Monthly Archives: February 2019

Inspiration Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

I’m currently reading Inspiration by Maria Grace, and I’m really enjoying Darcy’s point of view in this story as he has a more creative personality which allows him to see people in a different light. The book is a really sweet novella and I think most of you will like it. I will let you know all about it in my review, which will come out in the beginning of next week, and until then I hope you like reading the excerpt that Maria Grace brought us today 🙂

I would like t thank Maria for visiting once more, it is always a huge pleasure to receive her as my guest 🙂

 

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His muse desires her; she detests him. How will his soul survive?

Gentleman artist Fitzwilliam Darcy had never been able to express himself in words, but with his brushes and paints, he expressed what few men ever could. When his flighty muse abandons him, though, he finds himself staring at blank canvases in a world that has turned bland and cold and grey.

Worried for his friend, Charles Bingley invites Darcy to join him in Hertfordshire, in hopes the picturesque countryside might tempt Darcy’s muse to return. The scheme works only too well. His muse returns, with a vengeance, fixated upon the one young woman in the county who utterly detests him.

Will his selfish distain for the feelings of others drive her and his muse away or can he find a way to please this woman with the power to bring color and feeling back into his world?

You can find Inspiration at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

 

 

 

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Thanks so much for having me Rita! It’s always great to visit with you!

I’m excited about this new release, Inspiration, for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that I never really planned to write it. How can one write a book without planning to write one? Well, apparently, it’s possible, at least for me who never seems to follow the rules about these things.

I’ve been writing short stories for my blog Random Bits of Fascination, since August and was kind of in that mode. Then we did an ‘inspiration’ themed month for our blog, Jane Austen Variations, in January—and naturally, my mind went blank. Not and idea in sight. And then I got thinking…cue the ominous music here.

It frustrates me like crazy when I don’t have an inspiration or idea to work from. I wonder if I can frustrate Mr. Darcy the same way.

And that was all it took for my muse to run away with me. What was supposed to be a tidy four-part short story wouldn’t quit and became a full novella. Want to take a peek and see Darcy tortured for lack of inspiration? Here you go!

 

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Darcy set down his paintbrush and flexed his shoulders, his cravat constricting his throat as he did. The lingering, grain-like scent of linseed oil hung in the air at the edges of his awareness, almost unnoticeable for the hours he had been smelling it. How long had he been staring at the rough sketch on his canvas? Judging by the shadows the two easels cast on the scuffed wood floor and the vague chill that had crept into the air, it had been hours.

The light through the attic windows was waning. Might as well stop the exercise in futility now.

“Are you finished?” Charles Bingley peeked around his easel and waved a paintbrush at Darcy, flinging little gobbets of ocher paint onto the floor. Was that how he had managed to get paint in his hair as well?

That sort of mess was precisely why he did not bother to have this floor properly finished and the room was largely devoid of furnishings except the easels, stools and what was used to store his supplies.

“Hardly.” Darcy turned his back and fiddled with his paints. Ultimately a servant would come and clean up for him, but perhaps if he appeared occupied, Bingley would not continue to press for conversation.

“I cannot thank you enough for inviting me to use your studio space. You were right, the attics at Darcy House offer the most marvelous light in the whole of London I should say.” Bingley wiped his hands on this paint-stained apron and sauntered toward him. Even his confident steps sounded intrusive.

Darcy grumbled and muttered under his breath.

“Still blocked, are you?” Bingley inspected Darcy’s work from several angles. “Not a lick of paint on the canvas all morning?”

“As you can see.” No, it was not polite to snarl, but Bingley had earned it.

Bingley pulled Darcy’s high stool close and perched one hip on it. “I am hardly the artist you are, but even I can see you are in quite a muddle here. You have never been so stymied in all the time I have known you. Back in school, you were at the easel every spare moment you had, producing quite accomplished works regularly. You could have made quite a living as a painter had you not already been a gentleman.”

“How kind of you to remind me of the height from which I have fallen.” Darcy rolled his eyes and turned his back on Bingley.

“I am worried about you. Never have I seen anything drive you to distraction as this seems to have.”

“Should I thank you for stating the obvious?” Darcy dropped his brush. A large smear of burnt umber appeared on the floor where it fell.

“Let me help you.”

He whirled to face Bingley. “And exactly how do you propose to do that? Will you take my hand in yours and apply paint to the canvas for me?”

Bingley laughed, that easy, warm chuckle he had always had. His good nature could be maddening at times like these. “Hardly. It is no secret that I will never be the sort of artist you are—and that I do not resent you for your talent, which is quite big of me I would say. I dabble for my own amusement, but you—you paint as though your very life and soul were poured into the efforts, as though it was a matter of life and breath that you create your works. And it is tearing you to pieces that you have produced nothing in—how long is it now?”

“Six months.” The words sounded like a death sentence.

“So then, allow me to help you.”

“What do you propose?” Why did he even ask? There was nothing anyone could do until this awful bleakness passed of its own accord.

“You have been holed up in this studio for months, with nothing but the confines of London to inspire you. You need to get away. The countryside is always inspiring. Come with me to Hertfordshire. I mean to rent a house there, get the feel of having an estate you know. I could use your advice. And if Netherfield Park is suitable, you can stay with me there. Perhaps the change in venue will present you with some heretofore elusive inspiration.”

The idea was dreadful and intriguing all at the same time. Leaving London meant travel, and that was inconvenient. And it meant dealing with people, meeting with them, interacting with them, probably hating them. All of which were also inconvenient, and uncomfortable.

