23 January 2018

The Darcy Monologues edited by Christina Boyd



AMAZON UK £4.52 / £12.12
AMAZON US $5.95  / $14.95
AMAZON CA $7.56 / $18.95

Regency/ Jane Austen / Short stories
19th Century/ 21st century/ crossover
England

This edited collection of short stories, edited by Christina Boyd, features  fifteen original, previously unpublished short stories based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Each story is told from Mr. Darcy’s point of view, though none of the tales are a simple retelling of the famous story of Austen’s original novel. Each, of course, puts its own creative spin on the beloved novel, even those that are a fairly straightforward retelling of the story from Darcy’s perspective.

As with any anthology or collection of stories, not all of the works in The Darcy Monologues appealed to me, nor are they likely to appeal universally to every reader. There are certain settings and interpretations of which I am simply not a fan, but which are still wildly popular, although not necessarily my favorite variety. Most of the short stories here were sweet and light, a few were touching, and a couple simply missed the mark for me. All, however, were well written and well edited. That, alone, would be more than enough to strongly recommend the book. This was a treat to read overall, and there is something here to delight any Austen fan.

I cannot leave a review without highlighting the stories I felt were the strongest of the lot. Of course, other readers may have different opinions, but for my two cents, these are some of the best of the anthology:

From the Ashes by J. Marie Croft. This story showed, among other scenes, the famous letter Darcy handed to Elizabeth after his first proposal to her. However, this was the author’s version of the letter’s first draft, which was much more colorful than the elegant and articulate missive Elizabeth actually received. It made me laugh out loud more than once.

The Beast of Pemberley by Melanie Stanford. This is a Pride and Prejudice / Beauty and the Beast mash-up. It’s possible that someone, somewhere, has written one like this before, but it has escaped my notice. It was a perfect fit for the two stories to be blended like this! I have a love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with Beauty and the Beast because of  feminism! But this short story balanced the two narratives superbly.

Without Affection by Jan Hahn. This is a thoughtful retrospective piece. Darcy is looking at Elizabeth wandering in the gardens of Pemberley when they are old, after 50+ years of marriage, and he is trying to think of when he thought she was the most beautiful. He decides the time he would choose, and it leads him to recall a troubled period in their marriage. This was, in my opinion, the most poignant of the tales in the collection.

© Kristen McQuinn



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22 January 2018

The Du Lac Devil by Mary Anne Yarde


AMAZON UK £1.99 / £11.99
AMAZON US $1.99  / $14.99
AMAZON CA $3.73 / $19.01

Saxon / Arthurian
6th Century
Saxon Britain

The Du Lac Devil is the second novel in Yarde’s Du Lac series, though it largely acts as a standalone novel. It focuses on Merton du Lac, the youngest son of Lancelot. The novel opens a few years after the events of the first novel, The Du Lac Chronicles, and depicts Merton in the life of a mercenary, a soldier for hire. He has earned the reputation as a devil because of the way he fights, almost like a berserker, and because of some of the brutal things he’s had to do in his duties over the years. What people don’t realize is that he is tormented by his actions, and he did it all to keep his brother, Alden, and his kingdom of Cerdiw safe from the hands of his political enemies.

When his brother Budic’s wife dies, Merton and Alden reunite at their childhood home of Benwick Castle while paying their respects. While there, they discover that agents within the castle’s household are conspiring to overthrow Budic and take the ancestral du Lac family stronghold, and thus become King of Brittany. Merton, Alden, and Budic must work to set aside their animosity and rivalries to find who is working to usurp Budic.

Readers are given deeper insight into Merton du Lac and his life, which was a treat. Merton is my favorite of the du Lac brothers so far, so I appreciated getting to know more about him. The story itself was entertaining and held my interest throughout the novel. In fact, I had initially been given this book to review but when I realized it was the second of the series, I went out and got the first one, read it, and then came back to this one to do my review. Then I bought the third in the series as well as the novella. I genuinely am enjoying the series. It is full of action and adventure, plenty of politics and even romance. There is something in here for just about everyone.

My final conclusion: this is a very fun, Arthurian-adjacent story, and will appeal to readers with a taste for Saxon culture and politics.

© Kristen McQuinn



Pre-publication copy was reviewed – errors were found, which we believe have been corrected



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20 January 2018

The Weekend 'Did you miss...:?


It is the weekend - so no reviews,

but did you miss....






and did you find a few moments 
(perhaps during coffee break or lunch)
 to read our series of Diamond Tales?


Don't worry if you missed them - they are all still here! Start with Richard Tearle's Diamond Story.

And why not browse our INDEX PAGE, to see what else of interest you might have missed?


see you all Monday, when we have our Mid-Month Extra post
this month an interesting article by Inge H. Borg