Category Archives: Romance

Giveaways!

 

A Very Austen Christmas…

There are several giveaways still active for A Very Austen Christmas and even more coming in December.

A Very Austen Christmas - 3D

Serena at Savvy Verse & Wit posted a lovely book review with an excerpt from Laura’s story. The giveaway will end December 5.

Nissa, Of Pens and Pages, presented the backstory of my original character, Thomas, along with a wonderful review. Her giveaway ends  December 9.

On Laura Hartness’s blog, The Calico Critic, you’ll find an excerpt from my story, as well as a giveaway ending December 9.

Giveaways at Claudine’s JustJane1813, author Chautona Havig’s lovely blog, Ceri’s Babblings of a Bookworm, and Janet’s More Agreeably Engaged have already ended; however, there are author biographies, story blurbs, author interviews, story excerpts, and great reviews at those sites.

Upcoming giveaways, reviews, and other fun events are scheduled throughout December at Meredith’s Austenesque Reviews, Elisabeth’s Poolside Musings, Candy’s So Little Time, Anna’s Diary of an Eccentric, and Rita’s From Pemberley to Milton.

In other exciting news, Laura Hile is releasing the second edition of her Mercy’s Embrace books. Her book one, So Rough a Course, cover reveal  will be at JustJane 1813 on December 2. That’s tomorrow! Be sure to stop by and cheer her on.

You’re going to LOVE the new covers. I’ve seen them, and they are truly beautiful. I would love to post her new cover myself, but you’ll just have to wait until tomorrow. (Insert evil laugh.)

More to come, too! Watch for upcoming reviews, blog posts, and giveaways of So Rough A Course at Savvy Verse & Wit, Of Pens and Pages, and The Calico Critic.

Another bit of good news – Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, Barbara Cornthwaite, and I have all lowered the prices of our other books throughout December. Merry Christmas!

Advertisements

We Beat the Nekkid Guy!

Did that sound weird?

20171114_001731_resizedI was so excited to see this that I immediately took a picture. You see, I’m well aware that our Christmas anthology can be #1 in one hour and #2 in the next. In fact, that’s happened several times since we (Laura Hile, Barbara Cornthwaite, Wendi Sotis, and I) hit #1 Best Seller status (in our category) on Amazon.

I wanted to have that picture to live the moment over and over. I even reverted to my cheerleader days, chanting, “We’re number one! We’re number one!” I nearly tripped over my office and broke another ankle. Ha! It wasn’t pretty.

Now, about that nekkid guy – we didn’t literally beat a nekkid guy, so you can relax now. We don’t plan to take the journey into that particular genre. Ever.

20171114_001849_resized

Do you see that third book in the row? That’s a $.99 nekkid guy cover which promises a certain kind of book. Clean books that cost $3.99 rarely beat such an animal. A book just like that one kept my last solo publication, Understanding Elizabeth, from ever reaching #1. I can’t even say the name of that book in polite company. Not in impolite company, either.

The book in the middle is a $.99 anthology. It’s rare to outsell anything which is $.99. That’s another cause for rejoicing.

The middle book and A Very Austen Christmas switch places every time either one of us sells a book or two. I’m okay with that. It’s a mostly clean read with a non-nekkid-guy cover.

At least we’re remaining the #1 new release.

This is a book that friendship built. It was a labor of love and support between friends who’ve never met. I think the four of us should get together soon. What do you think? Should we meet in Oregon (Laura), New York (Wendi), South Carolina (me), or Ireland (Barbara)? Just a hint concerning my vote: my heritage is English/Scots/Irish.

A Very Austen Christmas

Book Launch Tomorrow!

A Very Austen Christmas - 3DIn early June, Laura and I broached the idea of an anthology to include all the authors of Jane Started It, along with our lovely friend, JAFF author Wendi Sotis. Susan Kaye, Pamela Aiden, and Gayle Mills originally intended to be a part of the project, but real life threw several hitches in their plans. Laura Hile, Barbara Cornthwaite, Wendi Sotis, and I kept the dream alive.