But staying in town was doing him no good, either. “I suppose I can accompany you before I return to Pemberley.”

***

 

The journey to Hertfordshire had not been unpleasant—a few hours on horseback in fine September weather were good for the soul. And what was good for the soul was also good for one’s muse. Certainly, it—she—had not been ressurected, not yet, but there were vague stirrings within, the kind related to creative energies, not the revenge of last night’s supper.

Perhaps Bingley was right. There was something about the countryside, or perhaps it was about being in an unfamiliar place with so much potential for discovery. Whatever it was, artistic surges bubbled and teased, tickled and prodded his heart and mind as they had not in months. For that reason alone, he would have recommended that Bingley take Netherfield, no matter how dreadful the establishment.

Luckily the house and grounds were good, so he could make his endorsements with a clear conscience.

***

 

After just over a fortnight in the country, it was difficult to pronounce Bingley right or wrong. Darcy had produced two landscapes—one of the Netherfield house itself—and a still life of some random bric-a-brac scavenged from various rooms of the house. They were journeyman’s efforts at best, hardly anything to be proud of and certainly not satisfying to behold. But they were the first completed works he had produced since Easter and the dreaded visit to Rosings Park.

It was difficult not to curse Aunt Catherine for that.

Perhaps that was the source of his troubles now. Ever since she started pushing him to fix a date for his wedding to Anne, all creative compulsions had ceased. But how could they not? Contemplating life fixed to that dry, wizened shell of a woman who scarcely had an original idea of her own. By Jove, she barely said a word of her own volition! His soul withered in his chest every time he shared space with her. How could he possibly be expected to live like that?

Chest tightening, aching at the very thought, he paced his spacious guest quarters. Perhaps he could outrun the sensation before he resorted to canceling his plans.

Bingley pounded on his door. “Are you nearly ready, Darce? The ladies are in the parlor waiting for us.”

Darcy glanced in the mirror and straightened his cravat, the sense of suffocation fading. His valet had done a good job tonight. Not that he had anyone to impress in this quaint market town, but being properly attired was a comfort of its own. “I am coming directly.”

Bingley’s distinct footfalls strode away.

A simple country assembly should not be such a trial; surely none would agree it was something to be dreaded. And yet it was so. Dancing with unfamiliar partners was abhorrent, and truth be told, embarrassing. Inevitably he would find himself staring at his partner, analyzing the shape of her eyes, the lines of her nose, the usually imperfect symmetry of her face, how it might be subtly and skillfully improved when rendered in charcoal or crayon or paint.

Such attentions, when noticed, were bad enough, but heaven help him if his eyes drifted lower, to necklines that were far too intriguing in the ways they played with light and shadow. No young lady had ever been able to accept that such attentions were artistic not—ah, more personal in nature. They expected he meant far more than he ever did, and it never ended well.

Perhaps tonight though, with his muse not quite fully awakened, he could avoid such uncomfortable encounters. If not, there was always the card room.

***

Bingley’s coach trundled down Traffic filled the street on the approach to the assembly rooms. Ordinary and unassuming was the best that could be said of the building. Absolutely the best. The rest was not appropriate to dwell upon and could very well poison him for the rest of the evening.

Afterall, how was one to enjoy themselves in an environment so drab, dreary, and awkward? Was not beauty an essential quality of any such event?

They picked their way across the muddy, rutted street and waited their turn to enter the assembly rooms. An yneven, tired blue covered the walls. It might have been as appealing as a robin’s egg when newly painted, but now it just whimpered to leave it alone, and let it rest. Scuffed, even gouged in places, the floors cried out for mercy. And the paintings littering the walls—enough! Such thoughts were absolutely not helpful.

Presently, a round faced, red cheeked, potbellied man wearing a Master of Ceremonies sash greeted them. He seemed a bit pompous, full of himself, as though he were at an assembly in Bath, offering to make introductions for them. Bingley readily agreed as Darcy stifled a sigh. But then, Bingley enjoyed meeting new people.

The whole experience of being paraded around and introduced was to be expected—and dreaded. It was simply what happened at such events. Still though, from the looks the party garnered—and the glances fixed on Darcy alone—it was clear that their servants had already taken care of circulating word of the general level of wealth and connection their party brought with them.

It should not bother him that the entire room seemed ready to approve of him and gladly admit him into their acquaintance on so little a recommendation. Aunt Catherine would have declared it was the right and proper reaction, and it was in fact their due being part of the best society in England. Many would agree with her, but Darcy did not.

Beauty, in all its forms, and the admirable qualities that went with it were often found quite outside such trivial circles. Many times, it lurked in unexpected arenas. But Aunt Catherine would hardly admit such uncouth ideas.

Now was definitely neither the time nor the place to chance discovering intriguing sorts of beauty. Acquainted with no one in the room, he could not risk it. So, he danced once with Mrs. Hurst, whose beauty was unremarkable to be sure, and once with Miss Bingley, who was attractive enough, but in the ordinary sort of way of the upper class.

What would her reaction be if she knew he found her beauty common enough to be of little note? How angry she would be—then she might be of more interest. Women could be fascinating when they were angry—the subtle expressions of their eyes, the tension in their throats…but Miss Bingley would hardly appreciate such things.

