Friday Feature–Letters from the Heart

LFTHEvery few weeks, I’ll be posting an excerpt from one of my back list of previously published stories. I tend to like to be organized in my head (even if I can never remember how many books I have out) so I’m just going in order. Maybe once that’s over I can think about themes or series or exciting things. Last month’s post was The Gentleman’s Impertinent Daughter. This week’s excerpt is Letters from the Heart. Have you read it? What did you think of it?

Here’s the (current) blurb:

The line between love and hate has never been closer.

 

Memories of Elizabeth Bennet torture Fitzwilliam Darcy during a winter in London. Resenting his love for her, he writes a cathartic letter intended to release his repressed feelings. When it is mistakenly mailed, there is only one thing he can do.
In Hertfordshire, Elizabeth’s mind returns again and again to the exasperating enigma of Mr. Darcy. Distraught and confused, she journals her hatred for the man but soon misplaces the letter never meant to be read.

When others presume an engagement, their paths seem sealed. However, rather than bringing about a marriage, their words of regret and anger threaten to separate them forever.

A stand alone novella in the Jane Austen Re-imaginings series, Letters from the Heart is for all who need a heartfelt Darcy and Elizabeth fix. Treat yourself to a romantic read from Rose Fairbanks.

 

Well, let’s give my faithful blog readers a treat and let you see Darcy’s letter!


Monday, December 9, 1811

Darcy House, London

 

Dearest, loveliest Elizabeth,

Are you shocked at the forwardness of my address? I should hope not, for I dearly love calling you Elizabeth. You will always be my Elizabeth.

In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.

Have I shocked you again with my declaration of love? I assure you it is a true, constant love. I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun. 

How have you bewitched me? I have seen the beauties of the first circle and have remained unmoved until I was captivated by your fine eyes dancing not in candlelight, but in mirth and obvious joy. I have listened to the most exalted performers in the land, yet it is your performance that plays again in my mind. I have conversed with women educated by the finest masters at the best schools, but not one of them has your unique combination of intelligence, honesty, wit and sweetness. I know many women whom are lauded for their kindness, but I know none who would walk three miles after a storm to nurse a sick sister, or forebear Miss Bingley’s insults with such civility. I have been hunted in ballrooms since my youth, and you are the first woman of my acquaintance to refuse to stand up with me, and certainly the first to not seek my approbation. 

This must be the answer. I love you because you are genuine and unaffected. You do not simper or seek to flatter. The ladies of my acquaintance may be draped in the rarest silk and costly gold trinkets, and tout many so-called accomplishments, but they can only repeat my own opinion. They are not authentic. You are the most delightful woman of my acquaintance, the only real woman of my acquaintance, as the others are mere figments of fashionable society.

But to one of these insipid ladies I will have to shackle myself one day to serve my duty to my family. Your connections in trade and the improper behaviour of your family could never find a place in London society. Though I care little for it, I must protect my family’s position for the sake of my sister and my future children. And the ladies of the ton would be most unkind to you. I should hate to see you abused or regret a connection to me, though I rather think you would laugh at their folly instead.

In moments like these I must confess I would gladly cast aside my concerns about your family and connections, if only you showed me some encouragement. Instead you have fallen under Wickham’s spell of charming manners. Tell me, what is it young ladies find irresistible about the reprobate? His ability to gamble away three thousand pounds given in lieu of a valuable living—at his request—in the course of two years? Or is it his attempts to seduce young heiresses into elopement, as he tried with my sister? 

I should be angry with you. I should be angry that you are foolish enough to believe his lies, and foolish enough to doubt my honour. You destroyed the pleasure of our dance at Netherfield, which was supposed to offer me a lifetime of memories.  Instead you brought up that cad. But I cannot be angry with you. He has deceived many, myself included. I love you entirely, even if you suffer from some misjudgements. I know you by heart – your errors are just further proof of your affectionate character.

I should be angry that you cannot leave my mind for a moment. You have invaded my senses, my every waking hour and each night as well. I want peace and respite from this, Elizabeth! Yet I cannot blame you. It is my weakness that leads me to love a lady unsuitable for my standing. You are not charming, intelligent, witty and beautiful by design. Your enticements are wholly natural and intrinsic.

I am alternately angry and relieved that Miss Bennet does not hold my friend in the same esteem he holds her. If they had married, would I meet with you frequently? Would it be enough to simply keep an acquaintance with you and to satisfy myself with a few lively conversations a year? Would I be forced to see you marry another and bear his children? Or would I claim the honour? And should I try, would you deny me even as you have denied me a dance?

I have made a mess of things, Elizabeth. I cannot see myself through this, though I pride myself in my superior judgment. Since I cannot see clearly, I have run like a coward, hoping the distance would remove the need to find answers, but it has not. You are here with me, Lizzy. You are in my heart.

Perhaps this letter may serve as a balm, and I can regain my composure. Perhaps after this confession I will be able to close my eyes and not see yours laughing at me. It may be that after I conclude this note I will stop searching for your face everywhere I go, remembering your words, and faintly smelling your fragrance.

It may be. I pray it is. And yet my heart tells me there will be none but you residing in it.

Forever yours,

Fitzwilliam Darcy


What would you do if you read such a letter? What do you think Darcy does when he realizes it’s been mailed?

This letter is still one of my favorite things I’ve written. When I posted it on a forum, I had a reader say it reminded her of a scene from It’s a Wonderful Life. I absolutely love that movie so I took it as high praise!

http://youreon.net/wonderful-life-phone-scene/

Buy links: (I am still loading the new cover on the other sites)

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

iBooks

 

Undercover- An Austen Noir by Cat Gardiner- Excerpt

undercoverEarlier this week I was honored to be given an advance copy of Undercover- an Austen Noir by Cat Gardiner. I could not put it down! I really could gush about this book all day. This was the sexiest Darcy I’ve ever read. He’s self-assured but vulnerable. Strong-willed but putty in Elizabeth’s hands. Dutiful to family obligations, but accepting of Elizabeth and supportive of her goals. The way he thinks of Elizabeth blows me away. We know he’s gorgeous and yet when he’s with Elizabeth all he can think about is “Why me?”

It’s not all steam and romance. There’s dark secrets, old betrayals, a kidnapping, a murder, and mysteries to solve. There were so many unexpected twists! Elizabeth and Darcy’s humor and wit shined through. This is a truly unique, one of a kind story.

