Monday, February 23, 2015

The Classic Lives On: Jane Eyre Inspires Romance Writers Today

Congratulations to Barrie, aka Books4me67, the winner of the $25 gift card to Olive Garden for leaving a comment on this blog during our Addictive Reads Gifts of Love Blog Hop!  Hope you had a great time, Barrie, and made some new memories.

If you've been following this blog you know that I have been singing the praises of the classic Bronte story from the 19th century.  Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre has inspired romance writers for many years with stories of a governess and a brooding master of the estate.

I've read dozens of them. Many fade from memory but I have two very excellent choices to recommend for you if you are hungering for more from the Jane Eyre plotline.

Prepare to be entertained and Amazed! 

I recently read a modern rendition of Jane Eyre, a book that captivated me from start to finish.  I read this one in January of 2015, so the wonderful and imaginative story-line is still very much with me.

The book is The Auction, by Anna Erishkigal. It is a sweet, contemporary romance. In this story, the heroine, Rosie, is a recent college graduate who has just been dumped by her boyfriend. She's forced to move out of his apartment and has literally no place to go, as she is estranged from her family. Penniless, packing all her belongings into the boot of her car, Rosie accepts a job in a rural area of Australia as a caretaker and teacher to a 9 year old girl. The job is at a remote cattle station that is no longer running, so it's an isolated situation, just like Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre. Unlike Thornfield, it's no manor house with servants. It's basically an old farm house.

Meet a modern Jane Eyre, Miss Rosie Xalbadora

Our heroine has a tragic past, following the theme in Jane Eyre. Her parents divorced when she was a teen and she was left with the flaky mom as dad went off to build a new life in another country. She's got emotional baggage. She can relate well to her lonely charge, the darling little blond girl Pippa, who is going through the beginning stages of her parent's divorce. Rosie and Pippa bond as they explore the rugged landscape near the ranch. More than anything, Pippa wants a horse. As a former teen show rider and blue ribbon champion, Rosie can relate to the child's dream of having a special friend in a horse. Rosie would like nothing more than to see Pippa get her wish. The father is dead set against it. This causes friction between Rosie and Adam.

The title, The Auction, comes into play as it is an end goal for Rosie and Pippa. Rosie knows about unwanted horses being sold at auctions, usually very cheaply--a horse that is broken, a cast off nearly ready for the meat plant. Rosie goes behind Adam's back and encourages her charge to earn money for a horse, thinking they can find her a pony at the Horse Auction for a reasonable price. She feels this is important so that Pippa can take riding lessons with her new friends and find a sense of worth and self-confidence Rosie sees she is lacking. The horse will come to symbolize everything for the little girl, and the auction also holds a secret nightmare for Rosie that emerges from her past.

The hero in this wonderful tale is Adam, a brooding, troubled man who is separated from his wife and seeking divorce. As he has custody of his daughter, he needs someone to care for and teach his 9 year old daughter, Pippa, as his job takes him away from home for days at a time. He needs a babysitter, housekeeper and teacher rolled into one. Rosie will accomplish all three, plus a whole lot more.

A mystical, magical landscape, and old legends take on a new life

What I loved about this story-line was the element of magic the author skillfully weaved in. She brings in fairies (I love fairies!). Little Pippa talks to the Mimi's (the mythic fairy-like beings of the native Australians), and as she's a child, you're not quite sure if it's just her imagination at play. She claims the Mimi's guide her in her dreams. Our heroine, Rosie, also begins to have strange visitations in her dreams after she comes to the ranch house. In her dreams a young girl on horseback and a gruff old cowherd keep stopping in and try to show her things. There are many twists and turns in the plot, leading you on in the story as you root for Rosie to succeed, to find a place in the world (like JE), and nearly weep for Pippa, who seems so lost and forlorn. You hope Adam and Rosie will finally get together as they deserve to be, but it seems hopeless, just like the situation in Jane Eyre. You will be delighted by this author's fresh take on an old story from the 19th Century, I know I was.