Once he had danced those two sets, he spent the rest of the evening walking about the room, speaking only to those of his own party, much to the obvious disapproval of the denizens of Meryton. The way they looked at him and whispered among themselves! No doubt they had decided he was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world.

It was not the first time he had seen those looks, and doubtless would not be the last. At least at home in Derbyshire, he was better regarded, having had the opportunity to demonstrate his true character there. Perhaps, his muse willing of course, he would return there in a few weeks, able to pursue his art in the sanctuary of his own home surroundings.

He paused in his circuit around the room. Bingley had found a lovely partner, probably the prettiest girl in the room. He and she danced together particularly well. So well in fact, Bingley wore a decidedly puppyish smile as he gazed at her.

Lovely, he had found yet another ‘angel’ for his attentions. What was her name? Miss Bennet? Whatever it was, they twirled their way in grace and elegance to the end of the line and paused, their turn to wait out a set of the music.

Bingley looked over his shoulder and sauntered toward Darcy. “Come, Darcy, I must have you dance. I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this stupid manner. You had much better dance.”

Darcy pinched the bridge of his nose and turned aside. Why did Bingley have to make a public spectacle? “I certainly shall not. You know how I detest it, unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner. At such an assembly as this, it would be insupportable. Your sisters are engaged, and there is not another woman in the room whom it would not be a punishment for me to stand up with.’”

Bingley offered a sound that seemed half-chuckle, half-snort. “I would not be so fastidious as you are for a kingdom! Upon my honor, I never met with so many pleasant girls in my life as I have this evening; and there are several of them, you see, uncommonly pretty.’”

“You are dancing with the only handsome girl in the room.”   That was not entirely true. There were any number of handsome women, but all of them ordinary—the kind one might encounter anywhere. Entirely uninspiring.

“Oh! she is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld! But there is one of her sisters sitting down just behind you, who is very pretty, and I dare say very agreeable. Do let me ask my partner to introduce you.”

“Which do you mean?” He looked over his shoulder.

Air rush from his lungs and his eyes lost focus. He blinked furiously. Heavens above! A nymph sat against the wall regarding the dancers. Her features favored Bingley’s partner, but there was something different about her. Something remarkable. Something entirely unique that he had never seen before.

Something he had to paint. His fingers tingled and his hands twitched.

She looked up at him and caught his eye. Bollocks! He had been caught staring. But her reaction was so peculiar. She did not blush or stammer or otherwise try to garner his notice or call attention to the fact he had been staring. She merely smiled with a tiny nod. What ever could she mean?

He looked away and spoke just a little louder. “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me. I am in no humor at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.” Of course, he did not mean a word of that, but what else could he have possibly said when Bingley was ready to be far more helpful than Darcy could tolerate?

Bingley rolled his eyes and drew breath for what would surely be one of his lengthy diatribes, but the first notes of the next repetition of the music drew him back to his partner and delivered Darcy from an unpleasant conversation—at least for the moment.

The young woman had turned her shoulder toward him, probably thinking she was delivering some sort of subtle cut. But he could hardly have asked for more. From this angle, he could study the intriguing line of her neck and back, the graceful craft of her ear and the barest suggestion of the silhouette of her face. His heart beat a little faster. How much longer before they could be away from this place and back to his paints?

***

The next morning Darcy woke at dawn. The rest of the household would sleep until noon or even later after such a late night. But how could he sleep when his muse called? All night he had dreamt of laying brush to canvas; he could not wait a moment more. His heart would surely burst if he did.

He rushed through his morning toilette without his valet who would only distract him and further complicate the muddle of his thoughts. He forced himself to think of each step lest he missed something significant as his mind struggled to leap ahead to the project he had completed in his dreams. If only he had brought his oils, but or now watercolor must do. Perhaps her was a decent colorman’s shop in Meryton.

At last, his canvas perched on his easel in a beam of morning sun. Trembling fingers tightened around a pencil as he sucked in a deep breath. There was something almost sacred about a pristine canvas. The act of marking it could be almost profane, especially when inspiration eluded him. But now, now was different. The pencil glided down, around, over, through curves, with a hint of shadow. It seemed only moments later that the rough blocked forms of a nymph admiring her reflection in a reflecting pool took shape.

Yes! Yes, exactly as he had seen it in his mind’s eye. His fingers tingled as power surged through eyes, arms and hands, colors and images taking shape before him.

“Darcy? Darcy…”

Darcy jumped, nearly dropping his brush. “What are you doing here? I understand I am in your house, but since when has that negated the need to knock on a closed door?”

“Since I have been knocking for a full five minutes with no answer from you.” Bingley stood just behind him.

“You jest.”

“Not at all. I would wager you have been at your easel since dawn by the look of you.” Bingley’s right eye twitched with something of a wink.

“What of it?”

“Have a look outside, what do you notice about the sun?”

Darcy blinked and peered out the window. No, that was not possible. Surely only an hour, maybe two had passed.

“It is nearly sundown, and you have no idea. It has been quite some time since I have seen you this way.” Bingley peered over Darcy’s shoulder. “I can see why. Very impressive. I have never seen this sort of work from you—it is inspired, truly inspired. You almost expect the nymph to rise up off the painting daring you to give her chase. I only wish I could see her face.”

“Her face?” Something crushed his chest, leaving him dizzy and weak.

“Yes, you have painted her from a distance, behind and to the side. Did you not even realize that?”

