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Spotlight – A very Austen Valentine: Austen anthologies, Book 2

A very Austen valentine

Title: A very Austen valentine: Austen anthologies, Book 2
Author: Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, Barbara Cornthwaite, Mandy Cook and Susan Kaye
Publisher: self-published
Year: 2018
Genre: anthology



Six beloved authors deliver romantic Valentine novellas set in Jane Austen’s Regency world. Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, and Barbara Cornthwaite, together with Susan Kaye and Mandy Cook, share variations of Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Sense and Sensibility, featuring your favorite characters in sequels, adaptations, and spinoffs of Austen‘s adored novels.

Experience uplifting romance, laugh-out-loud humor, and poignant regret as these authors deftly tug on your heartstrings this Valentine’s Day.

I dream of you by Robin Helm
Newly-married Elizabeth Darcy has a plan: to charm her too-busy husband into desiring her company as much as he did when he was courting her. A series of romantic dreams gives her just the push she needs to put that plan into action.

Sir Walter takes a wife by Laura Hile
Faced with a lonely future and finding himself strapped for cash, Persuasion’s Sir Walter Elliot manfully decides to marry again. But his careful plans go sadly awry! A lighthearted Valentine mash-up featuring two of Jane Austen‘s worst snobs.

My forever Valentine by Wendi Sotis
Jane and Charles Bingley have married, even though Miss Elizabeth Bennet remains certain Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy gave his best effort to keep them apart. After Mr. Darcy refused to stand up with Bingley and did not attend the wedding, she despises the gentleman more than ever and finds his company intolerable. How will she endure her visit to Kent if Mr. Darcy turns up everywhere she goes?

Pretence and Prejudice by Barbara Cornthwaite
A chance encounter with a handsome stranger forces Elizabeth to resort to subterfuge in order to discover his true intentions.

My Valentine by Mandy H. Cook
Little Charlotte was always determined and independent, traits which served her well as she battled a serious childhood illness and later as she took on Polite Society. Will those traits now deprive her of true love? Or would her lifelong Valentine win her heart?

The lovers’ ruse by Susan Kaye
In this Persuasion alteration, Anne is so altered by Wentworth‘s love in the summer of 1806, she refuses to give him up when both her godmother and father try to persuade her. “The lovers’ ruse” follows Frederick and Anne through their whirlwind courtship and their secret engagement. When Wentworth returns for his Annie girl, the cat comes out of the bag.

I am very grateful to have the opportunity to speak today of a very special collection: A very Austen valentine. If you already know A very Austen Christmas, you know that there is a group of wonderful women who join to bring us short stories of the highest quality.

This time they dedicated themselves to love stories and I was very happy to see that they celebrate all kinds of love (not just that between Darcy and Elizabeth).

The stories are very beautiful because they deepen various aspects of the intimacy of our favourite characters. The most obvious example would be to have a look at the marriage of the Darcys but I find that even stories that have secondary characters as main characters remind us how even the smallest details are sweet when you love.

In particular, I loved the descriptions of landscapes that, especially in one story, have managed to be shown with the eyes of the heart and not just with the sight.

But there is no lack of laughter and what-ifs that show us known characters in a completely new light.

It ‘s certainly a book to keep on the bedside table to read and reread his stories before going to bed!


These loving women have shared with us not one, not two but three extracts! Thank you so much, girls!!!

Robin Helm - I dream of youMandy Cook - My ValentineSusan Kaye - The lovers’ ruse

She sat beside him, knees bent to the side.

“You learn so quickly, my love,” he said. “I can hardly believe you have been riding only a month.”

Her eyes brightened. “High praise from such a fine horseman. I have often admired you as you rode, sitting tall in the saddle, moving fluidly with the horse.”

“I have not ridden for pleasure in quite a while. As I think on it, I have never noticed your watching me. When did that happen?” She blushed, waving her hand. “Oh, many times.”

“You appear to be avoiding my question, wife. How very interesting. When did you see me riding?”

“You and Charles were riding across the hills between Netherfield and Longbourn the very first time I ever saw you.”

“That was before the assembly?”


He sat up. “And you admired me then?”

She looked away. “I did. I thought you very handsome.”

“Then why did you snub me at Lucas Lodge?”

“I never snubbed you,” she answered firmly, turning her face back to his.

“You refused to dance with me, even though it meant you could not dance at all that evening. Why did you dislike me so?”

“I heard what you said about me to Charles at the assembly.” She mimicked his voice, low and haughty. “‘She is tolerable, I suppose, but not handsome enough to tempt me.’ I fully intended never to dance with you if you should ever deign to ask me.”

“I said that? I do not remember it. Are you certain?”

“I am positive, for I heard every word of condemnation, as did my mother.”

He furrowed his brow. “No wonder you despised me, though I can assure you I did not think that. I thought you were the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I have always been uncomfortable among people I do not know. I have not your easiness with strangers. Will you forgive me?”

“Do you think I have not forgiven you?” she asked. “Would I have married you if I held a grudge?”

