Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Sara Marks...Phi Alpha Pi

I'm delighted to have Sara Marks back for a visit. Sara first visited when her book, Modern Persuasion was released. She is here today with Phi Alpha Pi, a P&P modern story. She is sharing an excerpt and a wonderful giveaway.  Thank you, Sara, for stopping by today and best wishes with your new release!

I'd like to thank Lola from Lola's Blog Tours for organizing this blog tour and for inviting me to participate. The blog tour runs from May 14th through May 28th. Click the following link to the blog tour schedule.


Phi Alpha Pi (21st Century Austen #2)
by Sara Marks
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age category: New Adult, Adult
Release Date: May 28, 2018

Blurb:

Phi Alpha Pi is the oldest and largest sorority on campus and new president Lizbeth has a busy senior year ahead of her. She’s determined to keep her sorority in good standing on campus after a year on academic probation. She’s trying to manage the new sorority house manager, Mrs. C, who has her own ideas about how to support the sorority sisters. All while trying to find balance with her own academic goals to complete an honors thesis, graduate, and decide her future plans. 

The last thing Lizbeth expects is her anger when Wil, a new member of the Alpha Pi fraternity, pushes every one of her buttons. Lizbeth finds Wil, a new transfer to the university with his best friend, to be rude, snobby, and judgmental. Even though she tries to avoid him, he seems to be everywhere, scowling with displeasure when he sees her.  That is, until his Thanksgiving proclamation of love.  That causes Lizbeth to reconsider how she sees the world.

You can find Phi Alpha Pi on Goodreads

You can buy Phi Alpha Pi here:
- B&N
- Kobo

Excerpt:

As one of the largest and oldest sororities on campus, there was usually someone in the Phi Alpha Pi two-story Greek revival style mansion. Members were eating, studying, or simply enjoying each other’s company. Today there were twenty women moving into their rooms and unpacking for the start of the school year. Lizbeth, as chapter president, had been one of the first sisters to arrive, but still hadn’t unpacked. She and the other officers were too busy helping their sisters move in. Lizbeth had already put out a small, literal fire from a fallen candle. Then she put out figurative fires of roommate mix-ups and fights about who got which bed. Now Lizbeth sat alone in her room, exhausted and anxious to get out of the house, if only for a few hours.
Lizbeth had never been this involved in the sorority. She had agreed to the position, for her senior year, to help keep the sorority off academic probation for low grades. This had been a looming threat in the past. Lizbeth had helped by teaching the sorority sisters ways to get organized, creating study schedules, and helping create an atmosphere that turned studying into social events. She was glad her best friend Jane, who was Membership VP, was helping with the move in. There were sisters that Lizbeth didn’t know and relationships she didn’t understand. Jane was good at soothing hurt feelings and mediating fights. She had to run a membership meeting later in the day. Rush Week, the week before classes started so potential new members could attend all events, launched tomorrow.
"Lizbeth, did you see the shirts she got the board members?" Marie said, entering her room.
Marie, the sorority treasurer, was holding a hot pink T-shirt up to her body. At twenty years old, she was petite and wore her black hair long with bangs that nearly covered her eyes. When she pulled them back she revealed bright hazel eyes and a nose just a bit too big for her face. Marie was Lizbeth’s “little sister,” a bond between sorority sisters that often lasted the rest of their lives. As their resident gadget geek, she always had the latest technology toy. She had the first Fitbit, the first GoPro, was also the first to adopt new social media, and had happily taken over the sorority's web presence.
Lizbeth had seen the shirt Marie was holding in the gift basket their housemother had given each officer as they moved in. Mrs. C, as they were instructed to call her, was brand new this year and a bit over-eager. She had welcomed each of the officers with a huge hug and said basket, which had also included tons of candy, candles, and school supplies. She gave each sister a candle as she moved in. It was one of these very candles that Lizbeth had put out when it fell and burned the carpet. Their previous housemother had never been this excited to see them.
"Yes, I saw it," Lizbeth said with a sigh.
"Lizbeth, it says, 'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.'"
"Well, she is up on her Austen,” Lizbeth said with a shrug.
Lizbeth sat down on her bed and let herself fall back on the bare mattress.
Marie put her hands on her hips and sighed before responding.
"You know that's not the point. Some of us aren't here to find rich husbands."
"I believe it was the goal for many sisters in her day. She is new and excited. She will learn some of us aren't like this anymore."
"She asked me to wear it tonight."
"No, you’ll wear an official sorority shirt; it’s tradition."
Marie huffed irritably.
"Are we paying for this stuff? She hasn't handed me receipts, but I’m worried she will."
"Let me know if she does. I think this is her gift to us. She made these herself. I mean, the font is comic sans."
Marie left the room and Lizbeth heard her door bang. All the bedrooms were on the second floor of the house, but the two officer bedrooms were adjacent, so they could all work together. Lizbeth lay back on her bed wishing she wasn't living this close to Marie and her roommate Lydia. She closed her eyes for a few moments, hoping to catch a quick nap.
"I think we have everyone settled and don't need to worry about anything until the meeting starts."
Lizbeth opened her eyes to see Jane come into their room. The only good thing about having to live at the sorority house, as far as Lizbeth was concerned, was rooming with Jane. She had only joined Phi Alpha Pi so she and Jane could be together their freshman year. Last year, when the sorority had just come off an academic probation for low grades, Jane and a few graduates had begged Lizzie to run for president. The year had been difficult for some of the sisters, but Lizbeth had emerged as a leader. There was only one other candidate for president: Lydia. Lydia was the de-facto leader of the un-academic sisters and the worst of the lot. In the end, Lydia had taken on the Programming VP role, something she was very good at. Lydia had already planned so many mixers that Lizbeth had forced her to cancel some.
"Is it true there is a party tonight after the meeting?" Lizbeth asked Jane.
"Yes, Lydia planned with the guys at Alpha Pi. They have a few new brothers who transferred from another school and they want to make them feel welcome before Rush Week starts. Do you remember Caroline? Her older brother Charlie is one of those members," Jane added.
Lizbeth nodded, vaguely recalling the woman who had transferred to the university and wanted to get involved at this chapter of Phi Alpha Pi.
"Mrs. C is all abuzz about them because they are so rich."
"Exactly. She thinks Caroline's brother could be a boyfriend for one of us. It is so sweet of her to want to help us."
Lizbeth wished that Jane was being sarcastic, but she knew otherwise. Jane was the kindest person in the world. Jane liked almost everyone, so Lizbeth knew there was something wrong with you if you were the rare person Jane didn’t like (and vice versa).
"You’re too sweet," Lizbeth said.
"Lizbeth, she's recently widowed. Her children are all off living their own lives. She wants to take care of someone and we need someone looking out for us."
Lizbeth rolled her eyes.
"I understand, and I feel horrible for her. I mean, you saw the shirts. God forbid we learn to take care of ourselves rather than hunt for rich men to marry."
"Some members actually want to meet their future husband. Let her get used to us and learn what we need. I’m sure she’ll calm down. If not, well... you’ll certainly be a good balance for her. That is one of the strengths we value in you."
Lizbeth tossed a stuffed bear at her best friend before getting up and organizing her half of the room.