Darcy stared at the painting as if for the first time. Bingley was right, her face was hidden, just barely silhouetted against the trees. It was not meant to be seen, it was part of the mystery of the scene. But what if she turned? What would that be like?

“Wait, wait, I know that look in your eye. You are already sketching the next work in this series. Do not deny it, I can tell. Before you get any farther in the process, I insist you come down to dinner. You have eaten nothing today and knowing you, you will eat nothing if not forced until this inspiration is complete. So, consider yourself forced, and come down right now. The light is gone in any case. You can do no more today.”

Darcy grumbled under his breath. But Bingley was right, there was not enough light for real work tonight. He might as well eat. He would bring his sketch book down to the parlor, though—firelight was sufficient to that endeavor. At least that way he could make the time he would have to sit with his host and his sisters at least somewhat productive.

***

I hope you enjoyed this peek. If you’d like more, you can find Inspiration at all major e-book sellers. If you’d like to catch up on the short stories I mentioned, you can find them at RandomBitsofFascination.com.

Thanks!


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Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16-year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development and counseling. None of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences.

She has one husband and one grandson, earned two graduate degrees and two black belts, raised three sons, danced English Country dance for four years, is aunt to five nieces, is designing a sixth Regency costume, blogged seven years on Random Bits of Fascination, has outlines for eight novels waiting to be written, attended nine English country dance balls, and shared her life with ten cats.

Her books, fiction and nonfiction, are available at all major online booksellers.

She can be contacted at:

author.MariaGrace@gmail.com

Facebook:

Twitter

Random Bits of Fascination

Austen Variations

English Historical Fiction Authors

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Maria Grace would like to offer to my readers one ebook copy of Inspiration. To enter the giveaway all you have to do is comment here and let us know what are your expectations towards this book. If you would like to double your chances to win, please stop by to read and comment the review I will post in the beginning of next week. Comments on both posts will be considered in the for the giveaway.

The giveaway is international and is open until the 9th of March.

Good Luck everyone!

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President Darcy, Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

I’m sure that by now you already know I am a huge fan of audiobooks, so I’m very happy to host Victoria Kincaid today to let you know about the release of two of her books on audible, President Darcy which I have loved but not reviewed yet (another great reason to relive it through the audio version), and The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy narrated by one of my favourite narrators, Stevie Zimmerman.

She is bringing an excerpt of President Darcy which I hope you enjoy, and also a giveaway of the two audiobooks, so you know the drill, comment on this post to apply for the giveaway, but most of all, share with us your opinions, wishes and love for all things Austen 🙂 If we all do that, we are bound to have a lot of fun 🙂

 


 

 

Hi Rita,  Thank you so much for welcoming me back to your blog!  I recently released audiobook copies of President Darcy and The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy, two of my most popular books.  President Darcy is narrated by Lucy Emerson, who does a wonderful job with the characters and the lighthearted moments in the story.  You can hear a sample of her narration here.  The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy is narrated by Stevie Zimmerman, a very popular JAFF narrator who also did The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth.  You can sample her narration here. And please enjoy an excerpt from President Darcy below:

***

“Intellectual lightweight.”  The phrase niggled at Darcy’s memory.  Where had he heard it recently?

Not that it mattered anyway.  He’d probably imagined any connection between them—wishful thinking brought on by too many lonely nights in the Residence.  First, she babbled, and then she acted like he’d killed her cat.  Perhaps she was just a strange person.

Then he recalled he had used the phrase in describing Elizabeth to Hilliard.  And somehow, she had heard him.

No wonder she had been icy and distant.  Darcy was lucky she hadn’t flung a drink in his face. His cheeks heated and his chest tightened as he imagined her overhearing his uncensored remarks.  Now that he knew she wasn’t a pampered rich girl, his comments were even more egregious.  He grappled with an intense desire to leave the room—or hide behind one of the eight-foot-high floral arrangements.

The proper course would be to follow Elizabeth Bennet and apologize.  But he certainly couldn’t chase after her, Secret Service agents in tow, begging for a moment of her time to explain—what, exactly?  He couldn’t claim he hadn’t meant the words; there was no denying he had said them.  She probably wouldn’t even listen to a convoluted explanation about his annoyance with Hilliard, let alone believe it.

However, it was equally unimaginable not to apologize.  Darcy started after her, but a hand on his elbow pulled him back.  Bob Hilliard yet again.  One glimpse of the man’s white-lipped frown and tense shoulders prevented Darcy from voicing his complaints.

Without a word, Hilliard pulled Darcy to an unoccupied table, where they were immediately joined by Caroline.  Hilliard handed Darcy a scotch on the rocks—a bad sign. Hilliard spoke in a low tone.  “Sir, we have a potential situation on Twitter.”

Darcy frowned at Caroline, who handled social media.  His predecessor in the office had been a disaster on Twitter, but most of Darcy’s tweets—posted by his social media staff—were about his policy positions.

“Not your Twitter account,” Caroline clarified.  “There’s a guest here tonight by the name of Lydia Bennet.”  Darcy couldn’t recall which sister she was.  “She has a picture of herself with you.” Darcy shrugged; people posted pictures with him all the time.

“She also complains that you ‘threw shade’”—Bob used air quotes—“at her sister Elizabeth. Supposedly you said ‘she is stupid and not pretty enough to dance with.’  It’s been retweeted 800,000 times.”  He checked his iPad.  “Wait a minute…800,015.”