The Auction mirrors the plot lines of Jane Eyre seamlessly 

And yet it's a fresh new story set in a modern world with very modern sensibilities. Adam isn't quite as frustrating as Mr. Rochester. Oh, he's intimidating and standoffish at first, but he warms to Rosie, and they seem to bond over Pippa's antics as time progresses. Like Mr. R, Adam gives Rosie mixed signals about his feelings for her. Adam appears to want to pursue a relationship with Rosie, but then ends up doubling back to his wife for the sake of their daughter. The wife is a piece of work. Adam and his wife are separated, as I mentioned previously, but she keeps showing up and messing with his head, causing real hurt to their daughter by not showing up to take her for the weekend as promised, and generally causing trouble for Rosie.  The wife is sort of like Miss Blanche Ingram in JE, the other woman seems to captivate Mr. Rochester, and who makes Jane feel so plain and unattractive in comparison. The wife also has a nasty secret, a very scary one in a plot twist that will surprise you as it's so parallel to the JE storyline it's genius. As I said, it's a modernization of that classic story, and it's executed brilliantly by this author.

If you love Jane Eyre, and you love a sweeping, engaging, and emotional read, you will truly enjoy this new book. It is currently available on all digital platforms and is included in an 11 novel box set that I also have a story in (The Rock Star Next Door). The set is a special treat just published for Valentine's Day. Look for Addictive Reads--Escape into Romance Boxed Set on all digital platforms.  If you would like to grab a copy of the boxed set, which includes The Auction plus 10 other awesome romantic reads, go to in the link below:
Addictive Reads Escape into Romance Boxed Set , and choose your file format to download. Go ahead, you can do it, that's 11 contemporary romances by 11 bestselling authors for just .99 cents!

Or if you prefer to purchase just the book, The Auction, A Sweet Contemporary Romance, by Anna Erishkigal, you can purchase it at the links below.  I wouldn't recommend this if I didn't know it was worth the post, as I rarely talk about current works of fiction here. Like Jane Eyre, The Auction is a book you can read again and again as time goes by to get lost in the struggles of our very modern Jane Eyre, Miss Rosie Xalbadora--a woman who is part gypsy. That's another quirky and fun element to the story that will make you smile. Yes, didn't I say this is a very unique and refreshing story!

The Auction, by Anna Erishkigal:
The Auction on

The Auction on Nook

The Auction on

Next time, I'll share another great romance read that mirrors Jane Eyre, a historical romance, I discovered some years ago, before I was a published author. I still remember that story, and that's what makes a story good, remembering the characters long after the book ends.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Day Blog Hop: The gifts of Love

We're celebrating love on this special weekend, with prizes and gifts to our lovely readers! Visit the Addictive reads main site to enter to win the main prize of  $50 gift card of dinner for two, or a $25 gift card (2 offers) for the digital reading platform of your choice, or a a 10 book digital prize pack valued at $35 by our romance authors.  Addictive Reads Main Event Page    And follow the other author's blog posts in this event to win more individual prizes offered on our blogs! Link to other blogs is at the bottom of this page. Happy Valentine's Day.

My gift to one lucky Romancing History Blog Visitor:  $25 gift card to Olive Garden from me (US residents only). To enter to win please leave a comment here about your worst Valentine Day Date. It can be one or two sentences if you like. Also leave your email address in the comments so I can contact the winner.  It's my gift  to help you make more romance memories.

True Story, True Love, Valentine's date becomes a disaster

My first Valentine's Day Dinner with my husband, (then just a boyfriend), ended up being a threesome. No, we didn't have sex with a third party. It was a little misunderstanding about who Dan was actually with that night.  It was a Church Youth Group Valentine's Day Dinner, and everyone was dressed in fancy gowns and suits. It was a formal dinner with music and fun. A prom date, sort of, for the Youth Group at our church.

my husband and I pre-marriage, 1980

Dan and I were dating for about six weeks by then. We had bought the tickets as a couple. I had a lovely long dress, a gunnie sack gown and Dan was decked out in a smart pinstripe suit of grey.  I was looking forward to this special date, our first Valentine's Day as a couple that would launch into a 35 year (to date) love affair.  The table for the dinner was a long one, being in a church hall. We took our seats, and were enjoying ourselves immensely, for about five minutes.

Darlene, a sweet older woman who was developmentally challenged, came to sit on the other side of Dan. She was alone at the party and she had a huge crush on him. She kept poking him on the shoulder when he was talking to me throughout the night, or if he were trying to hold my hand. I remember being a little frustrated at the time. Dan, being a true knight and a gentleman, was kind to her and we both just smiled through it. The situation became somewhat of a strain after an hour or so, as Darlene seemed to be under the impression that she was Dan's date for the evening. So, we endured that first Valentine's Day date as a couple, and now we look back on it and laugh, some 35 years later. To make up for the disaster Valentine's dinner that night, Dan took me out to very restaurant Villa Roma a few evenings later. True story, true love.