*****

Check out the first book in this series! Modern Persuasion
"Tension builds as they each learn about the current version of the person they once loved and resolve the ramifications of their choices."

Links:

- B&N
- Kobo


About the Author:

Born in Boston, MA and raised in Miami, FL, Sara Marks has two masters degrees and plans to never stop getting over educated.  She likes the idea of having all the academic regalia she can ever possess and winning with the most degrees in her family.  By day she's an academic librarian.  In what little free time she has, she also knits and plays with her dog Cedric Doggory.

You can find and contact Sara Marks here:
- Mailing List: http://eepurl.com/cuCrNf

Giveaways

There are two tour wide giveaways during the blog tour of Phi Alpha Pi! There is a US Only Giveaway for a prize pack and an international giveaway for 14 e-copies and a print copy of Phi Alpha Pi!

US Only Giveaway

One winner will win a Prize Pack containing:
- Mrs. C's homemade officers shirt in Comic Sans (you pick XL or XXL)
- A Phi Alpha Pi sorority sticker, candle, and bracelet (some of the items mentioned in the story).
- An illustration by cover designer Risa Rodil
- A rooster dishtowel (so you can make cock jokes with Lizbeth and Wil)
- Autographed printed copies of Modern Persuasion, A Little More Modern Persuasion, and Phi Alpha Pi (not pictured)



For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open for all Giveaway

These are the prizes you can win:
- 14 winners will each win an e-copy of Phi Alpha Pi by Sara Marks
- 1 winner will win a print copy of Phi Alpha Pi by Sara Marks

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sara Marks, I hope your blog tour is going great and that you are having a good time. Thank you again, for letting me be a part of it. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Maria Grace...Netherfield: Rogue Dragon

Today, I am welcoming Maria Grace to More Agreeably Engaged. Her latest book in Jane Austen's Dragons, is featured.  Netherfield: Rogue Dragon is Book #3 in this series. I don't know about all of you, but I love all the covers of the three books. All of them are featured below with the giveaway information.

Ms. Grace has a lovely post and an excerpt to share with all of us, Dear Readers. I invite to sit back and enjoy! 

*****

Elizabeth tells dragon stories: Laidy worm

I’m utterly tickled to announce that the Pride and Prejudice arc of my Jane Austen’s Dragons series is complete with the release of Netherfield: Rogue Dragon.  Now wait, I can see you rolling your eyes and hear you muttering, “Dragons? Really? Seriously—dragons?  Why—just why?”

But believe it or not, I really do have an excellent answer. You’re rolling your eyes at me again, but give me a chance and hear me out. If you take a glance at English mythology, it is full of dragons:  the Lambton Worm, the Dragon of Mordiford, the Dragon of Unsworth, the Dragon of Wantly, the Dragon of Longwitton, the Dragon of Loschy Hill, the Bisterne Dragon just to name a few. Even the father of fabled King Arthur has a dragon connection. King Uther Pendragon was said to have seen a dragon shaped comet that inspired the dragons that graced the standards he carried. Oh, and there’s Beowulf of course, and the tale of St. George and the Dragon…

Jane Austen herself could easily have been familiar with many of these dragon legends. So maybe, just a few of these mythological denizens actually belonged in Regency England.