Darcy was suddenly nauseated.  Not only had Elizabeth overheard, but her sister had tweeted it? “That’s what I said when—” Hilliard nodded knowingly.  Darcy gratefully gulped scotch before scowling at Hilliard.  “That area should have been cleared before we talked.”

Hilliard grimaced.  “The Secret Service should have cleared it, but apparently they didn’t check the ladies’ room.”

Darcy tossed back some more scotch.  “Elizabeth Bennet heard me insult her in person?”  Hilliard nodded, and Darcy stifled a groan.  He had harbored a small hope that she had heard it from a third party.  I’m lucky I got off with a cold shoulder instead of a slap to the face.

The Washington Post wants to know if we have a comment,” Caroline said.

How soon was too soon to leave his own state dinner? This had been a series of fiascos.  “They want us to respond to a tweet from a high school student?”

Caroline consulted her phone.  “Her profile says she’s at GW University.  The Post wants to know if you actually said her sister was ‘ugly and stupid’ and if you said it to her face.”

“No!” Darcy practically yelled.  “I would never—” Several heads pivoted in their direction; Darcy lowered his voice.  “Obviously I didn’t know she was there.”

Caroline frowned.  “Her father is a big donor.  Can we issue a denial?”

Darcy’s predecessor had been notorious for his falsehoods, and Darcy had been scrupulous at avoiding any appearance of being less than truthful.  It was one of the ways he had gained the public’s trust and restored faith in the presidency.  “No,” he said wearily.  “I did say it.  I haven’t lied to the press before.  I’m not starting now.”

Caroline took notes with brisk efficiency.  “We can say ‘no comment,’ but perhaps we should get someone working on damage control.”  She shot a quizzical look at Hilliard, who nodded.

Darcy rubbed the back of his neck where the headache had now taken hold.  He couldn’t help imagining Elizabeth’s reaction when he had uttered those words.  How had her face looked?  What had she thought?  Had he made her cry?   God damn it!  Darcy scrubbed his face with his hands.  “Can I issue an apology?”

“What?” Hilliard’s voice squeaked, and Caroline barked a laugh.

“I was irritated at you.” He waved at Hilliard.  “And it was an insensitive thing to say.  I didn’t even mean it.”  Darcy’s breathing constricted just thinking that she might believe those ill-considered words.  They were beneath him and beneath the office of the president.

“No, you can’t apologize!” Hilliard hissed.  “An apology would only confirm that you said it. That would be the surest way to transform this into a media circus.  It would be breaking news on the cable stations.  Rule number one of the presidency: don’t admit mistakes.”

“Stupid rule.”  Darcy hated to maintain a façade of infallibility.  Presidents were human and made mistakes.  Pretending otherwise was idiotic and counterproductive, but admitting to errors gave your enemies too much ammunition.  He gripped the scotch glass so tightly that his fingers turned white.

“If we don’t say anything, it will likely die down,” Hilliard said.

Darcy stretched his neck, willing the muscles to loosen.  Hilliard was right, but still.  “Can I at least apologize to Elizabeth Bennet?”

“Why bother?” Caroline asked sharply.

He drained the last of the scotch and slammed the glass down on the table.  “Because it was rude and inaccurate.  She’s neither stupid nor ugly,” he growled at Caroline, not even caring when she drew back slightly.

Hilliard shook his head sadly.  “No.  You can’t apologize to her.  It would be the first thing she’d mention if the media contacts her.   It would be best if you didn’t have any conversations with her at all.”

Darcy thumped the glass on the table, startling Caroline. “Great. Just great,” he muttered to himself.

Elizabeth would continue to believe that he thought she was unattractive and dumb, and the whole world would think he’d insulted a woman he barely knew. And he’d been barred from speaking with the most intriguing woman he’d met in years.

Sometimes being president sucked.

 


 

President Darcy

President William Darcy has it all: wealth, intelligence, and the most powerful job in the country.  Despite what his friends say, he is not lonely in the White House.  He’s not.   And he has vowed not to date while he’s in office.  Nor is he interested in Elizabeth Bennet.   She might be pretty and funny and smart, but her family is nouveau riche and unbearable.  Unfortunately, he encounters her everywhere in Washington, D.C.—making her harder and harder to ignore.  Why can’t he get her out of his mind?

Elizabeth Bennet enjoys her job with the Red Cross and loves her family, despite their tendency to embarrass her.  At a White House state dinner, they cause her to make an unfavorable impression on the president, who labels her unattractive and uninteresting.  Those words are immediately broadcast on Twitter, so the whole world now knows the president insulted her.  Elizabeth just wants to avoid the man—who, let’s admit it, is proud and difficult.  For some reason he acts all friendly when they keep running into each other, but she knows he’s judging her. 

Eventually, circumstances force Darcy and Elizabeth to confront their true feelings for each other, with explosive results.  But even if they can find common ground, Mr. Darcy is still the president—with limited privacy and unlimited responsibilities—and his enemies won’t hesitate to use his feelings for Elizabeth against him.  

Can President Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet find their way to happily ever after?

You can find President Darcy at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

and on Audible

 

 

 

 

***

The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy

Mr. Darcy arrives at Longbourn, intending to correct the mistakes he made during his disastrous proposal in Hunsford. To his horror, he learns that Elizabeth Bennet was killed in a ship’s explosion off the coast of France—in an apparent act of sabotage. Deep in despair, he travels in disguise to wartime France to seek out the spy responsible for her death.

But a surprise awaits Darcy in the French town of Saint-Malo: Elizabeth is alive!

