Tuesday, 14 July 2020

MARIA GRACE: TWO NEW BOOKS IN THE JANE AUSTEN'S DRAGONS SAGA!



Thank so much for inviting me to visit, Maria Grazia! I’m excited to share my newest books with your readers!

Who hasn’t said Jane Austen books could really used a lot more dragons? Ok, maybe you need to be the mother of sons in order to heard that. So, I suppose you can blame my three sons for this adventure. We were having lunch at the local pizza buffet one day and started kicking around ideas and we hit on ‘what if dragons lived during the Regency…’ Well before I knew it, we’d hammered out an entire dragon culture and the story potentials went WILD. So much fun!

So, here’s the premise:

England is overrun by dragons of all shapes and sizes. Most people are blissfully unaware of them and the Pendragon Treaty that keeps the peace between human and dragon kind.  Only those born with preternatural hearing are able to hear and converse with dragonkind. In the first arc of the series, we met the cast of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, and followed them on their dragon adventure.

The Dragons of Kellynch and Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion  pick up the story of Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth, who like Elizabeth and Darcy, are of the rare breed of people who can hear dragons.

Here’s a peek at one of my favorite scenes from The Dragons of Kellynch.

Maria Grace

____________________

Late September 1809


Choppy waves slapped at the hull, dancing in the light of the full moon. Beneath his feet the Laconia bobbed and swayed as it always did, steady and reliable. Streaky grey clouds drifted past the stars, never obscuring, just dancing flirtatiously among them. Chill and briny, a light breeze nipped his ears and nose. Winter would be along soon, with its cold and storms. Definitely not his favorite season, and it probably would not be Laconia’s either. Being cold-blooded had its limitations.

The cat-like tatzelwurm might need a nest near the galley where he could keep warm. Cook would not mind. Not only did he like cats, as it were, but he was convinced that Laconia was the best mouser he had ever seen, and lucky to boot. Chances were good he would see hosting Laconia as a privilege, and if he did not, Laconia would persuade him he did.

Wentworth ran his tongue along the roof of his mouth. He still tasted Mrs. Harville’s perfume, even though hours had passed since he had last seen her. Did she really have to use so much of it? Gah! Flowers, which a man should definitely not be eating, and other things he could not name. Perhaps he should speak to her about it, but no, one probably did not have that sort of conversation with a woman to whom he was not related.

She, her sister, and her cousin had been so excited to board this morning, so ready for their journey to Plymouth to join Harville there. Unfortunately, it was utterly impossible to make shipboard conditions suitable to a party of ladies. Still, the Harville ladies put forth a great effort to disguise their disappointment upon discovering how few comforts would be available whilst they traveled. That certainly won them favor among the crew.

Mercifully, their discomfort would be of short duration.
The efforts were worth it, though. He would assist any brother officer that he could with whatever he could. Moreover, he would bring anything of Harville's from the world's end, if asked. But that did not mean he did not feel it an evil.

At least there were several sea dragon pods in these waters and tantalizing hints of other, larger dragons they had not yet met. That should not thrill him as much as it did.
“Mrrooow.” Laconia jumped up on the railing and approached, moonlight glinting off his shiny black fur and scales. How did one describe a gait that involved two nimble feet mincing across a rail and one muscular tail wrapped around it? Odd. That was the only word that came to mind. No, not just odd, but effective.
“You have left the ladies’ company?” Wentworth reached out to offer a scratch.
“They have retired for the night.”
“You do not sound as though you enjoy their doting and attention.”
“Pffft.” Laconia snorted and sneezed as he moved into Wentworth’s reach.
“You do not like their perfume, either?” He did smell rather like Mrs. Harville now.
Laconia tightened his tail on the rail and shook, starting at his nose and rippling down all the way down his furred front half. “I dread what it will take to rid myself of the stench. I can hardly smell anything else.”
Wentworth chuckled and scratched behind Laconia’s ears as the little tatzelwurm leaned into his chest. How easy Laconia made it to forget he had ever been lonely. Even so, it was difficult not to wonder—
“You are thinking again. It is never a good thing when you begin thinking.” Laconia pulled back a little and looked him in the eyes.
Wentworth dodged his gaze. “It is nothing worth bothering about. There are far more interesting things to discuss. Tell me of your conversation with that pod of little serpent-whales we saw this morning.”