One corner of his mouth turned up. “I guess not. You have a most forgiving heart, and I am very glad of it.” “

It is no great feat on my part to forgive a person who loves me. I tried to hold onto my anger, but I could not resist you.” He was quiet. “None of this on my time,” she said. “You must be happy and entertaining. Of what are you thinking?”

“I am pondering how fortunate and blessed I am to have you. Most women would never have accepted me after such a slight.”

“Most women would have added up your fortune and borne with your rudeness.”

“You are not most women,” he replied, smiling as he leaned over to kiss her. Pulling away, he stood and reached for her hand to help her stand.

“I was not finished,” she said, pouting a bit.

“Neither was I, but if you wish to finish with your plans before midday, we should stop kissing. I do reserve the right to kiss you anytime I choose during my afternoon.”

“What does it say about me to acknowledge your restraint is superior to mine?” she asked.

“I believe it means I am the most fortunate man in all of England.” He made a step with his hands to aid her in mounting Patience.

“Do not, by any means, follow the good doctor’s prescriptions!”

Elizabeth and Darcy looked up from their breakfast coffee and toast, their eyes meeting across the table. “Who, in heaven’s name …,” Darcy began just as the door was abruptly opened, revealing their unannounced visitor.

“Mr. Brandon?” Elizabeth responded in shock.

“I rode all night, after receiving your message,” the young man explained. “You have not bled her or forced her to purge?” His exhaustion was evident, yet he stood there in earnest, drilling the parents as well as any coach or sergeant.

“No, we have not,” replied Elizabeth, curiosity and motherly instincts winning over annoyance at being questioned by a school boy. It was well that her response was faster than her husband’s.

“Sit, Mr. Brandon, and break your fast. You must be famished. I will ring for a room to be prepared,” Elizabeth continued.

Henry allowed himself to be led to a chair and even seated himself, but he pushed away the offered plate, his mission coming back into sharp focus. “I must know that she is safe.” Elizabeth glanced at Darcy, expecting a rebuke. She was not wrong in her estimation of her husband’s initial reaction, but he squelched it and studied the boy. After a moment, Darcy spoke. “The doctor has examined Charlotte and is sure of his diagnosis. Scarlet fever. You are correct in your assumptions that he recommended bleeding and purging, but her mother and I delayed the treatment.” Darcy considered further. If the boy knew the treatment and was confident enough to ride through the night to refute it, perhaps they should hear his reasoning. “Do you have experience with the illness?’ he asked finally.

Henry paled, but he replied calmly and confidently. “I do. Personal experience and the resulting years of focused study.”

“And what do you advise for treatment?” Elizabeth inquired, intrigued.

“Most likely the things you are already doing,” Henry replied. He leaned forward, intent on his purpose. “Cool baths and compresses for the fever, liquids – whatever she will take. The throat is painful and swollen, and it is difficult to swallow, but liquids, either cool or warm can be comforting and welcome. They must be taken regularly to keep the pain at bay. Distraction to keep up the spirits.” The pale face brightened. “That is why I came.”

Both parents stared in confusion. “For distraction,” he explained. “Do not bother your household on my account. Simply allow me to help amuse the invalid.”

Darcy pushed away from the table and stood. “You are asking us to ignore the recommendations of an experienced physician, to burden a guest with the duties of the sick room, and to entrust our young daughter to the care of a young man?”

Henry stood and thoughtfully considered all points. After a moment, he replied. “A physician’s experiences are to be respected. However, many good doctors never grow beyond their training. Their stance is that what has worked for a hundred years will continue to work, yet the results do not support the claim. The treatments have not worked for many, or even most, patients. Their reluctance to try new therapies limits their abilities to really help. Many impressive arguments lay claim to the power of healing being in the blood, if we could only harness or empower it. Bleeding an already weak invalid until they faint – it is nothing short of criminal.”

Elizabeth stood at long last and walked slowly to stand beside her husband. “What you say is similar to what we have already considered, though we have not the confidence of personal experience nor years of focused study.” She took a moment to breathe, a controlled inhale and exhale, while she pondered the situation. “You will understand that whatever we decide, it will be with the best interest of our child in mind, and in no way will reflect upon our opinion of you.” She smiled weakly. “We appreciate your zeal and your offer of help,” she continued until interrupted by their young guest.

“Of course, the decision is yours and is to be honoured, but please allow me to stay.”

Elizabeth could only blink. It was an involuntary movement, like breathing, and continued with or without her consideration. “Stay, if you will,” Darcy allowed, if somewhat reluctantly. Surely having one more slave to his daughter’s whims at this time could not be wrong. “But Nanny, or one of the maids, must remain with you at all times during your visits to Charlotte’s room.”

“Of course, sir!” Henry agreed, out of habit initially, then he flushed upon realizing the full weight of the statement. As if he would have romantic intentions towards a four-year-old child! Fortunately, Darcy moved on quickly. “Break your fast, if you will, then ring for a servant to show you to your room. My wife and I have much to discuss, and quickly, before the doctor returns. After the examination, if we gauge Charlotte to be well enough and not too excitable for visitors, you will be collected.”