Here’s the book trailer:

a6d7af8c13f5533d0b132937fadb0664And the blurb:

A Pride and Prejudice, non-canon variation, Undercover brings a unique voice and new style to the genre: Noir, a romantic, crime fiction novel filled with intrigue, steamy nights, and 20th Century historical fiction. Jane Austen’s beloved characters become entangled in a Philip Marlowe-esque adventure of love and mystery.

It’s November 1952 in New York City where mysterious denizens linger in smoky bars and darkened alleys. The second Red Scare is dredging up a new swarm of “Commies”; “duck and cover” are the lingo of the day. And hard-boiled private eyes aren’t always men.

One audacious dame, Elizabeth Bennet, is undercover in a case of suspected murder: her best friend, Mary King, has been missing for eighteen months. Determined to find the man she believes did the girl in—one George Wickham—her investigation collides with an enigmatic bachelor, Fitzwilliam Darcy and his socialite sister, Georgiana.

Darcy is loaded, from a high-society family with all the money and the right connections for a future in politics. Elizabeth’s a career girl from the wrong side of the East River, but the sexual chemistry between them cannot be denied. She is focused on finding Slick Wick and he is hell-bent on stopping her investigation. But why? He’s hiding something, but she’ll use almost every weapon in her H-bomb arsenal to get his lips flapping.

Murder, kidnapping, and a brainy broad with a body for sin are just enough to break Darcy’s stone-cold reserve. She’s so provocative that maybe he’ll even be taking a trip down the aisle despite where she’s from, what she does, and the fact that she knows George Wickham.

Be advised: this novel contains mature sexual content

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Excerpt

Cat let me choose my favorite excerpt, and without hesitation, my mind went to the scene where Darcy first sees Elizabeth. This is a mature excerpt.

Darcy couldn’t tear his eyes off the seductress now exiting the booth on the opposite side of the lounge. She had sat virtually cloaked in darkness, nursing a drink and a cigarette, but for a few fortunate moments of illumination from the meandering stage lights, he could see the fleshy pucker of kissable red lips surrounding the filter or the rim of the glass. He suddenly felt no remorse for crossing the threshold that separated him from the respectable life in which he lived. Not just an affluent financier and member of the best society, he was now a sleazy voyeur—and stalker of the man who proudly wore that low-life distinction.

When the dame rose and stood at the edge of the booth, his eyes traveled the length of her well-formed body silhouetted in a tight-fitting skirt; his gaze lingering on that shapely bottom of hers until she turned to face his direction. Knowing that she couldn’t see him, he smirked then took an appreciative drink of both her and his gin. His stare remained fixed on the exaggerated sway of her hips as she drew closer to the spotlight, legs that reached the stars sauntering provocatively with each step in alluring stiletto shoes. Her vixen body awakened his repressed, hungry need, but her stunning beauty took him by surprise. An exotic vision with light-colored eyes so in contrast to her midnight allure that he was lost adrift in her storm even if she was more than likely a lesbian. Forget Wickham for the moment; his only desire was to observe her. The performer on stage had nothing compared to the allure of this siren calling his name. His hands flexed at the very thought of squeezing her ample assets, pointed prominently, ready for his mouth …

Focus on why you are here! You are not that foolish young carouser you were during the war.

9e9eca8910ae9af59365f0c1c8d5e145The woman was an incendiary bomb. His arousal twitched, his craving growing. Good God, man! Stop this! He shifted uncomfortably in the booth.

As she took the four steps up toward the powder room, he delighted, again, in the rise and fall of her bottom until she was out of sight.

Think of your reputation. Just being here puts you at risk!

But, truth was, keeping his sister from the clutches of his former Navy buddy superseded all personal concerns for his own welfare. He’d risk destroying his career to protect her reputation, fortune, and future. His attention drew back to the degenerate man, once his commanding officer, who had shown him the seedier side of life, manipulating the then wholesome son of a senator to do things he’d never dreamed of doing before serving in the South Pacific. Smoking and a tattoo had been verboten until the USS Stevens, then a girl and hooch whenever he could get them, not to mention the bar fights. Was it war or was it Wickham that made him do the things he’d done?

Darcy took another drink attempting to clear his mind of those mortifying recollections of a young man unfettered from the reigns of good society’s expectations. Maybe Georgiana was feeling the same need for liberty, but she better not act on it with Wickham. He’d follow this man every night to make certain that she was not with him.

Are you dying for more yet? 

Kindle

Nook

About Cat

Cat Gardiner loves romance and happy endings, history, comedy, and Jane Austen. A member of National League of American Pen Women, Romance Writers of America, and her local chapter TARA, she enjoys writing across the spectrum of Pride and Prejudice inspired romance novels. From the comedic Christmas, Chick Lit Lucky 13, and bad boy biker Darcy in the sultry adventure Denial of Conscience, to the romantic comedy Villa Fortuna, these contemporary novels will appeal to many Mr. Darcy lovers. Her newest release is a sultry Pride and Prejudice Noir, just released 4/20/16

Her greatest love is writing 20th Century Historical Fiction, WWII-era Romance. Her debut novel, A Moment Forever will release in late spring 2016 with The Song is You following.

Married 23 years to her best friend, they are the proud parents of the smartest honor student in the world–their orange tabby, Ollie. Although they live in Florida, they will always be proud native New Yorkers.

“I love an adventure! So my storytelling uses fresh innovation to bring the reader on a multi-tiered journey. Incorporating visuals and music, the reader can become immersed with Spotify playlists, blogs, and inspirational image Pinterest boards. Books should be an escape to a time, place, or world where you can lose yourself.”

Connect with Cat here:
* Catgardiner.blogspot.com
* facebook.com/cat.t.gardiner
* cgardiner1940s.com
* twitter.com/40sexperience
* twitter.com/VPPressNovels

*Pinterest

I hope I’ve whet your appetite to pick up this book! Be a “real cream” and be sure to follow Cat on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. She has amazing Pinterest boards!

Sufficient Encouragement- Excerpt + Giveaway

I’m kicking off the blog tour for my latest release, Sufficient Encouragement, right here!