One of the fascinating—and crazy making—aspects of mythology is the number of different accounts of the same story. Since, until the early modern era, tales relied on oral tradition for transmission, each teller would craft a slightly different version of the story, making finding the ‘real’ story nearly impossible. While there were moments that made me want to beat my head against the wall, it did provide an interesting line of thinking: What if…. (A word of caution, when a writer says “what if”, it might be a good time to politely excuse yourself…)

So, what if Uther Pendragon saw a real dragon, not a comet as most stories suggested? Would not others have seen it, too? Wait, no—what if the dragons had a way of hiding in plain sight that only a select few people could see through and Uther was one of those…

Suddenly, I saw a world, hundreds of years removed from medieval England, where mankind and dragonkind could coexist, governed by the Blue Order, an organization founded by Uther Pendragon himself, on human and dragon partnership, dedicated to protecting the safety and interests of both species while keeping the dragons secret from the very large segment of the human population with hearing insufficient to detect dragon voices.

Similarly, the myths of the Lambton Worm and the Dragon of Mordiford influenced the development of Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s characters. So it seems only fitting, that somewhere along the way, our dear heroine should find herself relating one of those dragon myths that Austen herself might have known. 
‘The Laidly Worm of Spindleston Heughs’, sometimes known as the ‘The Laidly Worm of Banborough’ or ‘Bamburgh’ was preserved from folklore in a ballad first published in 1771, something that was certainly accessible to Jane Austen during her lifetime. (Laidly is a Scottish expression meaning ‘loathsome’.)  In this excerpt from Longbourn: Dragon Entail, the second book of the series, Elizabeth finds herself telling this tale to while away the time during a long carriage ride:
_____________

Mr. Wickham escorted her to the Forsters’ house, where she paid a quarter of an hour’s call on Mrs. Forster. Then, he ushered her out the back door, and into the mews where the carriage, sans driver, awaited. He handed her into the carriage where her bag waited.

It was newer and better maintained than Papa’s. Probably refitted in honor of Colonel Forster’s wedding. The leather still smelt fresh and new, and the side glass was sparkling clean.

Had Mr. Wickham arranged for this, for there to be no witnesses to her escape? He was a far better friend to her than Mr. Collins would ever be, able to see the distress of another soul and work to do something to alleviate it. What more noble act could there be?

The coach rocked as the driver and a groomsman climbed aboard. Mr. Wickham opened the door and handed a very groggy maid inside. She staggered to her seat, half sitting on Elizabeth in the process.

“Pray forgive me, Miss. I get powerful sick in a coach. The mistress give me a cordial to help.” She giggled and settled into her seat. “I feel so very boosey and flustered.”

Mr. Wickham pulled the door closed behind them and took the opposite seat. “A strong cordial will have that effect. There is no need for concern. You might sleep as we drive, and you will feel better when we arrive in London.”

The girl yawned and leaned into the corner. She was softly snoring before they reached the outskirts of Meryton.

“She truly cannot tolerate the carriage. It is best for her to sleep.” Mr. Wickham leaned back and extended his legs just a little. “I have done as I promised, perhaps even a wee bit more. So now I shall make a demand upon you. But just a small one.” He winked.

April, in her typical fairy dragon way, voiced her protest, chittering and hunkering down in her grumpiest posture. It might have been intimidating from a larger dragon, but from a fluffle-bit who fit in the palm of one’s hand, it was more endearing than daunting.

“And what might that be?” She drew her cloak over her chest.

“It is three hours to London. I require some form of entertainment. I know you to be a fine storyteller. Why do you not tell me your favorite myth? But not one from a far-off place. I wish to hear a myth from our own fair countryside.” He leaned into the squabs.

“I fear that Hertfordshire does not have many stories attached to it.”

“Then what of your favorite myth of England? Surely there is something for you to choose from in all our shores.”

From the way he looked at April, surely he was asking for a children’s teaching story about dragons. 

But April would not tolerate it. Best not to agitate her.

Still though, there were stories that would reveal nothing about the current state of dragons or the Blue Order.

“That seems little enough to ask. Have you ever heard of the Laidly Wyrm of Spindleston Heugh?”

April harrumphed, but did not twitter. 

A broad smile lit his face. “No I have not, but I look forward to doing so now.” He balanced one boot atop the other and laid his hands over his stomach. “In the words of your young cousins, tell me a story Miss Elizabeth.”

She smoothed her skirt over her lap. “Many centuries ago, in the Kingdom of Northumbria, Northumberland to us now, of course, the good king who lived in Bamburgh Castle lost his beloved wife to a most tragic death. She left behind a son, the prince Childe Wynd, and a daughter, the princess Margaret. Childe Wynd was his father’s son with a brave heart and a lust for adventure that drove him to rove farther and farther from home. After his mother’s death, his jaunts became journeys, and the journeys became longer and longer until he crossed the sea. In fear that he would never see his son again, the king took comfort from his daughter. Margaret was the image of her mother, beautiful as no other woman in Northumbria and gentle and kind in equal measure to her beauty.”

“A handsome prince, a beautiful princess, what more does a fairy story need?” Mr. Wickham laced his hands behind his head.

“Dragons. It seems he wants to hear of nothing but us,” April grumbled against her neck.

Elizabeth stroked her ruffled feather-scales smooth. “An evil witch sir. What kind of story would there be without one?”

“So then tell me of this witch.”

“After years without his wife, the castle was cold and lonely. The king’s judgement had been addled by too much wine. He called for eligible women to be brought to him. A beautiful, but cruel witch caught his eye and soon became his wife. Poor Margaret, she was bereft. She saw the witch for what she was, but the King would not believe her.”

Mr. Wickham leaned forward a bit. “Ah, now it gets interesting.”

“The witch cast an enchantment over the poor princess.” Elizabeth hunched over her lap and worried her hands together, cackling. “I weird ye to be a Laidly wyrm, and borrowed shall ye never be, until Childe Wynd, the King's own son come to the Heugh and thrice kiss thee. Until the world comes to an end, borrowed shall ye never be.”

