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“At Christmas everybody invites their friends and thinks little of even the worst weather.” Jane Austen,
Four favorite authors, four heartwarming stories set in Jane Austen’s Regency world.
Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, and Barbara Cornthwaite revisit Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Mansfield Park to deliver the uplifting holiday storytelling you’re looking for.
Throughout the holiday season, it seems like everyone has their own list of favorite things… Whether it be a certain guilty pleasure, an activity pursued just for the sheer delight of it, or a tradition that brings meaning to our lives, most of us can name our favorite holiday things as surely as our own names. For me, holiday JAFF is near the top of my own list of holiday favorites, so being able to indulge in a holiday anthology written by Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendy Sotis and Barbara Cornwaithe adds that extra touch of sparkle to my own holiday season. Sharing this story collection with my Just Jane 1813 readers makes me feel like a generous holiday host.
I’ve structured my review to contain the book description for each story, followed by my own thoughts on the story.
Rating for the entire anthology: 5 out of 5 stars
Her Christmas Gift by Robin Helm
Elizabeth Bennet finds herself snowbound at Rosings with two rejected, but highly eligible, suitors. Does either man have a chance? Will her childhood friend, Meryton’s golden boy, win her affection, or will she accept the master of Pemberley? Perhaps she will refuse them both a second time. Her Christmas Gift deftly combines tension and emotion with humor and romance.
This story was a lot of fun because I just love a jealous Darcy! In this story, which takes place after the wedding of Lydia and Wickham, Elizabeth is pining a bit for the way she has treated Mr. Darcy in refusing his past proposal. With the holidays approaching, she’s feeling a bit more saddened by the fact that she’s lost his good opinion forever. Or has she?
I love when JAFF stories allow us to witness Elizabeth suffering a bit of her own heartbreak. It just makes her more human. Now that she’s spending the holidays in Kent and has to deal with Lady Catherine’s ire, she’s even more vulnerable to her insecurities. Robin Helm does a great job writing a novella-length story that explores what would happen if Darcy had to work not only to assess Elizabeth’s feeling for him but also her feelings for a childhood friend who has his own holiday plans in mind for capturing the jewel of Hertfordshire. With two men looking to pursue Elizabeth and Lady Catherine determined to see her own daughter married to Darcy, this story is sure to bring plenty of holiday mayhem to Kent!
The Christmas Matchmaker by Laura Hile
It’s raining; it’s pouring – and what could be better than a little Christmas matchmaking? So says Emma Woodhouse who is unexpectedly stranded at Netherfield Park. Mr. Darcy disagrees, for she has someone else in mind for adorable Elizabeth Bennet. Amid meddling, misunderstanding, and an unwelcome proposal or two, will True Love find a way?
As Elizabeth and Darcy find themselves both staying at Netherfield, they slowly come to terms with the fact that they are harboring feelings for one other. But can they ever admit this to each other? When Emma Woodhouse winds up at Netherfield due to the deft hand of Aunt Jane, all sorts of amusing schemes start to unfold between the visiting characters. Can Emma’s matchmaking skills lead Elizabeth and Darcy to make a match that will last them a lifetime? Or does Aunt Jane have other plans in store for her beloved characters?
JAFF mash-ups that incorporate my favorite Austen characters are must-reads for me and the fact that Laura Hile has written this story makes it a must-read now story! The Christmas Matchmaker is a humorous and romantic story, which also includes the right mix of whimsical elements to make it a clever and fun holiday JAFF read, not to mention a dream scene that was just so swoon-worthy! I loved being inside of Elizabeth’s head and falling in love with Mr. Darcy right alongside her. How could she resist? After all, this Darcy is just what Santa would bring me in my dreams! Spending the holiday season at Netherfield with this group of Austen characters is just what will get you into the holiday spirit.
No Better Gift by Wendi Sotis
On his way to Derbyshire to spend Christmas with his family, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy plans to retrieve an item he left behind during his rushed escape from Netherfield—and the country miss who touched his heart. Finding Meryton practically deserted, he fears the worst. What fate could have fallen upon this once-thriving village in only three weeks? More importantly, was Miss Elizabeth Bennet in danger?
Wendy Sotis has a knack for writing JAFF stories that immediately hook me and in No Better Gift, she captured my attention right away with her mysterious beginning where Darcy, who has recently returned to Netherfield only to pick up a holiday gift that he left behind, finds himself in a Meryton that looks vastly different from the one he left behind. When he tries to gather some information about why the town has undergone such a marked change, he finds the last person he ever expected to see again doing something he never expected to witness! Not one to let a challenge get in his way, Darcy pursues the one thing he can’t let go of in his heart. But will this new shade in his character reveal him in a flattering light? When events in Meryton take a turn for the worse, will it be too late for him to hope that this Christmas may bring him everything his heart desires?