Laconia looked over his shoulder out over the choppy seas and sniffed. “Most of them had all the sense of that fluffy yellow fairy dragon you allowed aboard with those smelly females.” He cleaned behind his ears with his thumbed paws—both at once. “but their lead female had some sagacity. She warned of a storm front coming in this direction and mentioned that there are other pods not far from here. I am hopeful they might have something a little more useful to say.”
“Can we avoid it—the storm I mean?” If the tatzelwurm had weathered a few more serious storms he would value the serpent-whales’ storm warnings far more.
“Already talked to the Ship Master about it.”
“Quite the resourceful sailor, are you not?” Was it odd that his ship’s cat was the most efficient officer onboard? “Does the Ship Master know from where your information comes?”
“Do I look stupid to you? It is already asking a great deal of him to trust one of my kind—I am quite tired of the bias against us, by the way. Spring-hopping does not addle our brains.—The Ship Master would never put stock in intelligence from dragons he does not know.”
“I suppose it is a lot to ask of even a dragon hearing man.”
Laconia slapped the tip of his muscular tail against the smooth railing. “I am glad you got rid of that deaf one. Persuading him to change course was tiresome.”
“You do not have much patience for the dragon-deaf, do you?” He scratched under Laconia’s chin.
“Nor for dumb dragons who seem to think they are fine ladies and the weather is the only fitting topic of conversation.”
Wentworth snickered. “You do realize that even if the only information we can get from the sea dragons is weather reports, it is worth our efforts. How much the navy would save not being blown about by storms.”
“Your standards for satisfaction are very low, I think. I know there are more intelligent dragons out there.” He pointed into the distance with this thumbed paw. “Ones who know more and understand the value of their information. And when we find them and bring them into union with us, the return will be great for both sides.”
“You have such big dreams my little Friend.”
“Do you not believe in them?”
“When I hear you talk about them, I do.”
Laconia wrapped his tail around Wentworth’s waist. Comfortable silence fell between them, broken only by the lapping waves and Laconia’s purr.
“You are thinking again.”
“It is nothing, let it be.”
“You have been thinking a great deal.” Laconia sniffed Wentworth’s wrist. “You have not been the same since Easterly mentioned Kellynch.”
Wentworth’s stomach clenched. “Easterly mentioned a great number of things during that conversation.”
“Yes, but you did not smell different until he mentioned Kellynch.”
Smell different? Preposterous. “I do not want to talk about it.”
Laconia rose up on his tail and ran the top of his head under Wentworth’s chin, purring a little louder. “Those females you have brought on board. You have fretted ever since they arrived.”
“I just want to see them properly cared for, just as I do with you.” Laconia’s fur tickled his nose.
“Do you like them?”
“They are Harville’s family. For that they are important to me.”
“But do you like them?” Laconia pressed his nose to Wentworth’s. So persistent!
 “Why do you ask?”
“The stinking one, she is your friend’s mate? You will need to take a mate, too, I expect.”
When had Laconia begun worrying about such things? He was still full young for it. “I suppose, it is possible, but it is not something that is on my mind right now. What are you worried about?”
“The other two females in the party, they do not hear. The little fairy dragon told me they are very stupid and rather useless. Why would a man who hears have deaf ones in his household?” So, his dislike of the dragon deaf ran deeper than it first appeared.
“Well, while one can choose his mate, the family that comes with that mate one cannot choose, rather like his own family.”
“Have you other family? Can they hear?” Laconia swished his tail. Would that he kept it wrapped around something stable!
“Never you fear, my sister Sophy and her husband both hear. You know that. As to my brother, the curate, whom we have not spoken of, his Friend is a small puck whom many perceive as a pug with a peculiar attitude.”
Laconia’s tail wrapped around the railing again, and he seemed to sigh. “So, yours is a proper family, then.”
“I am not sure anyone has ever called us that, but if you see us that way, I shall be grateful for the compliment. I look forward to your making their acquaintance.”
Silence once again as the Laconia dipped and rocked soothingly beneath their feet.
Laconia bumped the top of his head against Wentworth’s chest. “Would you take a mate that could not hear dragons?”
“I have no plans to take a mate any time soon.”
“But when the time comes, would you?” Laconia did not meet his gaze.
“You do realize that there are precious few who can hear dragons? I have selected as many as I can for my crew here, but in the wild, as it were, I think it is less than one in a hundred who enjoys the privilege of hearing dragons.”
“Even so, why would one with a Friend choose a mate who cannot share in that Friendship?”
“As I understand it is a commonly done thing, especially when there is no major dragon’s keep involved.”
“Well I do not approve.” Laconia ducked under Wentworth’s arm and slithered along the railing—his version of pacing. He grumbled under his breath and crept back to his original place. “I do not want to live with a dragon-dumb—”
“You mean deaf.”
“The dragon-deaf are usually dragon-dumb as well. I do not like stupid, as you well know.”
That was an understatement to say the least. Wentworth swallowed back a belly laugh.
“This is not a matter of humor. I am very serious. I do not want to live with anyone stupid. Your mate will have to hear dragons,” Laconia looked him in the eyes, voice low, almost a growl, “or I will not stay.”
Laconia would leave him?
Wentworth blinked several times, ice coursing through his veins, and swallowed back bile building at the back of his tongue. “I cannot have that happen.”
Laconia exhaled and leaned heavily into Wentworth’s shoulder, purring a low deep rumble that always meant relief.
“When that time comes, you may rest assured that I will seek your approval before I make any woman an offer of marriage.” He wrapped his arm across Laconia and laid his hand on his head.
Prickly toes kneaded Wentworth’s shoulder. “That is your promise?”
“Yes, you have my word.”
Laconia stood on tip toes and he licked Wentworth’s cheek with his raspy forked tongue, his entire body rumbling with the force of his purr. “Good.”
Wentworth scratched Laconia until he pressed tight to his chest. Few would believe a mere tatzelwurm capable of feelings so deep.
What woman could ever give him this kind of unquestioning loyalty? How many women were there in the world who would meet Laconia’s approval?
Anne Elliot.
No, he did not want to think of her again.
And yet, she was such a woman, even if her character was—or at least had been—so easily persuaded.
He had changed so much since those days. For worse in some ways, true enough. But definitely for better since befriending Laconia.
Was she altered, too?
What was she like now? Had she become less spineless, more steady? The makings of it were there, it just needed to be nurtured. She might be a very fine woman now, if there were someone to encourage her in it.
But Easterly had said Kellynch was troubled, the dragon sleeping. If Anne were aware of any of those troubles, she would be managing the matters and things would be handled properly. There was none so capable as Anne. Steady, sensible, sensitive Anne.
The woman who had broken his heart … no he would not go there.
 Since Kellynch was in a muddle, there was no doubt: she was not involved in the dragon keeping. And that could only mean one thing.
Probably just as well. What point was there in digging up the tenderness of the past? Even if he could set aside his resentment, just or unjust as it may be, it would hardly matter if she could not hear dragons.
He promised Laconia he would have a dragon-hearing mistress, and he would keep that promise. Or there would be no mistress of his home at all.
________________________