“The princess became a dragon?”

“Indeed she did. By the witch’s spell, she became a dragon.”

“What kind?”

“The myth calls it a wyrm, but I think she must still have been beautiful even in the transformation. I have always considered she became an amphithere. They are more beautiful than even the loveliest of wyrms.”

Though some might not agree, there were some very pretty wyrms.

“What do they look like?”

“Of course, they are not real, but according to myth, they are not wyrms, but enormous snakes the color of jade. Unlike any serpent, they have great feathered wings with iridescent feathers, glistening in every color. Their wings are powerful enough for flight, although they only do so under great duress. Sometimes they are depicted with powerful forepaws as well. Their heads are as serpents, but well-feathered, and their eyes, penetrating.”

“Frightful or fascinating?”

“Both, I would imagine. It is said they are creatures of exquisite beauty.”

“So then, very fitting for a lovely princess.”


“Indeed. I suppose in that, the witch was merciful.”

“Or limited, perhaps. Her magic might not have been strong enough to completely transform a woman of such beauty.” His brows flashed up in a playful challenge.

“That is indeed an interesting interpretation. It sounds as though you have spent a great deal of time considering fairy tales, sir.”

“It had been a pleasant pastime during some of my darker times. I have always found the character of a prince removed from his inheritance rather compelling.”

April shook her head and snorted. Perhaps she was right. That was a bit much.

Wickham chuckled. Perhaps he did not take himself as seriously as April did. “Do not leave me hanging. You must finish your story.”

“Of course. The Laidly Wyrm, the princess, left the castle, banished to be a rogue dragon, without a territory to call her own, facing death if she trespassed on the territory of another, scourge to man and beast alike, stealing what she could to preserve life and limb. Finally she made her way to Spindleston Heugh on the Great Whin Sill escarpment. It is said that the stone can still be found in the parish of Easington, Northumberland, you know.”

“I should very much like to see it one day.”

Should she mention that Papa had taken her there? April probably would not approve. She probably should not have mentioned the specific location at all.

Botheration, it was very easy to talk to him.

“Perhaps I would see the Laidly wyrm there, if I were very lucky.” He stroked his chin.

“Even if you were very lucky, the Laidly Wyrm is naught but myth. Even if she were not, you would not find her, for you have not heard the end of her tale.”

“Do not keep me in suspense! I do not see how you ever get children to sleep if you constantly keep a story so provoking.”

“You are being quite vexing yourself. Naughty children who interrupt do not get to hear the end of a story.”

“Pray tell me what must I do to hear the end?” He smiled beatifically.

April huffed and tucked her head under her wing.

“I suppose that will do. In any case, after ten years the prince returned. He expected to find his sister a grown woman, maybe even married. But instead, her chambers were empty. The witch told him that his sister had been eaten by the Laidly Wyrm and if he wanted to honor her memory, he would avenge her life and bring back the head and wings of the wyrm.”

“A witch in all ways. Horrid woman.”

“Indeed she was. She even gave the prince a dragon-slayer sword with which to perform the deed.”

April shuddered. She had seen the one Mr. Darcy had carried and it had given her nightmares for weeks.

“Childe Wynd rode off in search of the Laidly Wyrm. When he reached the spindlestone, he called out a challenge to the dragon.”

“In the fashion of heroes everywhere, I imagine.”

“They are rather a predictable lot, are they not? Princess Margaret recognized his voice and hurried down to see him. Naturally he did not recognize her in dragon form and brandished the sword at her.”

“I should say he is lucky that he did not get himself immediately crisped by fiery breath.”

“Do not be silly. Amphitheres do not breathe fire. That is a myth about the myth.” She laughed.

There, April should be satisfied that he really did not know anything about real dragons. No feathered dragons breathed fire.

“Princess Margaret restrained her draconic instincts. She extended her wings and hovered over Childe Wynd’s head, singing a song they had made up as children, one none other knew. Her voice was sweet and high, unmistakable in his ears. ‘Margaret?’ he cried. She told him of the witch’s curse and that her only hope was her brother’s kiss.”

“And of course, he simply believed her, never once considering it was the sort of trap a clever dragon might set for him? That is the way soldiers get killed.” He snorted and folded his arms over his chest.

“I suppose you are correct, taking an unfamiliar dragon at its word is not a mark of wisdom, but this is a fairy story, remember. And in this story, he embraces his sister and kisses her. She transforms before his eyes, all scales and feathers falling away. Once again, she is a young woman, even more beautiful for her trials than she had been before.”

“And they lived happily ever after.” He rolled his eyes.

What had he been hoping for, bloodshed and tragedy?

“Not yet. They gathered the scales for Margaret’s dowry, enough to fill several chests, and secreted them in a crag under the spindlestone. The feathers they bundled up to bring to the witch, proof the dragon was no more.”

He sat up a little straighter.

“Treasure would catch his attention,” April muttered.

“The feathers carried a powerful enchantment upon them, the same form that the witch had cast upon the princess. When Childe Wynd presented them to the witch, she picked one up and was immediately transformed herself.”

“Into a dragon?”

“No, each feather contained only a small measure of transformation magic, not enough to accomplish so large a transformation. She was instead turned into a toad.”

Wickham snorted. “A toad? A fitting fate, I should say.”

