent little time alone with one another prior to the wedding, relying only on one another for conversation and company could be very awkward. Having another person along could ease the transition for everyone.

Why doesn’t Mrs. Dashwood inherit the house or anything else when her husband dies?

In the early eighteen hundreds, inheritance was a little more complicated that it is today.  While it was possible for women to inherit, it wasn’t common Usually an estate would go to the eldest son. Younger sons and daughters might inherit cash from a lump sum set aside for the purpose at the time of their parent’s marriage. . Wives had no right to their husband’s property; daughters could only inherit and estate if there were no sons born and the estate wasn’t entailed like the Bennet’s in Pride and Prejudice.

In the case of the Dashwoods, the eldest son inherited the estate. Provisions made by the previous owner of the estate, Mr. Dashwood’s uncle, prevented him from leaving any part of the property to his second wife and daughters.

Since the heir was not the current Mrs. Dashwood’s son, he had no obligation to her. Thus, she and her daughter’s had to leave their home and settle elsewhere.

Her marriage articles—a prenuptial agreement—laid out provision for her widowhood. The most typical arrangement would have been for an annuity (yearly payments) for the rest of her life amounting to one tenth of the dowry she brought into the marriage. She was also entitled keep the china and similar household articles that she brought into the marriage. Everything else stayed with the house and was property of the heir. So she and her daughters had something to live on, but it was a far cry from what they were accustomed to.

Still, 500 pounds a year was not a shabby income.  A middle class family could live on that quite comfortably. It was not enough to maintain a carriage, though. That would require about 1000 a year. But they were hardly impoverished.

 What was the problem with a secret engagement and why didn’t Edward Ferrars break things off with Lucy Steele when he fell in love with Elinor?

 First, secret engagements were considered scandalous moral lapses. Since marriage was the backbone of society, one's marriage state (unmarried, engaged, married or widowed—divorced was not really an option) was an important piece of public record. Carrying on a secret engagement was tantamount to lying to society at large.

Second, an engagement was effectively a legal contract, one which could result in legal action for breach of contract. Secret engagements presented a host of difficulties in managing the legal aspects of the contract.

Third, in the era, it was really all about the betrothal. A promise to marry was all but as good as a legal marriage. So keeping the engagement secret was like keeping a marriage secret.
Moreover, since a betrothal was nearly a marriage, many couples anticipated their vows—one third of brides went to the altar pregnant. If an engagement was broke, most would assume that the woman had compromised her virtue with her intended, and her reputation would be ruined. An honorable man—and a man’s honor was hugely important in those days—would not break an engagement and cause such harm to a lady.

Why were Marianne and Willoughby so shocking?

I think modern readers really miss this detail. Marianne and Willoughby were absolutely scandalous in their behavior. They broke every rule of proper decorum, leaving people to assume that they were engaged.

Riding alone in a carriage together, taking a lock of hair, walking without a chaperone, those were all highly improper and reserved for those married or engaged. When Willoughby took Marianne to see Allenham, he was effectively inviting her to start mentally setting up housekeeping. It was as close to making her an offer of marriage as he could get without actually saying the words. So everyone assumed they were engaged.

Going back to the earlier point about engagements and the behavior of engaged couples, Marianne was entirely compromised and her reputation ruined.

If you enjoyed this post, check out my new book, Courtship and Marriage in Jane Austen’s World, available at Amazon, Nook and KOBO. It details the customs, etiquette and legalities of courtship and marriage during the regency era and how it relates to all of Jane Austen’s works. 



Jane Austen’s books are full of hidden mysteries for the modern reader. Why on earth would Elizabeth Bennet be expected to consider a suitor like foolish Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice? Would Lydia's 'infamous elopement' truly have ruined her family and her other sisters’ chances to marry?  Why were the Dashwood women thrown out of their home after Mr. Dashwood's death in Sense and Sensibility, and what was the problem with secret engagements anyway? And then there are settlements, pin money, marriage articles and many other puzzles for today’s Austen lovers.

Customs have changed dramatically in the two centuries since Jane Austen wrote her novels. Beyond the differences in etiquette and speech, words that sound familiar to us are often misleading.  References her original readers would have understood leave today’s readers scratching their heads and missing important implications.

