Karen Doornebos interview and giveaway

Our guest today is debut author Karen Doornebos whose book, Definitely Not Mr. Darcy, takes on a subject we talk about quite often here–seeing what modern characters would get up to in a Regency setting. Her publishers have kindly agreed to give away three copies of the book (isn’t that a great cover?)

Doornebos gives the historical romance novel a hilarious update in this delightful debut… The amusing secondary characters, sidesplitting faux pas, and fiery romance will make Doornebos an instant hit with readers. Starred Review from Publisher’s Weekly

Doornebos brings readers a fresh take on Jane Austen’s world. Mixing reality television with Regency-style romance, this tale combines a fun plot with witty dialogue, charming characters and a strong-willed heroine. It will leave you laughing in delight and reluctant to put it down until the last page is read. 4 1/2 out of 5 Stars from RT Book Reviews

Janet, how honored I am to step into your parlor here to talk to you about my debut novel, Definitely Not Mr. Darcy. How nice of you to pour me a cup of tea! Thank you for having me…

Most gracious of you to accept and wherever I am, tea is too! How did you come up with the idea?

Funny you should ask this! I was at a writer’s conference sharing the first draft of my book when another writer said, “Regency reality show? That’s been done! It’s called ‘Regency House Party’.”

After I freaked, I thought, well, I better check this thing out. And I did, and of course it was completely different from my book! Still, I did credit the “House” series in my Acknowledgment Page, as I credited “The Bachelor” TV show.

I loved the “House” series and I did use “Regency House Party” for some of my research.
I enjoyed the program, it informed some of my research, but it didn’t inspire the book.

Here’s what did inspire the book: After college graduation I lived and worked in London for six months as an employee communications writer, and I always knew I would write something about my beloved England.

But it wasn’t until my husband and I went to a Victorian (not Regency) health spa in California in the late 1990s (yes, that was in the previous century!) that the idea hit me—literally. The spa had these old, outdoor stone baths with water from the hot springs, and it sounded so romantic, so relaxing—but when we put our swim suits on to head to the baths, a waft of rotten egg smell hit us. My husband informed me the smell was sulphur from the springs.

Now, I’ve always been a Jane Austen fan, but on that vacation the idea hit me: what if a Jane Austen fan gets to “visit” the Regency era—but it stinks!! That was where the idea began.

You’ve managed to have three heroes! Congratulations. Tell us about them.

First we meet George Maxton, the show producer, and he’s hot. All three of the men are hot in their own way. George’s appeal is not only his cropped auburn hair, his snug-fitting jeans and the way he wears his sunglasses, but the fact that he is so NOW. He’s all plugged into his iPhone and his iPad, he talks really fast, and he’s just completely modern.

Soon enough we meet two other heroes, and I can’t divulge their names! But, one has blond hair that falls into his brown eyes. He wears glasses and he’s very attentive and witty. The other is dark-haired, dark-eyed, and buff. He always seems to know exactly what to say to make our heroine happy… Both of these gentlemen look very fetching in their breeches, boots, and cravats.

One of the memorable aspects of the Regency House Party TV show was how bored most of the women are (although I think that was one of the worst inaccuracies of the series). How did you handle this?

Nobody in this reality show is ever bored! There are tasks and challenges galore and I dreamed up every Regency fantasy I would want to enjoy myself, and that included:
• Archery
• A mock fox hunt
• A tea party
• Making her own ink
• Learning fanology
• And a ball, of course!
Chloe Parker, my main character, procrastinates her needlework much to her detriment and her piano playing isn’t up to snuff.

Tell us about your research.

I used so many sources for my research—I couldn’t even begin to count them, however, here are some of the coolest:

• Jane Austen’s letters (Deirdre Le Faye will be having a new edition coming out in November!)
• A Jane Austen Encyclopedia
• Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine
• Tons of websites, including: The Jane Austen Centre in Bath

If you were in a Regency reality show, what would you miss the most?

Plumbing! I’ve lived my entire life without men in breeches, boots, and cravats (unfortunately) but I couldn’t survive without plumbing!

What would you enjoy the most?

Come on, I would enjoy the gentlemen! But, if I had to choose something else, it would be: the tranquility that must come from being unplugged.

Which is your favorite Austen?

Book: Pride and Prejudice, my first love, but Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Sense and Sensisbility and Emma rank very close in that order.
Adaptation: 1995 A&E Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth. Need I say more? You know where I stand! I also happen to ADORE the 1995 BBC version of Persuasion. 1995 was a very good year for me and I relive it via DVD as much as possible.

I love that version of Persuasion too! What’s up next for you?

Great question! I’m promoting my first book right now, have a second one in the works, and I’m putting together proposals for a third…Jane Austen Action figure is on my desk, at the ready!

So ladies … share your favorite Regency fantasy/favorite Regency hero with Karen, and you could win a copy of Definitely Not Mr. Darcy!

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11 years ago

I don’t watch much TV and have never watched a reality show. Now I just might order an episode or two of Regency House Party. I love the regency period and this novel sounds wonderful. I want to learn about fanology. Thanks for the giveaway.

Karen Doornebos
11 years ago

Linda, you may be able to find Regency House Party at your library… and fanology is–fantastic!

Thanks for your comment.

Janet Mullany
11 years ago

You can also find Regency House Party on Youtube if you don’t mind it being broken into 9 minute segments! But don’t take it as being historically accurate–it’s not. The visuals however are quite lovely, although I was vastly entertained at how often the camera lingered on the men’s crotches.