One of the things I love most about JAFF is that we have the freedom to imagine Darcy’s thoughts and feelings on situations. In Sufficient Encouragement, I frequently split a scene in half so you get both Elizabeth and Darcy’s perception of incidents. Here are two excerpts from Chapter Two as Jane and Elizabeth are leaving Netherfield to return to Longbourn.

hands_green

 

Excerpt #1

After a few more awkward and disjointed but adorable remarks between Jane and Bingley, he handed her in. Elizabeth stepped forward and was surprised to feel the warmth of a hand take hers. She nearly gasped when she realised the gentleman was not wearing gloves.

Looking down, she saw a bare, strong, masculine hand hold her own ungloved one. The owner’s thumb lightly stroked across the top of her hand and gave a gentle squeeze. She glanced up in bewilderment and saw the very proper Mr. Darcy attached to the hand that still held her own, and his pale blue eyes seemed to pierce her.

He immediately released her hand, quickly turned, and walked away. He did not even glance at the carriage as it drove away. Elizabeth hated to admit how much his gallantry affected her sensibilities. She had never had a suitor, no man to bow over her bare hand in her home before. If not for the ink spilling on her only pair of gloves, her hands would have been covered. What must he think of her for breaking propriety so much? And why was her heart thumping so wildly in her breast? And what was that look Mr. Darcy gave her?

ThinkstockPhotos-468818072

Excerpt #2

A faint scent of lavender alerted him to Elizabeth’s presence. He barely managed to bid her farewell. Suddenly, his body was moving on its own. His mind still reprimanding itself for not speaking more to Elizabeth, it barely registered that she was about to enter the carriage. He stepped in front of Bingley and handed her in.

A thrill coursed through his body when their hands met. Her skin was so soft that he could not resist the temptation to stroke it with his thumb. He gave her delicate hand a squeeze. If he were more aware, his mind would have been filled with questions, not the least of which would have been, why did she not rip her hand from his? Instead, she lifted her face, and her beguiling eyes met his in wonder.

In a flash, he felt how much he truly desired the young lady before him. Slowly, his mind registered that she was pulling her lean fingers from his hand. He released her hand and quickly walked back into the house, wondering how so much of his life seemed to pass before him in just one instant. How could so much of his life now seem centered in the feeling of her hand in his? As innocent as it was, he ached to hold her hand again, to cradle it, to stroke every inch, to tenderly kiss each lovely finger. His hand reacted in response to his thoughts.

Once safely in the library, momentarily away from even Miss Bingley’s cloying remarks and Bingley’s sadness, he allowed himself to ponder what on earth had just happened.

Darcy paced. He had always been careful not to raise the hopes and expectations of any of the ladies of his acquaintance. Not that it stopped most from having hopes. But there had been occasions when he had been prompted by a forward lady or two to touch a bare hand. Any doubts he may have had about his attraction to Elizabeth Bennet died even as his body came alive in a way he had never known.

His reason told him it was mere attraction, infatuation, perhaps lust and carnal desire — and nothing more — that caused his reaction. His will determined that it could withstand the temptation of Elizabeth Bennet for a few more days. He would soon return to Town — far, far away from her—and be lost in his worries once again.

There were beautiful ladies of the ton. There were witty, intelligent, kind, and accomplished ladies by the dozen, or so he had been told. True, he was fastidious, and he refused to bend on that, but surely Elizabeth Bennet was not the only woman who could fit his definition of perfection.

Perfection? When had he determined she was the lady most suited to him?

No, that thought would not do. She could not be the only woman whose touch ignited his dormant passion.

Passion? When had he determined his feelings were so passionate?

He was never passionate, and yet it was difficult to ignore his body’s impulse to rush after her and take her in his arms. He would kiss her lips mercilessly until she could tease him no longer. And then he would…

He shook his head. Nothing but carnal desire, certainly. He would not be a slave to such feelings. Other suitable ladies existed, he reasoned. He was only too busy before to notice these other women, to make their acquaintance. There was no such thing as destiny. And if there were, he could not afford it.

Surely there must be ten ladies who may stand in even better light than Elizabeth Bennet!

Just to firm his resolve and not at all because he was fleeing from the lady, his next thought was London. I must leave immediately for London.

His solitude was, welcomingly, broken by Bingley.


Darcy’s got it bad! Here’s the book synopsis.

SE final 4We are all fools in love…

Some say a lady’s imagination is very rapid. Such is the case when Elizabeth Bennet overhears that Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy admires her eyes. She thinks nothing for herself, but immediately considers her dearest sister’s growing attachment to Mr. Darcy’s friend. If Elizabeth spurns such a wealthy — and proud — gentleman, he might do everything in his power to separate his friend from her sister.

Raised in a world of expectations and pedigree, Darcy knows Elizabeth Bennet can offer him nothing of material value. As his attraction for her grows, he becomes increasingly convinced his feelings are nonsensical. Still, he might forsake it all if only he had true encouragement.

Misunderstandings lead to betrayals and the couple soon learns falling in love takes courage but staying in love requires forgiveness. Traversing from the groves of Hertfordshire to the drawing rooms of London to the complexity and danger of Luddite revolts in Yorkshire, Sufficient Encouragement follows Darcy and Elizabeth’s journey of love and forgiveness.

*This story contains a scene of nonexplicit sexual violence.


Sufficient Encouragement is the first in the When Loves Bloom series. It stands alone as the story of Darcy and Elizabeth’s courtship and first days of marriage.

About the When Love Blooms Series

“Love is like a flower, for it is well worth the toil to cultivate it.” She shrugged her shoulders, “Love is beautiful.”

Take a stroll in the garden of love and enjoy the unique blooms of the intersecting lives of the Bennet, Darcy, Fitzwilliam, de Bourgh and Bingley families. Sufficient Encouragement follows Darcy and Elizabeth as they fight to save their love from an unexpected frost while Jane and Bingley’s love grows strong roots. The companion story, Renewed Hope, adds depth to the bouquet with the love stories of Darcy’s cousins and Miss Bingley. The third book in the series, Extraordinary Devotion, follows Darcy and Elizabeth’s marriage while their younger sisters experience a London Season.

Pre-order now!


