Tuesday, 18 October 2016

"The Many Lives Of Fitzwilliam Darcy" Blog Tour ~ Review & Giveaway!

Hello Fellow Readers!

Today I have the pleasure of reviewing  ‘The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy' By Beau North & Brooke West, Including a book Giveaway!
I would like to thank Claudine at Just Jane 1813, for her part in bringing this blog tour to fruition and to Beau and Brooke for writing such a fun read and giving readers the opportunity to win a copy. Plus links to 'The Many Faces of Fitzwilliam Darcy contest', with extra prizes to be won!

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

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

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

Review ~
What a fun read! I cannot begin, to tell you how much I enjoyed this story.  The story begins at the Netherfield ball and swiftly follows Darcy from London to Kent, where the story becomes a ‘what if’. Although Pride & Prejudice fans will know the parts until the 'what if', the scenes and conversations until then, are different from canon, which is always better than a standard repeat. Most importantly, some of you will be pleased to hear, the book is written from Darcy’s perspective, so we get to follow him everywhere!!!.

By page four of my Kindle, I was already highlighting passages. The cattiness of Miss Bingley, the humour of the Colonel and the slow but gentle reminder that Mr Darcy, as much as we love him, is a snob, all had me laughing. At this point I had planned to put the book down and get on with my housework, as some of you know from experience, when you read a good JAFF there is no “putting the book down”. Justifying that I was a fast reader and needing some fresh air, I took my kindle outside saying to myself "I’ll just read one more chapter". Do I need to tell you, I finished the book in the garden? I thought not. Welcome to Groundhog day Mr Darcy style and not just any day, but the day after his disastrous proposal to Elizabeth, I guess Mr Darcy won’t be departing Kent as swiftly as he thought lol!

“Excellent! I shall join you if you want for company.” 
“On my account, I suppose?” Darcy asked with a lazy grin. 
Fitzwilliam dismissed him with a wave. “Oh come now, Darcy, you love paying my way. It keeps the distinction of rank preserved.” 
“From Her Ladyship’s lips to your ears it would seem,” Darcy said with a chuckle.  - B.North & B.West

I liked that Darcy was able to rationale, what was happening to him, was it real or not real? What could he alter or not alter, it all felt very believable, which is what you want with concepts such as these, you want the reader to buy into the impossible. I myself, was planning alongside Darcy as to what he could do to work this out and I loved that every part of the book was working towards, not just D&E having their HEA, but Anne, Jane, the Colonel and Bingley also. Ultimately though, it was the humour and wit, that stood out for me.
Watching someone going through the same day and what it could do to them had me laughing and crying, especially because it was Mr Darcy and the day after Huntsford. In particular, Darcy went through a school boy phase, being immature and playing pranks, which was hilarious at times. For example, Darcy hid Lady Catherine’s best silverware, sending the Butler a note.

“Mr. Turnbull read the note again: If you wish to give fools something to eat, you shall find your tools amongst treacherous sweet." - B.North & B.West

After reading this particular passage, I laughed; slowly letting it sink in,  I laughed some more, by the time I had grasped the full weight of what he had done, I was crying in hysterics. I literally, could not, stop laughing and I do believe the neighbours must have wondered, what I was laughing at so loudly, however the more I thought about how I would explain it to them the more I laughed. I mean really, if I told them what Darcy had done, do you think they would be in the same hysterics? I think not, but isn’t that the beauty of JAFF and the special connection Janeites have with it? We know the butlers going to be in a lot of trouble, the wrath of Lady Catherine, that Darcy would never deliberately make a member of staff suffer at his expense, it is so out of character, which is what makes it all the funnier.  As we imagine, the implacably dressed, stoic faced Mr Darcy, gathering all the silverware and sitting at a writing desk, looking every inch the Master of Pemberley, writing 'that note' to Lady Catherine’s butler. Indeed, I do not believe my neighbours would understand with as much insight, because let’s be honest you don’t bump into Janeites every day or lovers of JAFF for that matter, yet the exclusivity of it, is exciting, something to feel almost proud of, that you're part of something that other people know little about, like you’re in on the 'inside joke' or the greatest secret.

