Hello Lovelies! Please excuse our dust while we do a bit of construction on the blog. We will still be posting exciting reviews, brilliant guest posts, and exciting giveaways but we are in the process of transforming the blog and adding new content and features for you to enjoy.

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Trip Down A Creepy Dream With Jessica Verday

Today is the launch date of The Hollow! And who better to tell us more about it than the creator herself, Jessica Verday?

Me: Hi Jessica! Thanks for hosting The Hollow: A Jessica Verday week here on Royal Reviews!
JV: Thanks for having me, glad to be here.

Me: Firstly, why Sleepy Hollow?
JV: A lifelong love of Hallow’een. I love the legend. I love fall and leaves and pumpkins. I love the atmosphere - that instant spooky feeling you get when you think of the Headless Horseman. After I visited the real town of Sleepy Hollow, I knew it was the perfect setting.

Me: Tell us about research for the book. Did you have to do any research such as going to Washington Irving’s grave?
JV: Yes, I visited the real town of Sleepy Hollow several times. This included visits to Washington Irving’s grave and his home, Sunnyside, in neighboring Irvington, NY. I also did a lot of research into perfume making.

Me: Is there actually a town such as Sleepy Hollow? Did you go there?
JV: Yes there is. It’s located just above New York City on the Hudson River and it’s gorgeous.

Me: How was the writing process? You used 13 notebooks and 15 black pens for The Hollow. How many notebooks and black pens do you think you’ll run through for the sequel? ;)
JV: Oh goodness, although I don’t have a definite count, I know I’ve used at least the same number of notebooks and double the pens. (For some reason, I went through a lot of extra pens for this book)

Me: Abbey makes perfumes, which piqued my interest. Did you make perfumes as a hobby?
JV: No. I’ve not tried my hand at making perfume yet, but I have made my own soap. It’s a fun Hobby.

Me: What song would you attribute to each of the characters? Why?
JV: I can’t answer this one yet, but I will be sharing the Official Playlist of THE HOLLOW soon and that will answer all. (MoMaM's note: Ooh, I can't wait to listen while re-reading The Hollow.)

Me: Tell us 15 good to know facts about you.
JV: 1. My favorite color is purple
2. I was named after my grandfather
3. I like spending time in cemeteries as much as Abbey does
4. I collect old, written on postcards
5. I spend every September 12th visiting Johnny Cash at his grave in Hendersonville, TN
6. The first book I ever wrote was titled, BOBBY’S BAZILLION BANANAS
7. I love trains and snow
8. I often spend Hallow’een dressed up like KISS at Disney World
9. I love zombie movies
10. One of the people I’d love to meet is Ron Perlman
11. I love the band Tenacious D.
12. My favorite place to be as a child was the Bangor (PA.) Public Library
13. I have a snow ball in my freezer
14. Boots are my favorite type of shoes
15. When I was little, I wanted to have purple eyes.

Me: Can you tell us what’s in store for Abbey and Caspian?
JV: A lot. Book 2 has Abbey returning to the Hollow and facing her demons. We get to meet some fun new characters and find out the answers to a lot of our questions from Book 1.

Thank you so much for that scintillating interview, Jessica!

Maharani of Mayhem and Mysteries
Visit Liyana at her blog Liyanaland.

Kicking It Off With Abbey

Me: Hey there Abbey! Thanks for being our host today and kicking this week off. It’s nice to finally meet you. How are you?
A: I’m alright, thanks.

Me: I heard that you like making perfumes. How did that come about? Did you have to go through any formal training or anything?
A: No, it just kind of started one day when I found this hand made perfume in a little store. And I just kind of got interested in the process. No formal training, just a lot of trial and error.

Me: What’s your favourite blend of perfume, that you think suits you?
A: Hmmm, I haven’t made one for myself yet, but I think I’d have something with honey, maybe a bit of apple, cloves, blood orange…hmmm that’s giving me ideas. I’ll have to work on that.

Me: How about Jessica? ;)
A: Who’s Jessica?

Me: Oh, uhh.. No one! When did you first start going to the cemetery to visit Washington Irving? It must be pretty scary!
A: I started going when my best friend Kristen moved to town when I was seven years old. It’s not scary, it’s peaceful.

Me: What’s your favourite memory of you and Kristen.
A: Every time Kristen and her mom picked me up when we’d go to the pool over the summer, she always brought and extra soda for me. She was always thoughtful like that.

Me: So... you and Caspian huh? Was it the black streak in his blond hair that caught your attention? ;)
A: And the green eyes, I’m a sucker for green eyes.

Me: If Caspian was a perfume, what type of blend would he be?
A: Rainy nights, snickerdoodle cookies, and fall leaves.

Me: Did you and Kristen have any traditions for prom?
A: Kristen and I never got to go to a prom together.

Me: Oh, I'm so sorry. Do you have a picture of your prom dress? It looks totally gorgeous in my mind!
A: It is gorgeous. I’ll have to take a picture of it.

Me: What’s your favourite star in the universe?
A: I like the big dipper, I know it’s more of a constellation but I can’t pick just one.

Me: Tell us more about Abbey’s Hollow. How is it coming along?
A: Well, since Kristen’s death, I haven’t decided if I’m going to continue my plans. I don’t want to give up on my shop, but it’s going be hard without her here.

Me: I understand. You probably know that you have a lot of fans out there. Would you like to say anything to them?
A: I hope you enjoy my story.

Thank you so much Abbey! I hope they do, too.