Recovering from a blow to the head, Elizabeth has no memory of her previous life, and a series of mistakes lead her to believe that Darcy is her husband. However, they have even bigger problems. As they travel through a hostile country, the saboteur mobilizes Napoleon’s network of spies to capture them and prevent them from returning home. Elizabeth slowly regains her memories, but they often leave her more confused.

Darcy will do anything to help Elizabeth reach England safely, but what will she think of him when she learns the truth of their relationship?

You can find The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

and on Audible

 

 

 

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Victoria Kincaid would like to offer one copy of each of the recently released audiobooks to my readers, the giveaway is international will end on the 4th of March. Winners will be announced shortly after that 🙂

To enter the giveaway all you have to do is comment on this post and share your thoughts on the excerpt Victoria shared with all of you, and let us know which of the two you would prefer to win.

Also, please do not forget to check the blog to confirm if you were the winner 🙂 Unfortunately if we don’t hear anything back from the winners we will have to announce new winners.

Good Luck everyone!

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The Giveaway Winners are…

Hello everyone,

How are you today? I hope your weekend was great and that your are ready for another week 🙂 This Sunday I was dedicated to my new hobbie, and I’m quite happy with the results! It’s taking away some reading time, but I really enjoy making postcards! I even made one that could easily be send to one of you 🙂 What do you think of it?

What about these two? They are not Pride and Prejudice themed, but I would love your opinion nonetheless, I’m just starting and maybe I’m not going in the right direction 🙂

But I won’t bother you anymore with my arts and crafts, after all,  I am publishing this post to announce the winners of the Pride and Proposals audiobook giveaway  that was held here at From Pemberley To Milton. I reviewed the audiobook copy of Victoria Kincaid’s book and Erin Evan’s-Walker who narrated it decided to offer my readers 3 audiobook copies. This was a very generous offer from her, and I would really like to thank her for it. I would also like to thank all who have supported her work by commenting on this blog and sharing your opinion on audiobooks with us 🙂 I’ve said time and again, this wouldn’t be the same without you.

But now, without further ado, the giveaway winners are:

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*** Carla***

***Audrey Reed***

***Virginiakhol***

 

Congratulations girls! I hope you enjoy listening to this books 🙂 Can you please send me your addresses to ritaluzdeodato at gmail dot com so that your prizes may be sent to you?

Happy Reading!

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The Most Interesting Man in the World – Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

I hope you had a wonderful week and that you are ready for some reading this weekend 🙂 May I suggest starting with the excerpt I’m sharing today of The Most Interesting Man in the World? I’m very pleased to receive authors J.L Ashton and Justine Rivard today to promote their book, which is the most recent release from Meryton Press, and I hope you join me in welcoming them by sharing lots of positive energy on your comments 🙂

Happy Reading everyone!

 


What has gotten into Fitzwilliam Darcy lately?

Charles Bingley, a jolly fellow who relies on his great friend’s impeccable judgment in all things, is determined to find out. What could explain Darcy’s ill humour and distraction? Or his uncharacteristic blunder of speaking Greek to a horse who only understands Latin? Not to mention that shocking book accident! Certainly, it has nothing to do with Elizabeth Bennet, the sister of Bingley’s own angel, Jane. Bingley is certain of it.

What was really going on behind the scenes at Netherfield, Pemberley, and Darcy House, and just what did those men talk about over billiards and brandy? In this novella, Bingley sheds a little light on keeping company with the most interesting man in the world, and shares his own musings on puppies, his dreadful sisters, and the search for true love. Prepare to be shocked, delighted, and confused by a Charles Bingley the likes of whom you’ve never met before.

 

You can find The Most Interesting Man in the World at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

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Rita, thank you so much for having us here at From Pemberley to Milton to share a scene that doesn’t appear in The Most Interesting Man in the World. The book centers on the relationship between Bingley and Darcy. The story of their “bromance” and their conversations about everything—but most especially their love and admiration for the Bennet sisters—is told through Bingley’s point of view. (Hint: He is overly imaginative and wears very thick rose-coloured glasses.)

Here, we give the spotlight to the ladies of Pride & Prejudice.


A Ladies’ Tea

The ladies of Longbourn are missish. Their scenes were cut, or never written, for the book and being excluded from all “scenage,” they now demand their share of the conversation. They also demanded to set their MAJORLY IMPORTANT scene in London. However, for purposes of the authors, they instead occupy the drawing room at Netherfield.

The boxes and packages had been swept away by the footmen, refreshments had been ordered, and the brides-to-be and their female relations were settled at Netherfield, awaiting the arrival of tall, gallant and, in at least one case, certain to be voraciously hungry, men.

Elizabeth leaned back in her seat, breathing deeply of the warmth she felt in her happiness. “Jane,” she said, “your Mr. Bingley is the best of men. After Darcy, that is.”

Her comment prompted a sigh from her elder sister. “Yes, isn’t he wonderful? Mr Bingley is so kind and thoughtful and loyal.”

“And fond of his biscuits,” added Mrs Gardiner.

“Like Tuffy,” Caroline mumbled. “Silly dog.” Conscious of the heads turning her way, she cleared her throat. “Where is that tea?” She stepped out of the room, still muttering.

Mrs Bennet gave her a shrewd look and leaned toward her eldest daughter. “The kitchens here are nothing to Longbourn’s. You must have Mr Bingley bring you a cook from London.”