So, as part of this blog hop, we are all sharing things that make a great Valentine's gift. These would be my choices;

1. Trip to France to kiss at the Eiffel tower

2. An evening in an Irish Castle, with a roaring fire in the hearth, a candlelight dinner for two, with me in a silk evening gown ...... yeah, I know, I'm wishing pretty hard. A girl can dream.

3. A day and a night in the Caribbean, at an exclusive resort on the ocean.

4. A night at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center (PAC) to hear a classical concert or see a play. 
    >>> Notice I'm getting closer to home as we descend, and closer to reality. Fox Cities PAC is actually about an hour and 30 minutes from me, and Dan and I have been there a few times. 

5.  Dinner at an exclusive gourmet restaurant in Green Bay, like the Black & Tan on Walnut street.  Yep, been there too, many times for special events and it's really quite possible we will go there       again for V-Day. It's only a half hour or so from our home. The food is served as an art form so it is very elegant--and pricey!

Combine 4 and 5, you have a realistic heaven. 

So, yeah, I'd love a diamond necklace or a new Mercedes, too. Maybe a day at the spa ... 
Dreaming is good, as long as it doesn't give you a dissatisfaction with your reality. 

Don't forget to visit these lovely romance writer's blogs as part of our hop, as many are offering gifts of love as well. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Jane Eyre:Part 3, a Heroine We Admire

"What do I want? A new place, in a new house, amongst new faces under new circumstances . . . How do people do to get to a new place? They apply to friends, I suppose. I have no friends. There are many others who have no friends, who must look about for themselves and be their own helpers." Jane Eyre, Chapter Ten

When I first discovered Jane Eyre, I felt sad, very sad, for the main character of the book, Jane.
Her story is quite depressing when you read the first few chapters. She's an orphan in the care of her aunt. The aunt is a widow, and is wealthy. Auntie had three children of her own, so Jane is more burden than delight.

In this household, it seems little Jane is despised by all. The mistress, the servants, and the children she is raised with. It's a desolate beginning. But if you endure the first chapters, with Jane being sent to the awful school where she is badly treated, finds one friend--who dies--if you endure ten chapters of that, you get to her ah-ha moment when Jane decides as a young adult to take charge of her own life. This is when the story really gets started!

Note, it was the fashion of writers in the mid-nineteenth century to give incredible details of a character's life, including childhood events that shaped them. In our modern era, novels tend to cut to the chase--or get to the point of change and give flashbacks into the character's childhood to relay events that shaped them for the story needs. But Charlotte Bronte was a 19th century author, so her story includes a lot of back matter in the beginning.)

Jane decides to put an advertisement in the newspaper to secure a teaching position as a governess. She could have stayed at the desolate school where she spent half her childhood, (She's now a teacher there), but her soul hungered for something more. Her situation was severe, as she states above she has no friends to rely on for aid in finding a new job, and no family. 

She takes a scary step for a woman in her position, and is rewarded for her efforts!  A letter arrives offering her a position at Thornfield Hall to be a governess for a girl of less than 10 years old. Joy! A new adventure, a new life away from the dreary school and the bitter memories that must haunt Jane there.

She sets off on this new adventure, unaware that she's about to meet fate, literally in the middle of the road on a dark night. Mr. Rochester, who nearly runs her over with his horse, is her destiny. She took action, something that was difficult for a single woman in 19th century England to do, and set in motion events that would change her destiny. Because of her courage to do this, to not remain a frightened little mouse her aunt and the school tried to make her be, she will have a better life then the one designed for her by others. That takes an incredible amount of courage, in any age.

Jane has a fascination for her employer. He's dark, distant, but has moments where he reveals a hidden charm. He's got his own dark problems (see previous post), but he seems to see something in her that attracts him. Though he is harsh at times, and seems to live to vex her, she never lets him truly bully her. Jane is admirable as a heroine, or protagonist if you prefer the word, because she rises above the bullying of her youth, and has developed a strong sense of self that cannot be destroyed.