Take a step into history with Maria Grace as she explores the customs, etiquette and legalities of courtship and marriage in Jane Austen's world. Packed with information and rich with detail from Austen's novels, Maria Grace casts a light on the sometimes bizarre rules of Regency courtship and unravels the hidden nuances in Jane Austen's works.

Non fiction

Available at:


Author Bio:

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six new novels in the works, attended seven period balls, sewn eight Regency era costumes, shared her life with nine cats through the years and published her tenth book last year.

She can be contacted at:
On Twitter @WriteMariaGrace


Maria, thank you for visiting my blog as part of your stops for this latest release. I found your questions and answers fascinating and extremely informative. I feel this book will be one that I would turn to again and again when I needed a question answered. It should be a great resource for Austen writers as well. I appreciate your research and explanations. I hope your book does well.

Friday, September 30, 2016

And the winners are...

Hi, to everyone and happy last day of September! It's hard to believe that this month is almost past. It has been a busy month for me and I'm guessing for lots of you, too. 

I will not be doing posts for the first couple of weeks in October. I'm taking a little break to take care of some business...namely taxes! Doesn't that sound like fun?! Sure it does! Once the taxes are done, I will spend the extra time on some drawings of those handsome Austen Men in Film + Two. :) I've been enjoying this project immensely and hope you will, too. 
Remember to pre-order if you want the discount price. 

Now, without further adieux, I have some winners to announce! I will list them in order from the most recent post to the earlier ones.

A Most Singular Venture by Donna Fletcher Crow
eBook: Anonymous (laura)
Paperback: Claudine Pepe

Mr. Darcy's Present by Regina Jeffers

Because of the wonderful turnout for the post, Ms. Jeffers changed her giveaway from  2 eBooks to 4 eBooks. Thank you Regina Jeffers, and thanks to all of you who came out in support of the author and her new release!
4 Ebooks:

Dung Vu
Priscilla Teh

Family Portraits by Pamela Lynne

eBook: Anna Horner

The Rainbow Promise by Lory Lilian

2 eBooks, winner's choice of Ms. Lilian's books
Sophia Rose - The Rainbow Promise
Betty Madden 
(please contact me, Betty. I have emailed you and private messaged you)

Congratulations to all the winners and a big 'Thank You' to all the authors. We enjoy spending time with your creations. We hope you continue to write many more stories to entertain us.

Dear Readers, as always, I do so appreciate your support of my blog. There will be several good things coming toward the end of October so check back then. Marie Grace will be visiting. I'm participating in the Blog Tour for The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Beau North and Brooke West. I'm also part of another Blog Tour that is for Suzan Lauder's soon to be released book, Letter from Ramsgate. There may even be another surprise post or two! 

Hope you have a great next few weeks and I'll see you again soon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Georgia McCall...Obligation and Redemption

Available on Amazon
My guest today is new author and first time visitor to More Agreeably Engaged, Georgia McCall. Ms. McCall's book, Obligation and Redemption, is, in her words, causing a 'stir'.  She is sharing with us why she believes this to be true and why she wrote this novel. Her thoughts definitely gave me something to 'ponder' and I appreciate that! Please join me in welcoming Georgia McCall. There is a great giveaway too! :)


From Obligation to Redemption:  why is Georgia McCall’s new book causing such a stir?  By Georgia McCall

When I first decided to put my musings down for posterity in the form of a novel, I had the story clearly laid out before me within the confines of my mind.  I had read many Austen variations, some so very good and others reminiscent of every other version.  They all looked similar:  Darcy easily falling in love (albeit against his will at times), with Elizabeth eventually following suit after various trials and misunderstandings.    However, no book had ever brought the couple together when neither of them had any inclination whatsoever towards the other – before Darcy had even developed an attraction to the impertinent woman with fine eyes.  I considered what it might look like for Darcy to suspect malfeasance towards a woman bound to him for life, his suspicions based on his past prejudices and experiences.