Great JAFF is written by true Janeites, not only do you feel connected with the story but with the authors' love of all things Austen, I felt the respect and admiration they had for Pride & Prejudice. I enjoyed, that the Colonel was central, as was Anne, the relationship between Darcy and his valet, Lady Catherine’s haughtiness, Mrs Gardiner, Jane and Charlotte! 
The way in which the Colonel could read Darcy, always good news for the reader, because we know Darcy won’t get away, without some kind of confession to the Colonel, even if he is not aware that he has made one lol! And I always enjoy the part of the story when Darcy is attending church in Kent, it’s funny that these scenes feel so familiar, yet they are not in canon. As JAFF has evolved, new scenes have emerged that we are all so familiar with, that they feel like they were, in canon. I enjoyed that Elizabeth’s reactions were realistic and I thought the authors got that spot on, especially considering Darcy knew it was the same day over and Elizabeth did not. At times,  I do believe Darcy took risks, considering the day may not have reset, however taking into account how long it went on, I even believed, that it may never end!

"Peace, Sister. What has that poor instrument ever done to deserve such treatment?”
Georgiana looked up at him, her mouth compressed in a grim line. “I must prepare myself for battle,” she said, her fingers not pausing for an instant.
“Battle? Who do you imagine would be so foolish to attack you in your own home?”
“It is not...Oh, Will.” She threw her hands up, the sound of the keys still lightly vibrating in the air. “Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst. I have never found their company to be congenial.” ~ B.North & B.West

 I could not have asked for a better ending, I enjoyed every minute of it! High praise you say, indeed it is, yet, it cannot be helped, I love JA and JAFF, but only if it is good, therefore from one JAFF lover to another I recommend that you read this book and for those of you new to JA or JAFF, it’s an opportunity to see the wonderful talent that JA has inspired in so many people. If you want a story that will have you laughing and captivated, then you can’t go wrong with 

                                          The Many Lives Of Fitzwilliam  Darcy !

This book is worthy of 5 hearts ~ Mr Darcy!

The Many Lives Of Fitzwilliam  Darcy Giveaway!
Beau and Brooke are giving away 8 copies of their book, which includes 4 ebooks and 4 paperback copies. To win a paperback copy, the winners must have a U.S. mailing address. 

Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Many Faces of Fitzwilliam Darcy” Giveaway Contest

            Richard Maddon                                              Matt Bomer                                              Eduardo Verastegui

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

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

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

Twitter: @BeauNorth
Blog: beaunorthwrites.com (coming soon)

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

Facebook:  Brooke West
  @WordyWest and @BrookeWest

I was given an ARC for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Second Impressions by Amy George ~ Blog Tour ~ Book Review

Hello fellow Readers! Today as part of the Second Impressions Blog tour, I will be reviewing Amy George's Novella, 'Second Impressions'! Kindly brought to you by Jakki at Leatherbound reviews  in conjunction with  Meryton Press.

Book Blurb:
Once, Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet were foes, then tenuous friends. After Elizabeth discovers Darcy is engaged to another woman, she flees to Boston to seek solace with her cousin, the brash and worldly Emeline Poston.

When she returns to England after years spent abroad, Elizabeth must face the man who shattered her heart, and she is shocked to find the proud man she once knew drastically altered. Does she have the courage to seek out the man with whom she fell in love—whatever the cost?

Fitzwilliam Darcy has spent his days regretting what might have been and his nights being tormented by the decisions he has made. His life in tatters, he can barely face the once-respectable man in his mirror or the baby girl in Pemberley’s nursery. Now that Elizabeth has returned, will he atone for his mistakes and win her heart for good?

I've always held firm that I'm no JA purist (also a little hard if you love a variety of JAFF), however I do have principles and am clear about what I enjoy when it comes to JAFF. This book changed that, which is a good thing, because as JAFF grows and expands, we must make room for a variety of author styles.

What I liked about this book was the authors personality. It's the type of story you can imagine a group of Janeites putting together one girly evening. One has the outrageous ideas, one jots it all down, one insists their speech is a little too modern and helps by rephrasing in a more regency manner, another suggests that if a character was created similar to Martha Levinson, Cora's mother from Downton Abbey, then they could get away with some of the lack of propriety and the quiet one in the group, is silently sipping their tea (wine) thinking to herself, "I'm so sending this to Meryton Press in the morning, the girls will kill me, but with a little tweaking, it will be worth it!"