Tomorrow, that dream will be realized with the book launch of A Very Austen Christmas, hosted by Claudine Pepe at JustJane1813.  We are very much looking forward to reading Claudine’s review (our first one!), as well as chatting with our readers.

The kindle version is already available for pre-order (to be delivered tomorrow) on Amazon, and the print copy is live, though they are not yet linked together.

Does this sound tempting, lovely readers?

Four favorite authors, four heartwarming stories set in Jane Austen’s Regency world.

Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, and Barbara Cornthwaite revisit Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Mansfield Park to deliver the uplifting holiday storytelling you’re looking for.

Her Christmas Gift by Robin Helm
Elizabeth Bennet finds herself snowbound at Rosings with two rejected, but highly eligible, suitors. Does either man have a chance? Will her childhood friend, Meryton’s golden boy, win her affection, or will she accept the master of Pemberley? Perhaps she will refuse them both a second time. Her Christmas Gift deftly combines tension and emotion with humor and romance.

The Christmas Matchmaker by Laura Hile
It’s raining; it’s pouring – and what could be better than a little Christmas matchmaking? So says Emma Woodhouse who is unexpectedly stranded at Netherfield Park. Mr. Darcy disagrees, for she has someone else in mind for adorable Elizabeth Bennet. Amid meddling, misunderstanding, and an unwelcome proposal or two, will True Love find a way?

No Better Gift by Wendi Sotis
On his way to Derbyshire to spend Christmas with his family, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy plans to retrieve an item he left behind during his rushed escape from Netherfield—and the country miss who touched his heart. Finding Meryton practically deserted, he fears the worst. What fate could have fallen upon this once-thriving village in only three weeks? More importantly, was Miss Elizabeth Bennet in danger?

Mistletoe at Thornton Lacey by Barbara Cornthwaite
When Edmund Bertram realizes that Fanny is the perfect wife for him, he wants to propose without delay. What better time than at Christmas? Ah, but the course of true love never does run smooth …

A Very Austen Christmas - jpeg

The stories are arranged according to length. Mine is really a novella of 30K words, and Laura’s is 24K words. We have decided that we can’t write short stories (insert laugh). Wendi’s is 17K words and Barbara’s is 7K words. Curl up in your PJs with a mug of hot cocoa and enjoy the writing of four friends with quite different styles and story lines.

We hope that Sue, Pamela, and Gayle will be able to join us in our next anthology. (Yes, I just said next anthology!)

Robin’s Reviews

Shatter Me Series, Book 1

shatter-me-new-eye-co1a459Having told JSI readers last week that I was reading the Shatter Me series by author Tahereh Mafi, I felt compelled to review the books for you. I may even make reviewing a regular part of my blogging. With that in mind, my reviews will reflect the way I like to be reviewed myself, knowing what the reviewer liked and what she could have done without. In addition, I will avoid reviewing books in the JAFF genre unless I can comfortably give the author 5 stars.

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting when I began reading the series, but this wasn’t it. Consequently, my first thoughts of Shatter Me, Book 1, were rather negative. The writing is sometimes difficult to read, because it’s nearly all stream of consciousness from the heroine’s point of view, and she’s a mess. But she’s a really hot mess, according to every man who looks at her. She wouldn’t know since she hasn’t looked in a mirror in three years.

Our protagonists, Juliette and Adam, are not normal. I expected that, knowing that the books were Dystopian Young Adult.

the-hunger-games

Tris, Peeta, and Gail (The Hunger Games)  are the most pedestrian of all the DYA heroes I’ve read. Their abnormalities lie in their strength of character, physical abilities, and compassion. In short, they are very believable. I read the books around four times.

