A Very Austen Valentine, Christian romance, Clean Romance, FREE books, Valentines Day

A Week of Romance

We romance authors have a busy few days ahead of us. Valentine’s Day is more like Valentine’s week for us, and we love it. That’s why we write lovely, romantic stories.

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My week kicks off Saturday with a CelebrateLit event (February 9 – 16).  See all those books? You could win all of these lovely, clean romance novels! Don’t miss your chance to enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card and 35+ books. You can enter the giveaway every day HERE. CL Valentine PromoTo visit with authors and have a chance to win prizes during the event, be part of the conversation on Facebook HERE. I’ll be popping in all week, but my time slot is on Wednesday morning at 10 AM. I’m giving away an ebook of A Very Austen Valentine, the newly-released second book in the Austen Anthologies series.

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My second Valentine’s event, with the Christian Women Reader’s Club, will be February 11-14, but the giveaway is already active HERE.

We will have three grand prize winners.

  • One lucky reader will walk away with a $150 gift card or PayPal cash (reader’s choice).
  • Two lucky readers will walk away with a new Kindle Fire.
  • All readers can get a chance to meet new authors and win books and prizes February 11-14 during our Hearty-Party.

Be sure to stop by the Facebook party HERE all week. You can chat with our authors anytime, and I’ll be popping in and out, but my scheduled time is Thursday morning from 9 AM until 11 AM.

My newly revised Guardian: The Guardian Trilogy, Book 1, will be 99 cents February 11 – 17, and I’ll be giving away several copies in each event. I’ll also give away at least one copy of A Very Austen Valentine.

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And now for my really BIG news: I’m launching my newest standalone, More to Love: My Beloved, My Friend (Book 1), Wednesday! I plan to give away one copy in each event, so be sure to look for me on Wednesday at the CelebrateLit party and Thursday with the Christian Women Reader’s Club. MTL launch

Do you like to play games? I love them. We have so much planned for your amusement next week, so come to have fun, and you may just win!

A Very Austen Valentine, Austen Anthologies

Austen, the Creator of a Genre

I recently answered these questions for our blog tour of A Very Austen Valentine: Austen Anthologies, Book 2. I’d like to know your thoughts. Do you agree or disagree with my answers?

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Do you agree/disagree that Jane Austen is the mother of the romance novel?

Yes, I agree that Jane Austen is the mother of the romance novel, but I more definitively think of Austen as the creator of a smaller genre: the novel of manners.

I have loved Austen’s works since my high school years, but teaching her work during my twenty-five years as an English teacher convinced me of her genius. I showed films of several versions of Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Emma to my juniors and seniors during the final half of school each year. The boys started out complaining, but soon were asking for their Austen fix when they entered my classroom.

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I assigned book and gave a book test every six weeks, but students were allowed a reader’s choice for their final book. Many chose to read the Austen novels they had watched. They were quite eager to point out the differences between the novels and the film versions. Discussions were lively.

You see, I taught Austen, loved Austen, and turned out Austen lovers long before I ever wrote anything Austenesque.

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Sir Walter Scott wrote, “Also read again Miss Austen’s very finely written novel of Pride and Prejudice. That young lady had a talent for describing the involvement and feelings and characters of ordinary life which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. The exquisite touch which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting from the truth of the description and the sentiment is denied to me.”

A novel of manners re-creates a social world, conveying the customs, values, and mores of a highly developed, complex society.

Scott defined the novel of manners, and he attributes the creation of that genre to Austen.

To me, this is the area in which Austen shines most brightly. She left a wonderful legacy of her time period – the behavior of the classes in early nineteenth century England.

What is up next for the Austen Anthologies series?

Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, Barbara Cornthwaite, and I hope to do at least three more anthologies. The next will be A Very Austen Romance, to be released at the end of 2019. Various guest authors will join us in the different books of the series.

All of the stories in the anthologies will be Austen-based Regency sweet romance, but we allow prequels, sequels, mashups, variations, and humor, as well as “what ifs.” Each of us has a specialty of sorts, but all of our stories are clean reads with happily-ever-after endings.

The goal is to have stories of twenty thousand to thirty thousand words. That length limits the time given to develop and resolve a plot, thus our plotlines are fairly simplified.