“Childe Wynd became king and assisted his sister in marrying a very suitable man. And now we have come to our happy ending.”

Mr. Wickham yawned. “Just in time I suppose. Your voice is quite soothing.”

“I am glad you approve, sir.”

“You should not have told him that tale.” April nipped her ear.

Nothing would please her. Poor little dear was so unsettled. Who could blame her?

But still, the story was quite safe. Who could believe that a princess might be turned into a dragon? That was impossible. The truth—that Margaret was turned out by a cruel stepmother and taken in to live among a mated pair of amphitheres who were incubating a clutch—was hardly like the story at all.

Still, the real Lady Margaret had always been her heroine. She had been instrumental in bringing an understanding of the amphitheres to the Blue Order. For her efforts, she had been made the first woman to hold office in the Order.

Perhaps, if the Gardiners did not take her in, she could find help among some sympathetic dragons.

The outskirts of London rose up on the horizon. It would not be long now before she would know if she would have to resort to that.
________________________
But why would Elizabeth have been riding in a carriage with Wickham, much less telling him stories? Check out Jane Austen’s Dragons to find out.
If you’re not totally hooked by now, here’s a preview of Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon, to give you a taste of this world: http://randombitsoffascination.com/2016/10/03/pemberley-mr-darcys-dragon-ch-1/
What do you think about dragons and Jane Austen? Leave me a comment below for a chance to win your choice of e-books from this series. The giveaway will end at 11:59 P.M. on the 26th of May. Good luck to all! Thank you Maria Grace for including a giveaway for my readers.



About the Author


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. 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 and one grandson, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, is has blogged six years on Random Bits of Fascination, has built seven websites, attended eight English country dance balls, sewn nine Regency era costumes, and shared her life with ten cats.

She can be contacted at:


 *****

Thank you, Maria Grace.for visiting my blog! I always love to have you visit and look forward to whatever you have in store for us. I always know it will be good! :) This post was no exception. 

I wish you continued success with the Jane Austen's Dragons series. I'm hearing many good things about these books. Congratulations on this latest release.

Ms. Grace is giving away an eBook of your choice as mentioned above in bold type. If you are not sure which book you would like, should you be the winner, I am including the blurb along with the book cover for each book.

 #1 Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon

England is overrun by dragons of all shapes and sizes. Most people are  blissfully unaware of them and the Pendragon Treaty that keeps the peace between human and dragon kind.  Only those born with preternatural hearing, like Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are able to hear and converse with dragonkind.

 When the first firedrake egg laid in a century is stolen from Pemberley,  the fragile dragon peace teeters on collapse. Darcy has no choice but to chase down the thief, a journey that leads him to quaint market town of Meryton and fellow Dragon Keeper, Elizabeth Bennet.  

 Elizabeth shares a unique bond with dragons, stronger than anything Darcy has ever experienced. More than that, her vast experience and knowledge of dragon lore may be the key to uncovering the lost egg.  But Elizabeth can’t stand Darcy’s arrogance and doesn’t trust him to care properly for a precious baby firedrake. After all, he already lost the egg once. What’s to prevent it from happening again?



#2 Longbourn: Dragon Entail

Her father and the family estate dragon insist she marry the last man in the world whom she could ever be prevailed on to wed. Will the help of her minor dragon friends be enough for her to she escape the fate of the dragon entail?
_________________________
Darcy thought his problems were over when Pemberley hatched and successfully imprinted on humans. But baby dragons prove far more difficult than any dragon lore prepared him for. Only  Elizabeth Bennet's notes offer him any help. When his imperious Aunt Catherine takes matters into her own hands, things take a turn for the worse and Pemberley’s life hangs in the balance. He desperately needs more of Elizabeth’s help, but she ignores all of his requests.
Elizabeth, though, has problems of her own. After the Bennet family dragon sent Pemberley away, life at Longbourn was supposed to return to normal and Elizabeth get on with the all-important business of marrying the heir to her father’s estate. Except that he is the last man in the world whom she could ever be prevailed on to marry—a bumbling, addle-pated dragon-hater who demands she gives up the dragons she lives for.
Can she, with the help of her dragon friends, find her way back to Pemberley before they both suffer their fate from the Dragon Entail?
#3 Netherfield Rogue Dragon
Elizabeth Bennet thought she was prepared to do anything to make the Dragon Conclave accept her beloved young dragon, Pemberley, into the Blue Order, but she had not anticipated it would leave her banished from her ancestral home and betrothed to none other than Mr. Darcy. But before Elizabeth and Darcy wed, they must find a dangerous rogue dragon before it provokes a war amongst the dragons and brings the fragile peace between dragons and mankind to a catastrophic end.

Nothing written in the annals of dragon lore has prepared Elizabeth to manage a dragon not governed by the Blue Order. Dragons have always loved her, but this one finds her arrogant, selfish and insensitive to others. With only her instincts to guide her, she must convince the rogue of her good intentions before the Blue Order loses patience and decides on more drastic measures.

Called away to the other side of the kingdom, trying to settle the dragons' unrest, Darcy learns the nature of the force poisoning the rogue dragon  against Elizabeth. One nearer and dearer than they could have imagined.

Can Elizabeth and  Darcy convince with rogue dragon to cooperate before darker forces turn it against them, without destroying the fragile bonds uniting the couple?