Jane smiled at her mother. “Mr Bingley is fond of Netherfield’s cook. She understands his preferences and ensures every meal includes his favourite fruits.”

“Many, many fruits. So much fruit.” Louisa Hurst sighed.

Mrs Bennet nodded in satisfaction. “I see he has listened to you, Jane. Would that Mr Bennet would listen so well.”

Kitty, preoccupied with tucking a loose piece of lace in her skirt, looked up. “I am so happy he listens. I like Mr Bingley, but he makes the oddest comments.”

“Kitty, be kind,” Elizabeth said quickly.

“It is the truth, and I do mean it kindly,” Kitty cried. “Remember when he said the ladies in Goat Bottom Howling were less than handsome? That was not very charitable.”

Jane, flushed with an unfamiliar possessiveness, protested. “Sister, I am certain that is not what he meant. Charles sees the beauty in everything.”

“Yes,” Elizabeth said quickly, “I believe he was trying to say something about how the beauty of a place is reflected in the people who live there. I think it was a compliment to us, maybe, somehow,” she continued, her voice trailing off, “but honestly I am not sure.”

The silence that greeted Elizabeth’s proclamation was filled only with the tinkling sound of Louisa Hurst’s bracelets.

“He is not wrong that Goat Bottom Howling is dreadful,” Kitty stated, sure of her authority. “The buildings are ugly and Lydia says the society there is terrible, and you know she is quite the best-traveled of us.”

Kitty looked around the room, once again disappointed to find her sisters uninterested in marveling at the life Lydia and her husband were living. She crossed her arms and burrowed deeply into the settee. “But I don’t see what any of that has to do with whether the girls there are pretty or not.”

“I am not entirely clear on that either,” Mrs Gardiner replied. “But be kind. Mr Bingley is to be your brother in two days.”

Frowning, Mary turned around from her inspection of the bookshelves. “Mr Bingley displays admirable charity in sharing the ginger biscuits he keeps in his pockets.”

“Thank you, Mary.” Jane beamed at her and sighed. “That does show his consideration and care for others. He is so wonderful.”

Georgiana, seated across from Jane, smiled. Quietly.

“That bouquet of wildflowers he gathered for me on Monday was so pretty,” Jane added.

“Such a shame about the bee.” Mrs Gardiner gave her niece a gentle smile. “Did the poultice help?”

“Yes, his hand is only half the size it was yesterday.”

“The calendula cream helped as well,” Mrs Hurst said. “With the itching.”

“It soothes his skin and smells so nice,” said Jane.

A dramatic sigh came from Mrs Bennet. “Mr Bennet smells of musty books and peppermint.”

In a rare display of their sisterly bonds, the four Bennet girls stared at one another until Jane broke the silence. “Yes, Mama. That is a familiar scent for my father.”

“I do not know the word for it, but my brother smells like home to me.” Everyone turned to look at the nearly forgotten girl sitting beside Elizabeth. Georgiana promptly shrank into the sofa.

“What a wonderful observation.” Elizabeth gave the girl a gentle smilel. “I believe I will agree once we are settled at Pemberley.”

“What does Mr Darcy smell like now, Lizzy?” Kitty prompted her sister to expand on her thoughts. “I noticed you sniffing his neck the other day out in the garden. Does he smell like horses? He spends a lot of time riding his horse.”

“I was not sniffing his neck. And he smells perfectly normal, if you must know. Not like horses at all.”

Mrs Hurst laughed softly. “Caroline thinks Mr Darcy smells of all that is good.”

Elizabeth laid a protective hand on Georgiana’s arm.

“Any man with ten thousand a year can afford to smell good,” cried Mrs Bennet. “Mr Darcy—.”

“Your brother and sister think quite highly of our Lizzy’s Mr Darcy,” Mrs Gardiner interjected. “Has he always been the valiant gentleman, the man with no flaws and never a cross word?”

“I have never seen him less than perfect in either his manner or his grammar,” Mrs Hurst replied.

“And you, Miss Darcy, do you see him as a paragon as well?”

“He is the best brother,” Georgiana replied, “if a little absent of mind of late. He was quite preoccupied these past weeks, looking forward to the wedding.”

“I would imagine so.”

“Almost as much as Mr Bingley,” Georgiana added. “He and our cousin Archie spent some time with Fitzwilliam, and he made references to bats flying about his insides.”

“Bats?” Mrs Bennet sniffed. “I am sure he meant butterflies.”

“Oh no, he called them large winged bats.”

“Oh!” Mrs Bennet snapped her fan. “Do stop that wiggling, Kitty.”

Kitty shifted in her seat, twisting about and plunging a hand under the cushion. “Aha!” she cried, pulling out a well-thumbed copy of The Romance of the Forest.

“Oh my.”

Mary gasped just as Colonel Fitzwilliam strode into the room with Miss Bingley and two footmen carrying tea trays.

“I thank you for the kind escort, sir. Please join us for tea.” Caroline glanced about the room, her expression tightening when her eyes fell upon the book in Kitty’s hand. “Ah,” she drawled shakily, “another treasure left behind by the previous owners.”

The ladies beamed up at their newest guest; Kitty and Mrs Bennet each patted the empty cushion beside them on the sofas.

“It would be my pleasure to spend time with the sisters, aunt, and mother of the lady betrothed to Darcy.” The Colonel sat himself in a chair beside Mrs Gardiner and leaned toward her, winking at Elizabeth and Georgiana as he continued. “She is too good for that cousin of mine in any case.”