Edward and Bella are both supernatural. Edward is a vampire. (I hope I didn’t spoil The Twilight Saga for you. Is there anyone on the planet who hasn’t heard that Edward is a vampire?) He can read minds. Bella is a shield. I read the series at least ten times. (The books are YA, but not Dystopian.)

twilight-saga

Divergent features Tris, who is divergent – a mixture of all the factions, and Four, who appears to be the same, but really isn’t. I never quite grasped why, for he embodied all of them, but for the plot to work, Tris had to be the only true divergent one on the planet. Hence, poor Four, who has already suffered enough, loses his divergent status. I read the books three or four times. Are you sensing a trend? divergent-series

Shatter Me opens with Juliette in an asylum.  She has a supernatural gift (think Rogue in X Men), and she is traumatized beyond endurance. Adam (Bella in The Twilight Saga) is placed in the cell with her. She has had no human contact in more than three years. She can’t touch anyone without killing them, so she’s reverted to a nearly feral state. The books are all from her point of view. Once I understood her difficulties, I was more impressed with the author’s writing. It works for Juliette, though it grated on my English teacher’s nerves. Another thing I didn’t care for, Juliette whined constantly. I began to lose all sympathy for her.

Also, I need to say that there is a good bit of touching and sensuality in Shatter Me, though body parts aren’t named, and they are constantly interrupted before they can do very much physically. They never get past touching, much to Juliette’s frustration. Her inner dialog is quite loud about what she’s experiencing, but not specific. To me, that isn’t erotica, and it didn’t offend me, but it might offend you. I can understand how a person who could never touch anyone in her entire seventeen years without killing them could be carried away if she finally finds an unusually handsome, well-built, kind young man (eighteen years old) who can touch her and not die. Juliette is starving for physical contact.

All of the main good guy characters have supernatural gifts, and I could identify nearly all of them from X Men, The Fantastic Four, and The Avengers.

xmenjpg

The first book in the series, Shatter Me, deals with Juliette’s discovery of more ways to use her gift and revelations about the other supernatural characters. Mafi sets up the next two books, setting the stage for us to hate the antagonist, Warner (another aspect of Rogue in X Men), and The Reestablishment. Every good DYA features an evil government which must be battled. The Reestablishment serves quite nicely.

If you think I didn’t like Shatter Me, think again. I’m rereading the series. If I weren’t caught up in the story, I wouldn’t reread it. Now that I’m reading it with a better understanding of the characters, I’m enjoying it more.

Any book that gets a reread from me deserves 5 stars.

Come back next week for a review of Unravel Me, the second book in the series.

 

What are you reading now?

I’ve posted about the books of my childhood, the books of my teen years, and the books which influenced me. Obviously, I love books!

You do, too, or you wouldn’t be reading this.

So tell me: What are you reading right now?

shatter-me-new-eye-co1a459

My daughter Melanie gave me a set of books for Mother’s Day last year, but real life was keeping me too busy to read anything not on my phone. I read while I wait in doctors’ offices or lines, and I don’t want to carry around paperbacks.

I saw them on a side table yesterday and decided that I’d like to know why these books had captivated her enough that she would spend the money to buy them (in paperback!) and mail them to me.

So far, I have to agree with her. They’re attention-grabbing time sinks. The writing style is different, but I like it. The characters are interesting – not just rewrites of Katniss and Peeta, Bella and Edward, or Tris and Four. Great covers, too!

shatter-me

It’s Dystopian Young Adult, so if that isn’t your “thing,” skip on by. Remember, I’m the reader who loved the Divergent series, The Hunger Games, and The Twilight Saga. Like those books, this is a series. She gave me the next two as well: Unravel Me and Ignite Me.

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know if these grab my attention and hold it or not. I’m not worried about whether or not there are erotic scenes, because my daughter would not read or recommend books that portray graphic sex. Romance? Yes, she would like that.

So, what are you reading now? We at Jane Started It want to know.

 

Understanding Elizabeth

Book Release!

understanding-elizabeth-3dMore and more, I understand Anne Bradstreet’s poem, “The Author to Her Book,” written nearly 350 years ago. The first line, “Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,” just about sums up how I felt when I touched the publish button Tuesday night.

A good writer always reveals a part of herself when she writes, and that’s a bit intimidating. In the case of Understanding Elizabeth, there are clues about my childhood and teen years.

I have never been very good at sports or physical games. I should clarify that I was actually hit in the forehead by a fly ball while holding my glove over my face trying to catch it. I was a teenager playing in a church softball game, and I had the attention of our entire small town at the time. Embarrassing? Yes. It knocked me flat on my back, and I think I passed out for a minute or two. Or maybe I just didn’t want to get up and face the crowd.