Check out my About Me section!  You can connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


SE blog tour final

Sufficient Encouragement Blog Tour Schedule

4/16: Excerpt & Giveaway at Stories from the Past

4/17: Excerpt at My Jane Austen Book Club

4/18: Excerpt & Review at The Ardent Reader

4/19: Excerpt & Giveaway at Diary of an Eccentric

4/20: Interview & Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews

4/21: Review at Half Agony, Half Hope

4/22: Guest Post at Babblings of a Bookworm

4/25: Review at Just Jane 1813

4/26: Guest Post at More Agreeably Engaged

4/28: Guest Post & Review at From Pemberley to Milton


Giveaway!!

I’m giving away ONE ebook and ONE paperback to two lucky winners. Both open internationally! Comment below about why you love Mr. Darcy.

Please enter by Friday, April 22, 2016 at 11:59 PM EST.

Love Lasts Longest- Excerpt and Giveaway!

I’m so excited to announce the release of my latest book, a collection of short stories! They were loads of fun to write and I think you’ll enjoy reading them too! As a busy woman I’ve got so many things to do when I get a break in the day it’s not for very long. I was always the type to have a book at my side, even while waiting for the doctor, but I HATE having to put it away. I ALWAYS get interrupted at the good part!! These short stories are designed to fill those few moments of quiet time you have when instead of playing candy crush or thumbing through a left over magazine caked in germs, you can dive into the world of Darcy and Elizabeth for a quick swim of refreshing romance.

Here’s an excerpt from Tolerable Feelings.

LLL_finalBlurb for Tolerable Feelings: When Charles Bingley accidentally tears Jane Bennet’s gown at their first encounter, they must wed to save her reputation—or so Mrs. Bennet says. What can it mean for Darcy and Elizabeth if the issue of Jane and Bingley’s marriage is not a source of disagreement?

*****

March 2, 1812

Bingley residence, London

“Eliza! Are you certain you must leave Town on the morrow to spend so much time in Kent? You will be missing much of the Season, and Colonel Brandon seems quite taken with you!”

Elizabeth quelled the urge to roll her eyes at Caroline. They had both been staying with the Bingleys for several months, and Caroline assumed a false closeness with her. “I will be very happy to visit my friend and enjoy all Kent has to offer. I am certain Colonel Brandon will find other agreeable company.”

Caroline tsked. “Always so imprudent. First rejecting the parson, resulting in your mother’s insistence in your banishment from your family home, and now spurning a wealthy and agreeable suitor.”

“He is hardly a suitor. Mere dances are not the same as paying court.”

Instead of replying, Caroline declared a desire to perform on the pianoforte. After she left, Darcy took her place and spoke with Elizabeth.

“Did you enjoy the evening?” They had just returned from a ball in Town and now were having a light supper at Jane and Bingley’s house.

“It was certainly tolerable.” Darcy grinned, and Elizabeth smiled at the sight. She could not understand why he was never provoked by her teasing but was pleased she could always humour him.

“Do you truly look forward to your holiday in Kent?” He studied his hands before adding, “Or do you only desire a change in companionship?”

Elizabeth sighed. “I do miss Charlotte, and I am always curious to see more of the world. As for my London companions, I find them all excessively agreeable, save one. I do not know why she dislikes me so!”

They both looked towards Caroline, who narrowed her sharp eyes at them. “Perhaps she is jealous of certain friendships you have established.”

“A friendship is hardly the sort of thing Caroline is likely to be jealous over.”

Certain friendships easily inspire jealousy,” he said gravely, and when Elizabeth turned to see his face, she was surprised to see an unmistakable look of admiration in his eyes.

She said nothing as her heart beat faster. Surely he could not be implying he cared for her! Why, they had been friends for months now, and he never said a thing!

Before she could gather her wits, Darcy spoke. “How long will you be at Hunsford?”

“I am to remain six weeks.”

Darcy grinned. “I have recently had a letter from my aunt and conferred with my cousin. We are to visit her for Easter.”

Elizabeth smiled. Darcy’s presence would be an agreeable addition to what otherwise would likely be mostly ridiculous company. They moved to the coffee table to refill their cups.

“My sister will miss your friendship in your absence.” She reached for his cup, and his hand lingered on hers for a moment. “May I hope you will miss certain friendships as well?”

Elizabeth could hardly breathe. He removed his hand, but hers now felt afire. Dropping her eyes, she managed to reply, “Yes, I will.”

She heard a quick intake of breath and gathered courage to look at him. Although he tried to hide it, she easily noticed his smile. “I wish you a very enjoyable stay then.”

Before Elizabeth could make sense of why the candles all seemed to burn brighter, the music sounded sweeter, and all the company more enjoyable, Darcy was making his apologies to his hosts. Unaware of her eagerness to catch one last glimpse of him, her eyes locked with his before he left with a slight smile on his face.

****

Ah! So sweet! But can it really be that simple for them? You’ll have to find out what happens in Kent!

Amazon is still working on linking the pages, so for now it’s separate.

Kindle

Paperback

It is in the Kindle Unlimited program, which means I can’t sell it on other vendors for 90 days.

Giveaway

I’m giving away 2 ebooks, open international. Comment below to be entered. Entries close Sunday, September 27, 9:59 pm EST. It’s not a lot of time, but I’m going to be out of town all of next week and want it taken care of before I leave.

Inspired by Grace- Excerpt + Giveaway

IBGI’m so pleased to have Jeanna Ellsworth back for another round! Here she shares with us some of her writing experience and how  she got started not only in Jane Austen Fan Fiction but original historical fiction as well. I’ve been enjoying non-JAFF Regency fics lately so I was more than happy to host Jeanna again! There’s also an excerpt from a really beautiful moment and a giveaway!


Thank you Rose for hosting me on your blog! This is the secomd time I’ve been on your blog and am so excited to share with everyone about my latest release, Inspired by Grace, published in the middle of May. Many of you may not know my writing history so I will tell you a little about how I got started. First of all, I never wanted to be a writer. In fact, English feels like a second language sometimes (even though it is not)! When my editor gets ahold of my raw work, she returns it with red plastered in every sentence and I think, “Yes, that is how real people speak! I must have used Google translate to write the rough draft.” I also happen to be a nurse and when I didn’t get into BYU’s nursing program the first semester, they suggested I retake the class that I got the lowest grade in. Since I got a B in English, I retook the class and, well, got another B. But I got into the program anyway the second semester. Needless to say, I am very grateful to Katrina Beckstrand, my editor. She sees the potential of what I write and adds the “something else” to make it just what we want. (I’ll explain quoting “something else” in a minute.)

