Review: Nonsensibility by Valerie Estelle Frankel

Looking for something different to read in the Jane Austen variation list? Perhaps a comedy where the characters from all of Jane’s novels are mixed up and thrown together like Yahtzee dice?

Nonsensibility by Valerie Estelle Frankel is the answer to your call. This book is a comical, sarcastic mash-up with the most unlikely star—Fanny Anne Collins—the cousin of the Bennets. With this build up you’d expect things to be out of hand, and they are!

You have to feel bad for Miss Collins as she is thrust into the unaccommodating and silly household of the Bennets, herein called the Fussbudgets. With character names like Miss Haughtyton, Mr. Tightlywound, and Mr. Minor-Character, you’d expect silliness and there is that, but the core of the story is witty in a way that does not take itself too seriously. The best way to showcase this book’s genius is to pull out a few samples.

One of my favorite scenes is a spoof of Emma. Remember when Mr. Elton snubs Harriet at the dance? Only this time he’s snubbing Scary (aka Mary Bennett).

“Oh I had not observed [her there]… If I were not suddenly stricken by a terrible leg cramp, I surly would.”

In one of my favorite scenes from Pride and Prejudice—when Darcy happens upon Lizzy right after she’s discovered Lydia has run off with Wickham—this new version reads,

“What has been done to recover her?”
“My father has gone to London, where he can put up ‘Missing Daughter’ posters beside all those that advertise lost kittens and umbrellas.”

And in the famous love letter from Persuasion, this version says,

“I am half in agony, half in hope, and half gastric troubles brought on by an under-cooked Shepard’s pie.”

For die-hard JA fans, there is much to be enjoyed. There is a ball like in Pride and Prejudice, a play like Mansfield Park, and a novel discussion like Northanger Abbey.

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

Although sarcasm is thick, Regency fans looking for something different will find this text—peppered with sarcastic quips—quite enjoyable. To see our most beloved characters shown in this different light is a nice change of pace. I think you will appreciate some of the jokes that are meant only for the avid JA fan who will understand the context.


Classical Inspiration in Regency

Meant to Be Press

seed-by-the-yes-man The Seed of an idea. -Seed by The Yes Man CC license

Novelists of every genre are frequently asked where their ideas come from, but the answer can be different for every story. Usually, it’s a combination of sources coming together to produce that magical something new and interesting.

For Ruined Reputations, a two-story collection coming out next month, the inspiration for “Virtue’s Temptation” largely came from the original Regency inspiration, Jane Austen. In Pride & Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennett has many problems, particularly family members, and notably Lydia. Lydia elopes with Mr. Wickham and scandal and ruin looms for the whole family. Fortunately, Mr. Darcy and his fortune are there to soften the blow (and bribe, where necessary.)

What might have happened if someone, perhaps even a stranger, had stopped Lydia? Wasn’t there some good-Samaritan or sensible woman around to halt her youthful indiscretion before it became more? Wouldn’t…

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I Have No Memory of That

Meant to Be Press


Your first kiss. Your first crush. You’re first love…. your first broken heart.

Much of what shapes us is an emotion-laden memory.

Maybe that’s why memory is so important in romances. It’s fun to read the story of the couple coming back together after years apart, their special time together a tenuous bond for the people they are now. Or perhaps the couple who once meant something to one another, but were torn apart. Can they get over memories of their hurt?

Emmy Z. Madrigal plays with memory in Lord Harrington’s Lost Doe, in which the heroine is found bedraggled by the side of the road, with no memories. The story was written as part of a challenge, where the girl’s origins were gradually revealed to the character and author (for more on the challenge, see Emmy’s post).

Sometimes being without memory can let you forget and forgive past…

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First Kiss Friday with Emmy Z. Madrigal & a Giveaway!

Sherry Ewing

Today on First Kiss Friday I have as a guest Emmy Z. Madrigal and her characters from Lord Harrington’s Lost Doe. Emmy is offering an eCopy of her novel to one random comment so please be sure to show her some love.  Happy reading!


He and his staff doted on her day and night. Three days passed and with each day, she became thinner, weaker, and paler. There were moments of clarity every so often, when she’d be strong enough to chat, but she still did not know who she was or where she’d come from. The fog the laudanum withdrawals kept her under wouldn’t let go completely.

