Moonday’s Heroic Hunks in History: Celebration Day!

I’d like to officially announce the impending publication of His Obsession, a Georgian Regency historical novel, by Siren BookStrand in March, 2012. Thank you to all my Sizzling Sisters at Southern Sizzle Romance for giving me the hard push I needed to submit my completed manuscripts to publishers.

To celebrate the upcoming publication of His Obsession, Moonday’s Heroic Hunks in History salutes the gentlemen of Miss Jane Austen’s movie adaptations. Miss Austen’s books were made into movies in 1995-1996. Pride & Prejudice (1995) featured the gorgeous Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Emma (1996) starred Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightly and Ewan McGregor as Frank Churchill. Hugh Grant played Edward Ferrars and Alan Rickman was Colonel Christopher Brandon in Sense and Sensibility.

  BTW, my Writer’s Vineyard ( post today features an exclusive interview with Miss Jane Austen. Miss Austen will discuss the craft and business of writing romance. BTW, you can check out the blurb and excerpt for His Obsession at or click the Montclair Chronicles Tab on this Menu, then select His Obsession.

Next Week, a salute to some paranormal characters whose series begins their new season next Monday.  RitaBay

A Philosophical Debate for Wetsday

Some of you have the mistaken idea that I am frivolous, only interested in posting pictures of attractive, usually British, actors in wet swimsuits. Well, darlings, that’s not completely accurate. It is one of my favorite activities, but I am a much more complex person than that.

Why, just this week, a friend and I were having a philosophical discussion about the relative merits of several cinematographic versions of the works of Jane Austen. It was a rousing, spirited debate, with each of us holding fast to our standards yet being respectful of the others’ viewpoint.

See, I say Jonny Lee Miller has the best bod of all the movie Mr. Knightlys, while she insists on her preference for Jeremy Northam. I’m afraid that this comes down to a basic difference in our belief system, and we shall have to agree to respectfully disagree.

(But how anyone can watch JLM’s shouting-at-Emma scene and not fantasize about having an argument — and making up — with him is beyond me.)

But to be fair, I am willing to consider opposing viewpoints. So here, in honor of my friend Sophie, is your Wetsday guest, her ultimate Mr. Knightly, Jeremy Northam!





WIcked Wickhams- Badurday – July 30, 2011

I read a book this week called Mr. Darcy’s Voyage and while I was not best pleased with it, I did get some inspiration for the men who have played the delightfully wicked Wickham over the years in the movies. I’ve got a montage of them attached here and hope you enjoy them. I tried to stay within the historical movies based on the book, but there are quite a few movies set in modern times that have this Pride and Prejudice theme. I recommend the one from 2003 which is named Pride and Prejudice where the Lizzy character is a college student/writer and I also recommend the one called Lost in Austen– it’s a mini series. Both are great fun and wonderful adaptations of the basic story.

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In Defense of Miss Jane Austen

     Regretfully, I must put aside Henry VIII, my Heroic Hunk whose life and loves we’ve followed for the last few weeks, to defend Miss Jane Austen against recent accusations made by Oxford University English professor Kathryn Sutherland. Yesterday, in the middle of an emergency basement rehab, I descended exhausted from my high perch on the ladder to collapse for a few moments in my comfortable chair in front of the TV. Unfortunately, the news banner at the bottom of the screen continuously looped Professor Sutherland’s assertion that Jane Austen was a poor speller and erratic grammarian who got a big helping hand from her editor. 

The Maligned Miss Austen

     Upon further research I discovered in an AP article that Dr. Sutherland, who has had access to 1000+ pages of Miss Austen’s handwritten unpublished work stated that “In reading the manuscripts, it quickly becomes clear that this delicate precision is missing.” She said the papers show “blots, crossings out, messiness,” and a writer who “broke most of the rules for writing good English.” She continued “In particular, the high degree of polished punctuation and epigrammatic style we see in Emma and Persuasion is simply not there.”
     Sutherland stated that letters from Austen’s publisher reveal that her editor, William Gifford, was heavily involved in making sense of Austen’s sensibility, honing the style of her late novels “Emma” and “Persuasion.” She believes that the style in Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice which were not edited by Gifford are much closer to Austen’s manuscript hand. Sutherland then concludes that the revelations shouldn’t damage Austen’s reputation. Hah!!

     I also discovered that Austen’s handwritten manuscripts will go online today at, the result of a three-year project to digitize the author’s unpublished work. Do we have a case, then, of publicity to highlight the release of the documents or is Professor Sutherland taking advantage of the release of the Austen documents to gain her few moments of fame by defaming Miss Austem?  If that is the case, shame on you, Professor Sutherland, for using your special access to Miss Austen’s private papers to criticize Miss Austen for your own benefit.
     The beloved Miss Austen’s sharp wit pervades all of her novels, even the ones that are not up to Dr. Sutherland’s standard. Austen provides insights into the culture and world views of Regency England that would otherwise have been lost to us.  She created characters that shine, even the ones published before Gifford arrived on the scene. She crafted stories that serve as an introduction to literature for many young readers. Her books of two centuries ago grace the keeper shelves of many professional writers even today.
     While editors certainly are an integral part of the publication process, they do not create the books. Miss Austen did not have the advantage of the grammar or spell check that we take for granted so errors here and there are understandable.  On a more personal note, as an educator and romance writer wannabe, I am very particular about grammar and punctuation. My personal communications, however, are quite different. For example, the subject line of my last email was “Where you at?” I suppose that would place me on Dr. Sutherland’s ____ list. My question to her is: “How many people will remember you or Gifford in two hundred years?” Think about it.  Next week, back to Henry and Anne of Cleves. Rita VF

Wetsday and Coffee

I’ve been thinking a lot about handsome cads this week. As I told you in my last post, my new WIP is about a girl who thinks she’s found her Mr. Darcy, only to find out he’s a Daniel Cleaver. So our guest this week is not only one of the all-time great Austen bad boys, but also one who was dripping wet the first time we saw him in Sense and Sensibility.