Maharani of Mayhem and Mysteries
Visit Liyana at her blog Liyanaland.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Hollow: A Jessica Verday Week

After a while there simply weren't any more tears left, and my body just sort of shuddered every now and then. But still I limped on. (The Hollow ARC, page 504)

Welcome to the kick off of The Hollow: A Jessica Verday week

This week (31st to 4th September) on Royal Reviews is solely dedicated to the launch of The Hollow, its characters and the creator of its magical world, Jessica Verday. There will be author interviews and character interviews!

What are we waiting for? Let's welcome the the person through whose eyes we see the story, Abbey!

Maharani of Mayhem and Mysteries

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Royal News

A Big Thank You to Sharon Lathan!

We hope you truly enjoyed Mr Darcy Week on Royal Reviews. Hosting author Sharon Lathan and discussing her wonderful books made this week one of our most successful and most fun yet. We'd like to once again say a big thank you to Sharon for extending the hand of friendship to the book blogging community. It has been such a sincere pleasure to get to know her and Mr Darcy a little better.

Most of the time, our themed weeks will be a collection of reviews in the same genre from our Royal Reviewers and Guest Bloggers. Occasionally though, we like to showcase the work of an author whose work we truly believe in. You can rest assured that everytime we spotlight an author on Royal Reviews, it's because the reviewer is absolutely in love with the books and wants to shout it from the rooftops!

This Week's Poll

This week, we'll be polling the style of reviews you most enjoy to read (eg long, short, spoilers). We would love your feedback and can't wait to see the results so we can tailer Royal Reviews to everyone's tastes. Keep an eye out for the left-hand sidebar.

The BBAW's

We are delighted to announce that Royal Reviews was nominated for a BBAW last week for Most Collaborative Book Blog! The BBAW's are a fantastic initiative run by a team of volunteers and are a wonderful way to support our growing book blogging community. Congratulations to everyone who received nominations. We look forward to voting for our favourite blogs in early September!

We're now on Twitter and Goodreads

Royal Reviews's book recommendations, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (to-read shelf)

In other news, you can now follow Royal Reviews on Twitter and Goodreads. Our Goodreads page is still under construction but we'd love to be your friend! When it's finished, it will list all the books that have been reviewed on Royals along with a link to the review and our wishlist of books yet to be released. Click either of the buttons above to find us before we find you first... ;-)

Competition Winners!

Thanks to Sharon Lathan and her publishers for hosting this week's giveaway (and thanks to Random.org for generating the winners)

Pride and Prejudice DVD: Armenia from Arm Load of Books

Both Book One and Two of Sharon Lathan's Darcy Saga: Ibeeeg from Mom - Musings & Michelle from Michelle's Diary

Congratulations ladies! You'll be receiving an email shortly requesting your postal address so we can have your goodies sent on.

This Week on Royal Reviews

Maharani of Mayhem and Mysteries

The Maharani of Mayhem & Mysteries - Liyana from Liyanaland - is back and promises a fantastic week of YA reviews. We love her fresh, young perspective on this increasingly popular genre and know that you'll really enjoy this week.

Until next week,

Princess of the Past

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Series: The Cousins War Book 1

Genre: Historical Fiction

Copyright: 2009

Pages: 411

Rating 4 1/2 Crown

The first in a stunning new series, The Cousins War, is set amid the tumult and intrigue of The War of the Roses. Internationally bestselling author Philippa Gregory brings this family drama to colourful life through its women, beginning with the story of Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.
The White Queen tells the story of a common woman who ascends to royalty by virtue of her beauty, a woman who rises to the demands of her position and fights tenaciously for the success of her family, a woman whose two sons become the central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the Princes in the Tower whose fate remains unknown to this day. www.philippagregory.com

Philippa Gregory's skill as a storyteller is renowned and The White Queen proves no exception. Ms Gregory takes a fascinating period in history, with powerful historical figures and weaves a compelling and intriguing tale. I found the Plantagenets and the House of York just as interesting, if not more so than the Tudors, possibly because I'm less read in this time period but also because this truly is an enthralling story.

The White Queen is told through the eyes of Elizabeth Woodville, a widow of the House of Lancaster with 2 sons to her first husband, Sir John Grey. Elizabeth, reputably one of the most beautiful women of this time, catches the eye, and the heart of King Edward IV and a secret marriage follows as Elizabeth refuses to be the York king's mistress.

Without giving too much away, this is where treachery & betrayal really come into play. Elizabeth's reputation as Edward's acknowledged queen is not aided by her dabbling in witchcraft & as she understandably promotes her family and their postion, resentment grows. The York faction fight not only the Lancastrians but turn on each other, alliances are made and broken & when Elizabeth & Edward's sons are born the treachery reaches an all new level. King Edward's brothers, George, the turn-coat (boy did I loathe him) & eventually loyal Richard become players in an ongoing battle for the crown.

“Edward lives as if there is no tomorrow, Richard as if he wants no tomorrow, and George as though someone should give it to him for free.”
comment from Anthony to his sister Elizabeth Woodville.

I really enjoyed Gregory's portrayal of Elizabeth as a devoted mother, loving & faithful wife and if not entirely likeable, then strong, & spirited. I think like many strong, passionate women in history, Elizabeth Woodville is much maligned by her detractors to encourage prejudice that has remained throughout history. Yes she becomes vengeful & spiteful, especially when employing her "pagan tricks" but considering the circumstances it would probably have taken a saint, not to.