“You have never before used your rank against me. That was clearly the last tactic in your arsenal, Madam Wellington.” “Hush. If Em hears you mention Wellington, we will be forced to endure another tirade on the Corsican Imp and the Brave Duke.” Elizabeth smiled. “There is no need for concern. Emeline and Charles went out riding early this morning.” “Ah, yes,” said Jane. “Our dear cousin has abducted my defenseless husband. It appears Charles is quite intrigued by our brash American.” - Amy George

As a short read I could see something like this cheering me up on the way to work, something that would make me laugh despite being annoyed that at 7:00am, on London Underground, there are so many people who did not wash this morning, or that i'm now squashed against one of said persons. But this morning you have your Kindle and not only do you enjoy the journey, you also pass your stop! Not even the suitcase of gentleman on his way to Heathrow, that keeps bashing me in my shin can distract me from purpose, I admit, the story did keep me engaged.

There were so many times in this book that I was saying, "oh no! I've got a feeling this is what's going to happen, but surely not?"  Followed by "Oh wow, I stand corrected, I can't believe she just wrote that" and then would proceed to burst out laughing for the next five minutes (yes I know annoying for the people on the train!). Or I would be thinking, wouldn't it be funny or good if this happened, just for the fun of it and although i'm not being serious, the author would read my mind and that is what, I would get. 
As Janeite's we all probably daydream about possible JAFFs that could be written, sometimes they're far fetched, or just for a bit of amusement and probably would not see, the light of day, unless you had the time to write them. However JAFF is written by fans of Austen and we must remember, many are not well established authors and would just love to share their re-imagining with you and luckily for us, they do.

"The music drifted through the air as Emeline caught sight of Elizabeth dancing with a lanky, red-haired youth and wondered where Darcy was to be found. Surely, that emaciated, pale boy was not the love from whom Elizabeth had run to Boston to evade. “Miss Poston, if you are going to dance with me then dance with me.” “I beg your pardon, Jack. Were you saying something?” Emeline smiled smugly as she turned her face back to his. “You are entirely too familiar in your address, Miss Poston,” he scolded. “Am I? Pity. I could swear you wanted to be familiar.” John felt his pulse race at her words. They were the truth," - Amy George.

The story is a page turner and I liked how she made the characters slightly different in personality but were still likeable. I always enjoy a story that will make me laugh and keep my interest. Emeline, Jane and Jack (yes Jack! No Colonel, or Wickham for that matter, but a new hero with a likeable character) were my favourite characters surprisingly, despite my attention usually being focused on Darcy and Elizabeth. It had a good plot, however I had two hangups, firstly the book does not make it clear how the 'what if' has altered, I think it was intentional for the mystery, but it made for frustrating reading at times, because you're thinking, why are you being like that Elizabeth? Considering all that has passed, but there is much Elizabeth does not know, but it wouldn't have made any difference to the story if it had been explained at the beginning. Secondly the coming together of Darcy and Elizabeth was rushed and as a result did not flow as nicely as it could have and was a little unclear. However I believe in Novellas sometimes it is difficult to portray so much, in such little time. 

Overall it was a fun read, with some lovely heart warming scenes, to follies and mishaps the next. I liked the freshness of the story and the allowance that was to be had, by having an American in the story, it gave the story a more modern feel. The more JAFF authors there are, the more JAFF I get to read, despite the minor flaws, I do believe this author has the potential to write another intriguing storyline. I therefore look forward to another fun and lighthearted read.

This book is worthy of 3 & half Hearts - The Colonel & Mr Bingley

Author Bio:
Amy George is a middle-aged woman who hates her "old lady/grown-up" car and refuses to listen to its radio at a reasonable volume, especially when the Beastie Boys or the Violent Femmes are playing. She lives in a town in the middle of the country where the county fair is one of the biggest social events of the season and everything is fried. Her household consists of a dog, a cat, a man, a hermit, and stubborn soap scum.

She has been writing since she was a child and was a frequent contributor to the Hyacinth Gardens, a popular but defunct JAFF site.

Author Links:

Second Impressions Blog Tour Schedule:

8/15: Review at Margie’s Must Reads
8/16: Excerpt & Giveaway at Romance Novel Giveaway
8/17: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Jane Austen Book Club
8/18: Guest Post & Giveaway at Skipping Midnight
8/19: Review at Tomorrow is Another Day
8/20: Review at Liz’s Reading Life
8/22: Excerpt & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
8/23: Review at Half Agony, Half Hope
8/23: Excerpt & Giveaway at So Little Time…
8/25: Guest Post & Giveaway at From Pemberley to Milton
8/26: Review at Diary of an Eccentric
8/27: Review at Just Jane 1813
8/28: Author Interview & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm

I was given an ARC for my honest review

Apologies for the delayed post, but we had a power outage this morning = no internet! :( 

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

'Jane Austen Speaks' by Maria Emilia De Medeiros ~Excerpt & Givewaway!

