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Apr. 13th, 2014

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Trust and Providence - Chapter 8








Trust and Providence Cover

Title: Trust and Providence
Fandom: Downton Abbey
Rating: M
Pairing: Matthew Crawley, Mary Crawley
Genre: Romance, Hurt/Comfort, Drama
Length: 47,900+ words
Chapters: 8/40?
Status: In progress
Warnings: graphic depictions of sex, frank depictions of religion, strong language
Summary: What if Mary had accepted Matthew’s first proposal? Where might events have taken them if she’d trusted him with her secret from the start? An AU from episode 1x06.

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Mar. 31st, 2014

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Trust and Providence - Chapter 7








Trust and Providence Cover

Title: Trust and Providence
Fandom: Downton Abbey
Rating: M
Pairing: Matthew Crawley, Mary Crawley
Genre: Romance, Hurt/Comfort, Drama
Length: 41,800+ words
Chapters: 7/40?
Status: In progress
Warnings: graphic depictions of sex, frank depictions of religion, strong language
Summary: What if Mary had accepted Matthew’s first proposal? Where might events have taken them if she’d trusted him with her secret from the start? An AU from episode 1x06.

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Mar. 19th, 2014

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Book Recommendation: A Heart For Milton

After I fell in love with the 2004 BBC miniseries North & South and read Elizabeth Gaskell's excellent novel, I went looking through the world of fan-written sequels. There are some excellent works out there (for example, Lucy Stone's Pack Clouds Away is fantastic, continuing in Gaskell's writing style so seamlessly that it feels as if Gaskell herself is writing the prose. It's accessible only to C19 members, though, so you'll have to register there if you want to read it.)

Perhaps the most prominent of the sequels is Trudy Brasure's A Heart For Milton, which is based entirely on Gaskell's novel and does not reference the miniseries' content at all. Here's the blurb:

When Margaret Hale hastily rejected the wealthy industrialist's fervent marriage proposal, she could not have foreseen the events that would lead her to change her mind and open her heart. But was it too late now to let the handsome, brooding mill owner know? Based on the novel North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, this book weaves a change near the end of the original plot to create a romantic continuation of an enduring love story. A Heart for Milton brings to life all of Gaskell's rich characters: Nicholas Higgins, Hannah Thornton, Henry Lennox, Mr. Bell, and others. But at its core, this tale unfolds the joy, hope, passion, and fulfillment of the love forged between John Thornton and Margaret Hale as the reader follows their journey through the uncertainties of their engagement to the trials encountered in their first year of marriage ...and beyond.

This was a really fun and satisfying read!

Why I couldn't give it a 5/5: There were some stylistic choices that didn't always work for me (e.g., the phrases "soulful eyes" and "piercing blue eyes" were a bit overused, and there was a certain love of sumptuous adjectives, which gives the prose an air of being a bit over-the-top at times) and some minor errata. But none of these issues were so great as to seriously diminish my enjoyment of this lovely novel.

Now, on to the stuff I loved: the structure, which consisted of UST, plot, UST, sex, bit of plot, sex, sex, brief character development, sex, plot, sex, character, sex, plot, sex, sex, sex, plot, character, sex, plot, plot, character, and then whoosh into one of the most satisfying and moving epilogues that I have ever read, which beautifully ended right where the whole story began. Masterful! I absolutely loved the magnifying glass on our beloved characters' most intimate thoughts and actions, followed by zooming out to get a glimpse of the vast landscape of place and time and people within which their private drama existed.

I also have to say that I was thoroughly delighted to read a sequel that honors Gaskell's original characters so completely, particularly their faith and thoughtful references to God. That aspect seems left out of so many other stories, but it's an enriching essential in both John's and Margaret's characters. I loved how the author wove references to Scripture seamlessly alongside descriptions of joyful sex.

Mar. 16th, 2014

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Trust and Providence - Chapter 6








Trust and Providence Cover

Title: Trust and Providence
Fandom: Downton Abbey
Rating: M
Pairing: Matthew Crawley, Mary Crawley
Genre: Romance, Hurt/Comfort, Drama
Length: 31,500+ words
Chapters: 6/40?
Status: In progress
Warnings: graphic depictions of sex, frank depictions of religion, strong language
Summary: What if Mary had accepted Matthew’s first proposal? Where might events have taken them if she’d trusted him with her secret from the start? An AU from episode 1x06.

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Mar. 5th, 2014

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Book Recommendation: Baby Comes First

I just read Beverly Farr's Baby Comes First and was thoroughly engaged and very impressed. It's a rare, consistently-intelligent romance with a healthy power dynamic between the two leads.

Here's the blurb:

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage -- but Hannah’s doing it in the wrong order.

Hannah has a secret. She’s given up her dream of a traditional family and gone to a sperm bank. She’s thrilled to be pregnant, but she doesn’t want her handsome new boss Luke asking too many questions.

Luke is a high-powered trial attorney. He doesn’t have time for love, but he finds his new secretary Hannah increasingly attractive. And he senses that there’s something she’s not telling him.

Baby Comes First is a quirky, sweet romance.


My favorite aspect of this novel is how both of the lead characters are intelligent and remain consistent with their perspectives throughout the story. Aside from a rather foolish/selfish decision by Hannah--a necessary device that gets the plot moving, and is later acknowledged as not the wisest decision--everything that both Hannah and Luke do is so refreshingly well-motivated. They make logical, clear-headed decisions, their motivations are well-explained by their backstories, and the conflict is entirely generated by the differences in their points of view. The chemistry takes a while to heat up, but even that transition feels entirely believable. In short, this romance never feels contrived, the climax is not the usual proposal trope--in fact, the wedding is merely a step along the way to building a strong *marriage*, a much more meaningful proposition--and the resolution of the sexual tension doesn't actually solve any problems: it just reveals the deeper issues of the heart that need to be addressed. A rich bit of insight there!

