When the Harris family decides to take part in an arduous journey with several single men on their way to Kentucky, will the road they travel lead to new understandings or will former prejudices prevail in their hearts and minds?
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Source: I received an ARC of this story from the author for a fair and honest review.
I have enjoyed numerous JAFF stories by Ms. Jeffers, and once I read the excerpt for this story online, I knew this story had an interesting premise. Yet, I wondered if an early American “Pride and Prejudice” vagary, set in the wilderness of the South, could offer the same delicious romance and adventures as other alternate-era JAFF stories. I’m thrilled to answer with a resounding “Yes!” Once I picked this story up, I felt that I was as invested in this journey as the eager settlers themselves.
This latest “Pride and Prejudice” vagary takes us to the American side of the pond, where we meet a group of travelers who closely resemble Austen’s characters from “Pride and Prejudice.” Many of the places and events are from America’s earliest days, as the characters in this story come together in 1787 to support one another through their travels across the Great Valley Road crossing. Like many early American settlers, they have big hopes and dreams planned for them at the end of their travels.
Yet, our characters are aware that all great things cannot be accomplished without the trials and tribulations associated with the hard work and tremendous risks that accompany this expedition, and along their travels, our characters face several challenges. As Captain Darius Fitzwilliam, an American veteran who served in the war fighting against the British troops, prepares to meet the responsibilities associated within the next bend in the road, he finds himself at a rather abrupt dead-end; his fiancee of several years, Caroline Bradford, has left him without any warning to marry another man. Besides facing the brutal truths that are connected to her actions, he must also decide how to maintain the bonds of friendship with her brother, Charles Bradford, as the two men plan to travel together across the Great Valley Road crossing.
When Bradford, a disabled war veteran who served alongside Captain Fitzwilliam, informs Fitzwilliam that Mr. Harris and his family, which includes his wife, his daughters and his son, will also accompany them on their journey, Fitzwilliam understands that this will add additional support and possibly some additional dangers along the way. What he isn’t aware of yet, is that the greatest danger to himself lies inside of his heart, as his interactions with the bold and outspoken Eliza Harris eventually drive him to distraction. When they come to the end of this journey, will their misunderstandings and heated arguments lead them both down disparate paths?
As we settle into this great adventure, we come to see the connections to “Pride and Prejudice,” which are mainly between the characters traveling within this group, along with the characters they meet on the road. One traveler, in particular, the charming and engaging Geoffrey Shannon, who also shares a past relationship with Darius Fitzwilliam, finds himself easily ingratiated into the traveling group. When Eliza Harris becomes enamored by the gentleman’s easy and open manners, it’s enough to diminish Darius hopes for gaining Eliza’s affections. But why can’t he avoid feeling there’s an explosive chemistry growing between them?
My admiration for this group certainly increased over time, as our characters came face to face with various dangerous situations. Not only were criminals, treacherous weather and natural disasters a persistent threat to them day after day, there were new schemes unfolding amongst the travelers themselves. By the time it became apparent that terrible danger awaited several of the characters, I was nervously asking myself whether or not it was too late to turn back to a safer ground along this unpredictable road.
Ms. Jeffers meets the challenges of writing a story set in this time period by immersing us in the dialect of this era while incorporating pertinent and interesting historical information into the events of this storyline. The dialogue is so authentic that it may take a few chapters for readers to become fluent reading this dialect, but after a few conversations, I found myself easily following (and enjoying) their conversations. As we cross these early American landscapes, Ms. Jeffers offers her readers memorable descriptions of these gorgeous backdrops, reminding us of the beauties found in many parts of the South.
Her characters are well-developed and offer us a new lens to observe Austen’s own characters through while also standing firmly one their own two feet as characters we can love for their own endearing attributes. There’s a lovely touch of Colonel Brandon’s heroism seamlessly melded into Darius Fitzwilliam’s character, which added a romantic and heartfelt tone during a pivotal point in this story.
The story’s heroine, Eliza Harris, is as feisty and obstinate as Elizabeth Bennet herself, providing several amusing exchanges between her and Captain Fitzwilliam. The faith-based aspects of this story are nicely done, as they are carefully balanced within the romantic and adventurous aspects of this story. This is an Austen-inspired story that I believe will appeal to a wide range of readers, including lovers of historical fiction.
Ms. Jeffers would like to offer a giveaway of this book to two lucky readers. To enter this giveaway for an ebook of “The Road to Understanding,” please leave a comment below this post by sharing with us your favorite Regina Jeffers book or the name of one that you plan to read soon. These comments should be posted by Midnight ET on May 6th. The winners will be announced on this blog on May 7, 2016.
I was also quite fortunate to have Regina Jeffers join us for this guest post, where she shares some wonderful history with us to inform us about the setting of her story, and a map that will help readers visualize this courageous journey. Thank you, Regina, for sharing this with my readers.