Universal Buy Links:

Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon https://books2read.com/Pemberley-Mr-Darcys-Dragon

Thank you for visiting. Please leave comment to be entered in the giveaway and don't forget to include your contact info.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Cover Reveal...Nicole Clarkston

It is my extreme pleasure to share with you the cover for Nicole Clarkston's
new novel, London Holiday.
We have worked hard putting this one together.
There were a few obstacles along the way, but thankfully,
 everything came together in the end. 
I have been so excited about this book. The story made me feel good. 
It kept me smiling and loving every minute. I hope you will have the same experience.


Before we get to the cover, here is the blurb!

*****
When the truth is harder to believe than disguise.

Drugged and betrayed in his own household, Fitzwilliam Darcy makes his escape from a forged compromise that would see him unhappily wed. Dressed as a footman, he is welcomed into one of London’s unknown neighbourhoods by a young lady who is running out of time and running for her life.

Deciding to hide in plain sight, Miss Elizabeth Bennet dodges the expectation to marry the man of her mother’s dreams. When the insolent footman she “found” refuses to leave her side until they can uncover a solution to their respective dilemmas, the two new acquaintances treat themselves to a holiday, experiencing the best of what Regency England has to offer.

Based on Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, can two hard-headed characters with kind hearts discover the truth behind the disguise? Enjoy the banter, humour, and growing affection as Mr Darcy and Miss Elizabeth have the best day of their lives, and discover that they just might find love and romance while on a London Holiday. This book is appropriate for all ages.

*****

Creating the front cover of London Holiday was lots of fun. Nicole wanted my grandson, Chayseland Taylor to be on the front cover. She asked me if there was anyone I could get to be Lizzy. I had the perfect person in mind. Kennedy Smith was Lizzy on another cover I had done several years ago, so she was first to come to mind. I asked if she would be willing to be my model again and she agreed. The next order of business was to find a time when Chayseland and Kennedy could be photographed. It took a couple of weeks to work out a date but we finally got together. They were real troupers too. It was the hottest May 17th (97 degrees F in the shade) it had been since 1925 and we were outside taking pictures in full costume. Neither complained and willingly did anything I asked.
They were both honored to be on Nicole cover, London Holiday!
Thank you Nicole, for allowing them this privilege.

Nicole, is there anything you would like to add before we go further?

*****

I have long agreed with Janet that Chayseland is a perfect model for Darcy. He can master that aloof look, but at the same time, his eyes connect with you. He can look perfectly calm, but there is just a twinkle there, letting you know that there is quite a bit going on beneath the surface. That he happens to have that amazing hair and rugged face are side perks, but altogether, I love him as Darcy.

When Janet first showed me a picture of Kennedy, I just wanted to keep looking at her. She has a sweetness and an innocence to her that Elizabeth in the story does. She pulls off the teasing arched brow, the bubbling delight, and the soft, genuine expression that I was hoping for. I didn’t want a sultry kitten with collagen lips and transparent skin. She is perfect, and her eyes are kind. Not fashionable in the London world, perhaps, but just the thing to catch a jaded fellow like Darcy.

What I love about these two is that they look like real people, not models. Perhaps that is because they are real people, and I am honoured and deeply grateful that they agreed to be on the cover of London Holiday.

*****

Now you know the story behind the cover so let's reveal the front and full cover for London Holiday!




We hope you like the cover. I know you will love the book. It is such a neat story and fun too. Nicole told me that this book was the most fun book to write. I enjoyed reading along with her and eagerly awaited the next scene. This story has everything! There is a Darcy quite unlike any I have ever read before. He is such an awesome character and Lizzy is light-hearted and fun.
Nicole has agreed to share an excerpt with you. She has had several requests for Chapter 2. 
For your reading pleasure, Chapter 2 is below. Enjoy!

