Happy Friday, friends! I’m so excited to kick-off the week with a special cover reveal of Don Jacobson’s long-awaited next installment in The Bennet Wardrobe series – The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament!!! If you are new to this series, it is a series that focuses on the Bennet family, who have the ability to travel forward in time through the mystical properties of the Bennet Wardrobe! So far, this series has taken members of the Bennet family to various different time periods where they encounter not only famous historical figures, but also beloved characters from other novels! I am excited about Don’s newest release because it focuses on two characters we don’t often see in the spotlight – Mr. and Mrs. Bennet!
~ Book Description ~
(expected release date: December 25th)
Bennet looked at his wife’s swollen lips, softly bruised from several deeply loving kisses, and her flushed complexion, as alluring when gracing the countenance of a woman of four-and-forty as that of a girl of nine-and-ten. He was one of the lucky few to have fallen in love with the same woman at both ages.
Thomas Bennet, Master of Longbourn, had always counted himself amongst the few educated gentlemen of his acquaintance. But, he had to travel over 120 years into the future to discover how little he knew about the woman sharing his life.
Once again, the amazing Bennet Wardrobe proved to be the schoolmaster. Tom Bennet’s lesson? Mrs. Bennet had been formed especially for him. Yet, t’would be the good lady herself who taught him the power of the Fifth and Sixth Loves: Redemption and Forgiveness.
Fanny Bennet also would uncover deep wells of courage and inspiration as she stood by her man’s side in the bleak years after World War II. Together they would lead their descendants in pursuit of the beast who had wronged every member of the Five Families.
The Bennet Wardrobe series stands alone…
The Avenger takes us on a new journey through The Bennet Wardrobe – an alternate universe rising from Don Jacobson’s vivid imagination and based upon the immortal Pride and Prejudice. The Avenger is another important step leading to the culmination of this enchanting trip: one that has drawn us into its reality to travel side-by-side with richly sketched characters. Each book has left us wanting more.
The Bennet Wardrobe series stands alone as a unique result of originality focused on beloved characters as they move—and grow—through surprising plotlines.
Lory Lilian, author of Rainy Days
~ From the Author ~
First off…a gigantic thank you to Meredith for agreeing to host the rollout of the cover for the latest installment in the Bennet Wardrobe series, The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament.
Readers of the Bennet Wardrobe series know that the Wardrobe assists Bennets in learning that which they need, not what they want. Now, this does not preclude the Wardrobe assisting Benjamin Bennet from stabilizing the Bennet family’s fortunes in the aftermath of The South Sea Bubble of the early 1720s. One could argue that the Bennets needed to know that their finances were sound, except, of course, only young Mr. Hunters and successive Bennet men knew of the vast treasure. What to do with that money in the face of the entail? That is neither here-nor-there in this book.
Now, however, in The Avenger, the Wardrobe truly emerges into its own as a lead character: one with a greater purpose than simply being a teacher or a city bus. The cabinet does need to teach Bennets that which they need so they can play the role it wants in the greater arc of the entire Series.
However, for the first time readers are introduced to the forces which power the Wardrobe…C.S. Lewis’ Fourth Love—agape; my Fifth Love—exagoras agapis, the love which redeems; and Niebuhr’s formulation, which I have determined to be the Sixth Love—Synchotikí agape, the love which forgives.
Which brings me to the front cover.
This installment of the Wardrobe stories focuses upon Thomas Bennet’s quest to seek recompense for the tragedy that closed the previous book, The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn. However, the Master of Longbourn and The Founder needs to learn that he cannot accomplish this on his own. He must redeem himself and find forgiveness for his behavior in the Pride and Prejudice where/when. We know which attitudes must be addressed—his treatment of the woman with whom he chose to share his life, Frances Lorinda Gardiner.
Understand that Mrs. Bennet, too, even though she is not a child of the Wardrobe, must discover that which she needs to learn. In this case, t’is for her to come to terms with her famous nerves. To do that, she must become a better version of herself—Exagoras agapis—driven as she is by her love for her husband.