There were a few places in the novel that read like a recounting of events, a little lacking in emotion but what I loved about The White Queen is Philippa Gregory's use of literary licence. I was enthralled by the author's characterisations, the use of the legend of Melusine, & her take on the fate of Edward & Richard, the Princes in the tower. Shrouded in contradictions and speculation, an unsolved mystery to this day, I believe Philippa Gregory's scenario is quite plausible.

Once again the author's notes are a helpful addition, letting the reader know what parts of the story are fact or based on fact and what's ficticious. My suggestion to keep track of the complex relationships is to check out the family tree of the Houses of York, Lancaster & Tudor in the front of the novel or print out the family tree from Philippa Gregory's website. I found it helpful to keep this & a list of Elizabeth & Edward's children with me so I wasn't completely bamboozled by the generations of Edwards, Richards, & Georges. (12 children is quite a feat, 10 to Edward, not all of which are mentioned in the book and 2 Grey sons)

Don't miss this one, it's a great introduction to the War of the Roses period for both the uninitiated & fans of historical fiction. I now have a newly acquired craving to learn more about this era and I can't wait to see what's in store for us with The Red Queen and The White Princess. Visit Philippa Gregory's website to find out more.

Thank you to Katrina from Wiredset for this review copy.

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Visit Sheree at her blog The Eclectic Reader.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Seducing Mr Darcy by Gwyn Cready

Genre: Marketed as Paranormal Romance

Awards: 2009 RITA - Best Parnormal Romance

Pages: 336

Copyright: 2008

Rating 4 1/2 Crown

Type 'Mr Darcy' into Google Blog Search and you'll be confronted with over 22,000 hits. As Bloggers, as women, we are Darcy obsessed. Plenty of the polls I've conducted on my personal blog have certainly ranked him as one of our favourite heroes. Is it any wonder then that there has been an influx of P & P Spin-offs?

One of the most recent is Gwyn Cready's second time-travel romance, Seducing Mr Darcy and it is fabulous. There is a condition to reading and enjoying it though. You can't be an Austen-purist. Approach this romance with a light heart, be prepared to suspend your disbelief and you'll be greatly rewarded.

The most enjoyable part of this novel has to be the fun way Pride and Prejudice is constantly discussed. I loved reading the hero Magnus's educated view of Austen combined with Flip's BBC Mini-series opinions. It was an excellent combination and pulled the novel from full-out sexual fantasy into a tongue-in-cheek Austen commentary. What a great way to stimulate debate on a classic novel!

In terms of what I look for in a romance - Sex, Sex and a Happy Ending - this book didn't disappoint. The love scenes were just hot enough to be confrontational but not so explicit or long that they made you want to close the book. By the end of the book I had forgotten Darcy (almost!). Oh Magnus is such a smart, sexy guy. I love a hero with a brain! You know what they say about the quiet types...Which reminds me, I've got to find a new Scrabble partner ;-)

For a P & P novel with a twist, you really can't go past this book. I picked it up on impulse at our local department store - what a stroke of luck! I highly recommend this to fans of the series Lost in Austen.

For a special treat, here's the wet t-shirt scene from Lost in Austen! Can't wait to see the movie in 2011.

Princess of the Past

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Loving Mr Darcy by Sharon Lathan

Genre: Historical Romance

Copyright: 2009

Pages: 425

Rating 5 Crowns

Book Blurb
The Darcy Saga continues....

The tale of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet began in Jane Austen's classic novel Pride & Prejudice. Their love was granted new life and a chance to be shared in Two Shall Become One ~ Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Now the next steps of the journey can be delighted in as Journeys Beyond Pemberley resumes where the first volume ended. Darcy and Lizzy leave the comfortable confines of their honeymoon months at Pemberley for the broader world of London and other areas of England.

Adventures are experienced, friends and relatives interact, fun is the focus, and extraordinary English Regency Era sights will be explored. But anchoring and weaving within is the revealing of a love and marriage in its purest embodiment as the young lovers deepen their sacred bond.

Come now and join the Darcys on their quest to further meld as one soul amid the peaks and valleys of real life.

Review: This book is being released on September 1, 2009 and I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of it after I read and fell in love with Mr & Mrs Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One. If you are like me and love Pride and Prejudice sequels then this series should be on the top of your list - trust me!

In this book we see the couple experience many of the milestones of early marriage, including the joy of expecting their first child and Lizzy's birthday. But although Lizzy has adjusted well to her new role as Mistress of Pemberley, there are still plenty of complications. When the Darcys move to London, Lizzy must start again and in earning the respect of the staff in London, she finds an inner strength that she hasn't had before. Here are two of my favourite quotes:

Lizzy: Inwardly, she recognized a happiness and contentment that anchored her soul.

Lizzie: "What a gift you are in my life! I hope you understand that as much as I yearn for you physically, and I do every moment of every day, it is your heart and soul that have captured me. If we could no longer make love for some reason I would ache for you, but I would still love you as profoundly because you live inside my very essence." She cupped his face fiercely. "Do you know this, my husband?"

Such is the depth of Lizzy's happiness - I couldn't help but sigh when I read those words! This story also includes more of the Bingley's which I loved, especially some of the realisations Carolyn Bingley comes to, that was wickedly enjoyable. But the Darcy's also encourage the Bingley's in a way that enhances their own marriage. You'll enjoy appearances from many of the characters you loved (and loved to hate) from the original novel.

