Welcome Back Dear Readers,
This time I am hosting Riana Everly, who is the author of “The Assistant” which is a “Before Pride and Prejudice” book, which follows Mr Edward Gardiner, uncle to the Bennet girls. The book has just been published, it’s A tale of love, secrets, and adventure across the ocean.
Let’s start out with a Blurb;
A tale of love, secrets, and adventure across the ocean
When textile merchant Edward Gardiner rescues an injured youth, he has no notion that this simple act of kindness will change his life. The boy is bright and has a gift for numbers that soon makes him a valued assistant and part of the Gardiners’ business, but he also has secrets and a set of unusual acquaintances. When he introduces Edward to his sparkling and unconventional friend, Miss Grant, Edward finds himself falling in love.
But who is this enigmatic woman who so quickly finds her way to Edward’s heart? Do the deep secrets she refuses to reveal have anything to do with the appearance of a sinister stranger, or with the rumours of a missing heir to a northern estate? As danger mounts, Edward must find the answers in order to save the woman who has bewitched him . . . but the answers themselves may destroy all his hopes.
Set against the background of Jane Austen’s London, this Pride and Prejudice prequel casts us into the world of Elizabeth Bennet’s beloved Aunt and Uncle Gardiner. Their unlikely tale takes the reader from the woods of Derbyshire to the ballrooms of London, to the shores of Nova Scotia. With so much at stake, can they find their Happily Ever After?
Doesn’t it sound brilliantly adventurous?! I sure thought so, and I can guaranty it is well worth reading! And to imagine “Aunt and Uncle” Gardiner’s story!! It is so nerve wrecking, so adventurous and sweet at the same time! Riana wants a few words before I start going on about how brilliantly well her book is written and comes to my review of her book!
Thank you, Sophia, for welcoming me to your blog. I’m delighted to be here and to talk about my new book, The Assistant. This is my first stop on the blog tour, and I’m excited to be telling people about my story and the characters I’ve come to love so much.
What’s this, you ask, a novel about Edward Gardiner? Why on earth would somebody wish to write something like that?
I can think of so many reasons, one of which being that every respectable man of good character and a charming wife must be in want of a story! And in Pride and Prejudice, we see every evidence of Mr Gardiner being a man of excellent character. Lizzy Bennet adores her London-based aunt and uncle, and more importantly, she respects them. Jane Austen describes this in this way:
Mr Gardiner was a sensible, gentlemanlike man, greatly superior to his sister, as well by nature as education. The Netherfield ladies would have had difficulty in believing that a man who lived by trade, and within view of his own warehouses, could have been so well-bred and agreeable. Mrs Gardiner, who was several years younger than Mrs Bennet and Mrs Philips, was an amiable, intelligent, elegant woman, and a great favourite with all her Longbourn nieces. Between the two eldest and herself especially there subsisted a very particular regard.
Sensible, well-bred, agreeable, young, amiable, intelligent, elegant…. What’s not to like? And such is the closeness between the older Bennet sisters and the Gardiners that Jane stays with them for several months after Bingley departs Meryton, and they later invite Lizzy to join them on a holiday that takes them to Derbyshire, and ultimately, Pemberley.
Surely such a fine couple, so charming in their own ways and so beloved by one of our favourite characters, must have a fascinating story all their own. The Assistant is such a story, wending its way through Derbyshire, the ballrooms and warehouses of London, all the way to the distant shores of Nova Scotia.
Not surprisingly, Lizzy and her uncle Edward had a special relationship dating back to her childhood. As an intelligent man, he loved that similar spark in his niece and recognized in her a wit and curiosity that would lead her on grand adventures of her own. He also knew that those little ears heard everything and that her mind forgot nothing! He had better not mention that mysterious lady he had recently encountered in her hearing! For who knows what little Lizzy might do with that information! Fortunately, Lizzy is taken enough with Edward’s new assistant that he need not worry about her spending all her time listening in on conversations.
Here is an excerpt from The Assistant, in which Edward travels to visit his sister and her family.
“Are you now too fine for my simple house, Brother?” Frances Bennet asked, oblivious to her current status as wife to a gentleman when her brother was a mere tradesman. “You, who are used to the latest fashions of London and who goes gallivanting off to parts of the country for your business. Do you see anything here you like?” She gestured at the lavishly appointed, somewhat rococo sitting room in which they took their tea.
“And my daughters, my fine daughters, what think you of them, Brother? Are they not a handsome collection of girls? See how strong and big they are growing.”
Edward turned to admire his nieces with such adequate attention as to satisfy their mother. The elder two were, indeed, quite handsome. Jane, especially, had the promise of great beauty upon her. At eleven years of age, her prettiness had not yet begun to change into the loveliness of womanhood, but Edward could see a future in which her poor father might have to lock his doors against her suitors. She had her mother’s sweet and generous nature but tempered with her father’s calm intelligence. Yes, she would be a prize for some lucky young man.