Is it a little off the beaten path for Austenesque fiction? Absolutely! But what better time to try out something entirely new and different than a year like 2020?

If you’d like to have a peek at more previews, check them out on my website,





Dragons of Kellynch  


In order to secure her future, a young lady must marry well.
One would think Anne Elliot, a baronet’s daughter, would find the marriage mart far easier to navigate than a more ordinary woman. One would be wrong.
After refusing a poor, but otherwise perfect sailor, on the advice of her friend Lady Russell, Anne finds an unhappy choice before her: marry deathly dull Charles Musgrove or hope against hope that another suitable proposal might come her way before she becomes a spinster on the shelf.
Anne’s disgracefully independent choice to refuse Charles’ offer turns her world entirely arsey-varsey and not in the expected  turned upside down sort of way. She begins to see things … hear things … things like dragons.
And once one sees dragons, one talks to them. And when one talks to them, nothing is ever the same again.
Must a young lady marry well if she hears dragons?



Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion


Keeping a hibernating dragon should have been a simple thing.

Should have been, but it was not. Apparently, nothing involving dragons was ever simple, at least not for Anne Elliot, junior Keeper to dragon Kellynch.

With the estate in debt, Anne’s father in denial, and the dragon’s treasure missing, Kellynch’s awakening was shaping up to be nothing short of catastrophe. Not to mention there was the pesky matter of her own broken heart and resentment against the old friend who had caused it.

Captain Frederick Wentworth had spent his life making something of himself in the Navy. With the  war that kept him employed at an end and a small fortune in prize money, he found himself beached and at loose ends. What was he to do with himself now—take a wife like Laconia, his dragon Friend, insisted? Not when none compared to the woman who had broken his heart.

Working as an agent of the Blue Order, managing dragon matters across England, seemed a much better alternative. At least until investigating one such matter sent him directly in the path of Anne Elliot, the woman who had ruined him for all others.

Now a royal dragon rages, a sleeping dragon lurks, and too many treasures have gone missing. Can Anne and Wentworth lay aside resentment, pride, and heartbreak to prevent Kellynch’s awakening from ending in bloodshed—or worse?

Jane Austen meets Pern in a fantastical regency romp bound to delight readers of Jane Austen and Anne McCaffrey alike.





About the author

Six-time BRAG Medallion Honoree, Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16-year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development and counseling. None of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences. She pretends to be a mild-mannered writer/cat-lady, but most of her vacations require helmets and waivers or historical costumes, usually not at the same time.

She writes gas lamp fantasy, historical romance and non-fiction to help justify her research addiction. Her books are available at all major online booksellers.  




She can be contacted at



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