Book launches, Giveaways and Redesigns!

Hello Romantics!!!

I’ve been on a reading hiatus but, I’ve been keeping up with some of my author acquaintances who have some great things going on!

To start with, Ms. Sandra Bricker has released the second book in her modern fairy tale series called Rise and Shine.

This is the story of a woman named Shannon who has just woken up from being in a coma for almost 10 yrs! (Can you imagine it?)

When she went into her coma it was 2005 then wakes up, and the year is 2014! During that time, her husband dies from a rare form of cancer and her best friend has gotten married and had 3 kids. Not only that but, things like smart phones, tablets, and reality television have come into being.

Never fear though, because there is a handsome doctor, a loving aunt, and a wonderful best friend who are more than willing to help her get her bearings in this strange new world!

You, Dear Romantics, are in luck because this wonderful read became available today! (I just got my copy this week and I’m ending my hiatus just so I can read what happens next!)

 

Rise and Shine

Next, on our agenda is a giveaway from Ms. Mary Jane Hathaway a.k.a Virginia Carmichael!

As you know, back in February, I did an interview with Ms. Hathaway about her Austen Takes the South series.  Well, her third book, Persuasion, Captain Wentworth, and Cracklin Cornbread: A Passion Denied but Never Forgotten, is on pre-sale for a launch date in November! To celebrate she is doing a giveaway on her blog!

Make sure you click over and enter to win some great Austen inspired prizes. Then go to Amazon to Pre-sale a paper back version of her book!

Persuasion, Captain Wentworth and Cracklin’ Cornbread: A Passion Denied but Never Forgotten (Jane Austen Takes the South)

Lastly, I want to spotlight the wonderful Ms. Bonnie Blythe, who has just done a redesign on her book, How Sweet It Iswhich I reviewed back in January.

Make sure you head over and download this winner as well and laugh the weekend away!

How Sweet It Is

So there is your update my dear Romantics and I’ll see you next week!

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…And the winners are!

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Hello Dear Romantics!

Normally, I post winners on a separate page from the reviews but I didn’t have a review ready for this week so I’m using this week’s post for the grand reveal.

Can you feel the excitement in the room? Well, after my very scientific method of picking 2 winners, putting names in a bowl and having someone draw the names for me, the winners are…wait for it….

Kristy K. James

And 

Luthien 84!!!!!

Congrats Ladies!!!!!

Mary Jane will be contacting you soon about delivering your prize(s).

I’ll see y’all next week with another great review!

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Emma, Mr Knightley, and Chili Slaw Dogs: An interview with Mary Jane Hathaway

Hello My Dear Romantics!

So as I mentioned last week I am interviewing the fabulous Mary Jane Hathaway writer of the Austen Takes the South series.

You may have seen my previous review of the first book in the series Pride, Prejudice, Cheese Grits, well since that review Ms. Hathaway has been fortunate enough to have her series picked up and republished by Simon and Schuster Publishing House!

So in honor of her re-launch for the series I’d like to welcome to the blog Mary Jane Hathaway!

Hi Mary Jane! I’m so excited to have you join us today. For my readers who are just getting to know you please tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be a writer.

Mary Jane Hathaway is the pen name of an award-nominated writer who spends the majority of her literary energy on subjects un-related to Jane Austen. A homeschooling mother of six young children who rarely wear shoes, she’s madly in love with a man who has never read Pride and Prejudice. She holds degrees in Religious Studies and Theoretical Linguistics, and has a Jane Austen quote on the back of her van. She can be reached on facebook at ‘Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits’ or her regular author page of Virginia Carmichael (which is another pen name, because she’s just that cool).

Who, other than Austen herself, are your literary heroes and how did they contribute to your literary career?

I love classic literature! I grew up in a house packed to the brim with old books and my heart still beats wildly for Elizabeth Gaskell, Louisa May Alcott, The Brontes, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and many more.  In modern literature I love Franny Billingsley, Laura Whitcomb, Shannon Hale, Rick Riordan, Cassandra Clare, Alan Bradley, anyone with a truly distinct voice and story to tell. I guess they remind me to search for my own words, and although we want to imitate our heroes, we also know that our voice is a God-given unique gift. There is only one of you and only one of me. We’re meant to speak our own story. 

I know you write under a few pen names what are they and what is the story behind them?

At the time of my first contract, someone (can’t exactly remember who now) told me that Munoz was too difficult to remember. So I went with my maiden name for my books with Love Inspired/ Harlequin. Then as I wanted to self publish my Austen books but was afraid that people would be confused when I switched to longer, stand alone novels, I chose Mary Jane Hathaway. Mary is my legal first name. Jane should be obvious!! And Hathaway is my mother’s side of the family. So, both of my pen names honor both sides of my family (and Miss Austen).

What was your inspiration for this series?