Elizabeth, his favourite of the girls, was not quite as beautiful as her older sister, but there was a sparkle to her eyes that would also stop hearts someday. Even as young as she was, her regard held a touch of irony and a tireless curiosity, and she scampered about the countryside with little regard to her mother’s nerves, always looking for a shady spot to collapse and read whatever tome she had absconded with from her father’s library. There were no secrets to be had from Lizzy, Edward realized. He would have to be careful about discussing Miss Grant over the course of this visit. Those young ears heard all and that mind, so keen and perceptive, understood far more than her mere nine years should allow.
The younger three girls were little more than babies. Mary, seven years old, was quiet and moody, most likely the result of being ignored in favours of her bright older sisters or her two active younger ones. Catherine and Lydia, aged five and nearly four, took all of their mother’s energy. They were pretty enough little girls, Edward supposed, all covered in lace and ribbons, but at such tender ages, he could hardly have an opinion of their character.
“I want a walk!” Elizabeth announced a while later as the adults took their tea.
“Now Lizzy, you know not to interrupt,” her mother admonished her sternly. Mr Bennet merely gazed at his impertinent daughter as if agreeing with her assessment.
“I am sorry to interrupt, Mama,” she declaimed as she had been taught, “but I still want a walk! Who shall come with me? Come, Jane! And you, Matthew I think your name is, you shall come too. We shall explore the wilds of Araby, just through those trees. Papa, are there many trees and much snow in Araby?”
Matthew looked at Edward, tacitly asking his permission. “How is your ankle, lad? Are you up for scrambling over stiles and under shrubbery with these young monsters who are my nieces?” He smiled at the girls.
“I, Uncle Edward, am a lady,” pronounced Jane in clear tones, “and I do not scramble.” She looked serenely down her perfect nose. “I should enjoy a walk, though, Lizzy. I shall get my heavy coat, for it is cold.”
Riana has told me that she could easily see Lizzie dressed as on the picture, which I also could, Lizzie in her adventure clothes! It would be so very like Elizabeth to do such a thing! *laughs cheekily* It is also very fun to read of a young Lizzie Bennet and to see that she will only change a little during the ten years between Riana’s book and her first meeting with arrogant and shy Mr Darcy.
Though I loved to see how Mr Gardiner came to be ‘Uncle and Aunt Gardiner’ it was quite an adventure!
The plot starts in Derby, where Mr Edward Gardiner, is on business, during a festival day in the busy town, when he takes a walk, his life is turned upside-down when he finds a young boy, who later becomes Mr Gardiner’s ‘Assistant’, as the boy is a genius with numbers, and yet the Assistant is very private and have some oddities which make the reader think.
What Edward is not prepared for is the mystery and intrigue that surrounds his new assistant. A letter arrives at Mr Gardiner from a mysterious ‘Miss Grant’ who knows his young assistant, and soon Mr Gardiner’s world ends as he knows it and is turned on its axel as he falls for the mysterious ‘Miss Grant’.
A ball makes Mr Gardiner and ‘Miss Grant’ meet and feelings blossom, though mystery and treachery make ‘Miss Grant’ disappear and The Assistant and Mr Gardiner cross the Atlantic to solve the mystery. Soon the very private assistant’s identity is revealed…
Now a little about our author, Riana!
Riana Everly was born in South Africa but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11 and has never looked back.
Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!
And there’s a chance to buy this wonderful new book!! Go and do it! I would!
Universal book link: https://www.books2read.com/theassistant
If you want store-specific links for Amazon, they are as follows.
Amazon US link: https://www.amazon.com/Assistant-Before-Pride-Prejudice-ebook/dp/B07B3NFMQ4
Amazon Canada link: https://www.amazon.ca/Assistant-Before-Pride-Prejudice-ebook/dp/B07B3NFMQ4
Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Assistant-Before-Pride-Prejudice-ebook/dp/B07B3NFMQ4/
And you can also contact our lovely author here;
Social Media Links
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RianaEverly
Website – https://rianaeverly.com/
And NOW, FINALLY the GIVEAWAY!!! There’s a chance to win a copy of this adventurous book about Mr Gardiner and how he became the beloved uncle of the Bennet girls!
I am giving away five copies of the E-book to blog readers through a random drawing on Rafflecopter. I will contact winners through the email address they provide to ascertain the appropriate format for the file. I will email the file directly to the winners.
And is it at this time, I am afraid! Though do either go and buy the book or enter the giveaway, it is well worth the effort, I promise! So, I will see you all after my exams! On a side note, check back on my blog in several weeks as a Short Story of “The Assistant” might appear!
See you, guys!