Hello readers! I am very happy to welcome the lovely Shannon Winslow back to Austenesque Reviews today! Shannon is the author of several fantastic Austenesque stories (The Darcys of Pemberley, Return to Longbourn, The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen) to name a few! And today Shannon is here to talk about her newest series, Crossroads Collection, which has some fantastical elements in it! I hope you greatly enjoy her post!
Fulfilling the Fantasy
What Jane Austen fan hasn’t at least once entertained a fantasy about waking up in Regency England, another Lizzy Bennet destined for her own Mr. Darcy? I have! That’s sort of what my new book, Leap of Hope, is all about and why it was so much fun to write! It became my risk-free, wish-fulfilling, vicarious romp through the pages of Jane Austen’s novels, primarily Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park. I hope it will do the same for you.
Hope O’Neil is an incurable optimist, and she jumps at the chance for an Austen kind of life, leaving everything she’s ever known to start over in Regency England. All she can take with her is the sum total of her knowledge of that time period, mostly acquired from the Jane Austen novels and movies she’s half-memorized. So she’s always looking at her new world through that lens, seeing Jane Austen characters and situations wherever she turns and applying a What-would-Elizabeth-Bennet-do? rationale to every problem.
Not that it takes much of a stretch of her imagination. After all, Hope has chosen a family that very much reminds her of the Bennets of Pride and Prejudice, slipping into the place of the second daughter, Kathleen Barrett, just as the original Kate slips away, victim of a fatal fall from a horse. (Trust me, it all makes perfect sense in the book!)
Here’s Hope as Kate (her recently acquired Regency identity), relating her first private conversation with her new sister after arriving on the scene, written in her own words:
“Did I strike my head?”
“Oh, yes! There happened to be this great stone exactly where you fell. There was so much blood, and then you lay still for the longest time. I hardly knew what to do. I thought perhaps I should ride for help, but I could not bear to leave you. So I screamed at the top of my lungs, hoping against hope that someone would hear and come to my aid.”
“And did someone?”
“He did! A stranger, although I daresay he will be a stranger no longer. It was Mr. Sotheby, the new owner of Coleswold. Just think, Kate! It was only this morning we were discussing how we could contrive a way to meet our neighbor, and now he has been introduced to our family in such an unexpected fashion!” She then hastened to add, “Of course I should have much preferred it had been by ordinary means. Surely Papa would have eventually relented and done what was required, or we might easily have been introduced at a ball.”
“But wasn’t it clever of me to expedite matters by throwing myself from my horse?” I suggested, trying out my best British accent. “Now you must tell me all about this Mr. Sotheby, for I was quite unconscious, you will recall.”
Although I believe Lucy Barrett was as solicitous for my health as any sister could possibly be, she was equally enthusiastic for the subject I had suggested. Once I had assured her I was not too tired to hear it, she launched into an animated recital of Mr. Sotheby’s merits in impressive detail. He was rumored to be rich. Most importantly, though, he was definitely single. Lucy had cleverly induced him to give up this information. He must also be handsome, I suspected, judging from the way she was blushing as she talked about him. His gallantry could not be doubted, considering how he had managed to be around just when help was needed.
“And he is so strong!” Lucy continued, breathlessly.
A definite virtue in a man.”
“He lifted you so easily, as if… as if…”
I could not resist filling in the blank from my own frame of reference. “As if I weighed no more than a dried leaf?”
“Yes, it was exactly so! How well you have captured the idea! And then he carried you all the way home without becoming the least bit tired. It is unfortunate that you were deprived of seeing it for yourself.”
“Unfortunate, yes, but if I had been awake, there may have been no need.”
Lucy laughed. “I suppose you are right.”
“I can imagine, though. I have witnessed such things before,” I added, thinking of that rain-drenched scene in my favorite film version of Sense and Sensibility.
“Have you? When?”
“Oh, never mind about that now. Tell me more of Mr. Sotheby. And what of this Mr. Cavanaugh? His manner implied some level of acquaintance, but I really cannot at this moment remember.” Here, I closed my eyes and reached one hand to the back of my bandage-wreathed head to reestablish the reason for my lack of recollection.
“You poor darling!” Lucy cooed. “I suppose it will come back to you in time, but let me help you along a little. You met Mr. Cavanaugh at the most recent assembly, where you refused to dance with him, I might add.”
No wonder, then, that he seemed none too friendly. “But why would I refuse such a reasonable request? Did I say? I love to dance, after all, and there is nothing objectionable in his looks.”
