(Review) The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet, The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet Book #1 by Katherine Cowley

Publisher and Publication Date: Tule Publishing. April 22, 2021.
Genre: Austenesque. Regency Period. Pride and Prejudice-Bennet family. Mystery.
Pages: 338.
Format: Paperback.
Source: I received a complimentary paperback copy from the author. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of Jane Austen stories.
Rating: Excellent.

To pre-order the book: April 22, 2021 @ Amazon

About the Author:

Katherine Cowley is a mystery author and a writing teacher. Her first novel is a Jane Austen-inspired Regency mystery. Katherine Cowley read Pride and Prejudice for the first time when she was ten years old, and she loved it so much that she reread it a few months later. She loves history, chocolate, traveling, and playing the piano. She lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with her husband and three daughters. A number of her short stories have been published, and she teaches writing at Western Michigan University.

Katherine is represented by Stephany Evans of Ayesha Pande Literary.

Goodreads/Website/Facebook/Twitter

Summary:

Mary Bennet is the middle sister in the Bennet family. Her older sisters are Jane and Elizabeth. Her younger sisters are Kitty and Lydia.
The Secret Life of Miss Bennet resumes with the Bennet family less than a year since Jane’s marriage to Mr. Bingley. Elizabeth is married to Mr. Darcy. Lydia is married to Mr. Wickham. Lydia is the first of the Bennet sisters who married.
Mr. Bennet, the patriarch of the Bennet family has died. The story begins with the planning of his funeral. Mr. Collins the male relative of Mr. Bennet has already moved into the Bennet family home.
The family is in a whirlwind of activity. They are planning the funeral. Mr. Collins is moving into the home and making changes. The unmarried daughters are left with possibly their only choice: to live with unknown relatives. Mrs. Bennet is going to live with her sister.
Mary is offered a chance for a different life. But, who is the woman behind the kind opportunity?

My Thoughts:

In Pride and Prejudice, Mary is a serious, somber, pianoforte playing young woman. Her appearances in the story is minimal. She is easy to ignore. The older Bennet sisters are close. The younger Bennet sisters are close. Mary is closed-off in the middle. However, Mary is a bare-bone character who Katherine Cowley can breathe a fresh life.

Several reasons why I love this story:

1. The Bennet sisters and their mother are portrayed true to form in the personalities set forth in Pride and Prejudice.
2. I love the focus on Mary. Other characters do not distract my attention from her.
3. Mary has a depth of character that is continuing to be revealed. Even by the end of the book, there is much more to be discovered about her abilities, talents, and character.
4. Mary is an imperfect person. At times, I am embarrassed for her brash mannerisms. Nevertheless, she is a person who is unpretentious. She is honest and direct. She does not allow emotions to overtake logic. To me, Mary is a breath of fresh air.
5. The mystery in The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet is a surprise twist. Mary who seems uncomfortable in her own skin. Mary who seems to have low self-confidence. She shows an understated part of her character that is innovative for serious tasks and to help solve a mystery.
6. At the end of the story, I didn’t want it to end. I thought, “wait a minute, I want to know more-more about Mary Bennet’s continuing story.” I am so glad for books two and three in the future!

Themes:

Family honor, sacrifice, loyalty, honesty, courage, death, grieving, compassion, self-worth, perseverance, and education.

(Review) Gentleman Jim: A Tale of Romance and Revenge by Mimi Matthews

Publisher and Publication Date: Perfectly Proper Press. November 10, 2020.
Genre: General fiction, Historical fiction, Historical romance, Regency romance.
Pages: 376.
Source: I received a complimentary eBook copy from NetGalley and Perfectly Proper Press. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of proper Regency period romance stories.
Rating: Very good.

Links to purchase the book:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Book Depository
Indiebound

Goodreads

Author Info:
USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Library JournalPublishers Weekly, and Kirkus, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats. Her next romance, The Siren of Sussex, will be out in 2022 from Berkley/Penguin Random House.
Website/ Twitter/ Facebook/ Pinterest/ BookBub/ Goodreads

Summary:
She Couldn’t Forget…
Wealthy squire’s daughter Margaret Honeywell was always meant to marry her neighbor, Frederick Burton-Smythe, but it’s bastard-born Nicholas Seaton who has her heart. Raised alongside her on her father’s estate, Nick is the rumored son of notorious highwayman Gentleman Jim. When Fred frames him for theft, Nick escapes into the night, vowing to find his legendary sire. But Nick never returns. A decade later, he’s long been presumed dead.

