Last week I had the pleasure to host the cover reveal for the updated cover of Don Jacobson’s book, The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey, which is Volume 1 in the Bennet Wardrobe Series. Today I am hosting the very first look at the cover for the second book in this series, The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque, which will be released on June 2, 2017. Please help me welcome Don Jacobson to Just Jane 1813…
I am so excited with the second cover in The Bennet Wardrobe Series! And I am thrilled that Just Jane 1813 is the venue for the cover reveal for The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque, which is Volume 2 (Part 1) in the Series. Volume 1 is The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey.
The look and feel that Janet Taylor has created evokes the feeling of that remarkable period straddling the turn of the 19th century into the 20th. I hope readers will appreciate the continuation of the rose motif that will be an underlying unifying characteristic of all of the books projected in the collection…both in the art as well as the text. Eagle-eyes in the audience may appreciate Janet’s wonderful re-creation of the carte de visite found on the back cover.
To get a taste of the set-up for the book, please enjoy the back cover copy:
Beware of What You Wish For
The Bennet Wardrobe may grant it!
Longbourn, December 1811. The day after Jane and Lizzy marry dawns especially cold for young Kitty Bennet. Called to Papa’s bookroom, she is faced with a resolute Mr. Bennet who intends to punish her complicity in her sister’s elopement. She will be sent packing to a seminary in far-off Cornwall.
She reacts like any teenager chafing under the “burden” of parental rules—she throws a tantrum. In her fury, she slams her hands against the doors of The Bennet Wardrobe.
Her heart’s desire?
I wish they were dead! Anywhere but Cornwall! Anywhere but here!
As Lydia later said, “The Wardrobe has a unique sense of humor.”
London, May 1886. Seventeen-year-old Catherine Marie Bennet tumbles out of The Wardrobe at Matlock House to come face-to-face with the austere Viscount Henry Fitzwilliam, a scion of the Five Families and one of the wealthiest men in the world. However, while their paths may have crossed that May morning, Henry still fights his feelings for another woman, lost to him nearly thirty years in his future. And Miss Bennet must decide between exile to the remote wastelands of Cornwall or making a new life for herself in Victorian Britain and Belle Époque France.
Please enjoy the new cover for The Exile.
Isn’t this cover just stunning! I love how it distinctly places us right into the Victorian era.
Enjoy this excerpt from The Exile…
Jacques Robard was freezing. No matter how deeply he huddled into his old woolen overcoat, the wind cut through him and froze his breath as it left his nose, the vapor leaving a rime on his coal black moustache. He pulled a doubled over blanket tighter around his waist to shield his rapidly numbing legs. Robard sat hunched over on the bench seat of his empty hay wagon so as to present the smallest possible target for the fierce wind roaring out of the Ardennes, Jacques’ alienated homeland. His draft horse suffered as well, shaggy head dropped low into the blasts, lugging into his collar, making clopping steps to slowly move the big cart away from the great market at Les Halles in la Deuxieme Arrondisement.
With the last of the sun vanishing from the sky well before dinnertime, snow-laden clouds had been chased south by those vicious gusts. The precipitation was nearer ice than snow, stringing exposed skin and dancing in tiny whirlwinds spinning down dim and deserted streets.
Hein, mon vieux Porthos, this weather may undo us yet, no? Still a long way to go to St. Denis. If le patron had not insisted we make that delivery down to Les Halles, you’d be in the stables, and I would be warming up little Odette with a bottle of vin ordinarie.
Jacques Robard was a typical example of the classic French paysan…square built with powerful shoulders hardened by years of lifting and hauling. His shock of coarse black hair was well hidden under three ragged scarves. He would never be called handsome with his face a map of hard work and hard living. But he would not frighten small children either. Robard was quite pragmatic about his life, as befit his station, knowing that the aristos and bourgeoisie would allow him to exist on the margins as long as he knew his place and kept to it.
Truth be told, he found that knowledge to be comforting.
He had been born in the lost province of Lorraine, in Bar-le-Duc, just two years after the politician Poincaré. Now twenty-nine, Jacques had bounced around northern France, first with his parents after they fled the Prussians in 1870 and then, after his two years of compulsory service in the Army, on his own. He had considered doing another two as a rich boy’s remplacement, but he had thought better of it. Instead, he had chopped coal and iron in the Northwest near Nancy. He had worked barges running up the Meuse through Belgium into Antwerp. Gradually Paris had made her Siren’s song, capturing him as she had so many others. He had spent the last two years as a teamster guiding Porthos in from the hay market in St. Denis to the massive terminal at Les Halles where Paris came to shop.
The road from St. Denis through the Madeline was beginning to wear on him. There was little variety with the exception of new construction as the city stretched itself with the provinces draining excess labor into its center. He was not sure what he wanted to do with himself, but he was certain that he was nearly done staring at Porthos’ hindquarters day in and day out. Maybe a small farm with a good woman and a crowd of les petits.
Those dreams had to hold, however, until he had returned Porthos and the wagon to M. Laurent’s lot. However, Robard was beginning to doubt the successful outcome of his passage from the city; the air held a promise that the Paris would be buried under several inches of snow and ice before dawn lightened the rooftops. If they had been outside of the city, he could have guided Porthos off the road and into the woods where the trees could have shielded man and beast from the worst of the storm.