Our dear Greg Wise, in real life, appears not to be a cad at all. He’s actually been happily married to one of our favorite actresses, dearest Emma Thompson, since they met on the set of Sense and Sensibility.

And, as if there were not enough reasons for me to want to live in England, while poking around the internet doing my wet men research, I found Greg on what has to be the greatest website ever made. Only an English coffee company would appeal to the female market by making ads of gorgeous men reading classic romance literature. Beats the heck out of “good to the last drop” as a gimmick in my book! Here’s the address where you will find Greg, our lovely Mr.Willoughby, reading from Dear Jane’s Persuasion. It would only be better if he was reading it to me in a hot tub!!!

An Interview with Jane Austen

     When a scheduled post doesn’t arrive in a timely manner, one must contemplate what is to be done. Cursing achieves little beyond a temporary solace and is considered uncouth by the better sort. Murder is a bit beyond the pale and , if apprehended, lands one in a noisome prison. When all else fails, a heart-felt prayer can suffice. As is often the case, enlightenment dawned. Jane Austen, the genetrix of all writers of romance, graciously consented to blog with the Sizzlers. Here’s Jane in her own words.

     Miss Austen, could you share with us your thoughts on writing romance? “I could no more write a Romance than an Epic Poem.–I could not sit seriously down to write a serious Romance under any other motive than to save my Life, & if it were indispensable for me to keep it up & never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first Chapter.” 1
     But you have had great success with your books. I hesitate to mention gauche matters such as money but I understand that your books are selling rather well. “You will be glad to hear that every Copy of S.&S. is sold & that it has brought me £140–besides the Copyright, if that should ever be of any value.–I have now therefore written myself into £250.–which only makes me long for more.” 2
     In my humble opinion, your literary endeavors merit the highest approbation. What has been your experience of the matter? ” . . . there seems almost a general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labor of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them.” 3
     I appreciate your support of your fellow authors and admire your insistence on upholding only the highest standards in literary endeavors.  I should not have been surprised, therefore, to discover that you have been very hard on your critique partner, your niece Anna.  Her “Henry Mellish I am afraid will be too much in the common Novel style–a handsome, amiable, unexceptionable Young Man (such as do not much about in real Life) desperately in Love, & all in vain. But I have no business to judge him so early.” And her “Devereux Forester’s being ruined by his Vanity is extremely good; but I wish she would not let him plunge into a ‘vortex of Dissipation’. I do not object to the Thing, but I cannot bear the expression;–it is such thorough novel slang–and so old, that I dare say Adam met with it in the first novel he opened.” 4
     I find your Elizabeth Bennet entrancing. Do you have a personal favorite? “I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, & how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know.”5
      Have you considered following the emerging trends in the romance market? “No–I must keep to my own style & go on in my own Way; And though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other.” 6    

Miss Austen, please accept my sincere appreciation for visiting with the Sizzlers on the occasion of the Southern Sizzle Romance Blog’s First Anniversary Celebration. I regret that you will be unable to respond to comments and I would never presume to channel you, so return to your blissful sleep content in the knowledge that you are the idol of many and exceeded by none. Tomorrow, Jessica Faust. Rita VF


1 Letter to James Stanier Clarke (April 1, 1816)
2 Letter to her brother Frank about the success of Sense and Sensibility (July 6, 1813)
3 Northanger Abbey, Chapter 5
4 Letters to her niece Anna Austen, critiquing her WIPs (1814)
5 Letter to Cassandra on Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet (January 29, 1813)
6 Letter to James Stanier Clarke (April 1, 1816)
Source of Quotations: Daily wit and inspiration from Austen, compiled by Lori Smith, author of A Walk with Jane Austen

Bad-urday, the Willoughby Edition

Got an E-reader for Christmas and the first books I loaded were Jane’s.  Been re-reading Sense and Sensibility.  Love that book.  Willoughby was a tragic character.  “Wait,” you say, “SFCatty, have you ever read this book? He was a cad, you crazy woman.  A cad.  An outright rogue.”

My response? Yes.  He was a cad.  But he was tragic.  He really did love Mary Ann.  His mistakes of the past made it impossible for him to have the life he wanted.  He lost his inheritance and thus had to find a bride with money.  The sad truth of that era was that a man of leisure had no skills and no way to earn a living.  He screwed up and he didn’t know how to fix it.  Could he have joined the military? Not likely without someone to buy him a commission.  How could he support himself, much less Mary Ann, if he had no job?  Gentlemen didn’t work.  How would he adapt?  He got what he deserved – a cold snob of a  woman he didn’t love.  But he had a roof over his head.   The saddest part of the book is him at the end, lamenting his loss.  So, have a little care for Willoughby,  Just a little.

and who doesn’t love Greg Wise?  Too handsome.  

and a wet Willoughby for Romancemama:

Who wouldn’t want this wet willie?   LOL!   I crack myself up. It is a sad thing to be so easily amused, yeah?

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