Good Afternoon everyone,
Today I’m very happy to receive at From Pemberley to Milton one of my favourite authors, Nicole Clarkston. She has always been a very special author to me because she writes both Pride and Prejudice and North and South fan fiction books, but after releasing These Dreams, a book with Portuguese characters and settings, she has definitely conquered a place in my heart that will always remain hers! I will never forget Amália and her story, and who knows…maybe one day the author will present me with a prequel 🙂 Until that day comes, I get the satisfaction of reading more and more stories penned by Nicole Clarkston with Elizabeth and Darcy assuming the primary roles, such as London Holiday. This book could not be more different from These Dreams, but it is equally good! It is entertaining, romantic and an easy read. I would invite you to read my review of it so you may know how much I loved it!!!
I would also invite you to read this vignette that Nicole Clarkston did not use in the book but decided to share with all of you 🙂
This scene was one that I was itching to write in London Holiday, but it would have disrupted the flow of the story. For that reason, I left it untouched, so the final chapters of the book remained all about Darcy and Elizabeth. However, I could not help but snicker when I wondered how Darcy’s conversation with Mr Bennet might have gone.
“Mr Darcy, I understand you wish to speak with me?”
Darcy inclined his head slightly and entered Mr Bennet’s library as the gentleman held the door. “I did, sir. Thank you for receiving me this morning.”
“It must be some unusual circumstance, to bring a gentleman I have never met to my door so early in the morning to request a private audience. Tell me, sir, do you bring some troubling news from London?”
“No, nothing of the kind. I have come on quite another matter altogether, and one of the highest import.”
“Indeed?” Bennet’s right eyebrow quirked, so very like his daughter that Darcy could not help but smile.
“Yes, sir, it concerns your daughter, Miss Elizabeth. It was my very great pleasure to make her acquaintance when she was recently in Town.”
Bennet lowered himself slowly into his chair, and a knowing smile began to grow on his lips. “I understand she had a rather interesting visit. Tell me, sir, do you come to report some scandal to me? Shall you be insisting that I restrain my daughters better?”
“On the contrary, Mr Bennet, I have nothing but admiration for Miss Elizabeth. That is the reason I have come to you this morning.”
“Ah,” the father touched his lips and nodded. “Then you must be desiring to know where we have her gowns made up. You have a sister or some other female relative, I suppose? Or perhaps you wish to know where she learned to dance so well, and would like an introduction to her master. I am afraid I have actively avoided intimate knowledge of those subjects. Perhaps you may apply to Mrs Bennet for the information you seek.”
Darcy was forced to close his mouth, which had dropped open in confusion, before he could speak his purpose. “I have come, sir, to request Miss Elizabeth’s hand in marriage.”
Mr Bennet’s chair creaked. His lips puckered, and he stared at Darcy a moment in pensive silence. “This is a very fine joke,” he declared at last. “I see how it is, you are punishing me for failing to introduce myself at Netherfield by coming here to shock me with your blatant declaration. Very well, consider me properly chastened. I understand Mr Bingley has also come with you, so let us have our introductions now. Shall we?”
Darcy blinked, narrowed his eyes, and hesitated a moment before speaking again. “Mr Bennet, I am perfectly in earnest. I wish to make Miss Elizabeth my wife, and I have brought settlement papers for your approval. I hope you will be pleased with my proposal.”
“My good man,” Bennet chuckled, shaking his head, “perhaps you do not know what you are about. My Lizzy is rather fetching, but she is a headstrong girl, and not likely to submit willingly when I tell her I have given her away to a man I have never set eyes upon before this morning, on the recommendation of little more than a settlement document.” Bennet waved his hand, chortling as if Darcy had just provided his amusement for the day, and made as if he would stand again.
“Be that as it may,” Darcy interrupted, “I am well enough acquainted with the lady. I love her sincerely, and shall ever do so. I confessed my feelings last evening, and she has already given her consent to marry. I understand you know nothing of me, but I can provide references of my character from sources no less than the Earl and countess of Matlock, as well as that of Mr Bingley, who is deservedly well regarded in this neighbourhood.”
Bennet shook his head gravely. “I am afraid that will not suit, for I am not acquainted with any of these myself. Perhaps you will satisfy my fatherly concerns by granting me a personal interview, during which I shall do my utmost to crack open your character.”
Darcy gestured agreeably. “As you wish, sir.”
“How did you meet my Lizzy? At a party, or at the book seller’s? Perhaps a stroll in Hyde Park?”
“It was none of these, I am afraid. I confess that the circumstances in which I first met Miss Elizabeth were less than auspicious.”