Since I was a little girl I wanted a love like the Darcy's! When you find it, you know that you have been blessed by the angels and you hang onto it with everything you have. I've always thought about the great love stories like Marc Anthony and Cleopatra, King Edward and Mrs Simpson (he gave up his crown for her love) and Darcy and Elizabeth. I am a romantic, it's no secret, I love romance stories and romance movies are my favourites, I am also lucky enough to have a great love in my life. This story touches a part of me, deep down in my soul, it captures the essence of romantic and eternal love and I think anyone who reads it will feel richly blessed by the story.

At the end of this review, I know, I haven't told you much about the story, that's because it's the second book and I don't want to give away spoilers. But I hope what I have done is convince you to read this series.

Recently publishers have said that the sales in the romance genre have increased and it is generally believed that it is because of the Global Financial Recession. People need to feel good, if you need a little romance or need some hope that true love it out there, then read this series. If you want to fall in love with Mr Darcy all over again then go and pre-order yourself a copy. Order your copy of both these books at Book Depository (free postage) or Amazon.

Here's a little about Book 3, The Darcys at Year's End

Married life is bringing out the best in the Darcys. Their mutual attentiveness brings readers into a magical world of love and wedded bliss.

Elizabeth is growing into her role as Mistress of Pemberley, and Darcy has mellowed under her gentle teasing and light-heartedness. Pemberley becomes a true home and a welcoming environment for loving family and friends. The Darcys travel to the seaside, welcome their firstborn, celebrate their anniversary and second Christmas, and at every moment embrace the love gifted to them.

"I love you, my Elizabeth. You are my soul, my blood and bone, my very life."

You can pre-order the third book in the series, The Darcys at Year's End at Amazon with it due out in December.

Royal Reviews would like to thank the lovely Sharon Lathan for spending a fun week with us as we've learned more about her 'Mr Darcy' and the wonderful books she's written. My review of Loving Mr Darcy is of an ARC I received thanks to Danielle at Sourcebooks. Thanks also to Danielle for giving us 2 sets of Sharon's books to give away.

Giveaway Alert!
If you'd like to win the second set of Sharon's books that we have to give away tell me who your favourite romantic couple is. They can be from a book or movie, they can be real or fictional. We'll tell you who the winners are for all this weeks comps are in our Sunday post.

Tomorrow for the last post in our 'Mr Darcy Week' is a review of Seducing Mr Darcy by Gwyn Cready. If you enjoyed the TV mini series Lost in Austen then you'll love this book.

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Visit Alaine at her blog Queen of Happy Endings.

Winner of The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Thanks to everyone for entering the competition to win The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
courtesy of the awesome Katrina at Wiredset.
Congratulations to our 2 winners:

UPDATE: Heather (dolleygurl) from The Maiden's Court Blog already won The White Queen so she has offered it up for a redraw.
Allie~Hist-Fic Chick

Congratulations Allie, will be sending you an email.

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Mr & Mrs Firzwilliam Darcy by Sharon Lathan

Genre: Romance

Copyright: 2009


Rating 5 Crowns

Book Blurb: The first in a series that follows Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy from their wedding day into married life, Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy is inspired by the Keira Knightley/Matthew MacFayden movie. The author vividly imagines this young and energetic couple as they immerse themselves in their profound love and face the challenges of their era.

Elizabeth and Darcy are positively goo-goo eyes for each other and the burgeoning love and closeness between them drives the plot. As the narrative unfolds through the honeymoon and then the challenges of Elizabeth assuming the role of Mistress of Pemberley, Darcy and Elizabeth thoroughly reveal their differing points of view of how their relationship blossomed from misunderstanding to perfect understanding. As the couple grows in maturity and understanding, as they accustom themselves to each other and to married life, Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy emerges as a fascinating portrait of a deep and passionate marriage.

Review: This is the second sequel that I've read to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and I've loved them both but this one is my favourite because of the sensuality. I absolutely loved Sharon's telling of Lizzy and Darcy's marriage.

This book is wonderfully romantic as you sit back and enjoy their story unfold. Read about Lizzy as she works very hard to settle into her role as Mrs Darcy whilst enjoying the pure bliss of their intimacy. The Darcy's marriage is exactly how I imagine a true love match would have been in those days. Sharon very cleverly wove the intimacy into the story, making it highly erotic and very sensual. They are a passionate couple who enjoy discovering each other in every sense.

I've read a few reviews that said this book was too sexual, but come on, who doesn't want to peek behind Darcy's bedroom door? I for one loved reading about the intimacy that Darcy and Elizabeth shared and that the emotional passion they had for each other in Pride and Prejudice translated into a very physical passion for the modern reader. But there is much more to this story than just fantastic sex and reading it, remembering what it was like to be a newly married couple, thinking you couldn't possibly love this person more than you do, only to find yourself more deeply in love with them each day. I was lucky enough to find that in my life, 25 years ago and it was so nice to be reminded of it. It's what every couple deserve to have with each other and if you're lucky you will not only find it, but you will find a way to maintain it. You really get a romantic high from reading this book, can't you tell?

If you have any interest in Pride and Prejudice sequels then I can't recommend Sharon Lathan's books highly enough. If you love the romance genre then I also urge you to read this series. When I read this book I had not even read Pride and Prejudice, this book inspired me to read it and I loved it.

Purchase Mr & Mrs Fitzwilliam Darcy at Book Depository or Amazon.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Introducing Sharon Lathan's Mr Darcy

Sharon's Guest Blog Post!

Since we are honoring that great literary man, Mr. Darcy, allow me to introduce MY version of the man and share a sampling of the traits that make him fabulous.