I love the idea that when Darcy and Bingley left Netherfield, that just maybe Darcy and Elizabeth both felt a certain attraction for one another and this story allows us to explore this possibility. Away from the sneers of the “Superior Sisters” and without the presence of Charles Bingley and Jane Bennet, Darcy and Elizabeth are able to spend time with one another and discover things about each other that put them both in a more flattering light. Yet, the road to HEA can never be easy for these two and the challenges they face together to help the people they care about makes this holiday season one they will cherish for the rest of their lives.
Mistletoe at Thornton Lacey by Barbara Cornthwaite
When Edmund Bertram realizes that Fanny is the perfect wife for him, he wants to propose without delay. What better time than at Christmas? Ah, but the course of true love never does run smooth …
Jane Austen never did provide us with a lot of information about how Edmund Bertram fell in love with Fanny Price or how he came to his decision to make a proposal of marriage to her, which has been a point of contention for many readers. Barbara Cornthwaite takes up this challenge by crafting a holiday story that places their relationship right into the mix of the holiday season. So when the Bertram family, along with a new pug, spend the holidays at Thornton Lacey, Edmund and Fanny have the unsolicited “help” of some eager relatives. But will their efforts all be for naught?
Barbara Cornthwaite has written a short story based on Mansfield Park that Austen readers will adore. I have a fondness for Mansfield Park, as well as for Edmund’s and Fanny’s relationship, and I think this is a story that artfully explores a more playful and romantic side to both of these characters. Even readers who don’t typically enjoy spending time with Edmund and Fanny will find themselves caught up in the holiday spirit at Thornton Lacey with the help of some mistletoe berries and the handiwork Tom Bertram and Susan Price, who play their hands at a bit of mischief too, but they never saw this coming! I loved spending the holidays at Thornton Lacey and I would love to revisit Edmund and Fanny next Christmas when maybe they will be looking forward to an extra special little bundle next Christmas!
The holidays have arrived early for JAFF readers this year and what a lucky thing for us indeed! A Very Austen Christmas offers a unique collection of stories that allow us to escape into the most charming holiday settings with the characters we love so dearly right from the very comforts of our very own homes. Snowshoes not necessary!
I received an eARC of this book from the authors in exchange for a fair and honest review.
MEET THE AUTHORS FEATURED IN A VERY AUSTEN CHRISTMAS
Robin Helm’s time revolves around music as she dances (as badly as Mr. Collins), sings (a little better than Mary Bennet), plays (better than Marianne Dashwood – almost as well as Caroline Bingley), and teaches (channeling her inner Elinor). Her books reflect that love, as well as her fascination with the paranormal and science fiction.
Her latest publication is Understanding Elizabeth, in which Darcy must decide how much he’s willing to pay to have what he wants. Previously published works include The Guardian Trilogy (Darcy is Elizabeth’s guardian angel, and the Yours by Design series (Fitzwilliam Darcy switches places in time with his descendant, Will Darcy).
She lives in South Carolina and adores her one husband (Mr. Knightley), two married daughters (Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II), and three grandchildren.
Readers are loving Laura Hile‘s joyous Regency novels. Her signature style – intertwined plots, cliffhangers, and laugh-out-loud humor – keep them coming back for more.
The comedy Laura comes by as a teacher. There’s never a dull moment with teen students!
She recently released Darcy By Any Other Name, a comic ‘body swap’ romance based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Laura lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and sons. Her fiction is for everyone, even teens.
Wendi Sotis lives on Long Island, NY, with her husband and triplets. While searching for Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s point of view, she became thoroughly enamored with Jane Austen Fan Fiction or JAFF. In early 2010, she dreamed an idea for a story and hasn’t stopped writing since: Promises, Dreams and Expectations; All Hallows Eve; The Keys for Love; Safekeeping;The Gypsy Blessing; Foundation of Love (The Gypsy Blessing 2); and A Lesson Hard Learned.
Some of her works-in-progress have branched away from JAFF to Regency Romance (The Pact, due to be released in 2018) and Contemporary Romantic Mysteries (the Implicatedseries). Wendi will also continue bringing Darcy and Lizzy together again and again in an unusual manner.
Barbara Cornthwaite lives in the middle of Ireland with her husband and children. She taught college English before “retiring” to do something she loves far more; her days are now filled with homeschooling her six children, trying to keep the house tidy (a losing battle), and trying to stay warm in the damp Irish climate (also a losing battle).
She is surrounded by medieval castles, picturesque flocks of sheep, and ancient stone monuments. These things are unappreciated by her children, who are more impressed by traffic jams, skyscrapers, and hot weather.
Barbara is the author of the George Knightley, Esquire series, and A Fine Young Lady.
It’s Giveaway Time!
Today I also have a special readers’ choice giveaway of either an eBook or a paperback copy of A Very Austen Christmas for my readers. To enter this giveaway, please leave a comment on this post by midnight, ET November 17th and the winner will be announced on November 18, 2017, on this blog. If you choose a paperback copy, please provide a U.S. mailing address for shipping your book to you.
Thank you to Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendy Sotis, and Barbara Cornwaithe for this generous giveaway for my readers!
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