I started writing because of my Darcy and Elizabeth obsession was getting out of hand. My sister, KaraLynne Mackrory, introduced me to Jane Austen Fan Fiction, and yes, I blame her entirely, because she would send me chapters of her book as she wrote them and I was getting impatient for the next chapter. She would tell me to read other books and those of us who love JAFF know what a slippery slope that is. I read everything I could get my hands on and after about 4 months and at least (low estimate) 50 books later, I began to wonder how sane I was anymore. You see, Darcy and Elizabeth were having conversations in my head and I knew that either I was going to write a book to let them express themselves, or I was going to be diagnosed schizophrenic. I chose to write a book; the sanity diagnosis is still debatable. J So I began writing and really haven’t stopped. I just finished my seventh book in 3 ½ years and already have plans for book eight.

Although fan fiction is where I got started, I began to have impressions of new characters with new experiences and problems. This is how Inspired by Grace was born. I looked at my 17 year old daughter and realized that she was a strong female lead. She had all the right ingredients for a heroine that people could fall in love with. She had great quirks that I could expand on and so I wrote a book with a heroine that is very similar to her. The book was published the day she turned 18 and she is the model on the cover! How many parents can say they immortalized their child with worldwide stardom on their 18th birthday?

Well, enough about me, let me introduce you to Inspired by Grace. Here is the back cover intrigue.

“She was never the demure lady who was afraid of getting her petticoat dirty. He was never the calm and collected lad who coddled her. What had started as friendship had evolved into something quite tangible . . .”

A lady always hopes that the man she falls in love with will sweep her off her feet in a dramatic and graceful way. Well, for Grace Iverson, at least it was dramatic. Her childhood best friend, Gavin Kingston—now His Grace, the Duke of Huntsman—is still just as clumsy as ever.

Despite their painful separation as children, a chance encounter has offered them a second opportunity for happiness. But after ten years apart, they both carry hidden scars. Trust takes time. And soon, forces from the past threaten to destroy the love they both have hoped for all of their lives.

Can Grace’s best friend break down her emotional fortress and prove his love before she disappears from his life a second time?

This lovely Regency romance started well before either of them knew what they wished for in a partner; but it will surely be one that stands the test of time.

And now, here is an excerpt for you all to whet your appetite. This scene takes place as a flashback when Gavin was 16 and Grace was 14. It was a fun scene to write and it explains a bit about how sometimes we do not know how to describe what just happened, sometimes things move in directions that really are “something else”. Hope you enjoy it! Sorry it is a bit long.

*****

She walked to the music box and did what she had seen him do, twisting the knob on the back to buy herself more time to think. He felt remorse for that last dance lesson. He had not meant to cross into that “something else”; it had been an accident, a mistake.

Her fingers continued to turn the knob as she debated in her heart how she felt about that. She had already decided that as long as she had her best friend back, friendship was enough. As the music began, she realized it was playing the very same song they had danced to at their last lesson. She was taken back to that moment.

Grace thought Gavin had improved a great deal over the four weeks of dance lessons. In fact, she had to admit he had never been so graceful. The music made him elegant. They had gotten to the point where the dance master, Mr. Moser, would play at the piano and call out corrections rather than call out the steps. At times, Grace forgot they were rehearsing and imagined herself at a real ball. Although, in a classic Gavinism, Gavin had lost one of his gloves in the mud that afternoon. Mr. Moser grudgingly permitted them to dance with bare hands, just this one time.

“Lord Gavin, lighter on the ball of your toes. Miss Iverson, chin up,” Mr. Moser instructed from across the room.

Grace did as she was told, and the dance brought them together again. Gavin quickly whispered, “Gigi, I need to speak with you. I leave in two days, and I cannot go without telling you what I meant when I said I would marry you.”

Her heart started racing. When he had first said that someone big and brave would take her away from him, she had grown cold in her heart. No love could ever be worth having to give up her best friend. She was not sure she wanted to discuss it, but this was Gavin; she held nothing back from him. “There is nothing to explain,” Grace whispered. “I have decided I shall never marry if it means having to give you up.”

“No, that is not what I meant. Someday you will fall in love. Real love. Not the kind of silly love that your sister reads in her ladies’ novels. You are simply too special for men not to see your worth.”

She whispered back so that Mr. Moser did not hear, “Truly, it is all right. I have a plan. I shall be the governess to your children. We will still be able to see each other every day.”

Gavin’s response was far too quick. “I do not want that.”

At first his words hurt, but then he explained, “I do want to see you every day, but I cannot employ you. I care too much for you. Gigi, I love you. When I said I would marry you, I meant it. Not to save you from being a spinster, but because you are the only one my heart wants. I thought I was content to be just best friends. I thought that was enough. But I am more convinced than ever that it is not.”

Grace nearly tripped in her steps, and she heard Mr. Moser call out, “Focus, Miss Iverson. Now take his hand and promenade down. Quick-step, kick, slow-step. That is right.”

Grace turned to look at Gavin. “You want to marry me?”

“I think it is the only option I have. I cannot give you up; you are far too dear to me. I cannot imagine greeting you as Mrs. Monroe or Mrs. White. You will always be my Gigi. Mine. I am too selfish to let someone else claim you.”

Just then his mother came into the room, and Mr. Moser stopped playing to speak with her. Gavin halted and turned toward Grace. The moment was more than she could have asked for. “Gavin, we are too young to know whether the kind of love we have for each other will really cement a lasting marriage. Marriage should be based on friendship, but it needs more than just that.”

Mr. Moser interrupted their discussion and called out, “The duchess needs to speak with me for a moment. You may relax until I return.” Both Gavin and Grace watched them leave. The discussion was all too private as it was, but now there was something tangible in the air.

Gavin took her hand and asked, “Tell me, Grace. What else does a marriage need?”

Grace may have been only fourteen, but she was pretty confident in her ideas. “To make a marriage work, there has to be that ‘something else’. A man needs to love a woman enough to make her insides melt. He needs to be able to make her knees go weak with a single kiss, and—”

But before she could finish describing what she had read about, he took her face in both his hands and placed his lips on hers to silence her. It was no small act. Without conscious thought, her lips responded in kind, and she felt her mind lose all coherent thought. It was as if time had slowed down, and she could feel each and every heartbeat as a distinct thump in her chest. LUB-DUB. LUB-DUB. The sound got louder and louder as her lips caressed his, making her very insides melt and her knees go weak.