Frederick Childe Hassam’s painting Fifth Avenue Nocturne (1895) shouted out to me when I was looking for something which was redolent of the coming together of the Bennet parents. The darkened street scene with the female figure in the foreground and the male in the middle distance pulled me in as I apprehended them approaching each other. They are alone. Their journey, though, will be accomplished together.
The tonality of the canvas also fit the book which, as I wrote it, developed in a noir fashion, full of deeper shadows in which plotlines lurked. That is not to suggest that, as in the painting, there are not bright spots where unaccountable joy and love can be found. And, there is no tension to be found in the artwork, but rather a profound yearning.
I approach my writing in a holistic manner. That means that the entire book—from cover to End Notes—is a package and has been designed to create an immersive reading experience. Thus, on the back cover (oh, Amazon, when will you allow us to post the back cover for e-book readers?), you will find inferences about content in the book itself. Likewise, the manner that the story is presented offers critical information to readers.
I do hope that you will enjoy the remarkable work created by Janet Taylor, the best cover designer I have ever encountered.
And without further ado….here is the big reveal!!!
and the complete wrap…
What a stunning cover! I absolutely love all the shades of blue!
We so agree with Don! Janet Taylor is such a fabulous cover designer!! This is definitely one of my favorites of hers!
I love the noir look, the small bits of light, the distance of the two individuals – it does create a sense of yearning like Don says.
I know there is special meaning and significance with the items on the back cover, I can’t wait to learn them!
What do you think, friends?
In addition to the cover reveal, Don is sharing an excerpt from Chapter XXX of The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament.
This excerpt is ©2018 by Donald P. Jacobson and is released for use by Austenesque Reviews. Reproduction—either electronic or in print—is prohibited without the expressed written consent of the creator of this work. Published in the United States of America.
The year is 1948. Thomas and Fanny Bennet are residing once again at Longbourn, hqving traded houses (Oakham House for Longbourn) with the current Bennets.
Descending the main staircase, she was surprised to see the library’s door wide open. Her husband could usually be depended upon to require a company of grenadiers to drag him out of his book room and off to any social function. She peered in and did not see him ensconced in his usual place, one of the low leather wingbacks by the fireplace.
And where might Tom Bennet be found if not in the bookroom? I would have heard him upstairs as I passed our room when I came down. Hmmm. Time to search.
Her quest was brief. Upon entering the parlor, she discovered her tuxedo-clad husband at the drinks cart pouring himself a fortifying cognac. His long figure was accentuated by the inky Italian superfine. She admired how the cut of the dinner jacket made the garment cling to his hips, thinner now that he had begun regularly accompanying Lords Tom and David onto the golf course. Walking eighteen holes did much for a man’s waistline—and lower.
Of course, Sir Thomas had also begun to mutter and genially curse whenever she asked him how his game went. The general theme of his commentary revolved around the ‘devilish Scots getting their revenge for Culloden.’
Hearing his wife enter the room, Bennet turned and assessed her as she approached. The demure gown, which covered her to mid-calf, pleasingly hugged her body, emphasizing her figure, still hourglass in most respects, although five successful births had reshaped her waist and hips somewhat.
How readily I yet can see the Miss Gardiner who assented to my pleas all those years ago. She has aged like some of Baron Rothchild’s clarets.
Smiling at her, Tom waved his hand above the collection of decanters.
A sherry would suit,” Fanny replied before adding, “Although, if you are pouring cognac, I might enjoy a short one in its stead.”
Bennet shrugged and grinned wryly before dispensing about a half inch of the potent aromatic liquor into a tulip-shaped snifter. He handed it to his wife who took a dainty sip and nodded in appreciation.
She drifted over to an armchair and pointedly glanced at the empty seat opposite in a time-honored signal secretly entrusted by mamas to their bridal daughters on their wedding day—Sit…I would speak to you.
And Thomas, having absorbed his wife’s idiosyncrasies through six-and-twenty (counting the past twelve-month beginning in 1947) years of marriage, quickly found his seat. He focused his eyes upon hers.
Fanny saucily lifted one brow and tilted her head.
“You are not in trouble, Tom. I simply desire to have a conversation with you about…” she began.