“Then by this, may I infer that some insults were exchanged? You see, I know my daughter well. You strike me as an agreeable enough fellow when matters are as you like, but perhaps not when you are displeased. My Lizzy is anything but complacent, so it must have been a memorable encounter. Now, let me have it. Which of you offended the other first?”
“I regret to confess that you are correct, sir. There were… misunderstandings, and I am afraid I must own them all.” Darcy permitted a whimsical smile, and his voice softened. “Miss Elizabeth has a rather lively disposition, as you say.”
“And yet I see you here in my library at half an hour past sunrise. Singular! Very well, that is one mark in your favour, for if a gentleman can weather my Lizzy’s barbed tongue long enough to learn to admire her other qualities, and so much so that he determines to seek me out immediately upon coming to the neighbourhood, he might survive marriage to her.”
Darcy nodded, but was not at ease yet. “I am glad you approve, Mr Bennet.”
“I did not say quite so much yet. How often did you meet with my daughter? She was only in town a little over a fortnight, and for you now to proclaim undying love her after such a short acquaintance, one must assume you saw her nearly every day.”
Darcy frowned. “Only one day, in fact.”
“One day! That must have been the most thrilling quarter hour of your life, sir. Or was it a whole hour?”
Darcy shifted in his seat, his polished shoes stirring the carpet and scuffing against the leg of his chair. “To be quite frank, it was the whole of the day.”
“Curious! I shall speak with my brother regarding his care of my daughter while she was at his house. If he permitted a strange gentleman practically off the street to stay all day in company with my unmarried daughters, I must wonder what has become of his good sense.”
“Mr Bennet, I beg you would not think poorly of Mr Gardiner. I believe he took prodigious care of his nieces while they were in his home. If there is to be any censure whatsoever, it must fall solely upon myself. I cannot reflect on all my actions without self-reproach, but I am infinitely glad that my moments of ill judgment or impropriety have caused no lasting harm. In fact, they have brought me the greatest blessing of my life.”
Mr Bennet drummed his fingers against one another as they crossed over his abdomen. “You have been rather coy with me, Mr Darcy. Very well, I shall play your game, but I must have a straight answer or two from you.”
“By all means, sir.”
Bennet rose from his chair and paced to his window, his hands locking behind his back. “What do you think of my library, sir?”
Darcy tilted his head. “I beg your pardon?”
Bennet turned, revealing a sly curve of his lip. “It is well stocked, is it not? After all, every man must have his lair. Is mine not the pillar of excellence?”
Darcy glanced around, shifted uncomfortably in his chair once more, and bit his lip. Elizabeth had warned him that her father could be rather peculiar, and he could not see his way clear to blind flattery. Whatever the man was about, Darcy could not force himself to compliments he did not feel. “It is certainly stocked, sir, but whether it is done well, I cannot say. I have not had the leisure to examine the titles on the shelves, save for a volume of Shakespeare there on the table which I believe was in Miss Elizabeth’s possession last week.”
“And what of the atmosphere, sir? Every man’s book room must be his haven, a retreat where he is safe from his wife’s meddling and the maids’ interference.”
Darcy pursed his lips and raised his brow. “In this case, perhaps you might have done well to permit some meddling from the maids. I prefer to know where my books are at all times, and to know that when I disturb their place on the shelves, I shall not also disturb a mountain of dust. As for retreating from my wife and locking her from the book room, I should vastly prefer that she consider it her dominion. Far better is it to share the sanctity of such a room with a wife who would treasure it as much as I.”
Bennet turned back to him, an undisguised chuckle crinkling his face. “Ah, there we have two points in your favour, sir. My Lizzy would share a book room with her husband whether he desired it or no, so it is just as well that you have already made your peace with the notion.”
“That sounds as if it is only one point, sir.”
“Indeed! The second is that you made no attempt to disguise your opinions from me. I know very well that my library is a shambles; a filthy nest I have made it, and I prefer it that way because my wife does not appreciate a good library, and in its present state she leaves me well enough alone. I also prefer men who do not attempt to flatter me with untruths, and I can see you are not a man suited for… disguise, Mr Darcy.”
Darcy leaned forward in his chair, relaxing somewhat but still cautious. “May I ask, sir, how many ‘points’ do you require in my favour before you will grant your blessing?”
Bennet laughed. “You are a clever fellow, sir, but I shall reserve that answer for the moment. I should like to learn a little more of you, for if you are, after all, to marry my daughter, we must have some conversation. You seem a fastidious man, Mr Darcy.”
“And upon what do you base this observation, sir?”
“Well, I caught a good look at that fine carriage in my drive, but your attire speaks for itself. You have a fine turnout, sir. Do you always dress so sharply, or do you occasionally fancy less formal vestment?”
Darcy arched a brow. “May I ask to what these questions tend?”