He pulled away, and she opened her eyes to see his chestnut brown orbs shining down at her. The corners of his mouth pulled up, and he said, “Is that what is missing between us?”

He still had his hands on each side of her face. He held her so close that his breath cooled her heated, swollen, wet lips. She reached up and kissed him again. This time, he let go of her face and pulled her into his arms, but before the kiss could get heated, they heard Mr. Moser’s voice and they both jumped away.

“Miss Iverson! I think you should be getting home. Now.”

She looked over at Gavin. He was not even pink. She was blushing from the tip of her toes to her ears, and he had the confidence to act as if being found kissing a girl happened every day! Gavin grinned and said, “I will walk you home.”

“No,” Mr. Moser quickly said, “I think I will accompany Miss Iverson home. Lord Gavin, I think you should redirect yourself. Perhaps something physically diverting.”

Gavin then reached for Grace’s hand and kissed it. “What a beautiful way to end our dance lessons. Have a wonderful day, Miss Iverson.”

It was the first time he had ever called her “Miss Iverson”, instead of “Gigi” or the occasional “Grace”. He seemed to have matured in the last few minutes. Where she once knew a boy, now she saw a young man who would someday soon be a grown gentleman. A gentleman who had just made her insides melt.

She let him kiss her hand, and she curtsied. Gavin had kissed her hand before, of course—acting out Romeo and Juliet or some other play—but this time the kiss lingered; his lips pressed in a way that meant something more.

She knew it, and she knew that he knew it. They had just crossed from best friends into “something else.”

*****

jeanna ellswrothHope you enjoyed it! If you did, comment on it and enter yourself in a chance to win either a paperback (U.S. only) or an eBook (internationally) of Inspired by Grace. If you simply cannot wait to read the rest of the book, it is available on Amazon as both paperback and kindle eBook. If you would like to connect with me in other ways, here is how.

www.facebook/jeanna.ellsworth.com

Twitter name @ellsworthjeanna

Blog and website for latest information: www.heyladypublications.com

Thanks again Rose for hosting me! Hope you all tell your friends about it.


Thanks for stopping by, Jeanna! Giveaway ends Friday July 24 11:59 pm EST.

WIPSunday: A Sense of Obligation

This week I didn’t get to write anything new, which means it’s been a crazy week. Instead, I edited A Sense of Obligation. I’ve mentioned before that I expanded Jane and Bingley scenes and here’s a snippet from one of my favorite additions!


dress finalIn the carriage on the way to his solicitor’s office, he shook his head. Caroline had not taken the news of his engagement to Jane well. She took the news of Darcy’s engagement to Elizabeth even worse. When Miss Lucas’ betrothal was announced at the ball, Caroline’s mouth fell open. He found Charlotte Lucas very pleasant company, but women like his sister only saw that she was plain, nearly on the shelf, and had no fortune and no style. Caroline had not kept her complaints to herself in the days between the ball and Darcy’s wedding.

“What can possibly recommend her to him?” she asked over breakfast while Darcy was out riding the morning after the ball.

“I daresay he loves her,” Louisa replied.

“Love? Nonsense! Why should a man of Mr. Darcy’s stature marry a woman as lowborn as Eliza Bennet for love?”

He and Louisa shared a look and simply shook their heads.

“He has a duty to his estate and blood line to marry someone of better standing. It was rumoured he would make a match with his cousin.”

Bingley rolled his eyes. “You have spent years saying that rumour was incorrect. You cannot change your opinion merely because he did not choose you.”

Caroline scoffed and rose to pour another cup of tea. “You ought to have done better than Jane, too,” she said. She furiously stirred the tea, and the spoon clanging on the side of her teacup grated his nerves nearly as much as her words.

“Jane is a gentleman’s daughter and will make a wonderful mistress to any estate I purchase. I have done fine by my duty.”

Mr. Hurst grumbled, “See to yours now, Caroline.”

She returned to her seat and pouted a moment. “There were far too many betrothals announced at the ball! Reverend Black’s scandalous sermon the other week must have instigated all of these. Good heavens! Can you imagine Miss Lucas found in a compromising position?”

“That is enough! I will not allow you to malign another person’s name at my table.” It had felt good to take a firm stand.
Caroline continued as though she did not hear. “It must be why Darcy proposed to Eliza as well. I am certain she used some kind of allurement on him when she stayed here. There was no need for her to arrive at all! She came solely to gain Mr. Darcy’s notice!”

Bingley stood and tossed his napkin on the table. “You have gone too far. You have attempted to smear Miss Lucas’ name and now Darcy and Miss Elizabeth’s. Who is next? Jane? Me?”

“Do be serious, Charles. You at least liked Jane the entire time we have been here. If only you would have returned to Town, we could have nipped this little infatuation in the bud, but you must see it is quite different than Darcy’s interest in Eliza.”

Bingley had turned red in anger. “It is clear you will not learn. I will not be beholden to your welfare any longer. You know I journey to London in part to change matters of your dowry as you are recently of age, and I am no longer your guardian. As such, you will have complete control of your shares of our Father’s company, and I encourage you to either marry this Season or make plans for your own establishment, for you will no longer be welcome in my home.”


A Sense of Obligation is available now for preorder on Amazon and will be releasing there, Nook, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, ibooks, GooglePlay and Scribd (I hope) on July 25th.

Author Interview + Excerpt + Giveaway! Melanie Schertz

I wanted to get this up last weekend but I was sick and then I knew I’d be posting a few things this week with my book release and I didn’t want to post on top of this. If you’ve read Jane Austen Fan Fiction for a bit then you’ve probably read some by Melanie Schertz. She publishes so frequently she was like a reader’s dream when I found the genre! I even found the online forums because I was trolling for more by her. I wish I were doing this closer to the release of one of her books, but I’ll try to have her on again later in the year, then. Without further ado…

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Interview

Like all your books, On the Road to Ramsgate begins with an enthralling deviation from Canon. How did the inspiration strike you for this opening?