Tom interrupted her with a good-natured gibe, “I am relieved! I have spent over a quarter century never quite knowing upon which side of your temper I would find myself.”
She shot a heated glance at him strangling his rejoinder.
Then she continued after another draught of cognac, “You are aware such uncertainty is how I keep you on your toes.
“But, seriously, my impertinent husband, I wished to speak with you about the young woman under our care.
“You know how dear Eileen has become to me and, I would wager, you as well. T’is more than that she reminds me of our Jane.
“Since we discovered her relationship to us, I have realized that she is a wonderful mixture of all of our girls.
“She certainly possesses Jane and Lydia’s good looks, but she also owns an added measure of Lizzy’s and Mary’s bookish depths.
“And from what I have learned of Kitty in the time since we came to be here, Miss Nearne can lay claim to that sweet child’s heritage of bravery and determination.
“T’is few women or men who could have passed through that which she has and survive, let alone thrive.
“But, now, I am convinced, Eileen needs our help to allow her to find her own happiness.”
She stopped when Bennet held up a questioning hand.
He asked, “By ‘happiness,’ I imagine you are referring to wedded bliss, my not so subtle but ever-dependable wife?”
She snapped her sky-blue eyes at him and replied in an exasperated tone, “And just what is wrong with any woman finding comfort in the love of a good man, my ever-sarcastic husband?
“I am in no way suggesting that Eileen would find fulfillment as a glorified domestic servant in the mold of what the Americans now are trying to sell to their women. Can you imagine someone with an MBE who was and still is an intelligence agent skilled in demolitions and assassination, being satisfied to have dinner prepared for her husband returning home after a long day toiling at the Gas Board?
“No, Tom, our girl is suited only for the highest reaches of Family life—and I mean that wondrous amalgam that our descendants have created—the Five Families.
“And, as such, there is only one man for her.”
Bennet hid his grin behind a cupped hand, hoping that he was able to keep the upper half of his face impassive, but his choked, “One? Only one?” gave him away.
An impish Fanny bathed him in a brilliant smile and replied, “Yes, my love, only one. I wanted to advise you that I would be focusing my not so modest talents on this problem.
“After all, I managed to align our family with both the Darcy and the Bingley of Darcy-Bingley Enterprises. And, while Wickham was no saint, I have discovered that your namesake, the current Earl of Matlock, is descended from Lydia’s alliance with Darcy’s cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam. So, I will chalk up her success to my tutelage.
“As for Kitty, how can you argue against the fact that she, too, married into the Fitzwilliam line and rose to be a Countess as well?”
Bennet, loath to stop his wife when she was recounting her marital-match successes, found the need to interject, if only to scratch the itch and provoke her, “And, Mary, dearest? What about Mary?”
Fanny stared back at him for a full minute, her jaw working furiously behind closed lips as her eyes flicked back and forth, sorting her thoughts in the way Tom had come to love through the years.
She finally answered his modest goading by stating, “Mary was an interesting problem. Such a serious girl. I know I always set her down by saying she was so plain. I am full of regret about that.
“I will allow you to contemplate your own role in her unhappiness at another time.
“However, for my part, Mary was only plain by comparison with the other girls.
“I am glad that Mr. Benton, Edward, found the beautiful rose which she was and cherished it into the beauty she became. And, it seemed that the two of them were made for each other. The chronicles over at the Trust seem to offer up Mary and her husband as a team in harness equivalent to Queen Judith and the Prophet Samuel.
“Oh, I know that many today might consider their relationship irregular, but then again, how odd was it that we had first cousins marrying back in our day? At least the Bentons joined for love and not just to increase land holdings,” she firmly concluded.
Bennet calmly absorbed her indictment and her declaration and then smiled back at her, running his fingers through his hair, a twitch of his that signaled his approbation. He did slide her accusation about his behavior toward Mary off to the side, to be examined and sadly savored at his leisure.
He offered only, “Quite so, madam. And, you are telling me this because…”
Fanny preened like a ladybird and visibly wiggled as if reorganizing her plumage, showing her own pleasure.