However, a wonderful read can be delivered within the limitation. Laura Hile’s Sir Walter Takes a Wife in the Valentine anthology is, in my humble opinion, brilliant. I can write humor for a chapter, but she sustains her high level of romantic comedy from the first word to the last. I don’t know of anyone else in the Austenesque genre who does it as well.

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My writing is usually very emotional with a touch of the paranormal and/or music. Wendi Sotis’s style is pure, sweet romance. Barbara Cornthwaite has a very delicate touch, a crystal bell of insight.

Wendi, Laura, Barbara, and I choose to work with like-minded authors, seeing our anthologies as “the books that friendship built.” We spend a good bit of time emailing and messaging back and forth, and we think it’s very important that the process be as stress-free, pressure-free, and enjoyable as possible. I think the anthologies show the respect and feeling of camaraderie we have for each other.

A Very Austen Anthology, A Very Austen Christmas, A Very Austen Valentine, Christian Fiction, Christian romance, Clean Romance, Darcy and Elizabeth, Pride and Prejudice, Robin Helm's books, Valentines Day, Writing Life

I Dream of You Sequel Chapter

I Dream of You vignette (chapter sequel)

This chapter follows the ending of “I Dream of You,” my story in A Very Austen Valentine: Austen Anthologies, Book 2.

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Darcy sat in a chair across from an enceinte Elizabeth. She was eight months along and in her confinement.

“I am quite glad you insisted on spending the rest of this time in London, my dear,” she said with a slight groan. “There is much to see outside our windows, and Thaddeus is readily available.”

He stood quickly, folding his newspaper and placing it on the table beside his chair. “Do you need him? Are you in pain? Shall I send a servant to fetch him?”

She held out her hands to him. “No, but I am uncomfortable. Come, help me up, please. I need to walk a bit. I feel so stiff.”

The tall gentleman walked over to take her hands and pull her to her feet. Her dress shifted, and he saw her ankles.

“I should rub your feet,” he said. “They look more swollen than they did yesterday. Do they hurt, my love? Where is Georgiana? At breakfast this morning, she said she would read to you, and it seemed to please you.”

“Pray, do not be alarmed, Fitzwilliam,” she answered, grasping his forearm for support. “’Tis simply that my time is nearing. I was six years old when my mother delivered Lydia, and I remember it very well. My confinement seems to be much like Mama’s. You know Jane’s last month was similar to this, too.”

Darcy drew her into his arms, resting his chin on the top of her head.

When she raised her face to his, he kissed her tenderly.

A knock at the door commanded their attention, and Darcy broke the kiss with regret.

“Come,” he said.

The butler opened the door and stepped aside, revealing a tall, blond young man. “Lord Thaddeus to see you, sir.”

Thaddeus Beckett made a slight sound of displeasure. “Mr. Beckett will do very well, if you please.”

He advanced into the room. “I have come to see my patient. How are you doing today, Elizabeth?”

“She is quite uncomfortable,” answered Darcy, standing aside, scowling. “I am most happy to see you, for I was about to send for you. Look at her ankles, and she tires so easily. She hardly eats at all. Surely this is not normal. Can you not do something for her?”

Elizabeth held out her hand, beckoning to the physician. “Thaddeus, it is so good to see you. Please tell my anxious husband that I am fine. He needs your attention more than I do, I fear.”

Beckett laughed quietly as he strode across the room. Stopping in front of Elizabeth, he made a courtly bow. “You are lovely as always, my dear.”

Darcy cleared his throat rather loudly. “You are engaging in pleasantries? Get on with it, man. My wife suffers most abominably.”

The younger man stood tall and arched a brow. “You do know how babes are born, do you not? There is suffering involved in the process.”

“I do – ” Darcy’s words were cut short by a gasping sound from his wife.

“Let us remove the lady to her chambers. Now.” The physician took Elizabeth’s arm and walked her slowly toward the door.

“Why are you doing this? You must examine her ankles first.” Darcy muttered through clenched teeth, following them.

Beckett spoke quietly. “Look at the floor. You shall be a father soon.”

“Help me, Fitzwilliam. My waters have broken.” Elizabeth looked back at her husband, imploring him. “Come, dear. Take my other arm. The pains have started.”

The colour drained from Darcy’s face; however, he took his wife’s arm as she requested, assisting her to her rooms.