Hello Fellow Readers,

Today I have the pleasure, of welcoming Maria Emilia De Medeiros. 
Author of  'Jane Austen Speaks', 'About Life, the Modern World, & Heavenly Pursuits'.

As always, I enjoy the opportunity to showcase new JAFF authors and I hope you will all make Maria Emilia feel welcome. After reading the excerpt “My Dinner Parties in Heaven” I had some fun imagining who I would invite, I conclude, I would need to host several, including literary greats and music legends.

Many thanks for inviting me to your blog today, Tamara!  I am most humbled and honored to share about my recently released book, Jane Austen Speaks About her Life, the Modern World, & Heavenly Pursuits, with your readers today. 

This book is my own lighthearted attempt to allow Miss Austen to voice what might have been her “own” opinions on modern day matters, based on a knowledge of her life, work, society, and the prevailing social morés inherent in Western culture of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries with which she was raised.
In addition to Miss Austen’s wide-ranging reflections upon her life, novels, and the modern world, a section of the book is devoted to food and social visits, featuring a number of heavenly “guests” as well as recipes for your use and enjoyment.  You can plan your very own Jane Austen dinner party, too!
I have often tried to imagine what a real dinner party would have been like in a lovely English home during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in which Jane Austen lived.  I know that there are historical reenactors who attempt to bring these to life again in our modern era.  Having researched food history and social customs of the time period myself, I know that it is possible to recreate such an event in a most charming manner.  However, we will never really know what such an event was like for those in attendance, because we are not able to travel back in time. 

Having read Jane Austen’s letters as well as her novels, I know that the great lady novelist from Hampshire attended her share of fancy dinner parties as an invited guest of wealthy friends.  Due to her own family’s limited circumstances, it is doubtful that Miss Austen’s parents would have been able to host such a grand event. 

These thoughts led me to wonder, “If Jane Austen could throw the grandest dinner party she could wish for, what would it be like?  And most importantly, who would be privileged enough to be on her guest list?”  It was tremendously diverting, Dear Readers, to imagine Jane’s heavenly dinner party.  Knowing her intelligent, open-minded spirit, I believe many noteworthy figures from all walks of life, who lived before, during, and after her own life on earth, would have been in attendance for some good food and excellent conversation!  In my book Jane Austen Speaks, I have included what I have imagined one of her guest lists would have been like.  Perhaps you would like to try your own hand at imagining who would receive one of Miss Austen’s invitations, written in the finest paper in her best hand, of course!
Here is an excerpt from “My Dinner Parties in Heaven” from Jane Austen Speaks About Life, the Modern World, & Heavenly Pursuits.  I do hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!


I must confess that my dinner parties in Heaven are much more casual affairs than the proper ones I attended many times during my lifetime on Earth.  On the Other Side, there are no more concerns whether or not the correct number of gentlemen will be in attendance in proportion to the number of ladies, no such thing as proper procession of rank when dinner is announced, and no more worries about who will or will not be impressed by the grandness of the occasion.  In truth, Society and its many dictates no longer exist as they do on Earth, Dear Readers.  Generally, I like to invite a great many interesting souls who lived at many different time periods on Earth, and who will quite simply enjoy one another’s company in addition to stimulating conversation.  Good wine, good food, and some pleasant music always help to improve the ambiance most agreeably, to be sure.
Besides family and friends who were dear to me during my Earthly life, I am wont to invite souls who took many divergent paths during their lives on Earth.  I am certain to enjoy a large group of literati, scientists, inventors, artists, musicians, political statesmen, and activists to ensure lively and diverting conversation.  It is a delight to be entertained by Herr Mozart or Beethoven on the pianoforte and perhaps hear an aria or two sung by Miss Jenny Lind.

However, it is generally true that at some point, my brothers Henry and James as well as my father—all Anglican clergymen, to be sure—will end up in a heated debate with Mr. Darwin regarding his theories of natural selection, race, and evolution.  (They simply cannot seem to get these topics sorted for themselves!) Furthermore, my brothers Frank and Charles Austen, together with Mr. Churchill, will invariably end up in a corner trading war stories and extolling the glories of the British fleet.  When the writers and poets begin to quote from their literary works, and dear Mr. Robbie Burns begins to sing “My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose,” I know that the evening’s festivities have come to a most proper end.  
Please enter your comments below to be entered in the giveaway for an eBook copy!  I look forward to hearing from you. Once again, I would like to thank the lovely Tamara for so graciously inviting me today so that I might talk about Jane Austen Speaks About Life, the Modern World, & Heavenly Pursuits.  It has been so delightful to be your guest today!