The writing style is fresh and engaging, avoiding overwrought descriptions of either emotions or physical attraction while still conveying the strength of both. There are some clever moments of light humor amidst plenty of entirely reasonable / believable drama. Farr maintains the tension throughout with some very skillful doling out of the information from both characters' points of view. Farr makes it clear that she's done her background research (e.g., on the legal profession and childbearing) without ever once distracting from the story by putting too much of it on display. It bolsters the believability of the tale.

There's a wonderfully healthy balance of power in the relationship. Luke's attempts to protect and provide for Hannah are often done in a steamrolling kind of way, because he believes that he's doing the right thing and in the optimal way (which, technically, he sort of is, but it's all truth with no grace). But she calls this behavior for what it is: he's controlling. This is not celebrated as a healthy dynamic, unlike some other popular romances I could name. :) The fact that she recognizes the unhealthy pattern and chooses to stand up to him (without throwing temper tantrums) is just mature and fantastic of her.

The male lead also has a refreshingly well-balanced view of women. For example, I liked how Luke, when he's trying to convince Hannah to marry him, tells her that he thinks she's capable of being far more than a mere secretary and part of his argument for the marriage is that she'd be able to go back to school because he could support her financially. So awesome! He both wants her to be a stay-at-home mother and also to take the opportunity to build into herself professionally. Yay! What a concept! You can do both! (Just maybe not all at the same time. :)

It was nice to see an intelligent, older female character who didn't fall into any of the stereotypes that I expected of a romance novel heroine. She might not be sexually experienced, but she still knows herself and is confident in her abilities and stands up to even the man she's fallen in love with, despite being physically at a disadvantage. It's a nice distinction to make in a culture that seems to equate sexual experience with maturity / adulthood.

I would highly recommend this sweet romance, an easy read in an evening or two, and well worth your time!

Mar. 3rd, 2014

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Trust and Providence - Chapter 5








Trust and Providence Cover

Title: Trust and Providence
Fandom: Downton Abbey
Rating: M
Pairing: Matthew Crawley, Mary Crawley
Genre: Romance, Hurt/Comfort, Drama
Length: 28,300+ words
Chapters: 5/40?
Status: In progress
Warnings: graphic depictions of sex, frank depictions of religion, strong language
Summary: What if Mary had accepted Matthew’s first proposal? Where might events have taken them if she’d trusted him with her secret from the start? An AU from episode 1x06.

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Feb. 23rd, 2014

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Trust and Providence - Chapter 4








Trust and Providence Cover

Title: Trust and Providence
Fandom: Downton Abbey
Rating: M
Pairing: Matthew Crawley, Mary Crawley
Genre: Romance, Hurt/Comfort, Drama
Length: 18,900+ words
Chapters: 4/40?
Status: In progress
Warnings: graphic depictions of sex, frank depictions of religion, strong language
Summary: What if Mary had accepted Matthew’s first proposal? Where might events have taken them if she’d trusted him with her secret from the start? An AU from episode 1x06.

Start at the beginning

Read the latest chapter

Feb. 17th, 2014

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Trust and Providence - Chapter 3








Trust and Providence Cover

Title: Trust and Providence
Fandom: Downton Abbey
Rating: M
Pairing: Matthew Crawley, Mary Crawley
Genre: Romance, Hurt/Comfort, Drama
Length: 15,600+
Chapters: 3/40?
Status: In progress
Warnings: graphic depictions of sex, frank depictions of religion, strong language
Summary: What if Mary had accepted Matthew’s first proposal? Where might events have taken them if she’d trusted him with her secret from the start? An AU from episode 1x06.

Start at the beginning

Read the latest chapter

Feb. 10th, 2014

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Trust and Providence - Chapter 2








Trust and Providence Cover

Title: Trust and Providence
Fandom: Downton Abbey
Rating: M
Pairing: Matthew Crawley, Mary Crawley
Genre: Romance, Hurt/Comfort, Drama
Length: 11,000+
Chapters: 2/40?
Status: In progress

Warnings: graphic depictions of sex, frank depictions of religion

Summary: What if Mary had accepted Matthew’s first proposal? Where might events have taken them if she’d trusted him with her secret from the start? An AU from episode 1x06.

Start at the beginning

Read the latest chapter

Feb. 4th, 2014

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Trust and Providence - New Downton Abbey Fanfic

I've just posted the first chapter of a new novel-length alternate-universe Downton Abbey fanfic, for everyone who loves Matthew/Mary but can't stand the soap-operatic waste of time that series 2 turned into for them. :)

Trust and Providence Cover

Title: Trust and Providence
Fandom: Downton Abbey
Rating: M
Pairing: Matthew Crawley, Mary Crawley
Characters: All of the canon characters are fair game, but the focus is on Matthew / Mary.
Genre: Romance, Hurt/Comfort, Drama
Length: 8,445 (Chapter 1)
Chapters: 1/40?
Status: In progress
Warnings: graphic depictions of sex, frank depictions of religion

Summary: What if Mary had accepted Matthew’s first proposal? Where might events have taken them if she’d trusted him with her secret from the start? An AU from episode 1x06.

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