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: 29 years old. Born November 10, 1787 to James and Lady Anne Darcy. Master of Pemberley in Derbyshire and Darcy House in London. Graduate of Cambridge University. Married Elizabeth Bennet on November 28, 1816.

Those are his vital statistics for my story. Now for the specifics found within the pages - My Darcy prefers to be addressed as William by those closest to him, and he adores endearments. He is a reserved, shy man who has few intimate friends but is fiercely loyal to those he loves. He is uncomfortable around strangers but open and quietly humorous with friends. Very loving and affectionate, incredibly passionate (in every way), sentimental, generous, respectful, and honorable; he is the epitome of a gentleman.

Extremely intelligent, he is a Master who actively manages his estate and business. He is obsessed with modern inventions but also relishes exploring historical ruins. Somewhat visionary, he diversifies his wealth in ventures beyond his land. Yet his one true passion is for horses, Pemberley a leader in breeding racing and military Thoroughbreds with Darcy often jumping into the corrals to lend a hand.

He is a skilled billiard player, excellent fencer, keen marksman, and expert rider. But he is horrible at darts, has atrocious luck in cards and dice, and cannot sing! He enjoys the typical manly pursuits of the day but equally relishes reading all types of books, relaxing with his family, and even playing his violin.

And I suppose it goes without saying that he is meltingly gorgeous, a fabulous lover, and crazy in love with his wife!

That is a small glimpse of the complex, well-rounded character that I have written. More information can be found on my website: http://www.darcysaga.net/

~ Sharon

Would you like to win a copy of BOTH of Darcy Saga books?

Thanks to Sourcebooks, one lucky resident of US or Canada will win a brand new copy of Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Loving Mr. Darcy simply by leaving a comment with their email address and an answer to the following question from Sharon:

What particular trait do you like to see in your favorite heroes, Mr. Darcy or anyone?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Welcome the lovely Sharon Lathan

I am so excited to welcome to Royal Reviews the lovely and delightful Sharon Lathan. After I read Sharon's first book Mr and Mrs Fitzwilliam Darcy I left a comment on her blog and thus began a online friendship with a gifted and talented author who is sure to blush at this statement!

Today’s authors do a fantastic job of making Pride and Prejudice, a classic romance, relevant in our modern world and I believe that’s the reason that Pride and Prejudice remains so popular today. As many others have, I read a Pride and Prejudice sequel before reading Austen’s original book. Many of us are interested in reading a story that has more modern language, a story that we can relate to, yet still gives us that connection to the past. Hence the reason for the popularity of Pride and Prejudice paranormal novels. Our poll shows that 47% of you would read a P & P paranormal with 26% of us (myself included) saying maybe!

Sharon Lathan’s Pride and Prejudice sequels bring to life the happiness and romance of this young, blissfully happy couple. She delivers a classic yet modern marriage that will not disappoint anyone and yet everyone can relate to. If you haven’t read a Pride and Prejudice sequel then I urge you to try Sharon’s first book, Mr & Mrs Fitzwilliam Darcy as this book leaves you floating blissfully on a cloud. You don’t need to have read the original Pride and Prejudice before picking up this sequel. I would however urge you to watch the movie and then read the book as Sharon's inspiration came from a viewing of the 2005 film version.

Without further delay, here's my interview with Sharon Lathan:

Sharon: I am so excited to be a part of Mr. Darcy Week! It is only fitting, in my admittedly prejudiced opinion, that the fine specimen of manhood known as Mr. Darcy should be granted a whole week. LOL! Of course, in my heart he rules and reigns supreme every day of the year. Therefore it is an incredible honor to be a part of this celebration, and to do so by talking about my novels where Mr. Darcy and his bride Elizabeth are the central characters.

Heartfelt, sincere thanks to the Royal Reviewers for hosting me today. A special thanks to Alaine, the Queen of Happy Endings, for taking the time to interview me. I have so enjoyed our newfound friendship and appreciate the chance to talk about my Darcy Saga series. Now, on to the questions!

Q - Why did you decide to write a Pride & Prejudice sequel?

A – The interesting aspect of this question is that it implies careful forethought and calculation. The truth is that it wasn’t so much a “decision” to write as much as it was an urgent desire to express what was in my heart and head. I simply could not let the story go after seeing it in the theater in 2005. I fell head over heels in love with these characters and wanted to continue to live with them. Reading the original and fruitlessly searching for a continuation as I envisioned only cemented the need to tell the happy ending swirling through my brain. I honestly believed, and still do, that it needed to be shared.

Q - If you could be one of the characters in your book, who would it be and why?

A - How does one resist saying Lizzy? It is the obvious answer and although we share few real life traits, she IS married to Mr. Darcy. So, yeah, I’ll be Lizzy! Of course it is more than just that she has a virile, handsome, protective, devoted, rich, handsome, passionate, romantic, and did I say handsome husband. Lizzy is fabulous. I, like every reader on down through the past 200 years, have fallen in love with her spunk, capabilities, sharp wit, intelligence, and backbone. She meets the man who is absolutely perfect for her, and no matter which sequel you may imagine, her life is charmed and happy. Who could not want to be her?

Q - How long did it take you to write Loving Mr. Darcy?

A – Loving Mr. Darcy, as it is now published in novel form, was originally part of a whole that included Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One and the third novel, The Darcys at Year’s End. How they were split apart is a tale all its own and can be read in full on my website. All together I wrote these original novels in just over a year! Ah, the days of intense, unencumbered writing, how I miss thee….

Q - How would you say that your personality or life experiences have emerged in your writing?