While the men waited outside the bedchamber, Elizabeth’s maid helped her to don a nightgown and get into her bed.

Beckett put a hand on Darcy’s shoulder. “Perhaps you should send word to the Bingleys, apprising them of the situation. I feel certain Mrs. Bingley would want to be with her sister, and Bingley can keep you occupied until this is over.”

Darcy raised both eyebrows, and his tone brooked no opposition. “Occupied? I shall be occupied, for I fully intend to be with my wife until she is safely delivered.”

“You cannot mean that. This may take a few hours or a full day. Each birth is a bit different,” replied the physician. “Go to your chambers and rest or back to the parlour to read a book. Elizabeth may not wish for you to see her like this.”

“First,” said Darcy tersely, “her chambers and mine are the same. Second, I cannot rest or read a book while my wife is birthing our child. My place is with her. If you are able to see her like this, I certainly am.”

Beckett shook his head. “As you wish, but if she asks you to leave, you will do so. Agreed?”

Darcy frowned, but nodded his consent.

When the maid opened the door, telling the men her mistress was ready, Beckett entered, followed closely by Darcy.

Beckett examined his patient, and then retired to the couch.

While Elizabeth was initially surprised by her husband’s presence, she soon made it known that she liked the idea of his being present for the birth of their child.

“Shall I read to you, my love?” he asked. “Perhaps it will distract you.”

She smiled, and he picked up the book on the table.

Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded? Samuel Richardson is a bit dull, but the moral is good,” he said, moving a chair to the side of the bed. “I should not be surprised you would enjoy reading about a brave, intelligent, rather sassy woman.”

He sat down and began to read.

After a few hours, the maid came in with tea. Elizabeth sipped a bit, but would take no food, though she insisted both men should eat. Before the maid left, Beckett told her to bring plenty of clean towels and hot water.

Darcy soon noticed that her pains were occurring ever closer together. He left his chair to stand by the bed. “My darling, shall I rub your back?” he asked, removing his tailcoat, throwing it over a chair.

“Yes, please. Help me turn to my side.” She grunted as he moved her.

Beckett looked up from his newspaper, watching the couple.

Darcy noticed the movement and glanced at him. Is that envy on his face? Because I married the woman he loved, or because he wishes he were married? Perhaps I am too hard on him. He is very likely lonely. I have a wonderful wife who loves me, and we shall soon have a child. He goes home to relatives and servants, but no wife. His sister and her family love him, but that is hardly the same.

For several more hours, Darcy ministered to his wife, noticing her discomfort, trying to help her bear it, whispering encouragement to her.

Beckett removed his tailcoat and waistcoat, then took over reading duty while Darcy continued to massage her.

She groaned more and more as the time passed.

He rolled her to her back and used a cloth soaked in cold water to wipe the perspiration from her face and neck. “You are a champion, my strong, fearless wife. You must do this, and you shall. If I could, I would gladly do it for you.”

“If I could, I would let you,” she replied, attempting a smile.

He did his best to chuckle, but he could not.

Finally, her pains were nearly constant, and Beckett came to the side of the bed. “I think your baby shall arrive very shortly. Darcy, are you certain you wish to stay for the birth? You have surprised me by the way you cared for your wife during labour, but the birth itself is quite different.”

The gentleman did not look away from Elizabeth. “I helped to deliver colts, calves, and lambs at Pemberley when I was a lad, and I know what it is. I am fully prepared. I shall not leave Elizabeth.”

“You did not love the mothers of those animals. ’Tis truly not the same.”

Darcy bent over to look into her eyes. “Elizabeth, do you want me to stay?”

She grasped his hand with both of hers, squeezing until his eyes watered. “Yes,” she said, gripping him even more tightly.

Beckett walked to the nightstand, rolled up his sleeves, and lathered his hands and arms with soap, rinsing and drying them before returned to the bedside. He lifted the covers from her feet and legs, folding them until they settled on her thighs. After giving her a cursory examination, he turned to Darcy. “Wash your hands and send for more hot water. Take off your waistcoat, and use soap up past your elbows. Cleanliness is next to godliness. There is a reason that phrase has been quoted since ancient times, even if other physicians do not subscribe to it.”

Darcy kissed his wife’s cheek and hurried away to complete his tasks.