It was a different take, which is something I prefer to do with my stories. There are few stories out there that delve into what would have happened had Darcy been too late to save his sister from Wickham, and then to have Darcy and Elizabeth literally run into each other at that pivotal moment was something I wanted to play with. Also, how I handled what happens to Georgiana Darcy was completely against the norm of that time. But Darcy has never been, in my opinion, one to follow the norms.

Elizabeth Bennet suffers quite an injury in this book and ends up needing to use canes to move around. In fact, she also suffers from depression due to the injury even as she insists on keeping her independence. In the last year, you had knee replacement surgery. Is there a part of your experience in Elizabeth Bennet’s?

I do have depression, and I openly admit to being on medication. I think there is too much negative stigma still on any sort of mental illness, including depression, anxiety, and many others. But, as Elizabeth does in the book, I found that being loved, having people who honestly cared about me, made a tremendous difference in my life. In the story, it allows Elizabeth to heal nearly to her before accident condition. The twins and Darcy help her to feel whole again. Though her aunt and uncle had done their best for her, it was not the same sort of love, and the desire to be needed and to be useful to others was something Elizabeth needed, not people feeling sorry for her.

What is your favorite part about writing?

I love playing with the characters. We know how Jane Austen wrote the characters, but she also left room to take them out, play with them, and still have them fall in love. The characters can be moulded and crafted to what I want them to be. In this story, I made Jane a nasty for the first time. It was so much fun being able to take the meek and sweet Jane and turn her into a fortune hunter, bitter hag. But what led her to become that person, how did she get there? That is fun developing.

Do you have any sort of writing routine or strategy you must follow?

Well, unlike many writers I have come to know, I do better with chaos around me. The TV on, or music playing, or some sort of noise. Too much quiet and I go bonkers. Too many years of having to write reports in details for the police department, with the radio chatter going on, people talking to me, and such. I also sit on my bed, legs pulled up so that the computer sits on my feet and lower legs as I type. Usually, one or more of the animals is trying to grab my attention, as my service dog, Darcy, is trying to do at this very moment. He has his head beside the computer and is sighing.

I don’t do an outline or plot everything out ahead of time. I go with the flow and whatever comes to mind is what I work with.

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Why do you think Jane Austen’s works are so timeless and still appealing to us 200 years later?

The characters are timeless. We have all known a Wickham or Willoughby in our lives, or perhaps a Mr Collins or Lady Catherine. And we all dream of one day finding someone who will love us, for all our faults as well as our pluses. I think that her work was done in a simple style which is easy to read and understand, and Jane Austen took a step forward for women when women had very few rights. Having worked in a “Man’s Job” for most of my life, I feel she has helped us move past what is expected of us as “female” to move into new worlds.

Also, with the social media connecting the world as it does now, we can reach out to one another, share our opinions, tell each other when there is a new book coming out or check out each other’s blogs. Look at all the research which goes into all the blogs that are posted each and every week, giving us information from the Regency time frame, history on how life was for Jane Austen, sharing with each other our fantasies of who would make the best Mr Darcy, or even helping each other improve and reach farther. I am so grateful to be a part of Austen Authors, as there are so many amazing authors there who have so many different talents that we are using to help each other with things like posting, artwork for book covers, audiobooks, and more. Jane Austen has helped us look to expand and be who we want to be.

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What are your two favorite works by Jane Austen and how would you say they differ?

Of course, Pride and Prejudice, and the second would have to be Persuasion. In P&P, you have Lizzy who is impertinent, outspoken, everyone knows her and, for the most part, love her. Even when she is wrong, she does not sit back and let anyone walk over her.

In Persuasion, you have Anne Elliot who is trampled by her family, who are all miserable people. They are selfish, they expect Anne to take care of them and their problems, while outside her family Anne is well loved by all who know her. She places her own happiness aside for her family, and she is pretty much treated as a servant. It was wonderful to see her finally stand her ground and accept the man she had loved for years, and thought she had lost. Where Lizzy Bennet was always a strong, impertinent young lady, Anne was always the submissive one, until she finally blew off the family and chose for her own happiness.

I know there is a Darcy in your life! Can you tell us about him?

This is funny, as the 2 relationships I have had both ended up badly. My daughter’s father is an alright guy, but he disappears from his family for years at a time. The second guy, the relationship ended when he had me pinned to the floor, my arm twisted behind my back, with his hand around my neck. He whispered in my ear that he could be lethal if he wanted to be. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. So, my daughter teases me that I write love stories. I had to have a good imagination or she wouldn’t have been born.

melanie's darcyMy Mr Darcy at this point is my handsome service dog, named Darcy. I have finally learned the hard lesson of not settling, and to like myself and who I am rather than base from the views of others. Darcy is not only loyal, he is my protector and a love.  He can tell when I am not up to my best and watches over me.  We have fights at times as to who is the boss, though I end up winning the battle of wills.  He and his kitty (Lizzy, of course) were adopted together, 2 days after i got my first royalty check.  So those who bought my books made it possible for me to have Darcy and Lizzy. (and yes, she is extremely impertinent and climbs everywhere).

What are your current projects?

I am over half way done with The Bennet and Darcy Arrangement. It has the Bennet family being an off shoot of the Darcy family, and the 2 families have been friends for most of their lives. Elizabeth and Darcy have grown up together, and there is an arrangement for them to marry.

Do you naturally enjoy history or was it only after becoming an Austen fan that your interest grew?

I grew up with antiques all around me, and was very close to my grandparents. They taught me so much about history, and learning from the past.

Can you tell us about your first Austen experience?

I am dyslexic, and as a kid, in a time when no one knew what dyslexic was, I avoided reading as much as possible. So, I was a late bloomer to being an Austen Addict, after seeing the 2005 movie. It was amazing to be able to read Jane Austen’s work and be able to understand what she was saying, which helped me work towards improving my reading skills. So Jane Austen has done a great deal for me.

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Excerpt of On the Road to Ramsgate

“Mr Darcy, we did not expect you to be here.” Mrs Lowe announced as she stepped closer to the gentleman. “Your sister did not say you would be coming, especially as she departed just this morning.”

            “Departed? To where was she heading?” Darcy was shocked, as his sister, Georgiana, was to remain at Ramsgate for another fortnight, when he was to come to collect her.

            “She and Mrs Younge left with a gentleman. They stated they were to journey north, so I assumed they were going to Pemberley. Is your estate not in the north, in Derbyshire?”