A – Life experiences to be sure. I am blessed with a very happy marriage to an extraordinarily romantic man. Couple this with a deep faith in marriage as intended, and it is easy to write of true love. Obviously it varies greatly as I am not English, nor filthy rich or married to an aristocrat! But the knowledge that love can grow, passion can remain, souls can increasingly bind, and fun can persist after 23 years is certainly inspiration for my writing.

Personality, hmmm, great question! I know that Darcy is very like me. He is far manlier and sportsmanlike – ha! – but his reserved shyness and gentle humor is very much like me. I suppose that is why I immediately understood his character. I am extremely organized and clinical. These traits clearly influence the chronological order to my saga. I think linearly, so knew I would tell a story that followed a pattern: days into weeks into months into years. I am also blessed, or cursed depending on the opinion, with a sarcastic wit. I think Dr. Darcy was created out of that portion of my psyche!

Many of my own passions and interests have found an outlet in my characters. My love of family and close relationship with my relatives led me to create the same community for the Darcys and Bennets. My fascination with history and exploring ruins was given to Lizzy and Darcy. My medical background influenced the choice of Uncle George being a physician and compelled me to deal with Anne de Bourgh. Detailed focusing on Lizzy’s pregnancy was natural due to my maternal health expertise. My love and years of interacting with children impelled me to write children into the novel.

Q - If you could ask your readers a question what would that be?

A – Well, there are the readers who love the books and the readers who do not! Although I am continually baffled as to why readers are so offended by a content, loving, passionate William and Lizzy, I have given up trying to comprehend it, so will not ask that question.

Of the readers who love my vision of the Darcys, I do not have a question as much as a statement: Thank you for your support. By buying books like mine, sharing with other people, writing to the author, and positively expressing your opinion on a review, you are spreading light and happiness into the world. And you are encouraging me to continue on. I just can’t say thanks enough.

Q - What would you like to say to Austen purists who have been critical of Jane Austen sequels?

A – Well, there is a great deal I could say, but probably little that I should! Bottom line: sequels, variations, moderns, spin-offs, vampires, zombies – they are here to stay and one may as well accept it. We all keep Austen alive by showing our love in our own unique way. Nastily fighting the inevitable reality of her created world now being a sub-genre in romance literature is not only pointless but casts a negative shadow on Jane herself. I think this is very sad and frankly mean spirited.

Q - What is your favourite genre and who is your favourite author?

A – My favorite genre has always been fantasy. In that category it is a tie between JRR Tolkien and David Eddings. But, I am a very eclectic reader and always have been. Narrowing down to one above all the rest is really impossible for me. And it is probably best I not start naming authors or this paragraph will go on indefinitely.

Q - What are you working on now?

A – I have three projects currently in the works. I am finishing up “Darcy 5” – as yet untitled – that will be released in Spring of 2011. I am also nearly finished with a companion novel centering on the love story of Georgiana Darcy. That one is not under contract as yet, but my editor is very interested so I am hopeful. I am also working on a novella for Sourcebooks that I cannot discuss at this point. Keep an eye on my website for news as I have it! Beyond that it is ideas floating in the wee brain!

Q - Do you think you might write a sequel to any other Jane Austen novel or another author in the future?

A – I know one is never supposed to say never, but… No, never! I adore the Darcys and know I was inspired to write of their life. I do not regret it. But I would be lying to say it has not been challenging and frequently painful. Maybe the devoted fans of Charlotte Bronte would not care if one wrote Jane Eyre and Rochester’s future, but I’ll let someone else find that out!

Aside from that, no other stories have so captured me as Lizzy and Darcy. Jane Austen created them, and I am eternally grateful, but I have molded them to be mine. I write with my voice and give them the future I want for them to have. I love them! Therefore, I will continue to write of their life and the life of various members of the family because it is my heart’s desire and I know for a fact that a large contingency want to read the life I weave for them. However, I can easily see myself creating entirely new stories and characters that are 100% mine. Time shall tell.

Q - What are you reading right now?

A – When I can find the time to read, I am seriously hooked on Karen Marie Moning. Her Highlander series is simply amazing. I am reading “Beyond the Highland Mist” and it is as fantastic as all her books. I just finished an Eloisa James Regency that was very nice. Fantasy has been put aside for a while in my newly discovered passion for romance!

Q - If you could be any Royal figure in history who would it be and why?

A - Queen Victoria of England. She ruled for a very long time and was a superb, well loved queen who also raised a family. And, as far as I have ever read, she and her husband, Prince Albert, were devoted to each other. What an excellent example all the way around.

Thanks for the interview Alaine. It was loads of fun.

A big thank you to Sharon for agreeing to the interview and for her thoughtful answers. We're having a great time hosting her here at Royal this week. Stay tuned tomorrow for Mr Darcy's Bio - Sharon Lathan style! We may just have a surprise...or two...for a lucky commenter!

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Win Pride and Prejudice on DVD

In honour of Mr Darcy week I am going to give away a copy of the US version of Pride and Prejudice to one lucky reader. All you have to do is leave regular comment on the blog this week and make sure you leave your email address. The more comments you leave, the more entries you have!

Please also note that this is a US DVD so you'll need to be able to play that in your DVD player.

Today's discussion point: If you've read a Pride and Prejudice sequel then tell us what it was and why you'd recommend it.

