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IMG_2934 Happy Valentine’s Day!

We’re celebrating over at Austen Variations with some writing – excerpts from our books and a poem by Diana Birchall, plus there are links to authors’ websites for their special contributions!

Here’s an excerpt from Project Darcy which follows on from my piece at Austen Variations - I hope you enjoy it. Jane Austen and her friend, Tom Lefroy, are falling in love at the Manydown Ball!

heart2My spirits were dancing in silent rapture just as much as my feet when Tom escorted me to the dance floor. I think something of the joy we felt on the occasion pervaded the whole room like the fragrance lingering on the air as the atmosphere lightened. There was laughter and movement and flurries of white muslin as dashing young men spun their partners round, satin slippers kicking up the chalk. As the musicians played faster the handclaps and boot stomping grew louder. Everywhere looked a blaze of colour and sparkle under glittering chandeliers as the dancers skipped and hopped, galloping down the set to reach their place in time. It was wonderful to feel his hand in mine, to catch his eye, and to have his fingers linger in the small of my back like a caress.

By the time the supper bell rang, we were all starving hungry. Such a spread, like a king’s feast, was laid out on the dining table. My brother James carved the turkey with great perseverance, whilst Henry made it his job to help all the young ladies. He was on fine form and had encouraged his brother to dance every dance. Catherine and Alethea exchanged smiles with me. I knew Catherine would tease me about Tom as soon as she had the chance. Catherine’s brother Harris was helping James. He was growing up, and looked quite the young gentleman in his evening attire. I saw him look up and catch my eye. He was very shy, but I knew that he liked me. Knowing that I was one of the few people he preferred to talk to, I gave him my best smile back again.

‘Come on, Jane,’ whispered Tom, ‘surely there’s a corner where we can sit without the whole world attending to our every word.’

‘Tom Lefroy, you will have people talking about me, if they are not already, but there is a little place in the greenhouse where we might find a seat.’

I led him from the room and along the corridor. Everyone was so busy eating, drinking and swapping gossip that I was certain we would not be missed, but I knew we should not be long. At the back of my mind, a voice told me I was behaving badly but it felt we were the only two people in the whole world who mattered. We abandoned our plates and glasses, and ran tiptoeing, hand in hand, as soon as we were out of sight. Amongst the Persian orange trees and exotic plants, I found my rustic bench, a favourite spot where I often took a book when staying with my friends. Screened by greenery, we could not be seen. The space was a cosy one, warm from the glow of candles set in coloured lamps that lent a magical glow to the darkness of the interior.

‘Thank you for making this Christmas visit so enjoyable,’ said Tom, turning to face me. ‘I must admit that I was truly dreading being away from my family.’

‘I, too, have enjoyed every minute of your company … even when you were behaving like an arrogant coxcomb.’

‘You wound me, Miss Austen, and in more ways than you will ever know.’

I fiddled with my reticule and thought of the picture hidden inside. ‘You will have to go away soon, I think.’

Tom nodded. ‘I have to study, and I have a long way ahead of me before I shall be started in my chosen career.’

‘And I suppose you will not stop at being a mere lawyer. I can see you as a judge, Tom, with a long white wig on your head looking rather stern.’

Tom threw back his head and laughed. ‘If my Uncle Benjamin has anything to do with it, you’re right. He is my sponsor and I do so hope to make him proud. I wish to do the best for my family. With so many children, you know yourself, money is stretched to its limits.’

images ‘I wish you weren’t going away,’ I said. The words were out, and the secrets of my heart were unleashed. It was too late to go back.

‘But, I will go and you’ll soon forget me. It’s probably for the best, you know. Besides, you have so many ardent suitors I could not flatter myself that you would wish to confine yourself to me alone.’

He took up my hand between two of his own and turned it, as if studying my fingers before entwining his in mine and holding them up to the curve of his mouth, pressing his lips against the kid leather. I wanted to feel his mouth on mine, and I knew I might never have another moment so exquisitely right.

‘Kiss me,’ I dared to say.

‘Jane … we should not.’

I heard his words but I did not believe them. I tried again. ‘Do you not wish to kiss me, Mr Lefroy?’

Tom stroked the flesh exposed above my wrist where he hooked a finger beneath the buttoned opening of my glove. ‘Jane, it’s not that … but I do not think kissing you is a good idea.’

‘It would just be a kiss between friends. I am always kissing Catherine and Alethea. It would signify nothing more than a seal to friendship.’

Tom shook his head. ‘Oh, Jane, you have no idea how much I’ve dreamed of kissing you, and it would be a terrible thing if I did.’

‘I don’t understand. If we both wish it, why is it so wrong?’