A similar incident, in which I was hit in my jaw by a ball straight off the bat, happened in elementary school. I was so humiliated that I stuck my finger down my throat so I could pretend to be sick and go home. It worked. I was a tricky little person.

However, I never had any problems with the three R’s, and I loved that aspect of school. I shared in a previous post that my sister Gayle (a natural-born teacher if there ever was one) taught me to read when I was four. She also taught me to play chess. Since I don’t remember when I couldn’t play, I have no idea how old I was.

I was lousy at basketball, softball, or anything else with “ball” in it, but I loved word games and games of strategy. Playing musical instruments came fairly easily as well, because I enjoyed practicing. My entire family was musical. Gayle and I played piano and flute, Layne played clarinet, and all of us (six children!) sang along with Mama and Daddy.

I incorporated that feeling of joy at being good at something into Understanding Elizabeth. My Elizabeth doesn’t ride a horse, though there’s a lovely scene in which Darcy teaches her (le sigh!), but she’s a chess master. She isn’t shy about it, either. They fall in love over books and chess.

Darcy is socially awkward, but he excels in academic and physical pursuits. He’s a man who can discuss favorite books with the heroine. (My husband read all of Jane Austen’s works so he could understand what my daughters and I were talking about. He’s watched the film versions several times, too. Yes, ladies, there really are men like that.)

These are two capable, intelligent people who recognize their strengths and their weaknesses.

I have no problem with knowing your strong points as long as you also know your limitations. To me, that isn’t being proud; it’s giving yourself realistic goals. It’s okay to feel a sense of accomplishment. It’s fine to be happy with yourself, as long as you don’t settle for less that what you can do.

I hope you enjoy reading Understanding Elizabeth as much as I enjoyed writing it. This book is very different from my six previous books. I will be very interested in your feedback.

 

 

Southern Fried Austen

Bumfuzzled

Lizzy had just put on a new outfit and come out of the dressing room when Caroline Bingley strutted into the store with a full head of steam, loaded for bear.

Caroline: Charlie! You’re so low you’d steal the nickels off a dead man’s eyes. Why didn’t you tell me the store was open? You must be completely bumfuzzled. You know I wanted first choice of everything, and it’s your store, so I should get it. I’m your sister. Lizzy and Jane aren’t related to you.

Charlie: Tie the tent down. Here comes the wind storm. Caroline, we aren’t open yet.

Caroline: Hey! I like that dress Lizzy’s wearing. Who picked it out for her? I know she didn’t choose that herself. She looks almost pretty in it. Lizzy, take it off. I want to try it on. Red’s one of my colors – not yours. It makes you look like a streetwalker, while I would look elegant in it.

Lost and Confused Signpost

Definitely bumfuzzled.

Lizzy: You can have it, Caroline. I don’t really care. You’re right that I didn’t pick it out.

Caroline: I knew it. Who did? Jane?

Darcy: Georgie and I selected it for Lizzy, and it’s hers. I think she’s stunning in it. She and Jane get first choice of everything. You can come in tomorrow.

Caroline: I heard Charlie owns this store as much as you do.

Charlie: No, Caroline. I don’t. Darcy owns sixty percent, and I own forty. Even if we were equal partners, I wouldn’t overrule him for you.

Caroline: It’s not good to put your girlfriend before your family. Wait ’til I tell Daddy you’ve got more loyalty to your girlfriend than you do to your sister.

Charlie: Go ahead and tell him. Jane and Lizzy aren’t just our girlfriends. They’re the store managers. Employees get first pick of everything.

Caroline: You never gave me a chance to work here. That isn’t fair.

Charlie: You’ve never held a job for more than a few weeks. Uncooked meat has a longer shelf life than you do. We needed people who were dependable and well-liked to manage the place. You fuss with near ‘bout everybody, and your buddies wouldn’t buy clothes in a consignment shop. The girls who will come here won’t want someone waitin’ on them who turns up her nose at everyone who isn’t rich. You must be bumfuzzled to think they would.