We hope you enjoy Mr Darcy week at Royal Reviews.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

Genre: Classic

Pages: 480

Copyright: First Published 1813


Rating 4 1/2 Crown

This is not going to be a traditional review of Pride and Prejudice. Why, you ask? Because we've all read plenty of reviews on Jane Austen and I know that there are many bloggers out there that haven't read any Jane Austen novels. I only read my first Austen novel last year and did a very brief review of it. But I do know that many of you have watched the 1995 TV mini series and/or the 2005 movie version (I went to see this in Gold Class with my closest friends for my birthday). So for this review I'm going to talk about some of the differences in the movie version to the book.

Firstly, since many of our followers are from the US, did you know that the US ending of the movie was different for the rest of the world? The following scene was exclusive to the US version.

So clearly the kissing scene is not in the book. However, one of my favourite scenes is (although the setting is different).

"You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged: but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever."

Lizzy gave Darcy her assurances that her feelings had indeed undergone a change.

The happiness which this reply produced was such as he had probably never felt before; and he expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and as warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do. *sigh*

When a film maker takes a book and makes it into a film it is not possible for them to include every detail of the book. I believe what they are trying to convey is the emotion and feeling that reading the book gives you along with the essence of the story. One of the things I love about this particular version of Pride and Prejudice is that there are so many lines from the book in the film. I own the UK and US version of this movie as well as the BBC mini series. I have probably watched the UK version about 50 times (it's recorded on my IQ box). I know that sounds excessive but I watched it every week after my Dad passed away because it was the only thing that took me to a better place whilst I was in the depths of grieving. So needless to say I love the film. I also enjoyed the BBC mini series with Colin Firth as Mr Darcy and the famous scene of him diving into the water. But I rarely have that much time that I would sit and watch the whole series through. The movie is watched in a short time and gives the same amount of gratification.

So there you have two very different Mr Darcy's. I really couldn't pick a favourite because I think both actors did a wonderful job of playing Mr Darcy. Do you have a favourite Mr Darcy? Let us know in the comments who is your favourite or if you are like me and love them both. At the end of the week I will select a random name from the commenter's and send them a US copy of the movie version of Pride and Prejudice.

Don't forget to vote in today's poll. Would you read a paranormal Jane Austen?

Lastly I want to leave you with this because I thought it was just beautiful.

Please join me tomorrow to welcome Sharon Lathan the author of my favourite Pride and Prejudice sequels, Mr & Mrs Fitzwilliam Darcy and Loving Mr Darcy.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Win Tempt the Devil by Anna Campbell

After the success and support of Aussie and NZ Author Week, I am so pleased to announce that the lovely Anna Campbell has offered to giveaway a copy of Tempt the Devil on our blog! *does happy dance*

Queen of Happy Endings reviewed this book and absolutely loved it...although she does recommend reading it in a room with air conditioning because it is hot! Thanks to Anna, you have the chance to win the novel that Romantic Times says 'takes your breath away ... an unforgettable powerhouse romance'.

About Tempt the Devil:

For Olivia Raines, London's most notorious courtesan, and the infamous Julian Southwood, Earl of Erith falling in love will be the greatest risk of all in this wicked and wild romance from Anna Campbell.

Any man in London would worship her. Yet Olivia is, quite frankly, bored of them all. Despite her many dalliances, she's never felt true passion, never longed for any lover's touch . . . until Julian, London's most notoriously wanton rake, decides to make her his mistress.

From the moment he first sees her, Julian knows he must possess her. And when he discovers her greatest secret, a scandal that could ruin her reputation and end her career, he knows just the way to use this damaging information to his most delightful advantage. He offers Olivia a deal with the devil: he'll keep her secret . . . if she allows him the chance to show her true ecstasy.

But Olivia must be careful, for Julian has a secret of his own: he will not rest until she is completely, shamelessly his

Here's how to enter:

1) Just leave a comment on this post with an email address for an entry ~ no email, no entry!
2) + 2 if you post about this giveaway on your blog, sidebar, tweet etc.
3) Competition is open to followers of this blog (if you're not a follower then click on the follow button in the right hand column.)
4) Competition is open internationally.
5) Competition ends Sunday 6th September, winner will be announced on this blog.

Good Luck Everyone!

Princess of the Past

Welcome to Mr Darcy Week with Sharon Lathan!

This week on Royal Reviews, we're dedicating an entire week to everyone's favourite literary hero, Mr Darcy and the wonderful Pride and Prejudice fiction that has become so popular these past few years.

This week promises to be very interactive and a lot of fun as Queen of Happy Endings hosts polls, giveaways (we love to give you free stuff here!) and an author interview in honour of Sharon Lathan's new novel
Loving Mr Darcy.

So if you're a P & P fan and don't mind talented authors who expand upon the original, we promise we've got some fabulous recommended reads in store for you! Oh and how could I forget, plenty of pervy Darcy pics ;-)

To kick things off, I wanted to ask you what you think about the latest in P & P Rewrites/Sequels:

The Paranormal Janes

So many of us have a Pride and Prejudice story. We read it in High School, found it later in life or found it after falling in love with the movie or mini-series. But now, thanks to Seth Grahame-Smith a new breed of readers will be able to say they found Jane Austen through Zombies. That's right, Jane Austen has well and truly been bastardised modernised by Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a tongue in cheek retelling of her most beloved classic.

As a Gen Y who loves the original version of this novel, previously I would've been considered a major nerd *shock/horror*. While on a personal level I may not be interested in reading about Zombies and my beloved Mr Darcy, I can appreciate what this book is doing for Classic Literature. Since the release of Seth Grahame-Smith's novel, Jane Austen has become strangely cool amoung my colleagues and friends (not because they have developed their own literature crush but because they simply think it's funny to read about Elizabeth Bennet the Zombie Slayer.) And although I'm not really sure how Jane would react to such a tale, anything that can get young men reading P & P can't be all bad!