Tom gazed into my eyes and I saw his anguish. ‘Because I do not trust myself to behave like a gentleman.’

‘Kiss me, Tom, or I will kiss you.’

His hand caressed my face and a finger traced my mouth before he placed his lips on mine so gently that tears filled my eyes. I touched his cheek, threaded my fingers through his hair, and felt our lips and our breath join as one. I fell into his arms and he drew me closer with kisses of love and tenderness.

Thank you to everyone who entered my blog tour competitions to win some jewellery and an embroidered bag -

We have three winners – Congratulations!!!!

The winners are:

June Williams for the Georgian brooch

Nicole Platania for the Victorian brooch

Cassandra Grafton for the embroidered bag

Could the winners please contact me here so I can learn how to get your prizes out to you! Thanks again-I hope you all enjoy your prizes!

Thank you to everyone who joined in last week’s Giveaway to win a copy of Pride and Prejudice illustrated with photos from  the Greer Garson/Lawrence Olivier film and a pack of my Christmas cards.

Congratulations!!! The winner is Janet T!

Can you please contact me here to claim your prize – Congratulations!!!!!

My blog tour for Project Darcy continues – if you missed the start of it, you can catch up here:

Wednesday, October 30th   - Wondrous Reads
Sunday, November 3rd - My Jane Austen Book Club
Tuesday, November 5th - Austenprose OFFICIAL BOOK LAUNCH
Wednesday, November 6th –  Indie Jane
Thursday, November 7th - More Agreeably Engaged
Tuesday, November 12th Calico Critic
Wednesday, November 13th Meditating Mummy
Monday, November 18th Austen Authors
Monday, November 18th The Book Rat
Wednesday, November 20th Austenesque Reviews

It’s not too late to enter the GIVEAWAY for two lovely brooches (closing date Monday, 18th November) – click here to read more and also to win a vintage bag – click here to read more

Thank you, everyone, for making this such fun, and for all the lovely words of encouragement here and elsewhere – it truly means the world to me!
Tomorrow, I am a guest of Laura Hartness at Calico Critic – I hope you’ll join me for a chat and a giveaway of Project Darcy!

I hope you’re enjoying my blog tour as much as I am! Today, I’m a guest on Indie Jane, talking about grandfather clocks, time, and Project Darcy – I hope you’ll join me.

Tomorrow, you’ll find me at More Agreeably Engaged with Janet Taylor!

STOP PRESS! I’ve just received a review from Kath Eastman - here it is in full at her blog – Nut Press – here’s a little of her review below – she’s made my day!

I pretty much read Project Darcy in one sitting. Even though I knew at least how Jane Austen’s own story would end, I loved spending time with Jane Odiwe’s imagining of her again in that period, as well as being anxious to see where the modern-day characters would be at the end of the book – and who with! This was a highly enjoyable read for me because it had a bit of everything: sumptuous period detail – I can imagine that Jane Odiwe had fun imagining the interiors of Ashe, both in Jane Austen’s time and in its more contemporary setting; seeing who the candidates for Jane Austen’s characters were from her own circle of acquaintances and their modern-day counterparts; a good sprinkling of romance and pairings, including a glimpse into one of Jane Austen’s own rumoured romances and the delicious puzzle of piecing all the connections together made Project Darcy for this reader.

Wednesday, November 6th –  Indie Jane
Thursday, November 7th - More Agreeably Engaged
Tuesday, November 12th Calico Critic
Wednesday, November 13th Meditating Mummy
Monday, November 18th Austen Authors
Monday, November 18th The Book Rat
Wednesday, November 20th Austenesque Reviews

Today’s treat inspired a little scene in Project Darcy – Ellie has a vintage bag similar to the one below – I’d imagined Ellie’s bag, but this one is similar in style, only with flowers and a short strap!
Ellie is getting ready for a party whilst she is staying near Steventon, at Ashe Rectory -
Half an hour later, Ellie was feeling refreshed for having had a scented soak in the bath. She’d washed her hair and was now standing in front of the wardrobe hanging her clothes, and trying to decide what she was going to wear for the party. It was still warm and light so she selected some cropped jeans and a short-sleeved cotton top, with a scoop neck and embroidered pin tucked front. The detail made it a little bit more special than the every day and to set it off, she picked a chunky necklace from her jewellery roll with turquoise stones and silver beads threaded on a long leather cord. Choosing a warm scarf in coral, scattered over with hummingbirds and edged in silk fringe in case it got cooler later on, Ellie then added a pair of canvas trainers to complete her outfit.
Jess knocked on the door. ‘I’ll just round up everyone else so I’ll see you downstairs in a minute!’

