Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Lucky 13 by Cat Gardiner + GIVEAWAY

Book cover - Lucky 13 by Cat Gardiner
Lucky 13 is a contemporary romance by debut author Cat Gardiner influenced by Pride & Prejudice. 26 year old Liz Bennet, despite having a successful career in advertising, has always considered herself unlucky. Her mother has always told her so at any rate. She was born on Friday 13th, a girl instead of a boy and has been told her whole life how she never measures up to expectations. Sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner with her parents, 4 sisters and their respective significant others and her aunt and uncle Liz has a realisation:
“There I was sitting down for our annual, calorie-laden, typically traditional, turkey dinner when all of a sudden, it hit me – once again, I was the unlucky number 13. It was the story of my birth and now my life. I was the odd person out. The only single at the table.”
Liz doesn’t envy her sisters their boyfriends – supermodel Jane is due to marry sweet millionaire Charlie Bingley on New Year’s Eve, Mary has settled for the unfortunate Billy Collins, Kitty has just become engaged to penniless Ashton and Lydia’s boyfriend is the lecherous George Wickham, who gropes her sisters under the table when given half a chance. However, she is sick of being singled out by her mother for being the only single Bennet daughter:
“I decided I would no longer sit idly by waiting for a good man to find me. I would have to go out and find him myself.”
Liz isn’t looking for Mr Right, just somebody she can bring as her date to the next Bennet family gathering, Christmas dinner and perhaps to Jane’s wedding. She sets about finding a date, trying personal ads (with unexpectedly amusing results!), speed dating, considers a blind date and even pays for the service of a Jewish matchmaker, despite not being of the Jewish faith herself.

Liz’s search is hampered by a few things. Firstly she doesn’t really believe that a decent man exists, judging from her unlucky dating history, and she’s had a real number pulled on her in the past, being manipulated and having her heart broken by her best friend Charlotte’s brother, John Lucas. She is scared to let anybody close to her.
“Unfortunately, now she’s become this self-fulfilling prophecy – dating and continually faultfinding, pessimistic about every man, and looking for a reason not to find love. She hides it well, but she’s immobilized by the fear of rejection and hurt.”
So if she meets somebody she’s very attracted to she’s likely to find excuses to fight it...

Enter Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy, President of Pem Tech, founder of the charitable FD Burns Foundation, part time fire-fighter and generally gorgeous hunky man. Darcy’s parents died a few years ago, not long before Christmas, in a house fire while he was out being a party boy and since then he’s been carrying a huge burden of guilt around with him that he wasn’t there. He assuages the guilt through his fire-fighting work but the period in the run-up to Christmas is very hard for him and he works too hard, drinks too much, and is generally a real grump.

Liz’s ad company has been hired to spearhead the FD Burns fundraising campaign by the Chairman of the foundation, Darcy’s cousin Richard Fitzwilliam. He wants Liz’s company to create a fundraising calendar featuring semi-clad firemen and he is determined that his cousin the Grinch will feature as Mr December. Between a grouch and a girl with a chip on her shoulder, what could possibly go wrong?! Luckily for Liz and Will there are plenty of potential matchmakers in each of their corners helping them direct the spark between them towards something more constructive than fighting, if only they will let it happen.

I really enjoyed this romance. The chemistry between Liz and Darcy was fantastic, and I loved the humour, there are a few laugh out loud moments, including a very amusing rendition of Caroline Bingley, as a pooch matchmaker with a very unfortunately misnamed designer dog. This isn’t a modern re-telling of Pride & Prejudice, but there were some nods back to the original, such as some of the wording:
“It’s important to emphasize that a single woman, living alone in Manhattan, who is somewhat in want of a man, need to protect herself.”
Though the central theme of the story is the same as Pride & Prejudice, first impressions can’t always be relied on, there were other themes that I liked, such as overcoming the labels that have been applied to you. Mrs Bennet had spent years putting Lizzy down and this lack of self-worth she felt was exploited by a manipulative ex-boyfriend, ‘John the Jerk’ who was there for Lizzy just enough to make her rely on him while simultaneously using her and holding her back. I’m sure we all know people who have settled for a partner who doesn’t treat them as they deserve because they don’t believe anybody else would want them. Seeing her overcome her hurdles and realise that her attitude and prejudices were causing some of her own bad luck was wonderful. Darcy grows too, from a man who is scared to commit to a relationship because of his fear of loss to somebody who is willing to take a chance on love.

Mrs Bennet in this story is a character you can simultaneously love and hate, which is an impressive achievement! On the one hand, the way she treats her daughter is deeply unkind, but on the other hand she has some wonderful, funny lines that I couldn’t help but giggle at. She is convinced, incorrectly, that Charlotte is a lesbian and is trying to make Lizzy gay! I also loved the characters of Charlotte and Rick, a.k.a. Punky and Preppy, who were wonderful friends to Liz and Darcy.