The possibilities for misconceptions and vexations were fun to contemplate as each fulfilled his and her obligations, but as I met new characters and discovered how the couple’s struggles were taking shape, a deeper and more meaningful impression began to emerge within the context of the story.  That a proud, arrogant and self-sufficient man could be humbled and changed to such an extent as to go from loathing to loving, I came to the conclusion that something rather miraculous would have to take place.  I had considered the similarities between our romantic hero and the Apostle Paul – stay with me now – that they both had come from an established pedigree, were educated, proud, influential, revered, yet thought meanly of those different from themselves.  Of course, this occurred at different degrees, as Darcy never would have murdered the innocent to promote his cause.  However, I felt my Darcy needed to be brought to his knees much as the great apostle had been.   Paul had been blinded yet received his sight again in a way that not only brought about a restoration of his vision, but also enabled him to see himself and others with new eyes.  He went from destroying to delivering.

Now you do not have to believe the stories of the Bible to enjoy my story.  I saw the similarities and use Paul as a model for Darcy’s journey, but what I strive to demonstrate in my book is Darcy’s overwhelming struggles with his own shortcomings.  He has always taken pride in the strength of his own virtue, building this pride on a straw-man.  Quite simply, Darcy worships Darcy.  His ultimate deficiency is not how he treats Elizabeth or those of inferior birth.  Rather, he congratulates himself on doing what is right and good, but he is unable to see his true motivation to garner praise and admiration from his fellow man and woman, which is the magnification of his own worth.  Darcy needs to recognize his own insufficiency and vulnerability hidden within his cloak of honor and respectability, and this comes about through the most unlikely source:  a woman of unknown family, meager accomplishments and little beauty.

The couple has a difficult beginning, full of all of the trials one might suppose between two people who distrust and exasperate one another yet bound in a way that leaves no room for escape.  Darcy attempts to exert the same degree of control in his marriage as he exerts everywhere else in his life but with no success – in fact, his life begins to unravel before his eyes.  But he cannot find fault in his own actions, so he seeks blame in the woman whom he suspects has manipulated him into marriage.  I found, at least for my story, that I desired Darcy to behave in a way that he never would have suspected himself capable of in order to truly see his frailty.  Within the context of the time period, he does nothing outside the social order of things, but his conscience tells him of his misdeeds and will not let him rest.

Elizabeth, hurt and betrayed by his fall from perfection, builds an immovable wall of distrust to protect her heart.  This is where Redemption enters the story.  I will not give away the details (enough people have done that in the reviews!) but I will say that healing and forgiveness are possible, as demonstrated in this story depicting the nature of redeeming love.

So why does the book cause a stir?  The quote I use at the beginning of my novel sums it up:

The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved:
loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.
Victor Hugo

And I believe that to many this idea is too good to be true.


About the Author:

Georgia McCall resides in Memphis, Tennessee where she has practiced as a dietitian/nutritionist for the past twenty-four years.  Much to her delight, she has come to appreciate the joy of reading classic literature, including Jane Austen, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and the Brontë sisters, in addition to indulging in the vast array of Austen variations.  She also treats herself to a BBC drama and a glass of wine on occasion with her family, which includes a devoted husband of twenty–one years and two beautiful daughters, ten and fifteen.  Georgia enjoys jogging in the mornings during which time many stories have developed, although Obligation and Redemption is the first to make it from her active imagination onto paper.  She enjoys cooking, but not nearly as much as eating out, and being from Memphis, her favorite food is good ole’ Memphis-style barbecue.  Georgia faithfully attends a local Presbyterian church where she has been blessed with the best of friendships, and from where she experienced grace and learned the redeeming value of forgiveness.   



I'm glad to have you visit, Ms. McCall. I enjoyed reading your post and it gave me food for thought. I found it interesting that you used Paul and his redemption as your model for Darcy and his own sins. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. For any of those reading this post, maybe it will make them think on your book in a different 'light'. I love your quote at the beginning! It is so true. I hope you will come back and visit again.

It's giveaway time! Yes, dear readers, Georgia McCall is giving away three things: 1 Paperback, US only and 2 eBooks, International. Just leave a comment with your contact info, to be entered. Tell us what you think. We want you to have your share in the conversation! Giveaway will end at 11:59 P.M. on the 3rd of October. Good luck to all.