Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Dangerous to Know: featuring Brooke West (Henry Crawford) -with giveaway

Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen's Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues
edited by Christina Boyd
-Historical Romance, Anthology, Jane Austen
Release date: November 15, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads
Playlist | Publisher's Weekly/Book Life

"One has all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it." --Jane Austen

Jane Austen's masterpieces are littered with unsuitable gentlemen--Willoughby, Wickham, Churchill, Crawford, Tilney, Elliot, et al.--adding color and depth to her plots but often barely sketched. Have you never wondered about the pasts of her rakes, rattles, and gentlemen rogues? Surely, there's more than one side to their stories. It is a universal truth, we are captivated by smoldering looks, daring charms ... a happy-go-lucky, cool confidence. All the while, our loyal confidants are shouting on deaf ears: "He is a cad--a brute--all wrong!" But is that not how tender hearts are broken...by loving the undeserving? How did they become the men Jane Austen created?

In this romance anthology, eleven Austenesque authors expose the histories of Austen's anti-heroes. Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen's Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues is a titillating collection of Georgian era short stories--a backstory or parallel tale off-stage of canon--whilst remaining steadfast to the characters we recognize in Austen's great works. What say you? Everyone may be attracted to a bad boy...even temporarily...but heaven help us if we marry one.


Authors included:
Karen M Cox
J. Marie Croft
Jenetta James
Lona Manning
Christina Morland
Beau North
Katie Oliver
Amy D'Orazio
Sophia Rose
Joana Starnes
Brooke West

Excerpt:

“The Last letter to Mansfield” by Brooke West

SEPTEMBER 1809, THE DARK HORSE, TROWBRIDGE, WILTSHIRE

Henry woke to the sounds of wardrobe doors being flung open and slammed shut. For the first time since spring, he felt a spark of hope. Dragging himself from bed, not even bothering to smooth down his hair or find a shirt—anything to further shock or dismay that woman—he leaned in the doorway between his sleeping room and the suite’s sitting room. Maria, as perfectly put together as ever, was throwing gowns and hats into chests and boxes.

He yawned loudly, stretching his bare arms high above his head. Her head snapped up to glare at him. He knew he cut a fine figure. That Maria’s gaze did not stray from his face told him precisely her state of mind. Any other day, her eyes would roam over the planes of his muscles. The spark of hope grew a bit brighter.

“I am done with this charade!” Every word rang with anger. Her eyes burned. Her face contorted into a scowl the likes of which he had never seen.

At last. Relief flooded him as he recognized in her countenance the same hatred he had felt towards her for weeks. “I trust you’ve enjoyed your holiday.”

Maria cried out sharply, like a startled hen, twisting the silk gown in her hands. Henry laughed out loud at her explosion of fury. She complained nearly daily about the boredom and indignity she endured being sequestered in the inn and would beg often to be taken to Everingham. The society was no better at his Norfolk estate. Indeed, there was even less at his home to keep a young, lively woman entertained. The travelers who came through the inn brought with them their own dramas and histories, and Henry’s only enjoyment in recent weeks came from conversing with them at dinner or around the fire with a brandy. Maria seldom left their rooms.

Henry suspected that it was more the lack of an enviable standing in society that grated on her. Back at Mansfield Park, she held reign over all as the eldest Bertram daughter. As Mrs. Rushworth, she had an idiot husband and household to rule with thousands of pounds at her disposal to convince others of her value in society. But here, in The Dark Horse, Maria’s continued residence only raised questions amongst the locals, forcing her to steep in the scandal she so clearly desired that morning in early May when she appeared on Admiral Crawford’s doorstep demanding to see Henry.

She was not one to suffer consequences with grace, Henry found.

He had no intention of ever allowing Maria Bertram Rushworth to breathe the air at Everingham. Henry had chosen this esteemed, venerable inn in Wiltshire to keep her as far away as possible from his home without having to spend an unbearable amount of time in a carriage with her when they left London. With every complaint, he would point out that she could leave under her own power at any time—to which Maria would spit back that she had nowhere else to go. The satisfaction he drew from seeing her suffer was bitter indeed when coupled with his misery at being in her presence.

Anger colored her cheeks a flattering pink. Her bosom swelled prettily with each quick breath. A single curl had escaped from her loose coiffure as she had tossed her clothing about. It brushed at the gentle curve of her slender shoulder and graceful neck. He stared at that curl, remembering how his lips had been just there when his world tilted, upending his plans and destroying his happiness.