Ellie shouted back that she’d join them in a second and looked around for her bag. It was her favourite, an antique bag that had belonged to her great-grandmother. Made of black silk moiré, it was embellished with a bluebird and had a long silk strap.She’d left it on the chest of drawers in front of the window next to a blue and white jug and bowl. Dashing to fetch it, she was stopped in her tracks by the sense of something or someone moving outside in the garden below. 


If you’d like to own the little bag, please leave a comment below!

I’m so excited that launch day is here – I’m having a party over at Austenprose and there’s a couple of giveaways so I hope you’ll join me there!

I love setting a scene in my novels, and I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoyed writing and thinking about the girls’ bedrooms in Project Darcy.

Jess’s bedroom is a Regency haven with a French bed with buttoned silk upholstery - On the walls was a collection of silhouettes of people from past times. The profiles of soldiers and debutantes looked across at one another from ebony frames ranged around the marble mantelpiece. It looked as if it had been designed with Jess in mind with its Regency furniture and vast portraits of ladies dressed in white muslin.

Ellie loves anything vintage (how funny, that’s just like me : ) ) -
and her bedroom has an exquisite deco dressing table - A deco dressing table complete with a mirrored surface and a triptych looking glass was topped with a selection of exquisite objects – a porcelain tray and boxes for jewels, a Japanese fan, a silver hairbrush enamelled with blue as vivid as a butterfly’s wing, and a cloisonné vase filled with old-fashioned roses.

When Ellie finds herself in Madame Lefroy’s bedroom, she can’t think where she is at first.

When I opened my eyes, I couldn’t think where I was for a moment. I was sitting on a bed that looked nothing like the one I’d collapsed onto earlier. This one was a four-poster, simply carved with reeded motifs and dressed with drapes and swags of sprigged cotton. The panelled walls were painted a dusky blue-grey which echoed the tones in the long curtains at the floor-length windows. A chest of drawers and a dressing table were the only other items of furniture, but the biggest clue to its owner lay in the elaborate powdered wigs set on stands, the silver-topped scent bottles, and the set of ivory-backed brushes, upon the dressing table. An open box of jewels glinted in the candlelight, and I recognised one or two of Madame’s favourite Rivière necklaces, one of amethysts, and the other of topaz. 

Most people who know me, are aware that I love jewellery, and as it’s such a special day for me today, I wanted to share some, as a way of saying thank you to all the wonderful people who make life so fabulous with their kind words and messages every day.
In celebration of the release of Project Darcy, I have two brooches to give away. They are both old pieces, one is Georgian and the other probably Victorian.
This is the Georgian brooch I am giving away – it is very small – half an inch or so, but perfect for a lapel or a scarf. The stones are paste and the backing pinchbeck, a form of brass made to look like gold, which was very popular in Georgian times. It has a long pin and c-clasp at the back.



The other heart-shaped brooch is probably Victorian, but quite Georgian in style – I love the pretty colour of the stones, which are paste, of course. 


I hope you like them, and if you’d like one of them to be yours, all you have to do is leave a comment below telling me about a favourite piece of jewellery that you own. The giveaway is open until Tuesday, November 19th 2013. Once you’ve done that, please visit me on Austenprose for more giveaways to celebrate my special day!

 

It’s my Official Book Launch of Project Darcy tomorrow, November 5th, over at Laurel Ann Nattress’s blog Austenprose so please check back then to read an exclusive excerpt from Project Darcy, and to see what we have on offer in the way of prizes and treats. I do hope you’ll join me tomorrow for my very special day!
As you all know, Project Darcy is a novel inspired by Jane Austen’s wonderful book, Pride and Prejudice, and as this is a very special year, celebrating 200 years, I thought you might like to have a chance of owning a collector’s copy!
My first introduction to Jane Austen was through the film starring Greer Garson and Lawrence Olivier, many years ago, so I think it’s very fitting that this little illustrated movie book should be my first prize.


Pride and Prejudice
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
   However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.
   “My dear Mr. Bennet,” said his lady to him one day, “have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?”
   Mr. Bennet replied that he had not.
   “But it is,” returned she; “for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it.”
   Mr. Bennet made no answer.
   “Do not you want to know who has taken it?” cried his wife impatiently.
   “You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.”

Also on offer is one of my packs of six greetings cards, three of Steventon Rectory, three of Christmas at Steventon!

If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning this vintage book with a pack of Jane Austen Christmas cards, please leave a comment below. Names will be drawn from a hat – closing date for this competition is Sunday, 10th November – winner announced on Monday 11th November!
Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for more goodies here and on Austenprose!

Congratulations, Lena I – you are the lucky winner of Steampunk Darcy! Please contact me here to claim your prize!
Thanks again to Monica Fairview for visiting me here at my blog!!!

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