The story is told mostly in the third person, but Liz has set up a blog 'All I want for Christmas...' to document her progress in finding a date for Christmas which has extra information from her perspective, with guest posts from Charlotte. There are links at the end of most of the chapters to the blog posts. The blog adds not only differing perspectives on events but also progresses the story and I would strongly recommend reading the blog posts along with the story. I would have preferred the blog post text and comments within the book because they are such an integral part of the story that it would be a shame to miss them if you’re reading outside a wifi zone. My kindle also couldn’t cope with accessing the website but it’s worth the extra effort to access them on another device as you’re reading. The blog also has posts that give an insight into what happens to Liz and Darcy after the book finishes. I’d recommend this book in the run up to Christmas, it has a lovely slice of Christmas feel-good to it!

For those who seek/avoid such things there are no sex scenes in this book, though there are some flashbacks!
4 star read

*I received an e-ARC of this book from the author for my honest review

You can see the book trailer for Lucky 13 here, and there's a chance to win an ebook copy of the book below!

Author Bio
Cat Gardiner loves to take you around the world in her novels, places you may never have been with music you’ve never heard.  A member of Romance Writers of America and her local chapter Tampa Area Romance Authors, she enjoys writing across the spectrum of Pride and Prejudice inspired romance novels.  From her debut novel - the comedic, chick-lit “Lucky 13” set to release on October 31st to bad boy, biker Darcy in the upcoming “Denial of Conscience,” contemporary genres will appeal to many of her readers.  Her greatest love, however, is penning 20th Century historical fiction – taking our dear couple to World War II in novels that will be forthcoming: “The Very Thought of You” and “My Dearest Darling.”  Where else can we find the greatest examples of both Pride and Prejudice?
“I love to take the reader on a multi-tiered adventure using the sights and sounds not only within the novel but with the use of Spotify playlist, information blogs, and image Pinterest.  Books should be an escape to a time, place, or world where you can become immersed.”
She found Pride and Prejudice by accident through Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South and after reading and re-reading almost everything out there in the JAFF world, decided to try her own hand and imagination.  Now, she can stop.
Married 21 years to her best friend, they are the proud parents of the smartest honor student in the world – their orange tabby, Ollie.  They live in Tampa Florida, but will always be native New Yorkers no matter how far away they are.

Giveaway time!


Lucky 13 is due out on 31 October and Cat has very kindly offered to give away TWO e-book copies in kindle, nook, ibook or pdf! To enter, just leave a comment below, including a way for me to contact you (twitter handle or email address – if you’re leaving an email address please write it with an (at) instead of an @ to prevent unwanted spam). The last day to enter is 29 October.

Please note that the giveaway has now closed and winners have been chosen!

40 comments:

  1. Lovely review - this looks very good! I added it to my Goodreads yesterday and Ms Gardiner seems like a really interesting lady. I'm assuming this story was up on the boards at some point and I just missed it?

    A firefighting/businessman/philanthropist Darcy sounds yummy and Lizzy's dating adventures sound amusing. Thanks for the chance to win! :)

    Monicaperry00 at gmail dot com

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    1. Hi Monica! I read it first on A Happy Assembly, but it was also posted on DarcyandLizzy.com. Cat also wrote WWII romance 'The Very Thought of You' and 'Denial of Conscience' which features a spy-type Darcy, I am not sure if you've caught either of those, but I enjoyed them both. Thanks for commenting :)

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  2. This sounds like a fun story that I wouldnlove to read. If I don't win a copy I will definitely purchase 1. skamper25 (at) gmail (dot) com

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    1. I thought it was a really fun read Deborah Ann. There were real themes, like overcoming baggage, but it was mixed in with snarky humour, I really enjoyed the balance. I hope you enjoy it if you read it!

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  4. I am dying to read this book!
    I love Cat's stories and I am sue this one will be great!
    Lovely review!
    After I finish TVToY, Lucky 13 is the next on my list!
    Thank you for the chance of winning a free ebook!am dying to read this book!
    I love Cat's stories and I am sue this one will be great!
    Lovely review!
    After I finish TVToY, Lucky 13 is the next on my list!
    Thank you for the chance of winning a free ebook!

    danielaquadros at gmail dot com

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    1. I hope you enjoy it Daniela. I really enjoyed 'The Very Thought of You' though I may have shed a tear or two reading that! No tears with Lucky 13. Thanks for your comment!

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  5. Great review!! I love it and I am very curious to Know more about Liz and Will.
    Thanks For the giveaway.
    My email: chiarapiccirilla(at)hotmail(dot)it

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    1. Thank you Chiara! Good luck in the giveaway :)

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  6. This sounds really good! I'd marked it as "maybe" on GR but I'll definitely be reading after reading this review :) It sounds funny and I need a funny book at the moment. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity :) brendapwood at gmail dot com

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    1. I know the feeling Brenda, I've had a stressful time of it lately, and it was nice to read something that lifted my spirits. I was all ready for Christmas by the time I finished this, and full of the joys of the season, 2 months too early!