*****

“Oh, Lizzy, was this not simply a divine evening?” Kitty Bennet, aged sixteen, leaned back against the seat of the carriage and gushed her delight. “The music, the lights—I have never seen so many candles. And that soprano! Would Mama not simply swoon over her gown?”
“It was all stunning,” her older sister Elizabeth agreed. “The new Pantheon Theatre is not so lovely as the old, they say, but it is quite beautiful enough to suit my fancies. Aunt Gardiner,” she turned sincerely to that lady, “thank you so much for bringing us. Your generosity to us takes my breath away.”
“You are most graciously welcome, Lizzy. I confess, I had been longing to see the new hall myself, and you provided just the excuse I sought.”
“It is a pity that our uncle could not come this evening, for he would have enjoyed it greatly, I think.”
“Yes, he would have,” Mrs Gardiner agreed, “but I expect he will have accomplished a great deal of business this evening, and he will now be able to enjoy the park with us tomorrow. I believe your uncle really prefers the park to the opera.”
“As does Lizzy,” snorted Kitty. “But even you must admit, Lizzy, that was an evening to remember. What a pleasure it was to meet that lovely Mrs Jennings—she liked you very much, Lizzy, and that is something grand, I think. Did you see the gowns on some of the ladies above us in the private boxes? And each of the gentlemen looked so fine and handsome! There was that one fair-haired fellow who looked our way twice, and I am sure he liked me. Oh, Lizzy, you needn’t scoff at all the gentlemen! Do not forget, Mama has given you specific instructions to catch a husband while you are in Town, or you shall be stuck with that odious Mr Collins.”
“If only the catching of a husband were as simple as catching a fish, perhaps I should succeed.”
“Lizzy, you must not speak of such things in Town. What would Mama say? No one here knows that you are not a proper lady, so it is best to let them believe otherwise as long as they may.”
“Now, Kitty,” Mrs Gardiner chided, “Lizzy is perfectly ladylike, even when she is indulging in sport. Although, Lizzy, perhaps it is best not to reveal at first that your father and uncle have taken you out in their fishing boats, but there can be no harm in speaking of the outdoors in general. Flower gardens are quite safe to talk of. And who knows? We may meet with a gentleman who truly prefers remaining at his estate to life in Town. Many men retire happily from Town again after they have secured a wife, and such a man might be attracted to a woman knows something of the country.”
“La, that is not what Mama says. She says even country gentlemen prefer a refined lady. That is why Jane will marry first. Mama says that a gentleman is coming soon to let Netherfield Park and that he is sure to save us all by falling violently in love with Jane, as she is the most beautiful of us all, or so Mama claims.” Kitty emitted a little snort, which spoke as much of her reluctant agreement with her mother’s assessment as it did for her own mild sense of jealousy.
“He will be a fortunate man then, if his taste is so exquisite,” soothed Elizabeth. “Jane would be valued and admired by any sensible gentleman, no matter where he lived.”
“And so shall you, Lizzy,” her aunt interjected. “Do not allow your mother, or your most helpful sister here, lead you to believe otherwise. You are a perfectly lovely young lady, and even that sorry business with Lydia and Mary may be overlooked by the right sort of gentleman. Any man to catch your eye should call himself blessed.”
“It is not the gentleman who must catch the lady’s eye, but the reverse,” chuckled Elizabeth. “I know very well into what straits my sisters and I have fallen, though you are kind enough to spare me the full measure of the world’s disdain, Aunt. I have no desire to remain a spinster as Mama has accused, but I find it highly unlikely that I could go home next week an engaged woman. I mean simply to enjoy my visit.”
“Then indeed, enjoy it we shall. What else did you wish to do while you are staying with us?”
“Perhaps Kitty had other notions, but I have always wished to see one of London’s pleasure gardens. Do you think Uncle would object?”
“Oh! I have not been since before Maddy was born, Lizzy, but that sounds delightful. Perhaps we will speak to your uncle and see if he will take us tomorrow.”
Elizabeth was smiling her delight at her aunt’s easy agreement and gazing out the window of the carriage when a figure in apparent distress caught her eye. She saw only a hunched-over flash of dark clothing; then he disappeared. An instant later, the carriage lurched as the driver pulled up the horses in alarm.
Mrs Gardiner caught at the hand loop, then put her head near the window to listen as the driver addressed someone outside. “Clear off, my good man,” he was ordering. “You have upset the ladies!”
They heard a slurred apology, and Elizabeth, who sat on the proper side to see, gestured to her aunt as the figure came back into view. “Aunt, look. That man there, do you see him? He looks as though he has been injured. See how he holds his head? Perhaps he needs help.”
Mrs Gardiner did look, and to her dismay saw a tallish fellow, dressed respectably as an employee of a good household, staggering to the curb. “More than likely he is intoxicated. Look away, Elizabeth. Do not let him see you.”
“He does not have the appearance of a drunkard or a criminal, Aunt. Is that not livery he is wearing? Surely no master would countenance such behaviour, and particularly not in public.”
Mrs Gardiner reluctantly turned her eyes back to the man on the walk. He was clinging lethargically to a street lantern, his face pressed against the cool metal of the post. What they could see of his expression revealed that he was nearly asleep where he stood and only wanted a horizontal posture to make it a reality. His clothing bespoke some connection to gentility, as Elizabeth had asserted, else she would not have dared give a stranger on a dark street a second glance.
“Lizzy, this is not Meryton,” Mrs Gardiner decided. “You cannot believe appearances. I have heard of ladies’ carriages being set upon by ruffians after they have stopped to help someone who appeared to be hurt. I am very sorry for the poor fellow, if indeed he is in distress, but it is not our place to look to him.”
“Aye, I’ve heard the same thing, Lizzy,” seconded Kitty. “Remember that story Lydia told us?”
“That was on a deserted road near a seaport. We are still in Mayfair. You cannot believe that criminals could set up such a ruse in this neighbourhood, do you? There are too many about, and the houses nearby too well secured for such activity to succeed. Can you not at least ask the driver to see to him?”
Mrs Gardiner’s brow puckered in concern, but she obliged her niece. “Jones, please step down and see if the man is injured.”
The carriage rocked as the driver obeyed, and the ladies watched him approach the man on the walk. “My good man, are you well?” they heard Jones enquire.
There was a moan, and some muttered reference to a cousin, then the man’s head drooped against the post. Jones leaned close, and the ladies could see their driver sniffing the other man’s person. He returned directly.