He wondered at what drew him to her so many months ago at Mansfield Park. Henry could not fail to recognize her beauty, even now, but he could no longer help but see past it to the creature beneath: the callous, selfish woman who was incapable—or unwilling—to consider anyone but herself.

Despite what Maria had promised that day at his uncle’s home, there had not been a single happy moment together once they left London. Henry did not intend to be happy with her and would not allow for her happiness with him. He intended for them both to be quite miserable. While all the world would see Henry as the scoundrel who ruined a gently bred woman, Henry could only think of Maria as the vixen who willfully parted him from his love. Many times, he was tempted to saddle a horse and leave her at the inn to find her own way out of the muddle she created. Henry would own a great many failings of character, but he was not so callous as to leave a woman without protection. Until she grew tired of their games and decided to leave, or her family came for her at last, Henry was stuck in this Wiltshire purgatory.

Upon learning that knowledge of his and Maria’s absence was widespread, his first instinct had been to ride immediately to Fanny, to bare all to her, to let her goodness and kindness absolve and cleanse him. Half his impulse, he knew, was to vex Maria and remind her that she was not wanted, not preferred, would not be his wife. He had not smiled at her since she displayed herself in that garish gown at Hill Street in May, when she took away any power he had to free himself from her. He would not take meals with her and seldom returned to the inn before she slept. When he did return to find her awake, he would silently take her to bed—or on the divan, or by the fireplace—wherever he found her. There was no tenderness or passion between them any longer, yet Maria never once turned him away. Henry marveled at her brash hopefulness in those moments when nearly every night he could hear her crying herself to sleep.

Knowing that inconsequence was worse than hatred to Maria, Henry would not let his elation at her imminent removal show. Instead, he affected boredom as he lifted a pastry from the breakfast tray. “When do you leave?”

“Immediately.”

Henry was silent as he stuffed the morsel into his mouth. He watched her as he chewed. For just a moment, her chin quivered, betraying her unreasonably tenacious love for him. His chest tightened for a single heartbeat. Anger he could counter—tears were more difficult to resist. There was no joy for him in hurting another, but he could not soften or she would sense it, and then they would become locked in this cycle of never-ending misery.

He licked the sweetness off his fingers as they watched each other.

“My aunt Norris has arrived for me. She is waiting below.”

Henry wondered that her father or one of her brothers had not come. Lucky break, I suppose. He did not relish the thought of the posturing and accusations that would be involved in a meeting with her male relatives. He had never fought a duel and intended to keep that record clean. Edmund did not worry him, and Tom was not often sober enough to hold a pistol. But he was a gentleman, and Fanny would not like it.

He grabbed two more pastries from the tray. “Give her my best,” he called over his shoulder as he shut the door to his bedroom.

He perched on the edge of his bed, tense, listening to the sounds of her packing. Muffled sobs reached his ears but not his heart. He felt no regret at her leaving, no emptiness at the loss of an admirer. He felt, for once, whole within himself. He was enough and did not yearn for another’s adulation and attention. Awareness crept over him, the understanding of what it means to be a steady man, reliable, and self-possessed. To be the man a woman like Fanny needs and deserves. The irony of his situation was not lost on him.

Henry waited until all noise from the adjoining bedchamber ceased and he was certain Maria was gone, truly gone, before moving to his writing desk.

M—
The pigeon has, at long last, flown with the old crow. I am coming home, my sister.
H.C.


About the author:
BROOKE WEST has always loved the bad boys of literature and thinks the best leading men have the darkest pasts. When she’s not spinning tales of rakish men and daring women, Brooke spends her time in the kitchen baking or at the gym working off all that baking. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and son and their three mischievous cats. Brooke co-authored the novel The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy and the short story “Holiday Mix Tape,” which appears in the anthology Then Comes Winter.

Find out more about this book and author:
Facebook
Twitter @WordyWest.

--~ Blog Tour Giveaways ~--

Open to all.

Offer ends: December 30, 2017

Winners announced: January 2, 2018


WIN prize pack #1 - 15 paperback books from the authors of this anthology.
To enter for this prize fill out the rafflecopter form (here).


WIN prize pack #2 - #RakesAndGentlemenRogues Pleasures pack includes:

‘Pride & Prejudice’ Print, autographed by Colin Firth & Jennifer Ehle
Bingley’s Teas (Willoughby & The Colonel)
Jane Austen playing cards; set of 6 Austen postcards
‘The Compleat Housewife’ notecards set.

To enter this giveaway leave a comment on the blogs participating in the tour. (All guest comments will be entered in drawing to win. Comment at each site to increase your odds.)