Caroline: You’re so dumb you couldn’t find your hiney with a flashlight in each hand. I have an army of friends, and they’ll follow me wherever I go. If I shop at CW’s, they will, too. You must’ve forgot I was prom queen twice in high school. Everybody likes me. If I say the clothes in this store are tacky, they won’t shop here. Your stupid little store will go out of business.

Lizzy: She has a point. Just let her have the dress. There are plenty more in here.

Darcy: That’s your dress, but I’m sure Caroline can find something she likes. Bingley, I don’t care if your sister chooses some clothes today. If she wears them around town and tells people where she got them, it will help our business.

Jane: I agree. I don’t want any hard feelings between us. I can’t enjoy my new clothes if Caroline is unhappy about my having them.

Lizzy: I could, but I’d rather have her working with me than against me.

Caroline: Well, Charlie?

Charlie: It gripes me that you always get your dadgum way. I’m bumfuzzled as to why y’all want to give in to her, but I won’t stand in the way if you’re all in favor of it. Fine! Pick out a dress, Caroline.

Caroline: Do I get a family discount?

Charlie: It’s a consignment store, for cryin’ out loud. The prices are already lower than the lowest settin’ of a limbo stick.

Darcy: I don’t object to a ten percent discount. Georgie can have the same deal.

Charlie: This is ridiculous! If you give in to her, it never stops. She always wants more.

Caroline: Ten percent off, or I walk and take all my friends with me.

Charlie: I think I’ve lost one too many balls in the high weeds, but if it’ll make you leave faster, you can have the discount. We’ll give the same deal to Lydia, Kitty, and Mary.

Caroline: Why? They aren’t related to you or Darcy.

Darcy: No, but they’re related to the store managers. I’m beginnin’ to see Charlie’s point. It’s never enough, is it? You not only want the discount, you also want to say who can and can’t have it. It’s not up to you. If you can’t take what’s offered without tryin’ to control everything, you can go somewhere else.

Charlie: Yep. She’d start a fight at the drop of a hat, and she’d drop it herself. She’s meaner than a skillet full of rattlesnakes. She’s a playground bully.

Caroline: Just shut your ten-gallon mouth. I want to shop in peace. Jane, honey, can you help me?

Charlie: Janie’s pickin’ out clothes for herself. You don’t need help.

Caroline: ‘Course I do. Somebody needs to hold what I pick out so I can keep shoppin’.

Charlie: Your arms aren’t broke. Hold your own stuff.

Darcy: You’re not emptyin’ out the store before it opens, Caroline.  Just choose a couple of things and try them on.

Caroline: Will you stay around so I can model them for you like Lizzy’s doin’? I’d like a man’s opinion.

Darcy: I’ll stay out here to see how Lizzy looks. If you come out at the same time, I guess I’ll see you, too.

(Caroline walks away to pick out clothes.)

Lizzy: I’d rather not try on clothes in front of Caroline. She enjoys this stuff, but I don’t. She’s right. I just look ridiculous.

Darcy: There’re more dressing rooms on the other side of the store. Let me help you get your clothes, and we’ll go over there. Charlie can give her “a man’s opinion.”

Lizzy: You’re my favorite weakness. Lead the way.

Darcy: (smiling) You must be the square root of two, because I feel irrational around you.

Lizzy: Your name must be Waldo, ‘cause someone like you is hard to find.

Darcy: Is your name Wi-Fi? I’m feelin’ a connection.

chocolate cake

Lizzy: I love that you look at me like I look at chocolate cake.

Darcy: Did we just share electrons? I’m feelin’ a covalent bond between us.

Lizzy: You breathe oxygen? We have so much in common.

Darcy: You must live in a cornfield. I’m stalkin’ you.

Lizzy: With guns like yours, who needs a phaser?

Darcy: If you were fruit, you’d be a fineapple.

Lizzy: Are you a ninety degree angle? ‘Cause you’re lookin’ right!

Darcy: I want to be the reason you look down at your phone and smile – just before you walk into a pole. Then, I want to be your emergency contact person.

Lizzy: Do you believe in love at first sight? Or should I walk by again?

Darcy: Always walk by again. I’m callin’ this a tie.

Lizzy: I love that shirt. You know what it’s made of?

Darcy: Polyester?

Lizzy: No. Boyfriend material.