about the author
Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her most recent historical romance, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge, showcases her Appalachian heritage and family history, as well as her love for humor and family.
She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus. Her upcoming release, A Match for Emma, is the third book in her popular Mitchell’s Crossroads series.
Pepper loves getting to know readers and other authors through social media. You may also learn more about her on her website!
Better than Darcy… Mr. Knightley: a Realistic Hero
Austen Heroes with Pepper Basham
Mr. Knightley is my favorite Austen hero. Hands down. FAVORITE. He beats Darcy EVERY TIME!
(okay, maybe not when there’s a certain pond scene, but we’re never privy to Mr. Knightley’s swimming habits, so he could have had his own pond scene too…just sayin’) ?
Now that I’ve alienated half of the costume-drama-loving population, I’ll give you a few reasons why George Knightley is my favorite ?
If we think beyond wet, open-collared, white Regency shirts, pond swimming, and morning walks across a field – and actually think about everyday life with one of the Austen men, there’s no comparison.
Though Darcy and Lizzie’s relationship is wonderfully sparkly with excellent arguments and super-hot romantic tension, the more long-lasting and healthy relationship is the one between Knightley and Emma. Darcy and Lizzie barely know each other and end up falling in love through reputation and a few conversations. Knightley and Emma have had a lifetime friendship that is based on mutually direct conversations and respect. That sounds like a great start to me.
Emma and Knightley’s relationship is more realistic because Knightley is authentic and genuine and approachable. We don’t just ‘hear’ from the servants how awesome Knightley is, we SEE him in action throughout the story – and even though Darcy shows off his ‘knight in shining armor’ qualities by the end of the book (when push comes to shove), Knightley is showing off his hero-heart all along through his kindness to others, humble service, wit, and his attempt to help Emma reach her potential.
AND…Knightley doesn’t just ‘grow’ Emma, she impacts him in positive ways too – helping him become the lord of the manor, he was meant to be. He has a social on his estate, takes his carriage to pick up others, and then…DANCES (which seemed to surprise everyone). *sidenote: Knightley dances to ‘rescue’ Harriet. Darcy doesn’t dance (at first) because there is no one to ‘tempt’ him, even though men were scarce.
Brooding is all well and good for a few scenes, but it takes a looong time for Mr. Darcy to thaw into a less-broody character (and I ADORE Colin Firth, just sayin’). I get that we love the reformed bad-guy or the broody “my love can change you” sort of hero. But, from the beginning of Emma, Mr. Knightley shows off his good nature and excellent humor, playfully sparring with Emma without ridiculing others. That says a lot about him. Humor is an important ingredient in life and Knightley has a healthy dose of it ?
From the get-go, Darcy has a tough time communicating. He’s closed-off, rude, and sometimes abrasive. Even when he makes his first proposal to Lizzie, he botches it, focuses on his own feelings, and insults her to the max. It takes him writing down his thoughts to finally express himself. Nothing wrong with that, but relationships are built on communication…just sayin’. We don’t get to see a relationship between Darcy and Lizzie long enough to know if he gets more comfortable in conversation.
Whereas, Knightley is direct with Emma from the beginning. They have heated arguments too, but most of Knightley’s directness is honesty tempered with grace instead of awkwardness. The romantic tension isn’t as high (which is probably one of the reasons why lots of people prefer Darcy and the whole ‘reformed bad boy vibe he sends), but Knightley and Emma’s communication is fluid, open, and honest.
Kind to All
Darcy makes it clear that he tried not to fall in love with Lizzie because of her station in society and her crazy family. He ‘struggled’ against caring for her. And rightly so, Lizzie is offended. He feels he is ‘above her station’ and financially he is. For that time period, those are valid objections for your typically wealthy bachelor, but let’s consider Knightley…who is also a wealthy bachelor. He shows interest, compassion, and has friendships with lots of different people in society and he treats them all with kindness.
And, of course, his kindness extends to Emma in the most beautiful of ways. He LOVES Emma as a friend first, having her best interest at heart from the beginning – not just when he wants to marry her. He sees who Emma is at her core and her vast potential for goodness, and he wants to help her become that person. Wow!
There’s something incredibly appealing and endearing about two people who grow into love with each other from a solid consistent friendship.
Which is why I LOVED using Jane Austen’s classic for inspiration in A Match for Emma. I know most people prefer Lizzie Bennet as a heroine over self-absorbed Emma – and I don’t blame them. Lizzie Bennet is a fantastic heroine, but I took on the challenge of a lesser-loved heroine in Emma to get to the ‘heart’ of Austen’s classic. Sprinkling a little Appalachia, a dollop of faith, and a whole lot of the Mitchell family love, I revisited Emma and Knightley in my own way…and found that I fell in love with Knightley all over again in my hero, Jon Noble.
Who is your favorite Austen hero? I’m a fan of Henry Tilney too ?
B: I think some readers are going to be reconsidering or at least adding to their list of book boyfriends after this enthusiastic discussion of Austen heroes with Pepper Basham! Thank you so much for sharing, my friend!
about the book
A Match for Emma by Pepper Basham
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: November 21, 2019
Emma Mitchell may enjoy sprinkling romance into the lives of others, but her own plans involve a single first-class ticket to culinary school in Europe.
When her best friend, Jon Noble, suddenly moves back to Ransom, Emma’s fairly certain her life can’t get any better…until her matchmaking schemes nosedive, her culinary future falls flat, and a life-long friendship begins to teeter on the brink of something unexpected.
With a little inspiration from Jane Austen’s classic and a touch of Blue Ridge charm, will Jon and Emma discover that what they need the most may be the last thing they’re trying to find?
(1) winner will receive a Paris cube decorative tote, paperback copy of Jane Austen’s Emma, paperback copy of A Match for Emma (or another one of the Mitchell’s Crossroads books, if preferred), a ‘love’ ornament, a mug that reads “You’re my cup of tea”, and Misty Mountain handcrafted soap (made locally) – the scent is Mountain Berries!
Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule shown below. Giveaway will begin at midnight November 19, 2019 and last through 11:59 PM EST on November 26, 2019. Open internationally except where prohibited by law or logistics. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize.
Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.
Let’s chat about Austen heroes with Pepper Basham in the comments!
I’m watching my mailbox today, my print copy is on its way!
Follow along at the link above to learn more about A Match for Emma and don’t miss my review!