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  7. I loved reading the story on darcyandlizzy.com. Can't wait for the book. My email is integr67 at aol dot com.

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    1. I am sure you will enjoy reading it just as much as you did on the forums. Good luck in the giveaway :)

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  8. This sounds fun and great. I hope I do get the chance to read it.

    evangelineace2020(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. I really enjoyed it, hope you get to read it :)

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  9. Can't wait to read! !! Sonya.holt (at) gmail (dot ) com

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    1. Thanks for commenting, good luck in the giveaway!

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  10. At risk of folk groaning, sounds like a really "hot" read, fun and light-hearted, too. Cat is a new author to me, so yet more for my Wish Lists!

    angmardee(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. There are a whole host of fireman puns in the book Anji! Thanks for your comment, and good luck :)

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  11. Loved reading this as it was being written last year and would love to be able to read it again.... does it include the corresponding blogs as well? They REALLY help make the story.... Darcy is soo hot as firefighter. .. love what you do to Caroline...

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    1. Wasn't Caroline funny?! I generally prefer a ridiculous Caroline to a horrible one, Jane Austen was mostly poking fun at her I think, and I like to see that light-hearted treatment of her.

      The ebook doesn't include the blog posts, though there are links to the blog. I agree with you, they add so much to the story that it's definitely worth trying to read them along with the ebook. And read the comments the blog readers published too. There are also some blog posts after the period of time the book covers so we can see a little of Liz's future too.

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  12. I loved this book when I read it on my forum DarcyandLIzzy.Com! I would love to win a copy.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Brenda, and good luck in the giveaway :)

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  13. Great review although I was sold from Fire-fighter!! You could have just written Darcy is a fire man and it would have been enough for me to want to read it :) If you read on kindle are the links to the blog imbedded within the text? i.e can I just click on it and it will take me there?
    Thanks for the giveaway ;)

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    1. Hehe! Yes, I was on board with the Darcy/firefighter concept immediately too, particularly when you realise that he looks like David Gandy! I think you'd enjoy this story :)

      In answer to your question, yes, at the end of most of the chapters there is a link to a blog post in the kindle version which you can just press and it will take you to the relevant blog post. My kindle had trouble accessing the site, so what I did was to open the blog on my iPad and went to the oldest post and then whenever there was a link I'd just open the next blog post on the iPad. It's definitely worth reading the blog posts and the comments along with the story.

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  14. Sounds like a cute and modern retelling! stinelutts(at)msn(dot)com

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    1. I really enjoyed it, hope you do too if you read it, Stacie :)

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  16. This sounds like a fun read. I'd love to win a copy. Thanks for doing the giveaway.

    pemberley96(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. It was a really fun read. Thanks for commenting KrisAnn!

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  17. Thank you, Ceri for your generous review and thank you friends for commenting! I'm so excited to read your comments and hope that you enjoy Lucky 13 as much as I did writing it. My most ardent wish is that it adds joy to your holiday season. Good Luck to you all in the giveaway and thank you again!

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    1. Thank you Cat, for coming to visit my blog and for the great giveaway. I'd like to second your thanks to everybody who has visited and left such great comments :)

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  18. Great review, Ceri! Thanks so much for sharing this. Earlier this year, I stumbled upon Cat Cardiner's blog and read some posts about the story and even saw the trailer. It looks like such a good book, and your review seems to confirm that. One of my favorite stories to read is a Christmas one, not unlike one would see on a Hallmark Christmas movie special. This sounds like such a delightful Christmas read! And I don't thing there are enough P&P holiday stories out there!
    Thanks so much for the giveaway, Ceri and Cat!
    jakki36 AT yahoo DOT com

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    1. Thanks Jakki! I was so full of the joys of Christmas when I finished reading this that I made the kids watch 'Elf' with me... in October :) I love Christmas stories too.

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  19. What a great premise for our dear couple. Wow! Only three days until it's available. Yippee!

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    1. Thanks for your comment Joy! Yes, not long now until Lucky 13 is available to buy :)

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  20. This sounds fun. Another book for my tbr-pile :D. But with the holiday season coming up a perfect addition.
    @kaewink

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    1. Hi Katrin, this would be a great read in the run up to Christmas! Good luck in the giveaway :)

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  21. I like modern adaptations so this sounds right up my alley. I'm also intrigued by the blog attached to the book; if my kindle can't access it, is it easy to find it online?

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    1. Hi RS, for me, the page wouldn't load completely but the address was visible at the top so I looked it up. I've linked it here on this post too, it's the last link before the star rating, above.

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