“I can see the crown of the head,” said Beckett. “Hold her knee aside. She is fighting me.”

For the next half hour, Darcy assisted Beckett, speaking to his wife from time to time, assuring her all was well.

And at the end of that time, he helped to wash his baby boy before he wrapped him in a blanket and placed him in the arms of his exhausted mother. She kissed his forehead and motioned to her husband to join her.

Thaddeus Beckett smiled at the little family as he cleaned himself up and dressed. He left, promising to return the following day to make certain mother and child were well.

Darcy climbed into the bed with his wife and son, kissing each of them gently. He was too exhilarated to sleep, so he watched them until his eyes grew heavy. Carefully, he lifted the baby from Elizabeth’s arms and laid him between them. Then he fell into a shallow sleep, awakening each time either his wife or child stirred.

William Alexander Darcy, his head full of dark curls, spent his first night being adored by his elated father.

Fitzwilliam Darcy was a happy man, indeed.

The End (Again)

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A Very Austen Anthology, A Very Austen Valentine, Barbara Cornthwaite, Book promos, Christian Fiction, Christian romance, Clean Romance, Darcy and Elizabeth, FREE books, Laura Hile, Mandy Helm Cook, New Release, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Robin Helm's books, Sense and Sensibility, Susan Kaye, sweet romance, Valentines Day

More Than Reviews and Giveaways!

Janet Taylor, at More Agreeably Engaged, did a spectacular job of arranging our blog tour for A Very Austen Valentine: Austen Anthologies, Book 2.

a very austen valentine book 2 - ebook large

She not only launched the book, but she chose the book as her favorite anthology of 2018!

Be sure to visit each stop on the tour to register for the giveaways (thirteen ebooks and one print book); read story excerpts, author interviews, vignettes, guest posts, and reviews; and chat with the authors – Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, Barbara Cornthwaite, Susan Kaye, Mandy Helm Cook (my daughter!), and me.

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We look forward to talking with you, so please don’t disappoint us.

A Very Austen Valentine Blog Tour Schedule

01/06 Just the Write Escape; Guest Post, Giveaway

01/07 Margie’s Must Reads; Review, Giveaway, 5 stars!

01/08 So Little Time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

01/09 Babblings of a Bookworm; Author Interview/Character Interview, Giveaway

01/10 Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt

01/11 Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, Giveaway

01/12 My Love for Jane Austen; Vignette, Giveaway

01/13 open

01/14 From Pemberley to Milton; Excerpt, Review or Vignette, Giveaway

01/15 My life journey; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway

01/16 My Vices and Weaknesses; Guest Post or Vignette. Excerpt, Giveaway

01/17 open

01/18 Diary of an Eccentric; Review, Giveaway

01/19 open

01/20 Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway

01/21 Austenprose; Author Interview

blog tour

Buy Link for A Very Austen Valentine:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

A Very Austen Anthology, A Very Austen Valentine, Barbara Cornthwaite, Clean Romance, Darcy and Elizabeth, Holidays, Laura Hile, Mandy Helm Cook, New Release, Pride and Prejudice, Robin Helm's books, Susan Kaye, sweet romance, Valentines Day

Launch Day!

Laura, Wendi, Barbara, Susan, Mandy, and I are thrilled to announce our book launch of A Very Austen Valentine on Janet Taylor’s More Agreeably Engaged today.

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Visit More Agreeably Engaged today to find out how these six authors became friends and published this book that friendship built.

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A Very Austen Valentine: Austen Anthologies, Book 2, is now available in ebook and paperback on Amazon.

A Very Austen Anthology, A Very Austen Christmas, A Very Austen Valentine, Book promos, Cheap books, Christian Fiction, Christian romance, Clean Romance, Darcy and Elizabeth, Holidays, New Release, Pride and Prejudice, Robin Helm's books, Writing Life

Big News!

AVAC99Tomorrow, December 29, is the launch date of our newest Austen Anthologies offering: A Very Austen Valentine! Watch for the details on Janet Taylor’s blog, More Agreeably Engaged.

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To celebrate, A Very Austen Christmas: Austen Anthologies, Book 1 is on sale for 99 cents through the end of December.

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My story in the new anthology, I Dream of You, is considerably lighter and more romantic than my offering in A Very Austen Christmas. I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of it.