            “Yes, it is. Who was the gentleman with whom they were traveling?” Darcy asked, confused with what was being said.

            “Mr Walker…no, that is not correct. Wilson? No, Wilkens, I think.” The housekeeper had not been introduced to the man, only heard Miss Darcy and her companion, Mrs Younge, speak of the young man.

            “Could it be Wickham?” Darcy felt an icy chill take hold of his heart.

            “Yes, that is the name. George Wickham. He came in a carriage to collect the ladies. I believe your sister declared him to be a long time family friend.”

            “Good God, this is beyond belief. How long ago did they leave?”

            Mrs Lowe was surprised at the gentleman’s behavior. “They left near nine this morning.”

            Darcy looked at the pocket watch he had pulled from his vest pocket. It was now almost four in the afternoon. “Have my carriage ready to leave as soon as possible. I need to check my sister’s rooms and then I will be leaving.” He shouted his orders as he headed up the stairs to the rooms Georgiana had used while she stayed in Ramsgate.

            Darcy was well acquainted with George Wickham. And he knew of what his former friend was capable.

George Wickham was the son of Darcy’s father’s steward. Mr Gerald Darcy had been pleased with his steward’s years of dedicated service to Pemberley, and had been named the god father for George when he was born. Mr Darcy was saddened when the steward had died suddenly from what was later learned to be a heart condition for which he had refused to be treated. The physician had insisted that Mr Wickham take medication to treat the condition, but the steward stated that he did not wish to appear weak. He died when George was only ten years old.

Mr Darcy had been fond of George, and paid for the boy to be educated alongside his son. By the time George was in school, his true nature was clear to young Darcy.

George had a passion for gambling, and it did not matter to him that he did not have the finances to live the lifestyle he desired. George was also fond of the ladies. He had ruined many a lady, no matter if she were young or old, servant or wealthy, rich or poor. The man had an insatiable hunger for bedding the ladies. Mr Darcy was kept in the dark of his godson’s behavior, as his son wished to protect the Master of Pemberley from the pain which would be inflicted.

When Mr Darcy died, only five years previously, he had left an inheritance of one thousand pounds and the living at Kympton parish, should George take orders to become a parson. Fortunately, George declined to take orders, stating a preference for the law. Darcy was pleased to see George’s decision, as he did not believe the reprobate to be a proper candidate to lead a parish. Darcy agreed to pay George three thousand pounds in addition to the one thousand bequeathed him, after George signed papers releasing Darcy from any further claims.

With the papers signed and the funds given to Wickham, Darcy prayed that there would never be a reason to cross paths with the man again. Unfortunately, only a year previous, Wickham darkened Darcy’s doorstep again. He declared himself a changed man and was ready to take orders, wishing the living to which he had signed away claim. At first, Wickham put on a mask of sincerity, though it quickly dissolved. When Darcy stated he would not give the living to Wickham, the scoundrel began making all sorts of threats against him. After Wickham was dragged from Darcy House by servants, Darcy hired a man from Bow Street Runners to investigate Wickham. It was learned that Wickham had accumulated extensive debts, totaling over five thousand pounds. He was on the run from some of the men to which he owed money, as they had placed a price on his head. It appeared that Wickham wished to have the living so he would have somewhere to lay low from his creditors.

Again, Darcy prayed it would be the last time their paths would cross. But it was not to be. Now, Wickham had abducted Georgiana. Darcy cursed to himself for leaving Georgiana with only her companion, and for not telling Georgiana the truth of George Wickham’s nature.

Darcy knew his cousin, Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam, was currently staying in London, so he would go there first. Richard shared guardianship over Georgiana with Darcy, and the military man despised Wickham. With Richard’s skills, they should be able to locate Georgiana quickly. At least, that was what Darcy hoped.

The weather was matching Darcy’s mood, as the rainstorm grew in intensity. The wind began to blow, rocking the carriage, and the rain was making the road difficult for the wheels, sliding in the mud.

There was a loud shout from the top of the carriage, just before the carriage turned sharply. Then there was a crash, as if something had struck the carriage. Darcy was thrown across the carriage, before it began to tip over. Over and over it went, flipping more times than Darcy could count. Then the carriage came to an abrupt stop, flinging Darcy head first into one of its corners. The world turned black and cold as Darcy slipped into a world of unconsciousness.

~~ ** ~~

“Papa.” Elizabeth screamed as their carriage lost control, sliding until it struck something hard. It continued to slide, as Elizabeth attempted to hold on to her father.

“Hold tight my dear girl.” Mr Bennet said, attempting, but failing, to keep his voice calm.

It seemed like the carriage slide forever, before it slid into another hard object, bringing the carriage to a complete halt as it broke into pieces. All Elizabeth could remember was her hand being pulled from her father’s, as she was thrown from the splintered side of what had been their carriage. She was lying on her back in mud, as the rain pummeled her.

She attempted to stand, crying out as she fell back to the ground. Stabbing pain shot through her from her left leg. “Papa, where are you?” Elizabeth called out. “Please, Papa, where are you?”

There was no answer. “Papa, I cannot stand. My leg is injured. Please, I need you Papa.”

“Miss Elizabeth.” The voice came from several feet to her right. She was dazed at first, but realized it was the voice of their driver.

“Matthew, are you injured?”

“My arm, I believe I broke it when I fell off the carriage.”

“Where is my father?” Elizabeth asked frantically.

“I have not seen him. He might still be inside the carriage.”

Elizabeth made another attempt to stand, only to cry out and fall down again. “Please, Matthew, look for him.”

The driver went to the carriage’s remains and looked inside. He could see Mr Bennet, and it was obvious that his employer was no longer living.

OTRTRGiveaway!!

Melanie is graciously giving away one print copy and one ebook copy of On the Road to Ramsgate. Please comment with the format you desire to enter for below. Drawing will close on Friday, April 17th at 11:59 pm EST. Be sure the e-mail you use to leave a comment is the best way to contact you.

Blurb: A Pride and Prejudice variation. The worlds of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet literally collide. During a violent storm, Darcy races to recover his sister from George Wickham. At the same time, Elizabeth and her father are traveling to holiday in Ramsgate with the Gardiner family. When the two carriages collide, their lives will be altered forever.

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Thanks for sharing with us, Melanie!!