THE #RakesAndGentlemenRogues BLOG TOUR

πŸ’— Monday, November 6: REVIEW: Margie's Must Reads

πŸ’— Thursday, November 9: REVIEW, Obsessed with Mr. Darcy

πŸ’— Monday, November 13: REVIEW, Austenesque Reviews

πŸ’— Tuesday, November 14: REVIEW, Olga of ROSIE AMBER team

πŸ’— Wednesday, November 15: (release day) REVIEW, Just Jane 1813

πŸ’— Thursday, November 16: REVIEW, Diary of an Eccentric

🎩 Monday, November 20: FEATURE w/Katie Oliver (George Wickham), From Pemberley to Milton

🎩 Wednesday, November 22: FEATURE w/Joana Starnes (Willoughby), Babblings of a Bookworm

🎩 Friday, November 24: FEATURE w/Sophia Rose, (General Tilney), Herding Cats & Burning Soup

🎩 Monday, November 27: FEATURE w/Amy D'Orazio (Captain Tilney), My Jane Austen Book Club

🎩 Wednesday, November 29: FEATURE w/Brooke West (Henry Crawford), VVB32 Reads - this post!

🎩 Thursday, November 30: FEATURE w/Lona Manning (Tom Bertram), Lit 4 Ladies

πŸ’— Friday, December 1: REVIEW, Lit 4 Ladies

🎩 Monday, December 4: FEATURE w/Beau North (Colonel Fitzwilliam), Obsessed with Mr. Darcy

🎩 Thursday, December 7: FEATURE w/J. Marie Croft (John Thorpe), Harry Rodell blog/ROSIE AMBER team

πŸ’— Friday, December 8: REVIEW, From Pemberley to Milton

🎩 Monday, December 11: FEATURE w/Jenetta James Hannah McSorley (William Elliot), Austenesque Reviews

🎩 Thursday, December 14: FEATURE w/Karen M Cox (Frank Churchill), Darcyholic Diversions

🎩 Monday, December 17: FEATURE w/Christina Morland (Sir Walter Elliot), Of Pens & Pages

15 comments:

  1. What a powerful scene, Brooke! I loved re-reading it here.

    You're a peach for hosting our Dangerous to Know tour, Velvet. :)

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  2. Thank you for hosting today's blog stop on fantastic site! I love this excerpt about Henry Crawford and Maria! Almost makes me feel sad for Maria.

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  3. Loved this excerpt, loved this story. Henry Crawford is the consummate Austen Rake and Brooke does a fabulous job capturing this wounded bad boy. He's like an strange dog we're too afraid to pet, but feel compelled to put our hands out anyway.

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  4. "Give her my best." LOL. Oh, Henry, you rogue.

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    1. Lona, I am all curious as to our take on this story--given your "Mansfield Park" expertise.

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    2. I thought it was a very likely version of events and shows a real understanding of Henry's character. Here is a guy who has used his charm to get everything he wanted, and now there is someone he wants (Fanny) and he realizes that his words (in a letter) will not fix the problem. So difficult for him to face up to the reality.

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  5. What a scene! I hate it that I feel compelled to actually like this rake! Great job, Brooke! Nice blog, by the way!!

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  6. Yes, but the "unsuitable gentlemen" are so much fun to read.

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  7. I think you will be surprised by the roller coaster of emotions in this story. Looking forward to hearing how you like it! Thanks for stopping by.

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  8. Wonderful excerpt! I’m so ambivalent about Henry - he could have gone either way, I think, and that’s what intrigues me .

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  9. What an amazing scene! You wrote such a fabulous Henry Crawford, Brooke, made it so easy to see why he became what he is, and made us feel for him too. Brilliant!

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  10. Bare arms on a male? Really? That sounds awfully primitive....

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  11. I feel just a bit sorry for Henry for getting himself entangled to a married woman but why would he agree to co-habitating with Maria? If he knew he would be miserable by tormenting her, what good would it do? That I wouldn't understand.

    Btw, the excerpt is good.

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  12. Velvet, Thank you for hosting this #RakesAndGentlemenRogues blog stop and supporting our anthology. The winner of the rafflecopter draw for all the books from the authors is Becky Cherrington. The winner for the blog tour comments (announced by a live draw on Facebook) for the Bingley's Teas, assortment of notecards, postcards, and playing cards as well as the autographed Colin Firth & Jennifer Ehle poster was dholcomb1 (Denise Holcomb). Congratulations! And thank you to all who supported "Dangerus to Know: Jane Austen's Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues" blog tour. So appreciate!! You made it fun.

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