Thank you for sharing with us today and for the generous blog tour giveaway! 
Readers please comment below and the winner will be announced on 29th August 2016! Giveaway open Internationally.

Blog Tour Schedule ~ 6th -28th July

Each stop on the Blog Tour, generously features a giveaway, of an e-book copy of the book!

Book Blurb:

In JANE AUSTEN SPEAKS, author Maria Emilia de Medeiros “channels” the great Jane Austen from her heavenly home and allows her the opportunity to speak her mind about the modern world nearly two centuries after her passing. Readers will gain a healthy dose of wise counsel and witty advice for leading a sensible, well-mannered twenty-first century life. Jane Austen’s heavenly exploits (not to mention her recipes) will both entertain and delight you. At times serious, drily humorous, or even a bit naughty, JANE AUSTEN SPEAKS is a necessary addition to every Janeite’s library. Dear Readers, if you have ever asked yourself, “What would Jane Austen think?” you have indeed come to the right place.

Buy Links:
Amazon US:  https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Austen-Speaks-Heavenly-Pursuits/dp/0692639950/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1466366157&sr=1-1&keywords=jane+austen+speaks
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jane-Austen-Speaks-Heavenly-Pursuits/dp/0692639950/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1466366192&sr=1-1&keywords=jane+austen+speaks

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Northern Rain by Nicole Clarkston ~ Excerpt!

Hello Fellow Readers,
As promised, I have an excerpt of Northern Rain, kindly shared by author, Nicole Clarkston.
Enjoy reading, Nicole's playful Mr Thornton!