In the wake of this runaway success a new trend has emerged - Paranormal Jane. When a book like P & P & Zombies comes along and completely smashes all the genre rules, the floodgates open for some pretty interesting literature. And I have to admit, some of this I may actually read!

Have you heard of:

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre Darcy's Hunger: A Vampire Retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

Mr Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange
Darcy is a secret member of the undead and has to hide his little *ahem* problem from his new wife. My favourite part? Lady Catherine's the one who turned him. I always knew she was an evil so and so! Amanda Grange also writes more normal type sequels to P & P which are highly recommended.

Darcy's Hunger by Regina Jeffers (Also titled Vampire Darcy's Desire??)
Mortal, Elizabeth Bennet has to overcome Mr Darcy's vampirism to find love and happiness. The super-vamp of this novel? The evil Mr Wickham!

Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford
Not too many details released about this one yet but I can tell you that the novel was the subject of a major bidding war recently. The concept? Jane Austen, the vampire!, has been suffering with writer's block for over 200 years. Now, sick of all these authors making some serious moolah off her work, she's back to kick some butt.

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters
From the blurb (because I can't do a better job): This masterful portrait of Regency England blends Jane Austen’s biting social commentary with ultraviolent depictions of sea monsters biting. It’s survival of the fittest—and only the swiftest swimmers will find true love!

Make of them what you will, it seems these Paranormal Janes aren't going to die easily (pun so intended). Do you think Jane would be turning in her grave at the thought of this or embracing the re-vamping of her classic (sorry, couldn't help it)? Are you an Austen-Purist or a Modern-Austen? Would you or have you read any of these books and did you enjoy them?

If the books blew your mind, did you know that they are making a Pride and Prejudice Sci-Fi Flick next year? I kid you not. Just given the greenlight for production was Pride and Predator. On that note, I leave you with the book trailer for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

PS Who tried a Tim Tam Slam last week??? Come on, I know somebody sucked Tim Tam through a cup of tea other than me!

Princess of the Past

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Swan Maiden by Jules Watson

Genre: Historical Fantasy

Pages: 535

Copyright: 2009

Rating 5 Crowns

There are books that you add to your TBR Pile as ‘maybe reads’, books that you add as ‘should reads’ and books that you add as ‘must reads’. For me, this book instantly went to my ‘must reads’ list the moment I read our lovely Marquise of Mischief’s review on her personal blog Passages to the Past. Amy’s enthusiasm combined with the gorgeous cover and intriguing premise grabbed me – I was hooked even before I read the first chapter.

Opening the book last week, I had really high expectations of the tale and all off them were exceeded. Not only do you easily slip into Iron Age Ireland but the magical element of the book wraps around you until you forget your reading a retelling of a famous myth. I loved Deidre and her story so much that I wish they were real. I’d happily adopt this historical fantasy as historical fact!

I know this is a clich̩ used in historical reviews all the time but Jules Watson really does breathe life into this legend. Most importantly though, she transforms it into something of her own making Рcreating Deidre the way she believed her to be and revealing a courage and spirited nature that has been suppressed in the original legends. Deidre appeals to the spirituality within me by resisting her fate and finding hope deep within herself and her connection to the natural world.

The love story between Deidre and Naisi is just gorgeous too. It’s powerful and you won’t be able to come through reading it without feeling moved. It’ll grip your heart and won’t let go till the last page!

Jules really does have an amazing talent for drawing emotions out of her readers and this book left me feeling deeply inspired. Thanks to Amy, she has another lifelong fan in me.

I added this to my must read pile in April and I am so glad I did. Now I’m strongly suggesting you do the same! If you’re a fan of Historical Fantasy, you can’t afford to be without Jules and her marvelous books. Bookmark it, order it, leave a comment here if you’d like to win it but make sure you get your hands on it! And no, you can’t borrow my copy :-P

We asked author Jules which Royal person from history she'd like to be and why. Here's her response:

I simply cannot go past Cleopatra. She is unlike any other female figure in history - in that she's a power in her own right at the heart of world-changing events. She was highly cultured and educated, spoke many languages and apparently had oodles of charisma, being an outstanding conversationalist.

To take all that - the alpha female par excellence - and then have her embroiled in this dramatic love story with Mark Antony - it's just too intriguing for words. She even chose the manner of her own death and so retained her dignity - what a woman! She strikes me as fearless and bold, and I am drawn by that. I would also love to know how it felt to be so cultured, to live at the epicentre of one of the world's greatest empires, where the library of Alexandria had gathered together all the writings of the known world. I think that interests me much more than the love story!!

About Jules Watson:
Lucky Jules may have grown up in Australia but she now lives in Argyll, Scotland with her Scottish husband!!! Jealousy aside, this has no doubt wonderful inspiration for a historical fantasy author. Jules has written 4 Celtic novels including the epic Dalriada trilogy. Her latest book, The Swan Maiden, will be followed by a related novel, The Raven Queen in 2010.

You can visit Jules at her website - it's full of lots of goodies! It must also be said that she is one of the friendliest authors I've ever corresponded with. She really is just so lovely.

REMEMBER if you live in the US you can win a copy of Jules Watson's The Swan Maiden by leaving a comment here before 31st August. All comments on posts this week also gain you an additional entry!

Princess of the Past