And the winner of Selected Verses by Jane Austen with the Tea Cup cover is
Congratulations! You will receive emails from me shortly with further details.
Last week I asked participants to guess which Bennet lady was destined for my new hero, Sir James Stratton. The correct answer (though all were good - I loved reading your conjectures!) is Kitty. The biggest criticisms I received on First Impressions: A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice was that I removed too much of the tension from the story. That was, of course, the point, but I tried to address the issue in Second Glances by redistributing those problematic qualities to Kitty and Sir James. In many ways, the plot Second Glances parallels that of Pride and Prejudice far more than First Impressions did, and like Mr. Darcy, Sir James enters our story equipped with an amiable, kindhearted, and eligible friend: Mr. Simon Brooks. He provides a love interest for one of our other young ladies. To win today's giveaway, leave a comment naming who you think it is, but first I'd like to tell you a bit more about Mr. Brooks, an infallibly honest young man of fine fortune. His loyalty to Sir James is unshakable, but his attempts to assist his volatile friend often have the opposite effect. The story begins with one such instance, brought to Sir James' attention in a letter from his aunt:
Today's giveaway includes three items: a copy of Second Glances, a copy of First Impressions (for those who have not yet read it), and another handmade volume of Selected Verses by Jane Austen, adorned and compiled by yours truly. The version on offer today has a navy floral cover which I'm calling William Morris, though I don't actually know if it's his design or not. To enter to win one of these items (do specify which!), tell me who Mr. Brooks is destined for and leave your email address in a comment. A correct answer increases your chances to win. To enter for two items, share this giveaway on whichever social media site you most prefer, and don't forget to tell me about it in your comment. If you want a chance to win all three books, try and guess which two of Jane Austen's aunts were blended to form Augusta Westingham's character. Winners will be announce next Monday. Good luck!Barsington, Feb. 17
My Dear Sir James,
While I am not one to credit gossip, news of your recent escapade upon an unstable creature has caused me no small degree of alarm. My dear nephew, can you really have taken such an unwarranted risk? Am I to see the home I grew up in pass to virtual strangers, all because you will insist on hazarding your life before securing your patrimony? The entire fate of the Stratton family rests in your hands: do not be cavalier about your duty!
If you must continue at trying to break your neck, at least beget a child first – perhaps two, for good measure – and for that you must marry posthaste, as heaven knows you will soon be engaged in some new escapade. Despite my laments, it's what I always liked about you, James. You keep life interesting, and I was always one for a bit of adventure: the spice and flavor of variety. As Cowper further wrote of there being nothing “in the vale of life half so delightful as a wife”, we can be sure he too would urge you to savor this epicurean delight with all expediency.
It is to this end that I have invited several dear friends, all mothers of eminently eligible ladies, to a house party the second week in March. Your friend Mr. Brooks, who was so kind as to call this morning as he was passing through the area, assures me this will provide more than enough time for you to fully heal. If none of these ladies capture your heart, you will continue on to London for the season, where an endless number of young ladies will be sure to compete for your attention. I know not on what grounds you could possibly object! There can be no excuse for further delay.
Your affectionate aunt,
Sir James sighed. Simon would betray him to his aunt. He was certain his friend had acted with the best of intentions, but being perfectly guileless sometimes led him to share that which need not be said. Nevertheless, he knew Aunt Augusta to be correct, however little he welcomed her involvement in his affairs, and saw no reason to resist her summons. If her house party produced just the right lady, all the better for him, but he would choose his own bride, not have one selected for him. And if, in the meantime, his fancy drove him to ride another unbroken horse, he would just have to do his very best to preserve his neck. It would not do to prove her right, after all, for if there were anyone who could gloat beyond the barrier of death, it would be Augusta Westingham.