He Wouldn’t Forgive…
After years spent on the continent, John Beresford, Viscount St. Clare has finally come home to England. Tall, blond, and dangerous, he’s on a mission to restore his family’s honor. If he can mete out a bit of revenge along the way, so much the better. But he hasn’t reckoned for Maggie Honeywell. She’s bold and beautiful–and entirely convinced he’s someone else.
As danger closes in, St. Clare is torn between love and vengeance. Will he
sacrifice one to gain other? Or, with a little daring, will he find a way to have them both?

My Thoughts:
The setting is England.
In the first part of the story, the time period is the spring of 1807. The second part of the story is 1817.

I love to dissect characters in a story. I peel apart their (at first) shown personality from what their words and behavior continue to display. I observe them as if I am in the same room.
Some questions I ask:
Do they reveal the same personality to all the other characters?
Is this person trustworthy?
What is their mission or agenda?
Are they hiding something?
What are their fears and insecurities?
John Beresford, Viscount St. Clare is a fascinating character. He is entertaining to read and picture in my mind. His masculinity, energy, and sex appeal made my heart flutter.
The story reveals St. Clare and there is pleasure in the conclusion.

I’m not as impressed with the female lead. In the first part of the story she is a tiger. She has a strong personality. The second part of the story she looks weak and has become weak in personality, or has she matured? I understand the reasons behind her dramatic change. I also see the polar difference in the love duo: his strength and masculinity versus her petite nature. Their traits are also magnified because of one another. There are moments when she rises to the occasion, but she is not like the first part of the story.

They are a passionate duo. They are a formidable couple because of their passion and great love. I love their chemistry. It is reflected brilliantly.

Gentleman Jim reflects strongly the society and culture of how females were treated in the Romantic period. Females who had a lover or was suspected of impropriety. Females were to respect, honor, and obey their father and his wishes, or their guardian.
People didn’t always marry for love. The marriages were arranged by family. People married in their own economic class. And, behind the marriage was financial gain. What did the marriage bring financially to the couple, especially the man? It was a blessing when the arranged marriage brought happiness and love.


(Review) Our Tempestuous Day: A History of Regency England by Carolly Erickson

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Publisher and Publication Date: HarperCollins. 1986. First Harper paperback 2011.
Genre: Nonfiction. British history. Regency Period.
Pages: 304.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of British history or Regency Period history.
Rating: Okay-good.

Amazon link 

Links of interest on George III:
Britannica on George III
History.com on George III
Royal.uk on George III
Biography.com on George III

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George III

Links of interest on George IV:
Royal.uk on George IV
Britannica on George IV

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George IV

Summary:
The Regency period covers the years 1810 to 1820.
George III was born in 1738 and died in 1820.
King George III was the monarch of Great Britain and Ireland from 1760 to 1820. He had a mental illness that made him incapable of ruling during the last ten years. His son, the future George IV, became regent in 1811 and until his father’s death in 1820.
George IV reigned as monarch only ten years until his death in 1830.

Our Tempestuous Day focuses on George III and George IV. Other historical figures: Lord Byron, the Duke of Wellington, Caroline Lamb, Jane Austen, and Princess Charlotte are included.
The author uses characters to share what life was like during this time period, but these are people who are (mainly) in the upper part of society, not the common people.

My Thoughts:
I’ve struggled with whether to give this book an okay or good rating. I’ve toggled back and forth until I’ve decided to stay at okay-good.
The deciding factor for me in this rating is I wanted to read about the common people. The people closer to those in the Jane Austen’s stories. Chapter 18 finally answered some of my interests with how children were treated: stories of the “climbing boys,” child abandonment, street gangs, and prostitution.
However, the book is interesting in regards to how the two George monarchs lived. The opulence of George IV, and his tumultuous marriage and inappropriate treatment of the unloved wife.
Lord Byron is a character I knew a little about before reading this book. He was a scoundrel and didn’t care. You’ve heard the term, “love them and leave them.” I wouldn’t say he loved anyone but himself. He did leave them, that was a certainty.
Over-all, Our Tempestuous Day is a starting point for reading about the Regency Period.

(Review) Promised by Leah Garriott

Promised Blog Tour GraphicPromised by Leah Garriot 2020

Publisher and Publication Date: Shadow Mountain. February 18, 2020.
Genre: Regency romance, historical romance, inspirational fiction.
Pages: 368.
Source: I received a complimentary paperback copy (advanced reader copy) from the publisher, I was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers who love the Regency romance stories.
Rating: Excellent.

For more information at publisher: Promised

Amazon
Available in Paperback, audiobook, Kindle.

To read an additional review: Austenprose: A Jane Austen Blog.