I read Bridget Jones’ Diary and laughed myself silly. But I couldn’t share that series with most of my friends because of the immorality and the language. It started me thinking of a sweet version of Bridget Jones’ Diary (which was really a new take on P&P). I needed the perfect setting because so much of the story relies on family obligations and expectations. I also needed a place with a very rich dialogue and long-standing customs. What better place than the South? I live in Oregon and we pretty much sound like every newscaster you’ve ever heard. We also eat normal food, nothing out of the ordinary. We also have very little history (our big claim to fame is living on the Oregon Trail). So, it was a blast to dive into the rich heritage and history of the South to set the stage for a P&P retelling!

So I have to be honest I’ve read almost every book Austen ever wrote and Emma was one of my least favorites however your spin on the story actually raised my opinion of the Emma character.  What about this character spoke to you and made you want to take on her story?

I love Emma because she always thinks she has the perfect plan. I’m the same way! I always think I can (refurbish that vintage desk, paint the house, bake a soufflé, write a novel). Most of the time, it’s a major fail and someone has to come in and fix my mess. With Emma, she has a good heart, truly. And that is her saving grace. In my book “Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs”, Caroline comes up with plans that she believes will help everyone around her. As her plans don’t work out, she has to face the fact that her idea of what people need isn’t always the reality.

Was there any part of this story that you had trouble writing about and why?

I was attracted to the story of Emma because she’s such a fun character, but the love story was hard to write. We’re all used to the ‘cute meet’ and instant attraction and characters finally admitting their love for each other. But this story has the hero and heroine in love, without really understanding the depths of their feelings. I had to find ways to plant that idea in the readers’ mind, without bringing the characters together too soon.

In the end, I loved writing it because it taught me how to subtly describe two people in love, but in such gentle ways that the characters themselves could be caught off guard my the realization.

I know there were some added scenes between your original release and the relaunch of Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili Slaw Dogs.  Without giving too much away can you tell us what they are and how they add to the story?

I can absolutely tell you what sort of scenes were added. My wonderful editor, Beth Adams, asked if I could expand a little on the reasons behind Frank’s deception, Lauren’s reasons for assisting him, and Caroline’s job issues in the end. She also wanted a little bit more time between the moment that Caroline and Brooks first kiss (and misunderstand each other so thoroughly) and the actual proposal. The plot line of Lexi Martinez was central to the story, but it didn’t get much page time, so that was another place I got to fill in details. In the new version, Caroline goes to Lexi’s home and talks to her dad at the gas station. This is a pivotal scene, because she realizes how arrogant she was to assume she knew what was best for Lexi. Just like Emma assuming that she could tell Miss Harriett Smith that she should refuse Robert Martin just because he’s a farmer, Caroline meant well, but was very wrong. I also tried to give a little more satisfaction to the villain, since that was something  readers mentioned. In the original Emma, Frank and Jane Fairfax get to ride off into the sunset happily married, I tried to leave the “villains” of my books un-chastised. But what works for Miss Austen doesn’t always work for us! I needed to give them some comeuppance.

What’s the next Austen book you are going to take on in this series and can we get a little taste of the new story?

Persuasion, Captain Wentworth, and Cracklin’ Cornbread is the next book. It’s about an African-American woman from a wealthy, very traditional family. She falls in love with a white boy  from the wrong side of the tracks who has an unmarried single drop out for a mom and an absent father. Her aunt convinces her to dump him before she leaves for Harvard, saying he had no future.

  The story begins as Jeremiah “Jem” Chevy (our hero) comes back into Tupelo, Mississippi on a program from his medical school called the Rural Physician’s Program. (We have it here in Oregon, too. A qualifying medical student can erase their school debt by serving in a rural area for a certain number of years.) His heart has healed, or so he thinks, and he isn’t too worried about running into the beautiful girl who broke his heart ten years before.

Our heroine, Lucy Crawford,  is now on the verge of losing her home, Crawford House, because her father has reversed mortgaged it to the max, and her two sisters are living off his credit cards. She’s trying her hardest to keep the family together, but her job as a historian at a Civil War battlefield isn’t going to save the house. Their family history is rich and they have the respect of the entire community, but they’re in massive debt. In the ten years since Jem left, her life has only gotten sadder and more solitary. She was wrong to break up with him, but by the time she realized her mistake, he was gone forever.

    These broken-hearted people might never cross paths, if the board of the Free Clinic didn’t manage to work out a deal with her father, and now Jem and Lucy are thrown together on a daily basis.
  A story of love lost, love found, and second chances set in the beauty of the deep South. There’s laughter, hope, and lots of Jane Austen!

So, I like to ask a personality question just for fun.  I know you’re happily married but, if you could meet and marry any Austen hero who would it be and why?

Mr. Knightley!!! He brought Emma a book, and he was always in his library reading. I think we’d make a great pair and raise lots of lovely little bookworm children! 😀

Mary Jane, it’s been great talking to you about your re-launch. Before you go, do you have any advice for our aspiring writers out there?