At night he would try to sleep in the adjoining room while Mary watched her, but he’d hear his doe tossing and turning and inevitably rise. He’d send Mary to bed and spend the night sleeping in the chair next…

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How I Accidentally Wrote a Regency Novella

Okay, laugh, but it’s true. My Regency Novella Lord Harrington’s Lost Doe, was a total accident. This story is also a testament to how some little spec of an idea can spin into a huge idea, so don’t discount any of them!

Here’s how it all went down…

My writing friend Heather and I were chatting one day about how we love Regency Romances and wouldn’t it be fun to write one of our own? Then we cooked up a brilliant little plan.

Wait. Back up. A little background on us first. I am primarily a Contemporary Romance gal. I write this sweet little New Adult series, Sweet Dreams, all about music people. If I’m not writing that, I’m writing Horror. Heather on the other hand is primarily a Science Fiction writer and has a YA zombie series called Plague Masters. We’ve tried to write stories together, but it never works. Whether it’s because we both have to be in charge, or the fact that she’s a plotter and I’m a pantser, I’m not sure. Give us a list of items and we will have totally polar opposite ideas on how to write them into a story. It just doesn’t work.

So back to the brilliant plan. We’d each create a character that the other “finds” in their story. There were multiple parts to this plan because, well, we’re nothing if not elaborate.

We decided the character we created for the each other would be found having no memory—the old amnesia trope. We also decided one of us would write a man and the other a woman so we wouldn’t both be planning the same character. Next, we gave each other a little time to create the character in full. Where they came from, who they were running from, etc… But we kept it from one another. Then…just to torture ourselves, we would reveal the character slowly to one another as we wrote.

First, I got a character sheet with just a description of the girl and how she was found. Enter, the little lost doe, blonde haired, ghostly white, wearing only a nightgown. After a few pages of finding her, I asked for the second clue. Second, I was given an item she carried with her. Some sort of clue of where she was from. Insert a pair of men’s spectacles. Third, Heather gave me a person that came looking for her. Enter, the evil step-mother. And finally, the last piece of the puzzle, a full character sheet with name, where she came from, why she was running, etc… Once we got all the clues and sewed it up, we’d have nice little short stories (3,000-5,000 words) we could package together in a mini eBook. Or so we thought. Best laid plans and all that.

So I begin writing my story about Lord Harrington sitting up in his Northern estate, brooding over something, his Lost Doe arrives, and my inspiration carries me away on a fast moving locomotive! 30,000 words later, my Lord has discovered the truth about his little Lost Doe, and a novella is born.

And THAT is how I accidentally wrote a Regency Novella.

It was loads of fun and I’d love to do it again, but first Heather and I have to decide on another theme. That could take years!

Ruined Reputations Sneak Peek

A great excerpt from my friend Lela Bay’s upcoming book!

Meant to Be Press


When you read a period romance, and a young, impressionable girl is led astray, don’t you just wish someone with sense had seen it happening and stepped in? That’s the premise behind my upcoming novel, Ruined Reputations.

Of course, saving someone from their own bad behavior is more demanding — and entertaining — than anyone with such good sense could ever expect.

Since the back cover blurb is still being finalized, I’m going to be sneaky and release one of my favorite passages, which also tells a lot about the story. I’ll set the scene.

The heroine, Eleanor, discovers impetuous young Bitsy DeMontrey at an inn eloping with her French tutor. Rather than allow the girl to destroy her future, proper Eleanor takes responsibility for her.

Headstrong, Bitsy is unwilling to confess where she’s from and resists all Eleanor’s efforts to help. Eleanor is relieved when Mr. Stinson appears in pursuit. They dance…

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Lord Harrington’s Lost Doe, only one more day! #ilovemrgrumpy

I’m excited to announce
Lord Harrington’s Lost Doe
is now only 99 cents on Kindle!
Get this special for only one week.
Feb 7th- Feb 14th

LHLDNewFrontLord Alexander Harrington’s life is rather tame until a shoeless, coatless waif is found wandering his estate with no memory of who she is. Despite his stoicism, Lord Harrington finds himself drawn to the lost girl who he compares to a scared doe. Caring for her illness despite speculation of her mental state, he develops feelings for her.

Is she an escaped lunatic, or simply a lost woman desperately in need of his help? A revelation about his own family’s history with the mental asylum down the road causes him to question his feelings. When a massive fire breaks out on estate grounds, will he lose her forever?