Pride filled her bosom from the knowledge that he would continue to scrub at the stain, seeking to erase all those years of disdain, by conferring his interest upon her. Fanny then offered, “Because I find it quite enjoyable to involve you in my schemes. Oh, maybe scheme is the wrong word…”
“Campaign?” smiled her husband.
“Yes…campaign seems so much better. You used to laugh at me and suggest that I was moving the girls around Meryton—the assembly rooms, the parlors of the four-and-twenty families, and the streets of town—as if I were the Tyrant himself preparing the Grande Armée to conquer our little piece of Hertfordshire.
“However, and you know this to be the truth, Mr. Bennet, in our time, a woman of our class had but three real choices as an adult—marry and have her own household, remain a spinster and depend upon the charity of her family and, perhaps, friends, or seek employment as a governess or companion, but lowering her status in the bargain. We made the first seem like the pinnacle and used the other two as a cudgel to focus young ladies on catching a husband.
“As long as I could take a breath, I had vowed never…never…to allow any of my girls to live a life of poverty.
“I know…and do not try to dissemble, Tom, because I have changed since the Year Eleven…that my exclamations about being thrown out of our house and into the hedgerows because of the entail just passed through your mind.
“I have thought much upon those fears. I even asked my Guide for help in understanding why these shadows so terrified me.
“On the surface it seems rational that any person would find anguish at the prospect of losing one of the Three S’s of life: Shelter, Sustenance and,” she blushed, “Sex!”
Even the well-educated and more worldly Bennet, with two years of modernity added to his earlier four-and-fifty, reacted with surprise at her forward speech.
Mrs. Bennet giggled and tried to regain her composure. She, none-the-less, continued marching into the breach she had blown through his walls, “Yes, Thomas Bennet…SEX. There I have said it. Lud, how we tiptoed around that word with all those…umm, how do you say it? You know, the thing you create to describe something or some act without really saying it lest you shock and dismay the listener.”
“T’is euphemisms that you seek,” her bipedal dictionary responded helpfully.
“Yes. Euphemisms. However, I require you to pull your mind from the gutter lest we become diverted from the point I was trying to make about Shelter and not the marriage bed,” she continued in a somewhat teasing voice, “I know that my protestations led everyone who heard me to believe I was only concerned with my own comfort.
“But, their view was utterly incorrect because they were taking me out of context,
“Yes, they heard Mrs. Bennet of Longbourn fretting about losing her home.
“And, yes, they saw me plotting to pair my daughters with rich men.
“But, that was only half the story—if even that much. These hearers of my lamentations never considered me to be anything but a greedy middle-aged woman who somehow managed to survive birthing five children.
“All of Meryton—and especially you, sir—missed my point entirely. They saw only the adult sitting with the other chin-waggers. They did not consider me as the sixth woman in a squad of females. They ignored the fact that I would be driven by anything but my own self-interest.”
Then she drew in a deep breath and raced into her conclusion, “That impertinent Miss Austen who wrote of our family certainly did not help my cause in any manner: showing me in just one light, and the worst one, at that. Of course, she never met me and only drew her portrait based upon second-hand information, probably supplied by jealous mamas of the ton.
“Know this, Thomas Michael Bennet: I was acting as a brood mama protecting her chicks from the headsman’s axe or the sly fox lurking around the coop. My maternal instinct would not permit me to act otherwise.
“So, a final yes to my earlier stream! I spoke of being thrown into the hedgerows because a mother’s worst nightmare was that her babes would suffer any privation.
“T’was never about me. T’was always our daughters.”
Such an interesting excerpt that begs for more answers! How did Mrs. Bennet travel forward? Why did the Wardrobe bring them to the 1940s? Who is Eileen? Thank you so much for sharing, Don!
Connect with Don
Don is generously giving away ONE Ebook copy of The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament (open internationally) and ONE Paperback copy of The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament (open to US readers) in conjunction with his visit today!
To enter this giveaway leave a question, a comment, or some love for Don below!
- This giveaway is open worldwide (ebook only). Thank you, Don!
- This giveaway ends December 21st
December 27th ~ January 9th