Karen, what is the building on your cover? (such a very clever cover, too!) It looks so familiar.

karen Doornebos
11 years ago

Janet, Penguin Group’s designers did my cover, and I love it! I did ask my editor what building it was about six months ago, and I should’ve written it down! I will have to ask again…it wasn’t a site I was familiar with.

But now that I think about it, I’d like to go see it! My husband is Dutch, from Holland, and we visit Holland every year to see his family. I keep threatening to jump the Channel and visit England again… next summer I might just do that!

11 years ago

I’ve not seen the Regency House Party… but I enjoyed the Edwardian Country House… there was plumbing then… more me than Regency..

11 years ago

i’ve never heard of RegencyHouseParty!! guess i’ll have homework to do later!!!!

i’m excited for Definitely Not Mr Darcy!!!!

thank you for the giveaway!!!


11 years ago

I have never heard of the Regency House Party but will have to check it out.

Congrats on your first release!

karen Doornebos
11 years ago

@Girlygirl, Cyn, and Virginia, thanks for your comments! Hope you enjoy the book!

I remember watching Victorian House and it was painful to watch, at times, how that family suffered! It was years ago that I watched it, but the kids on the show really wanted to get back to their modern life. Reality TV at its best!

Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

The book sounds delightful! Regency House Party can be fun to watch. As Janet said the scenery is lovely even if some of the anachronisms are a bit glaring.

Regency heroes? Definitely Mr. Darcy! But I am also inordinately fond of Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre. And Lord Damerel from from Heyer’s Venetia is another favorite.

I really wouldn’t mind falling down a rabbit hole to find myself lady of the manor in Regency England so long as my husband was handsome, sexy and intelligent, not to mention rich! There are days I truly wish I could escape the modern world in spite of its advantages!

Jane George
11 years ago

Do horses and carriages figure prominently in Definitely Not Mr. Darcy? Hope so, with a mock fox hunt and all. Unless they’re on foot, which would be hysterical.

Best of luck with this book and your next!

Farida Mestek
11 years ago

My Regency fantasy would be definitely going back in time. I’d love to stay in a huge manor in the country with extensive grounds and a lake so that we could have all manner of entertainment: from reading by the fire, singing at the pianoforte and having grand and small balls inside to taking walks around the place, having picnics and parties on the lake. And archery! I’d love to try that very much.


karen Doornebos
11 years ago

Louisa and Farida, it’s funny you both mention archery, because I researched archery extensively, and then had an opportunity to try modern archery with my 11-year-old at a Girl Scout camp!! I LOVED it.

Now I’d like to find a place that I can try fencing, and someone did tell me about a nearby spot that teaches adult fencing…

Yes, Jane, horses do make many an appearance in my book, often in key scenes… you’ll have to read it! I had so much fun with the horses and carriages…

Thank you all so much for commenting!

Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

Actually I learned archery at a camp in Somerset when we were stationed in England when I was a girl. It was a wonderful experience if not for that unfortunate incident in which the nice British instructor was slightly injured. It has been forty years so I can only hope he has forgiven me or at least grown old enough to forget why his hair as that odd part down the middle.

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

Welcome to the Riskies, Karen!
What a great idea for a book!!! Did you, by any chance, have the opportunity to do a Regency version of Say Yes To The Dress???

karen Doornebos
11 years ago

@Louisa, I’m sure he’s forgiven you! Your childhood archery lessons sound absolutely idyllic!

Diane, believe it or not, we don’t have cable TV, so I’ve never seen that show… it sounds frothy and fun, though!

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe

Oh, this book sounds absolutely terrific. I’ve not see RHP either, but have watched the Supersizers eat their way through various centuries and dress the part. Food critic Giles Coren is quite a dishy Regency buck–actually he’s pretty cute no matter what decade or century he’s in. 🙂

11 years ago

Men in breeches and tall boots…sounds good to me.

Kecia Adams
11 years ago

Hi Karen & Janet,
Loved the Idea of Karen’s book ever since I heard about it at RWA NYC. Reading it on my Kindle now! 🙂 As for Regency fantasies of mine…I’ve always wanted to visit Almacks during a ton event, and I would like to be at the Duchess of Richmond’s ball in Brussels the night before Waterloo. Wellington seems like such a man’s man… Back to reading!

Jo's Daughter
11 years ago

Oh I saw that show and it was such fun 🙂

I love John Thornton, Captain Wentworth, Heathcliff (except the violence coming from the passioned love he’s capable of) & Mr Darcy is just always nr 1 as he was the first romance hero I fell for.

Your book sounds great btw!! Would love to read it.

11 years ago

Regency House Party? I googled and found out that it is a historical reality programme made by UK’s Channel 4. But why I have not heard of it before? Maybe because I stay in a faraway country called Malaysia.

Ok, back to the question. My regency hero would be Captain Wentworth. He is so romantic that he can sweep me off plus he can write a deeply heartfelt love letter. Need I say more?


Cathy P
Cathy P
11 years ago

Hi, Karen, and welcome! Really enjoyed your blog. Congrats on your new release.

I also don’t watch much TV and haven’t ever watched a reality show. Have never heard of Regency House Party before, so need to check it out. I also love the Regency period and am looking forward to reading Definitely Not Mr. Darcy.

My Regency heroes are Mr. Darcy and Captain Wentworth. Sure there are more, but just can’t think of them right now.

I would love to go back to the Regency period as a member of the ton, of course. Can I take my DH with me?

11 years ago

I saw Regency House Party awhile back and thought it was different.

When I saw this book I immediately put it on my wish list. It looks like alot of fun to read!

Thanks for the giveaway.


11 years ago

This sounds fab! look forward to seeing acopy. What a great premise for a novel.