~Northern Rain Excerpt~

“Well, Miss Hale,” Donaldson tugged the spectacles from his face and began to
put them away. “It is a good thing you sent for me.”
Margaret’s eyes darted to Thornton, just behind the doctor, hoping his more familiar face might yield some clues about the doctor’s findings. “My father will recover, will he not?” 
“In a manner of speaking, Miss Hale. He has been growing steadily more frail of late, has he not? Short of breath and confused, I shouldn’t wonder.” 
“Yes, that is true,” she admitted. 
“I thought as much. I believe his heart is weak. The blood is not traveling well to his head or his lungs, Miss Hale. I suspect that, combined with his recent emotional distress, could account for the delusions you say he experiences from time to time. I do not have a cure, I am sorry to say, but I have left a compound which should help. I have seen it prolong lives some years. Without it,” he admonished, “he would not be with us by the summer, so take care that he receives the correct dosage every day.” 
She nodded vigourously. “I will see to it myself, Doctor!” 
“There’s a good lass, I knew you would.” The doctor smiled kindly. 
“Is there anything else I can do for him?” she asked anxiously.
 “Oh, yes, keep him well rested. Light walks once or twice a week should not trouble him, but no more, Miss Hale. He should wait a couple of weeks, at least, before resuming his public lectures. Also, some of that excellent bone broth your woman Dixon makes might do wonders for his blood.” Margaret smiled. “Dixon will be pleased to hear it. Thank you, Doctor.” She bent her head to peer into a purse she had already collected. “How much….” 
“Oh, no, please! It is nothing, Miss Hale,” Donaldson waved his hands as he slid into his coat. Margaret shot a suspicious gaze to Thornton, but he shook his head innocently. 
“Think of it,” Donaldson insisted, “as my way of honouring your late mother. I could do so little for her, and it pleases me that I can do something for your father. Take care of him, Miss Hale. I will return next week to check in on him.” Donaldson collected his hat and saw himself out. 
“Well!” she huffed in surprise at his departure. 
Thornton grinned. “That was always the way with Donaldson. Don’t worry, Miss Hale, we will see to it that he is adequately recompensed for his trouble.” 
She shook her head in wonder. “I do not like being indebted to anyone.” She then turned her eyes up to him. “I find myself once again in your debt as well.” 
“Not at all, Miss Hale. My motives were purely selfish. Your father is very dear to me.” 
“Of course.” A sceptical smile played at her mouth. “Thank you, Mr Thornton, I could not have persuaded him to- what are you doing?”
 “Taking off my coat,” he answered reasonably, draping that article over a chair back. He began to unbutton the cuffs of his shirt sleeves to roll them up. 
She narrowed her eyes, mystified. “I can see that, but for what purpose?” “Well, you do not expect me to wash up dressed like that, do you? Come, I see that you have already cleaned up the mess that I was responsible for, so it is only right that I should return the favour.” 
“Wash up? What are you- you cannot go into the kitchen!” she cried in dismay, following his determined strides. “You think I do not know my way around a kitchen?” he teased over his shoulder. “I am a very good cook, Miss Hale, as long as you only care for porridge.”
 “Yes, but this is not your-” 
Thornton pushed the swinging door aside, cutting off her objection. “Now, let me see- ah, yes, the kettle, I remember,” he muttered to himself, rather ignoring Margaret’s affronted pleas. He lifted the heavy kettle and poured the hot water into a basin. “You must dry, Miss Hale, for I do not know where everything goes once it is clean.” 
“Mr Thornton, this is quite out of line!” Margaret cried. 
He made a face into his basin as he reached for the cake of soap. “‘Mr Thornton’ sounds so formal for a kitchen. I have taken off my coat! You must call me John.” 
“Mr Thornton,” she repeated in baffled annoyance, “let us be done with this foolishness! I cannot allow you to work in my house like-” 
“Like you do?” he shot over his shoulder with a probing gaze. 
The words died in her throat. Her face went ashen. “How did you know?” she whispered in abject mortification. 
He turned and crossed the room in one long stride. He took her hand in both of his own and spread her palm before her face. “Here,” he murmured gently, touching his fingers over the hardened ridges of her hand. “And here,” he turned her hand over, brushing across the firm muscle above her thumb. Margaret snatched her hand back and stared at the offending appendage in betrayal and angst. She swallowed her hurt and snapped, “I might say it is most ungentlemanly of you to mention it!” 
He sighed, smiling, and took her hand back. “I do not think the less of you, you must understand. On the contrary, it shows your true character. It proves you are not afraid to do what must be done. This,” he squeezed her hand gently, testing her strength, “is a badge of honour. It is evidence of your courage and your fortitude. You have learned resourcefulness and your own ability, and the value of honest labour. Not one in a hundred ladies will ever discover what you already know, Miss Hale.” 
“I…” the word came out garbled. His fingers, tracing so intimately over the lines of her palm, wrought havoc with her ability to speak. Gamely she tried again. “I only help. It is nothing so very remarkable,” she mumbled. For a second she thought of reclaiming her hand, but his touch was… distractingly pleasant. 
“That is your natural modesty speaking. I think I know exactly how much you do. You are the glue which holds this household together.” He gazed long into her eyes, searching to discover if she believed his words. 
Margaret gazed back in stunned silence. She tugged softly and he allowed her hand to slip from his grasp. She brushed it self-consciously over her skirts, recollecting that she had earlier donned one of her nicer dresses. She ought not to ruin this one. Her brow furrowed in thought, she turned from him to pluck an apron down from its hook. 
Looping it over her head, she reached behind herself to tie it, but her nervous fingers fumbled. Without a word, Thornton stepped behind her and, taking the ties from her hands, knotted them himself. Her breath came quick and ragged as a pit of awareness tingled through her core. She turned again to look curiously up at him for a moment. 
“The china is not going to wash itself,” he winked with a sly smile. 
She let out a small laugh, relenting. “Very well, Mr Thornton. I would welcome your help.” 
“John, or I will not help you,” he grinned recklessly. 
Margaret blushed deeply, fighting a smile. “John, then.” - Nicole Clarkston

Northern Rain Blog Tour Schedule 

7/8-9: Launch Vignette, Excerpt & Giveaway at Fly High
7/ 10: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm
7/11: Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride & Prejudice
7/12: Author Interview at More Than Thornton
7/14: Review & Giveaway at Just Jane 1813
7/16: Excerpt & Giveaway at Half Agony, Half Hope
7/17: Vignette & Giveaway at Laughing With Lizzie
7/18: Author/Character Interview & Giveaway at From Pemberley to Milton
7/19: Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway at So little time…
7/20: Vignette & Giveaway at Stories from the Past
7/21: Vignette & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
7/24: Review, Excerpt & Giveaway at Margie’s Must Reads
7/26: Guest Post & Giveaway at A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life
9/10: Review & Giveaway at The Calico Critic

I hope you enjoy the rest of the blog tour!