Are you one of many who has been wishing for a good Persuasion variation? If you are, Kelly Miller has a story for you. Captive Hearts should appeal to all lovers of Jane Austen fan fiction. It is a good book and will delight readers. Just when you think all is falling into place, Kelly throws in a twist or two. She lulls you into a false sense of security, then delivers a punch!
Before we reveal the cover of Captive Hearts, let’s hear from Kelly about why she chose to write this novel. Then we will give you an idea of what the book is about with the back cover copy and an excerpt! Are you ready?
Why Write a Persuasion Variation?
The idea of creating a variation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion started out as a challenge to myself, to see if I could give that narrative a fresh twist. When I began writing the story that came to be called Captive Hearts, I did not have the same affection for Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth as I did for Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy—far from it. I had thought that Persuasion, written at the end of JA’s life—after she had experienced a number of disappointments—lacked the spark and magic of her earlier books.
However, I particularly enjoyed the 1995 Screen Two version of Persuasion made by BBC Films starring Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds. The movie is beautifully shot, filmed on location, with fine performances all around. Even the 2007 version, for all of its odd alterations, made for an entertaining viewing, with Sallie Hawkins as an amazingly accomplished Anne and Rupert Penry-Jones as a dashing Wentworth. And I look forward to the two movie versions of Persuasion expected to release in 2022. In truth, any Austen-inspired movie is cause for excitement!
Once I got into the flow of writing my story, and re-reading Persuasion at the same time, the characters came alive for me, with Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot taking on new dimensions. I took small liberties with Anne and Wentworth while attempting to stay close to JA’s conception of the pair, and I grew quite attached to them. My appreciation for JA’s talent grew, for her indomitable spirit shines within the pages of Persuasion, even though she had been suffering from a painful and debilitating illness when she wrote it.
After I had completed the manuscript, I looked back on the early chapters and realized they needed more divergence from Canon. I mentioned this to my husband one day, and he said, “Why not add Darcy and Elizabeth to the mix?” At first, I dismissed his suggestion, but the more I thought about it, the more possibilities I saw. Thus, in the first three chapters of Captive Hearts, Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy—as guests of the Musgrove family—play small but significant parts in those familiar, early scenes.
While the popularity of Persuasion pales to that of Pride & Prejudice, many consider it to be their favorite of JA’s books. With that in mind, I have strived to meet these readers’ expectations. I hope those who are not particularly enamored by Persuasion will give Captive Hearts a chance; maybe they will come away with an abiding fondness for Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth like I did.
If you give Captive Hearts a chance, you will be glad you did. The story of Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth is a lovely romance. It is fraught with uncertainties and problems as are most worthy romances, but it is a story of abiding love, and Kelly tells it well. What do you think about the addition of Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy in some early scenes? Even if their role is small, Kelly says it is significant. I’m eager to know more.
The back cover copy gives readers a hint of what is in store for them. Shall we read it?
Captive Hearts Back Cover Copy
Will Captain Wentworth realize too late that he has a second chance at love?
With a successful naval career and a fortune to his name, Frederick Wentworth receives a hero’s welcome from his sister’s neighbours.
One person, though, presents a source of vexation. Years earlier, Miss Anne Elliot had reneged on her promise to marry Wentworth, revealing a significant character flaw. Yet Anne’s unmarried state at the age of seven and twenty, her altered demeanour, and her resolute avoidance of Wentworth raise questions that gnaw at his composure.
In this Regency variation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, the captain follows the advice of a respected new friend and re-examines the agonizing circumstances of his bitter break from Anne, reaching a novel conclusion. But before he can act upon his new resolve, a dire twist of fate threatens Anne’s life.
Now that we have an idea of what the story is about, even if we do have more questions than answers, let us look at the cover. After the cover is revealed, Kelly shares the first excerpt of Captive Hearts.
What do you think? It is different, simple, but poignant. The look between Anne and Wentworth speaks volumes.
What about the back cover?
The drawing on the back depicts a scene from the book, but who are the people and what has happened? Do you think you know? I guess we will have to read it to find out!
I believe it is time for the highly anticipated excerpt! What do you think?
This excerpt, in Anne’s point of view, is a look back at 1806, the summer when Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth first met. After having made the captain’s acquaintance at a dinner party the week prior, Anne has encountered him on her morning walk.
A bright smile lit up Captain Wentworth’s face, making him even more irresistible. He extended his arm.
Anne wrapped her hand around it in a slow, reverential motion. This simple action, so innocuous with any other person before him, had an immediate effect. A masculine aroma blended with leather and pine, at once pleasant, earthy, and unique to him, tantalised her. The physical contact of his muscular forearm inspired improper thoughts—not that she would ever act upon them. Still, to be safe, she held her arm aloft and restricted herself to the barest pressure. But the captain thwarted her attempt at prudence by resting his hand atop hers and leaving it there.