Bennet smiled. “Merely the illustration of your character, sir. I cannot quite make you out. You see, I had heard some differing accounts of Elizabeth’s stay in town, and I do not get on at all with the picture you present. I am afraid that may be a mark against you. Have you recently changed tailors, sir?”
“I expect you already know what you wish on that head,” Darcy confessed slowly.
“Mmm.” Bennet nodded, his eye twinkling. “And that fine carriage—have you had it long? You must have already noted the somewhat shabbier one standing in my shed as you passed. What do you think, Mr Darcy, could mine be fitted up so handsomely as yours?”
Darcy shifted his weight back again, pursing his lips. “Is there some particular complaint you would make about your own carriage, sir?”
“Oh, indeed. My stable boy fell off the back only last week. I can see by the look of yours that you have had some better provisions made for a footman. You must be monstrous particular, sir. One might suspect that you had some peculiar empathy for the men in your employ.”
“Mr Bennet,” Darcy rose, provoked at last beyond civility, “have you some accusation to make against me? It is plain to me that you are well acquainted with the circumstances of my introduction to Miss Elizabeth. Allow me to be perfectly clear, sir. I am not a man to be trifled with, as I see you are bent on doing. I will not be made a subject of your amusement, but if you demand some proof of my determination, if you doubt the depth of my attachment to Miss Elizabeth, I shall accept any challenge or offer any proof you demand, up to mounting the back of your dilapidated carriage and riding it all the way to London. I grow impatient with your jests, sir, and now I ask—” Darcy paused, halted in his defensive tirade by the tearful laughter of the older gentleman.
“Pray,” Mr Bennet was wiping his eyes, “desist, Mr Darcy! Enough, for you have my blessing. Any man who can suffer the humiliations I believe you have and still wish to marry my daughter must, indeed, be earnestly attached to her. She may even be able to respect you, for you are certainly a stubborn fellow. Heaven help you both once you must live under the same roof!”
Darcy at last drew an easy breath. “You will make no objections, sir?”
“Far from it.” Bennet turned and withdrew a small flask of Scotch from his cabinet, then tilted it in a silent offer of gentlemanly hospitality.
Darcy accepted both the glass and, a moment later, a mediocre cigar. “Thank you, sir.”
“Not at all,” Bennet waved. “But if you do not mind, perhaps you can satisfy my curiosity on two final points.”
“And they are?”
“Precisely how large is your library?”
Darcy smiled. “Which one? The one at my London house would make three of this one… with all due respect, sir.”
“And the one at your estate?”
Darcy set his glass down and bit his lips together. “Substantially larger.”
Bennet’s eyes fairly sparkled like a young girl’s. “Marvellous,” he breathed. He lifted his glass for another long, thoughtful draught.
“And the other point, sir? You said there were two.”
“Ah, yes. I have taken a fancy lately to visit Town, and most particularly a certain attraction which has become rather popular among my acquaintance. I wonder if it is worth the trouble and would live up to the reports I have heard. Tell me, have you ever been for a ride in a hot air balloon?”
Drugged and betrayed in his own household, Fitzwilliam Darcy makes his escape from a forged compromise that would see him unhappily wed. Dressed as a footman, he is welcomed into one of London’s unknown neighbourhoods by a young lady who is running out of time and running for her life.
Deciding to hide in plain sight, Miss Elizabeth Bennet dodges the expectation to marry the man of her mother’s dreams. When the insolent footman she “found” refuses to leave her side until they can uncover a solution to their respective dilemmas, the two new acquaintances treat themselves to a holiday, experiencing the best of what Regency England has to offer.
Based on Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, can two hard-headed characters with kind hearts discover the truth behind the disguise? Enjoy the banter, humour, and growing affection as Mr Darcy and Miss Elizabeth have the best day of their lives, and discover that they just might find love and romance while on a London Holiday. This book is appropriate for all ages.
You can find London Holiday at:
and on Kindle Unlimited
The blog tour is just beginning, please don’t miss all the other stops for more surprises:
June 7 So little time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
June 8 Diary of an Eccentric; Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
June 9 Just Jane 1813; Review, GA
June 10 My life journey; Review, GA
June 11 From Pemberley to Milton; Vignette, GA
June 12 My Jane Austen Book Club; Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
June 13 Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt, GA
June 15 Austenesque Reviews; Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
June 16 My Love for Jane Austen; Vignette, GA
June 18 Obsessed with Mr. Darcy; Review, GA
June 19 My Vices and Weaknesses; Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
June 20 A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life; Guest Post
Nicole Clarkston is offering her readers 8 ebook copies of London Holiday, readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.
A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook of London Holiday by Nicole Clarkston. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.
To enter the giveaway click here.
Good luck everyone!