In one of many past refurbishments of the Hall, a window was added to the hallway, not for the convenience or safety of the maids and footmen going back and forth in service of the family, but to balance out the exterior view from a small lake by the stables. Any other time, Anne considered the story illustrative of her family’s lack of wisdom. However, in the dim light, the rarely-seen view caught her eye. The sun was a fiery gold sphere lowering into the calm of the lake. The beauty of its twin glittered on the water’s surface. What was a glance at first overwhelmed her for a moment and she uncharacteristically indulged herself, not feeling a jot guilty. The view was exquisite, and she suddenly wished she could remain at the window the rest of the evening, but in doing so she would miss any opportunity to speak with the commander.

“Glory, but God is being extra generous with his color box tonight.” Every fiber of her stiffened. It was him. He was right next to her. He was leaning on the sill and she could feel his arm through her light shawl. Breathe, Anne, breathe. What was he doing in this hallway with her? “He is indeed.”

She turned her head to ask whether he was enjoying the evening. His profile against the dark of the receding hallway was lit by some of the dying light.

She felt sick, and nervous, and happy all at once. All she could do was turn back to the matchless view.


About the authors

Robin HelmLaura HileWendi SotisBarbara CornthwaiteSusan KayeMandy Helm Cook

Robin Helm‘s books reflect her love of music, as well as her fascination with the paranormal and science fiction. Previously published works include:

The Guardian Trilogy: Guardian, SoulFire, and Legacy (a guardian angel protects a supernaturally gifted girl), the Yours by Design series: Accidentally Yours, Sincerely Yours, and Forever Yours (Fitzwilliam Darcy switches places in time with his descendant, Will Darcy), and Understanding Elizabeth (Regency romance). She contributed to A very Austen Christmas: Austen anthologies, Book 1, an anthology featuring like-minded authors, in 2017.

A very Austen Valentine: Austen anthologies, Book 2 was released on December 29, 2018. A very Austen romance: Austen anthologies, Book 3 is planned for December 2019.

She lives in sunny South Carolina and adores her one husband, two married daughters, and three grandchildren.

Readers are loving Laura Hile‘s joyous Regency novels. Her signature style—with intertwined plots, cliffhangers, laugh-out-loud humor, and romance—keeps them coming back for more. The comedy Laura comes by as a teacher. There’s never a dull moment with teen students!

Laura lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a collection of antique clocks. Her fiction is for everyone, even teens.

Wendi Sotis lives on Long Island, NY, with her husband and triplets. While searching for Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s point of view, she became thoroughly enamored with Jane Austen Fan Fiction or JAFF.

In early 2010, she dreamed of an idea for a story and hasn’t stopped writing since: Promises, Dreams and Expectations; All hallows eve; The keys for love; Safekeeping (with just a dash of Austen); The gypsy blessing; Foundation of love (The gypsy blessing 2); and A lesson hard learned.

The marriage pact, and some of Wendi’s works-in-progress, have branched away from JAFF to Regency Romance (the Loving an Aldridge series) and contemporary romantic mysteries (the Implicated series).

Wendi will also continue bringing Darcy and Elizabeth together again and again in an unusual manner.

Barbara Cornthwaite lives in the middle of Ireland with her husband and children. She taught college English before “retiring” to do something she loves far more; her days are now filled with homeschooling her six children, trying to keep the house tidy (a losing battle), and trying to stay warm in the damp Irish climate (also a losing battle).

She is surrounded by medieval castles, picturesque flocks of sheep, and ancient stone monuments. These things are unappreciated by her children, who are more impressed by traffic jams, skyscrapers, and hot weather.

Susan Kaye discovered Jane Austen and writing at about the same time. She leads a quiet life with her husband and dog, Harley.

“I don’t know a lot, but I do know I’ve probably spent more time with Frederick Wentworth and Anne Elliot than just about anybody else.”

Mandy Cook was an RN for over ten years, half of which she served in the Navy, living in far-flung places, enjoying experiencing the world while following her calling. Just before she and her handsome Marine were both deployed to different places, they married. They now have three children, ages four and younger.

She previously published The gifted, using her nursing experience to lend accuracy to her story about an ER nurse who is handed a gift that changes her life forever. Adversity, and a long history of secrets, constantly battle against her natural instinct for truth and justice, but will the truth be worth the dare?

Blog tour schedule


01/06 – Just the write escape;
01/07 – Margie’s must reads;
01/08 – So little time…;
01/09 – Babblings of a bookworm;
01/11 – Austenesque reviews;
01/12 – My love for Jane Austen;
01/14 – From Pemberley to Milton;
01/15 – My life journey;
01/16 – My vices and weaknesses;
01/18 – Diary of an eccentric;
01/20 – Darcyholic diversions;
01/21 – Austenprose


The authors are generously giving away 10 eBooks and 1 paperback of their anthologies

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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