A quiet sigh passed her lips. She spared a glance to the graceful black steed trailing behind him. “Your horse is beautiful.”
“I thank you. Pray, allow me to formally introduce you.” He guided her into a rotating step to face the animal. “Miss Anne, I should like you to meet my good friend Jasper. Jasper, this is Miss Anne Elliot.”
She stroked the supple surface of the horse’s nose. “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Jasper.” She sneaked a sidelong glance at the captain. “I wonder…does your master often introduce you to his lady friends? If so, it must be difficult for you to remember all of their names.”
“Jasper knows better than to reveal my secrets.”
Anne tensed. Did his joking response hint at a capricious nature? After all, she had no idea of his true character.
His smile faded, and his bearing straightened. “Please excuse my clumsy attempt at humour. I have never introduced a lady to Jasper before, nor have I ever wished to do so. I hope you believe me.”
She took a deep breath. “I want to, but our acquaintance is new. I do not know you well.” A fiery flash of his eyes stole her focus. She swallowed.
“I want you to know me well.”
She smiled and nodded. They resumed walking.
“My brother told me that you often walk or ride in the mornings.”
“Oh.” Had Captain Wentworth asked his brother about her?“I have had several interesting discussions with your brother on the interpretations of certain Bible passages. He is more…modern in his thinking than most clergymen of my acquaintance.”
“Yes, he is.” He redirected his gaze to the grove ahead of them. “I…um…I hope I shall not alarm you when I say that since Friday night I have thought of little else but seeing you again.”
Did he speak the truth? Her stomach fluttered at the notion, but despite her heart’s yearning to trust his words, she could not—not yet. “I am not alarmed—quite the contrary. I enjoyed speaking with you last week.”
Had she said too much? Ought she to say more? His probing gaze seemed to beg for her to continue. “I…I have thought of you as well.”
He exhaled a rush of air. “Do you mean it? You have thought of me since Friday?”
“I should not say so otherwise.” Her voice cracked.
“Neither should I. I have ridden along the perimeter of your property each morning since we met in the hopes of catching sight of you. Today was the first time I crossed into your land.”
Her cheeks burned. “I am pleased you found me.”
“Now that I have, please tell me…” The captain’s captivating grin returned. “What have you read this week?”
Her answer prompted a discussion of the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft. The captain declared his admiration for the author and his endorsement of many of her opinions, including the notion that ladies ought not be denied opportunities to learn the same subjects taught to gentlemen. The thoughtful way he articulated notions considered by many to be radical further inspired Anne’s admiration.
She delayed their parting for as long as possible. This precious time alone with the captain allowed for more frank discussion than they could hope to have at any public gathering. But when they neared the turn in the path that would take them within sight of the house, she halted their progress. “I must leave you now.” She fought the urge to frown and moved to take her arm from his, but the captain stopped her.
“Just a moment, please.” He slipped his hand under hers and threaded their fingers together. A burst of comforting warmth surrounded her hand. “I must see you again. Will you meet me tomorrow morning?”
The ardency of his expression aroused a strange sort of giddiness, and her legs wobbled. “Shall we meet at the same place we did this morning?”
“Yes, thank you. Is 7:30 too early?”
She shook her head, unable to get a full breath. “No, I shall be there then.”
The soft, lingering kiss he bestowed on the back of her hand inspired a disdain for her gloves.
“Good day, Miss Elliot.” His fingers slowly released hers.
Her hand, even with the slight tingling sensation that lingered, had never felt so…bereft. “Good day, Captain Wentworth.” Anne managed her unsteady legs into a curtsy. She turned to leave, each step away from him requiring a concentrated effort. She resisted the urge to turn back until she reached the bend in the path. There, she halted and gazed behind her.
The captain remained in place. He lifted his hand in a wave. She smiled and waved back.
With a sigh, she forced herself to continue on home.
Aww, the thrill of that first meeting! Thank you, Kelly, for giving us such a delightful first excerpt. Now we can eagerly await more. The blog tour begins January 24th and will have excerpts and posts that Kelly has prepared. The blog stops and dates will be posted on the Meryton Press Facebook page. We invite you to visit and see what Kelly has in store for us.
Meryton Press is giving away two eBooks of Captive Hearts and the giveaway is international. The giveaway for this eBook will end at midnight, central time, on January 21st. Leave a comment to be entered. Tell us if you like Persuasion and if you are excited to have a variation about it? What did you think of Kelly’s first excerpt? We look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Other Books by Kelly Miller
These books are available at Amazon in eBook, paperback, audiobook, and Kindle Unlimited.