About the author: 
Though she earned degrees in math and statistics, Leah Garriott lives for a good love story. She’s resided in Hawaii and Italy, walked the countryside of England, and owns every mainstream movie version of Pride and Prejudice. She’s currently living her own happily ever after in Utah with her husband and three kids. Leah is represented by Sharon Pelletier at Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret. You can visit Leah at leahgarriott.com.
Facebook. Page at Goodreads.
Leah Garriott author head shot

Advanced Praise:
“Promising Regency-set debut. Vivid period details and the hero’s grand romantic efforts will please fans of historical romance.” — Publishers Weekly
“I loved this story. The strongest thing about it was something I have been searching for ages: one point of view. I loved that this story was only told through the eyes of Margaret.” — For Where Your Treasure Is
“This book is a must read for any Jane Austen fan. It hits all of the right notes from Pride & Prejudice with enough new spin to make it its own special book.” — Melissa (Goodreads)

Promised with Booklist quote

Summary: 
Margaret Brinton keeps her promises, and the one she is most determined to keep is the promise to protect her heart…
Warwickshire, England, 1812
Fooled by love once before, Margaret vows never to be played the fool again. To keep her vow, she attends a notorious match-making party intent on securing the perfect marital match: a union of convenience to someone who could never affect her heart. She discovers a man who exceeds all her hopes in the handsome and obliging rake, Mr. Northam.
There’s only one problem. His meddling cousin, Lord Williams, won’t leave Margaret alone. Condescending and high-handed, Lord Williams lectures and insults her. When she refuses to give heed to his counsel, he single-handedly ruins Margaret’s chances for making a good match–to his cousin or anyone else. With no reason to remain at the party, Margaret returns home to discover her father has promised her hand in marriage–to Lord Williams.
Under no conditions will Margaret consent to marrying such an odious man. Yet as Lord Williams inserts himself into her everyday life, interrupting her family games and following her on morning walks, winning the good opinion of her siblings and proving himself intelligent and even kind, Margaret is forced to realize that Lord Williams is exactly the man she’d hoped to marry before she’d learned how much love hurt. When paths diverge and her time with Lord Williams ends, Margaret is faced with her ultimate choice: keep the promises that protect her or break free of them for one more chance at love. Either way, she fears her heart will lose.

My Thoughts:
The story begins with an enticing dialogue reminding me of a business meeting, but it’s people meeting with the prospect of marriage. This is the first strong point I found about the book: dialogue. Whether it is father and daughter, sister and brother, or flirtatious words between a young man and woman. Several times while reading the book I laughed aloud. It reminded me a bit of classic movies when actors spar back and forth with witty dialogue. I just love this!
I love how the characters emotions are felt…..by me. Especially the main character Margaret. She is a character that I admire. She’s beautiful but doesn’t take that part of her as the number one most important of traits in a person. She is a person of character. She’s been deeply hurt in the past. She begins to analyze how she should best arrange the next chapter of her life. Throughout the book even though she shows emotion like sadness or shock, this doesn’t stop her from examining the situation and people. It was a sad experience she’d endured but she learned from it.
There are two young men who are related. I wondered what are they up to? What kind of people are they really? I loved the unfolding in the story of what they were up to.
How predictable is too predictable? I began to ask myself this question after reading about a 1/4 of the book. I’d hoped there would be something to snag that predictableness and continue to hold my attraction and attention. I’m pleased to say yes! Bravo!

(Review) The Bedside, Bathtub and Armchair Companion to Jane Austen by Carol Adams, Douglas Buchanan, and Kelly Gesch

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Publisher and Publication Date: Continuum International Publishing Group Inc. 2008.
Genre: Nonfiction. Jane Austen. Regency Period. Women and Literature. Biography.
Pages: 240.
Source: Library paperback copy.
Audience: Jane Austen readers. Biography and history readers.
Rating: Good.

Amazon link

 

 

Summary:
If you are new to Jane Austen. If you haven’t read Jane Austen stories in a long time. This book is a good companion piece to become reacquainted with her works.

Examples of chapters:
“The Importance of a Good Carriage”
“The Clergy in Austen’s Fiction”
“On Reading Jane Austen”
“Jane Austen at the Movies”

All of Austen’s books have a chapter. The Watsons and Lady Susan share a chapter.

Illustrations are scattered throughout the book. They are all in black and white.

My Thoughts:
Don’t buy the book. If you can find it at the library do so. If you can find the book on discount as an ebook, this too is a great idea.
It’s a quick read.
It’s a book that can be used as a reference.
It’s not necessary to read it cover to cover.
The chapters are short.

What’s notable: An interesting essay on Willoughby (male character in Sense and Sensibility) as a sociopath.