Sadly, he had several miles to go before that form of relief could even be considered.
Tonight is no night to be caught outside. I’m going to have to keep my eyes open for a stable and just hope that I can presume on the good nature of the hostler.
Maggie was sure that both she and Kate had seen their last sunset. Moving down the long stretch of the deserted Rue Vignon had taken what had seemed like hours. She had been half dragging, half carrying the weakening woman as the miscarriage, the drug, and the infernal cold sapped the lady’s remaining strength.
The first part of their flight had gone as smoothly as could be hoped given the circumstances. Not a soul interrupted them. The working girls had all taken to their rooms knowing that there would be no customers on such a miserable night. Madame Flournoy had stationed herself and a bottle of cognac in front of a cheerful coal fire snapping away in the grate of her sitting room. Winters’ man was nowhere to be seen.
Maggie had stripped the sorry bed of its quilt and cover, reconciling herself with the modest theft with the knowledge that Madame had been well compensated for the use of the garret room and its furnishings. After the two escapees slowly clumped down the rear stairs, Maggie scoured the “lost and found—but never returned” closet. Holding a failing Kate against a wall by the kitchen, Maggie had first wrapped her in the bedclothes and then draped a cape over everything. She had discovered an old pair of felt workman’s boots that she tied to her friend’s lower legs with strips of torn sheeting. Rifling through the rag bin again, Maggie then appropriated for herself a man’s greatcoat, left behind by a customer seeking to flee without paying for his pleasure.
Ears and faces protected by some drapes that had finally been deemed too decrepit to grace even a whore’s boudoir, the two had struck out from the house.
Earlier, in the garret room, while Kitty still had had her wits about her, she had dug her treasures out from their hiding place behind the commode cabinet. She thrust them into Maggie’s hands, saying only, “Sacre Coeur…Montmartre. Safe there.”
Now with their boots and outer clothes clogged with snow and ice, the idea that two women—one terribly ill, the other having taken most of her exercise either running up stairs to the garret room or on her back in her own—could slog over two miles in an early blizzard was proving to be ruinously optimistic. Leaning Kitty against the post of yet another unlit streetlamp, Maggie looked back upon their path and was both pleased and horrified to see that their footprints were already nearly filled in. She could not see more than one hundred yards ahead. In her heart, Maggie knew that they were on a fool’s errand…that they would never get to Montmartre.
But try they would.
Porthos dragged one tired hoof in front of the other as Jacques turned the wagon onto the Rue Vignon, finally pointing toward St. Denis. The surrounding buildings cast the street into a gloom that was enhanced by the lack of any streetlights.
Hmmmf…even the lamplighters have gone to ground.
Rue Vignon was usually inaccessible to Robard as the gendarmes would have chased him off the residential thoroughfare. He would have had to keep to the alleys or take the long way around. Tonight, though, he could drive down the middle of the street without fear of reprisal. There was neither a soul to slow him nor an omnibus to compete with his tired horse.
Nearing the intersection with the Rue Tronchet, he noticed someone straining to make their way north. He had plenty of time to realize that the snow-crusted form was actually two people, one clearly helping the other. They were struggling.
Never one to hold himself immune to another’s misery, Jacques urged Porthos along with a quick flick of the reins. Pulling up alongside the pair slowly weaving along, Jacques shouted to make himself heard over the weather.
“Hien…puis-je vous aider?”[i]
Robard’s world stopped and would never again spin the same. The taller of the pair quickly turned toward him. A gust of wind whipped down the canyon between the apartment blocks and lifted the wrappings off of the greatest present the Frenchman had ever received…a vision of his future found in a cloud of auburn hair and brilliant green eyes set in the palest of skin.
Maggie held out a sagging Kate to Jacques who had leapt from his seat. Settling her birdlike weight on the wagon’s bed, he scraped the few remaining pieces of hay left behind on the warped floorboards around her body for the tiniest bit of extra insulation. As he helped Maggie up to lay her down beside Miss Bennet, a frisson jolted through him when he grasped her forearms, even though she was wrapped in layers of coat…and he wore massive workman’s gauntlets.
Regaining his composure, he asked a simple question.
Without a word, Miss Small, late of Poplar, handed him a dog-eared carte de visite, a hand painted rose gracing the reverse side.
[i] “Eh…can I help you?”
Meet Don Jacobson
Don Jacobson is the author of several Pride & Prejudice Variations including “The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey,” “Of Fortune’s Reversal” and “The Maid and The Footman.”
He is a Goodreads author who recently was invited to be part of the Austen Authors group.
It’s Giveaway Time!
Mr. Jacobson is once again offering TWO giveaways for my readers; an eBook of The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Epoque / The Bennet Wardrobe Book 2) and a paperback copy of the book too. The eBook is open to international readers and the winner of the paperback copy must have a U.S. mailing address.
To enter these giveaways, please leave a comment below this post and let us know your thoughts on the newly released cover. Comments for these giveaways should be made no later than June 2nd. The winner will be posted here on June 3, 2017.
Thank you, Mr. Jacobson, for once again sharing these generous giveaways with my readers and for inviting me to host this lovely cover reveal at Just Jane 1813!
You can visit Don Jacobson’s Amazon Author Page on release day to add this book to your bookshelf.