Think about it, she had no friends, and no family who cared as she grew up. She learned to become self reliant, to stand alone and to stand strong. She's a survivor, not a victim. A Survivor! That is what sets her apart and makes her the heroine for 19th century female readers. She doesn't settle for the life that was laid out for her, she tries to make her own choices and resists the manipulations of those who would make her into something she is not.
Ah, ha--that's it! She Resists the Manipulations of others---

After the wrecked wedding scene, where Jane learns her beloved already has a crazy wife in the attic and cannot legally marry her, she runs off into the wilderness. She's taken in by a family; a brother and two sisters who are very religious. They care for her, and show her kindness. The brother, Sinjun (St. John), decides she'd make a perfect missionary wife, and sets out to convince her that her destiny is to marry him and go to India with him. If she didn't have the backbone she does, she might have been bamboozled into this. After all, she has no real prospects for a future.

Sure, Sinjun managed to get her a teaching position in his area as a favor, so she could be self sufficient (note she's still trying to earn her own way and not rely on others!), but he's still just trying to play her and convince her that what HE wants is what she wants, too. He even uses guilt, citing it's God's will for her to join him in India---Oh Boy! I don't know about you, but I'm thinking this dude is going to make one dreary husband for our heroine. His offer is noble, but ...... no..... just NO!

Thankfully, Jane has the inner strength, despite her lonely situation and lack of supporters, to stand up for her own wishes, and not be brow beaten (however kindly and gently Sinjun does this), to fit into someone elses idea of what her role or calling in life is. Brilliant, isn't it. Women everywhere are cheering for Jane. She could have just given in to Sinjun, and endured a loveless marriage bound by duty--even duty to God that was placed on her shoulders (missionary work), by someone else.  Jane came close to giving in, it was hard not to with Sinjun's persuasive abilities. But then her dreams started. She kept hearing Mr. Rochester crying out for her in her dreams.

This makes her realize she needs to find him, Mr. Rochester! Even if he's still married, she at least needs to find out if he's well, as her dreams are frightening her.  Plucky girl. Really, she could have just married the other guy, went to India, and let Mr. R. be a beautiful yet tragic dream in her past life. Many women would have done just that. No, Jane sets off to find him, and she is rewarded for her courage and stamina--she does find her true love, her destiny is with Mr. Rochester. How very modern for a woman living in the 19th century!

Compare this story to Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, where Cathy loves Heathcliff but married the other guy because he was wealthy and Heathcliff was not. Cathy and Heathcliff are soul mates, but she cast her life away with him to marry for money. That didn't turn out very well, for anyone. That's the girl doing the 'right' thing, marrying a man who is wealthy, honorable and will take care of her forever, instead of marrying the man she loves.  Interesting that these two sisters, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, wrote about choices the heroine makes regarding love, with different outcomes.

I'm rooting for Jane. She's a 19th century heroine with an inner strength and determination.  

By the way, if you noticed a few of the graphics on these posts, you'll note that there many, many film versions of this classic love story. All you have to do is pick an actor, and dive in with the popcorn. Even George C. Scott has gotten into the role of Mr. Rochester, along with other great men such as Orson Wells, Timothy Dalton, Ciaran Hinds and William Hurt. There are others, but these are the most prominent ones I found. Our most modern Mr. R to date is Michael Fassbender, who, by the way, does it up good as the brooding Mr. Rochester! 

So, in conclusion, Jane Eyre is a mixed, complex story of a woman surviving in a cold world, a woman taking charge of her own destiny instead of letting others do it for her. She finds love, true love, and that love is thwarted temporarily. She finds meaning in her work as a governess. She's an artist, by the way, and makes lovely drawings.  She endures, and doesn't just marry the next guy who asks her after her heart is broken by Mr. R's secret. 

She rises above pettiness. She doesn't become cold and mean, as you might expect with such a dire upbringing. She's a heroine for our century, a heroine who stands out in time because she doesn't conform to the conventions and expectations of her own time (marrying someone and allowing him to take care of her and provide for her). She maintains her independence, even when it might be better for her financially and socially to just marry Sinjun and move on her life.  I like Jane.  I love Jane Eyre, and I believe that Jane and Mr Rochester belong in the Timeless Lover's Hall of fame, right next to Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy!  

Next time, I'll share a couple of romance novels by modern authors who have used the Jane Eyre story-line to perfection.  Happy Reading everyone. And since it's the weekend, why not curl up on the sofa with your favorite Mr. Rochester character and watch this classic story.