Write the book you want to read. I’d heard that before, but never quite understood it, until I laughed my way through Bridget Jones’ Diary. I just kept thinking, “This is great, but I sure wish…” So, I decided to stop wishing and start writing.

Thank you so much for having me over here!

Caroline Ashley is a journalist on the rise at The Washington Post until the sudden death of her father brings her back to Thorny Hollow to care for her mentally fragile mother and their aging antebellum home. The only respite from the eternal rotation of bridge club meetings and garden parties is her longtime friend, Brooks Elliott. A professor of journalism, Brooks is the voice of sanity and reason in the land of pink lemonade and triple layer coconut cakes. But when she meets a fascinating, charismatic young man on the cusp of a brand new industry, she ignores Brooks’s misgivings and throws herself into the project.

Brooks struggles to reconcile his parents’ very bitter marriage with his father’s devastating grief at the recent loss of his wife. Caroline is the only bright spot in the emotional wreckage of his family life. She’s a friend and he’s perfectly happy to keep her safely in that category. Marriage isn’t for men like Brooks and they both know it… until a handsome newcomer wins her heart. Brooks discovers Caroline is much more than a friend, and always has been, but is it too late to win her back?

Featuring a colorful cast of southern belles, Civil War re-enactors, and good Christian women with spunk to spare, Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs brings the modern American South to light in a way only a contemporary Jane Austen could have imagined.

Emma, Mr. Knightley and Chili-Slaw Dogs

Re-Readability Rating:

4 out of 5 stars

This book has made it to my list of books I love to wander back around to when I need a good read to pass the time of day.

Romance Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Love the kiss scene! Great banter and dialog but I will say the lack of communication did get on my nerves just a tiny bit.  We human beings can be so silly sometimes.

Mary Jane Hathaway is also giving away some awesome Prizes!!!!

Leave a comment telling us your favorite Austen character and why for a chance to win a free e-book copy of Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili Slaw Dogs or a pair of Jane Austen inspired earrings from Etsy.com! You have until Tuesday, February 4th, 2014 11:59pm EST

Book EARRINGS Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen quote vintage Typewriter

You can also keep up with Mary Jane on Facebook: Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits Fan PageVirginia Carmichael Author Page

Twitter: Mary Jane’s Twitter

and her blog: Virginia Carmichael @ Blog Spot

Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits (Austen Takes the South) by Mary Jane Hathaway

Hello Dear Romantics!

So yes I’ve been a bad blogger. I haven’t posted since the end of May!!!  How could I just leave you all to wonder about the next great read!  All I can do is apologize. I promise it wasn’t from lack of great reads just a lack of motivation to get my act together and read them.

So to make up for my lack of communication with you all I’m offering this next great read to one of you. (Details at the end of the review.)

What is this great and endearing find you may ask?

Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits by Mary Jane Hathaway

I was scrolling along through Amazon looking for something to add to my kindle collection when this title caught my attention. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a big Austen fan and my all time favorite novel is Pride and Prejudice!!!!

So I think to myself, “Pride and Prejudice, set in the south during modern times…Sounds like a winner to me!”

And my faithful Romantics it was a true winner.

The part of Elizabeth Bennet was played by a spunky college history professor by the name of Shelby Roswell. Shelby is up for tenure at her small college and is trying to recover from a scalding book review by a well renowned Civil War Historian Ransom Fielding (Mr. Darcy).  To her dismay, Professor Fielding has taken a guest professorship at her college.

Ransom Fielding is just looking for a little bit of a sabbatical from his tenured position at Yale. All he is looking for is some peace to write and hopefully come to grips with the loss of his wife six years ago.  Never did he imagine falling love with the one person whose career he came close to destroying!

This book has several of the different themes and characters from the Pride and Prejudice book. There’s even a character that is a combination of Mr. Collins and Mr. Wickham?  If you are a Jane Austen fan you know which characters I’m talking about and you’re probably scratching your head and going WHAT????  I know I was a little confused at first but it works. Trust Me.

There is one expletive in the book and normally I don’t review books on here that contain bad language but the whole book was so entertaining and well written that I decided to bend my rule this one time.

So Romantics, to make up for my long absence, I am offering a free copy of this wonderful book to one of you!

Just leave a comment telling me your favorite Jane Austen character and Why, by Tuesday, July 30th, 2013 11:59pm est. and I will randomly pick a winner to be announced on Wednesday, July 31st, 2013.

or if you can’t wait to read this book make sure you go to:

Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits by Mary Jane Hathaway

Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits

RE-Readability:

4 out of 5 stars

Oh yes I’ve already re-read parts of the book about 6 times already and I just finished it last Saturday!

Romance  Rating:

3 out of 5 stars

There are only two big kissing scenes but they are quite lovely. The build-up to their relationship is the best part of this book though.