“Nothing whatever! He is such a fine figure of a man. No, you told me it was something else that did not suit you. Something you overheard him say, although I cannot now recall what it was.”
But suddenly I did recall. […] I announced to Lucy, “He’s a conceited snob, stuck up higher than a light pole.”
“A what?” she asked.
“Oh… I mean… I mean that he gives himself airs,” I corrected. “He thinks too well of himself, above his company. And who is he, after all? Only a doctor.” My outburst had been another mistake, but at least I had remembered that doctors had no special status here.
“Now, Kate,” Lucy chided, “Mr. Cavanaugh is a gentleman from a very good family, we are told. I hope you do not intend holding the fact that he also has a profession against him. Really, I think it quite commendable that he should want to do something useful with his time. There are far too many idle young men about as it is. So I said before and you agreed with me. Do you really not remember, dearest?”
“It’s coming back to me, little by little. So you have a high opinion of this Mr. Cavanaugh as well as the handsome Mr. Sotheby.” This reminding me of another Austen reference, I asked, “Do you never see a fault in anybody, Jane? All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes, I suppose.”
“Jane?” Lucy repeated, her brows drawn together with confusion. “You know my name as well as your own, Kate. You had better rest, as Mr. Cavanaugh recommended. That will no doubt set your brain to rights. I will sit with you a while, but you must close your eyes now.”
I humbly obeyed, relieved to have an excuse to shut my big, fat mouth too. I had begun feeling at home in my new role, to enjoy being in character, so much so that I let down my guard. And look what happened!
When Lucy described our handsome new neighbor coming to rescue ladies in distress, I had pictured Willoughby sweeping Marianne up into his arms. And when Lucy spoke so favorably of Mr. Cavanaugh and Mr. Sotheby both, I had heard Jane Bennet’s voice.
Although I was tickled beyond anything to finally be a living, breathing part of the culture that had inspired the Regency stories I loved so much, ideas like this were bound to keep popping into my head. How was I supposed to stop them popping out of my mouth? That was the question. It seemed like this was going to be harder than I’d expected since everywhere I turned I was sure to see something that would remind me of Austen – her books and the movies made from them. My mistakes might be blamed on my accident for a while, but not forever.
Keep your head in the game, Hope, I coached. Then I reminded myself of one more very important fact. There was no more Hope; I was Kathleen now.
I’m afraid Hope is doomed to make more mistakes while adjusting to her new life as Kate Barrett. She has to keep reminding herself not to play music or mention books that haven’t been written yet, and she goes into a panic when she’s expected to do needlework, having failed to adequately prepare herself in that area. At least she has a knock on the noggin to blame her lapses on!
I might do okay with the needlework, but I tend to think my mouth would get me in trouble too, if I were in Hope’s shoes. What about you? Do you think your Jane Austen knowledge would allow you to blend seamlessly into Regency life? Would you like to give it a try? And would you choose a situation as close to Lizzy Bennet’s life as possible or something else?
Doesn’t that sound so wonderful??
I’ll be honest, I feel myself kind of shying away from fantasy/paranormal stories lately. Not sure why. But this one has me greatly intrigued and I’m gunning to read it! (Especially after that excerpt!) Who wouldn’t love to try living in a situation similar to a Jane Austen heroine?!? I’d love to try it and see how terribly I mess up! Hopefully, I’d do a little better than Amanda Price from Lost in Austen! 😉
Leap of Hope: chance at an Austen kind of life
At the Crossroads Center, they’re in the business of granting second chances. And their newest client is Hope O’Neil – college student and Jane Austen devotee, who always believed she’d be more at home in Regency England, wearing corsets and courted by men in cravats. But can a modern girl really fit into a world with no electricity, cell phones, or indoor plumbing? Hope is about to find out when her wish for an Austen kind of life is unexpectedly granted. Although she envisions her second chance will be like something straight out of Pride and Prejudice – complete with her own Mr. Darcy and a romantic happy ending – she gets more than she bargained for in this delightful romp through Regency England… a lot more.
Connect with Shannon
Shannon kindly brings with her 2 LOVELY ebook copies Leap of Hope for me to randomly give away to TWO lucky readers. Woot Woot!!!
To enter this giveaway, answer Shannon’s questions, or leave a comment, a question of your own, or some love for Shannon!!
- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Shannon!
- This giveaway ends March 17th!