“I do not think he is intoxicated, ma’am, but neither does he appear to have any sort of head injury. I can think of no reasonable explanation for his condition.”
“We cannot leave him here on the street,” Elizabeth insisted. “He truly will become a victim of some crime if we do. Look at him, his knees are buckling.”
“Perhaps he works in the nearest house,” Jones suggested. “Do you wish me to ask?”
“Please do,” Mrs Gardiner agreed. “We shall be safe enough in the carriage for a moment.” She glanced at her niece, a nervous hope written across her features.
There was only one large house on this corner, and there was no knocker on the door, so Jones apparently decided to try the one across the street. The man had, after all, been crossing when they had nearly run him down. The ladies waited in silence for his return, watching all the while as the man on the walk began to sag lower and lower to the ground. Finally, just before Jones’ return, he crumpled, and his head struck the pavement. Elizabeth cried out in dismay, and it was only her aunt’s staying hand which kept her in the carriage.
“They claim that none of their footmen could have made such a spectacle,” Jones reported. “I doubt they would acknowledge him, even if he did belong to that house, for it would be too much of an embarrassment.”
“You said he does not appear to be intoxicated?” Mrs Gardiner glanced back at the man.
“There is no odour of drink, ma’am, but I cannot be certain.”
“Aunt, is it not our duty to look to those in distress?” Elizabeth reminded her.
“I do not consider that a mandate when the man is a rather tall stranger and we number but three ladies.”
“And one driver!” Kitty helpfully pointed out. “It would not be so very hard to have Mr Jones set him on the box. He could stay below stairs this evening and go on his way on the morrow. I can see Lizzy has got this in her head, Aunt, and we shall have no peace until she sees that ridiculous fellow safely put up for the night.”
Mrs Gardiner sighed and frowned at her nieces. Elizabeth was watching her intently, with a small quirk of her brow. As her younger sister had surmised, she had indeed taken the man’s welfare to heart, but she was not petulant. Instead, she employed a measure of playfulness to achieve her ends.
“He is too well-dressed to be a vagabond, Aunt. Perhaps he is a highly valued employee of some handsome and rich single gentleman, and some ailment has befallen him. After he is recovered, both he and his employer will be so grateful for our assistance that his master may thank us in person. I may then have the pleasure of informing my mother that I obeyed her wishes to find a husband!”
Kitty laughed and declared it a good joke, but Mrs Gardiner was still reluctant. “We have no way of knowing anything about the man. He is not a gentleman, clearly, and he could have come from anywhere.”
“Aunt, I am confident we shall be quite safe. Look at the man! I do believe he is drooling. Can anyone be more harmless?”
Mrs Gardiner rolled her eyes and summoned Mr Jones. “Do you think he can ride on the box with you?”
“If I can wake him, ma’am.” He went, therefore, and nudged the man on the pavement. When that did not yield the desired result, he shook the man’s shoulder, earning only a groan in protest for his efforts. Jones, at last, picked the man up by his lapels—a considerable feat, as he was a rather large man—and rattled him to and fro. The dark head only rolled back, mouth slightly agape, and a throaty rasp escaped him. Jones shook his head. “I cannot lift him if he is not to be gotten to his feet, ma’am.”
“Right, then,” Elizabeth muttered, and handed her muff and bonnet into her sister’s keeping. Before her aunt could object, she was out the door of the carriage and staring down at the man on the ground. “Can you lift his shoulders, Jones? I think I can help you drag his feet.”
“Lizzy!” Mrs Gardiner cried from the coach. “What in heaven’s name?”
“He can ride on the rear-facing seat, Aunt. We will all have to squeeze together. It is perhaps only twenty minutes to your house; we shall manage.”
Mrs Gardiner, lacking the powers to resist, put two slim fingers to her aching head as Kitty sniggered beside her. She left unspoken her horror at Elizabeth being seen engaged in hauling a dirty man off the streets and into her uncle’s private carriage. How would she ever explain this?
Elizabeth grasped the man’s silver-buckled shoes, which seemed to curl his large feet in a way which must have been uncomfortable, and tugged at their weight as Jones stumbled with his torso. The sleeping man snorted once or twice at the insult of being dragged, groaned an indignant protest directed toward someone named Wilson, and tried to roll over in Jones’ grasp.
By the time they reached the carriage, Kitty was on the pavement as well. Her intentions were helpful, but her efforts were less so. It was Mrs Gardiner, the sensible one who still objected to this madness, whose assistance was the most valuable in lifting the inert form of their unwitting guest. She braced her feet and bent to raise him from above while Jones hefted from below. If the man were conscious, he would rightly have just cause for deepest mortification at the way the strange lady was forced to grasp his person. It was just as well he was not. The task completed, Mrs Gardiner straightened her bonnet and shot her nieces a glare which swore them forever to secrecy.
The man did not fit well, inert and crammed into the small carriage bench. The girls crowded on either side of their aunt and stared at the broad shoulders, nearly bursting the seams of the coat, and the long, white-stockinged legs that threatened at any moment to drag his entire frame down to the floor of the carriage. As Jones mounted the box and the carriage dipped slightly, Mrs Gardiner breathed a prayer that he—whoever he was—would remain where they had stowed him.
It was not to be. The horses moved off, and the body rolled with a heavy thud to their feet. The ladies drew back, each cringing and fearing that their assistance may have injured the man even further. The stranger, however, only stirred with a grunt and proceeded to nestle his large frame more comfortably in the small space. His forearm thrashed about as he sought some place for his head, and at last, he was satisfied by wrapping it around Elizabeth’s legs and pillowing his face upon her satin shoes.

Elizabeth tugged uncomfortably at her feet but could not extricate them without engaging in a wrestling match with a very strong and very unconscious man. She grimaced at her aunt. Mrs Gardiner rested her head back against the carriage squabs and exhaled, trembling. “We tell no one of this,” she commanded.

*****

Well, tell us what you think? Doesn't this sound like a fun story! I absolutely loved it
 and I feel confident you will too. We would love to hear your thoughts. 
The eBook of London Holiday is available on Amazon and the Paperback will soon be available.

One eBook will be given away and the giveaway is international. Be sure you leave your contact info if you want a chance to win. The giveaway will end on the 25th of May at 11:59 P.M. Good luck!