My latest Austen vagary takes us to the American continent in the year 1787. The characters are NOT Austen’s most famous couple placed in a new setting, but you will recognize the pair, nonetheless. I am one who believes that although Austen writes memorable characters, her plots are masterful and easily translated into new situations. For example, Pride and Prejudice can be found in Bridget Jones’s Diary, You’ve Got Mail, North and South (from Gaskell), Bride and Prejudice, and any other book or film featuring an uptight censorious man and a free-spirited, independent female. So, why not an American version of my favorite book?
The setting of this book is the Great Valley Road crossing from what is now Roanoke, Virginia, to the western counties of Tennessee, in what was then known as the Southwest Territory. The Fitzwilliams reside near Jonesborough in the state of Franklin. This is not a fictional place. There really was a separate state of Franklin for some five years.
In August 1784, four counties of North Carolina declared their independence and formed the state of Franklin. In April of that same year, North Carolina ceded the land between the Allegheny Mountains and the Mississippi River to the U. S. Congress. The settlers in the area worried that Congress would sell the territory to France or Spain to pay off war debts. As a result, North Carolina retracted its cession and organized a “governing” body for the territory. Simultaneously, the now Tennessee counties of Washington, Sullivan, Spencer, Hawkins, and Greene petitioned Congress to form a separate state of “Frankland.” The majority of the states agreed, but the proposition need not receive 2/3 majority required by Congress.
Franklin survived but a bit over four years for it could never achieve a strong enough economy. John Sevier, its governor, approached the Spanish for aid. North Carolina feared the Spanish claim to land within its control had Sevier arrested. The territory returned to North Carolina’s protection because the Cherokee, Chickamauga, and Chickasaw Indians increased their attacks in the area.
The Road to Understanding: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary
DARIUS FITZWILLIAM’s life is planned down to who he will marry and where he will live, but life has a way of saying, “You don’t get to choose.” When his marriage to his long-time betrothed Caroline Bradford falls through, Darius is forced to take a step back and to look upon a woman who enflames his blood with desire, but also engenders disbelief. Eliza Harris is everything that Darius never realized he wanted.
ELIZA HARRIS is accustomed to doing as she pleases. Yet, despite being infuriated by his authoritative manner, when she meets the staunchly disciplined Captain Fitzwilliam, she wishes for more. She instinctively knows he is “home,” but Eliza possesses no skills in achieving her aspirations.
Plagued with misunderstandings, manipulations, and peril upon the Great Valley Road between eastern Virginia and western Tennessee in the years following the Revolutionary War, Darius and Eliza claim a strong allegiance before love finds its way into their hearts.
This is a faith-based tale based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Regina Jeffers, an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels, and retellings, as well as Regency era romances, has worn many hats over her lifetime: daughter, student, military brat, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, tax preparer, journalist, choreographer, Broadway dancer, theatre director, history buff, grant writer, media literacy consultant, and author. Living outside of Charlotte, NC, Jeffers writes novels that take the ordinary and adds a bit of mayhem.
To connect with Regina, send her a line at the virtual spaces listed below:
Every Woman Dreams Blog reginajeffers.wordpress.com
Austen Authors Blog austenauthors.net
Regina Jeffers Website (excerpts, news, and events, reviews, etc.) www.rjeffers.com
You may also find Regina at the spaces below:
Twitter @reginajeffers https://twitter.com/reginajeffers
Visit Goodreads to ee what your friends are already saying about this story.
Regina Jeffers is Hosting a “Mother’s Day Sale” Beginning on Sunday, May 1
Treat the Special Woman in Your Life with the Gift of Reading!!! Fill up her Kindle, Nook, or Kobo with TWENTY-ONE titles from Regina Jeffers. Each title is $2.50 or less. THE SALE RUNS FROM MAY 1 – MAY 11, 2016. The titles include:
Each title is $2.50 or less. THE SALE RUNS FROM MAY 1 – MAY 11, 2016.
The titles include:
Austen-Inspired: Darcy’s Passions: Pride and Prejudice Retold Through His Eyes; Honor and Hope: A Contemporary Pride and Prejudice; Captain Frederick Wentworth’s Persuasion: Austen’s Classic Retold Through His Eyes; Elizabeth Bennet’s Deception: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary; Elizabeth Bennet’s Excellent Adventure: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary; The Pemberley Ball: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary; The Road to Understanding: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary and Mr. Darcy’s Fault: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary
The REALM Series: A Touch of Scandal; A Touch of Velvet; A Touch of Cashémere; A Touch of Grace; A Touch of Mercy; A Touch of Love; A Touch of Honor and A Touch of Emerald
Regency: His American Heartsong; His Irish Eve; The First Wives Club
Contemporary: Second Chances: The Courtship Wars; “One Minute Past Christmas”