Mrs Gardiner laughed, drowning out the squeak of protest coming from her sister. “Oh my goodness, no. As his friend Bingley says, Mr Darcy is the most interesting man in the world.”

“Ah yes, but that title is bestowed only by one man in the world and his opinion is decidedly batty. Kindly meant, but truly, Darcy is quite dull. His idea of fun is reading a thick dusty book by the fire.”

“Untrue!” Elizabeth and Georgiana cried out together.

“Oh he can ride a horse and fence rather well, but what is so interesting about that?” The Colonel leaned over the tea handed him by Caroline and looked around the room. “No, the most interesting thing about my cousin is how he managed to make a lady of such quality, wit, beauty and humour fall in love with him.”

The ladies sighed as one. Except for Caroline, who groaned into her tea.

“Alas, Darcy was an interesting lad when I could raise his nose from his books, and make him follow me into mischief. But he grew into a solid man, rather dull and solemn,” he added, his eyes twinkling, “steady to his purpose with his estate business and his care for young Georgiana. His tales cannot measure up to my own of the battlefield and the barracks, of men who fought to the death, of hills and dales taken and lost….”

Kitty, still grasping the novel, nearly swooned. (Mrs Bennet did.)

Elizabeth, her cheeks pinked, gave him a steady look. “Dull and solemn?”

“Oh to be sure, your betrothed was serious and stiff.” The Colonel looked around the room. “As the oldest son, one has to be, or so I am told. My elder brother certainly is both. But Darcy took his responsibilities very seriously even as a boy. He has always had an overdeveloped sense of duty, you know. Saving cats from trees, reading to his sister, following his father and Mr Wick—er, the steward around Pemberley to learn all that he could of estate matters.”

Caroline tutted. “Can you imagine? Mr Darcy climbing a tree.”

“My Lizzy was always in the trees as a girl.”

Kitty snorted. “Indeed. Lizzy and Mr Darcy spend a great deal of time in the woods.”

“They share a fondness for nature and walking.” Jane managed to nearly glare at her younger sister.

“Your cousin is a man without fault.” Mrs Gardiner looked around the room, an impish smile on her face. “My husband and children assure me of this.”

As the laugher fell away, Mary spoke up. “I had thought that he was prideful, but it does not seem to me that he has any untoward pride.”

“No, no, he is full of pride,” the Colonel replied. “That is one of his many, many shortcomings. But I have made it my personal mission to take the stuffing right out of him whenever possible!”

“It is true,” Georgiana said. “My brother’s seriousness is leavened by my cousin’s silliness, and likewise.”

“Indeed, no one else dares.” He looked at Jane. “Bingley is a good man who sees all that is good in my cousin. But we all need to be taken down a peg now and again. Myself included, much as I hate to admit it.”

“No, no,” Caroline cried. “Your family is quite illustrious. Some pride in that is surely deserved”

“Perhaps. But my cousin takes things a bit too far, or at least he did before he met Elizabeth” He lifted his cup to her and bowed his head. “She seems able to make him laugh at himself.”

“That is a most wonderful thing,” sighed Georgiana.

“Truly,” said Jane.

“If Mr Darcy is not the most interesting man in the world,” Elizabeth said gaily, “he is surely the best man in the world.

“Especially for me.”


 

Justine Rivard is a very serious college professor who has no time for frivolity or poppycock of any kind. She strenuously objects to the silliness found in this story and urges you to put the book down at once before it gives you ideas. You are invited instead to join her in the study for a lecture about her extensive collection of whimsical 18th-century animal husbandry manuals.

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J.L. Ashton, on the other hand, is a very unserious writer of Jane Austen variations you might have read (A Searing Acquaintance and Mendacity & Mourning) and collector of recipes she will never attempt. She encourages a general lack of decorum and has a great appreciation for cleft chins, vulnerably brooding men, and Instagram accounts featuring animals. Especially cats. Also foxes.

 


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February 11 / Austenesque Reviews / Character Interview

February 12 / A Covent Garden Madame Gilflurt’s Guide to Life / Guest Post

February 14 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review

February 16 / Just Jane 1813 / Meet the Authors  

February 18 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Guest Post

February 22 / From Pemberley to Milton / Character Interview

February 24 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review

February 26 / My Vices and Weaknesses  / Book Excerpt

February 28 / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post

 


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Meryton Press is offering eight eBooks copies of The Most Interesting Man in the World.

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified.

One winner per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

To enter it, click here.

Good Luck Everyone!

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Persuasion: Behind the Scenes – Guest Post & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

How are you this week? I am still recovering from some unexpected  health issues but I’m feeling much better then in the last few days so I’m on  my way to recovery 🙂

You may have noticed that I was absent from social media last week, but I’m returning with a guest post that is most pleasurable, and much anticipated by me! After Pride & Prejudice, my favourite book from Jane Austen is Persuasion and that is one of the reasons why I’m so happy to publish this post today. I was very excited to know that a group of authors whose work I respect and admire was coming together to write the scenes we never saw in Austen’s novel, and today I’m very happy to welcome Maria Grace, one of those authors with a wonderful guest post. She will come in the defense of Lady Russell and I hope you are as eager to read her guest post as I am of reading the book (yup, first one one my TBR list!).

But before the guest post I’m sharing the blurb and if you find this idea fascinating, and somehow you didn’t know yet, you may be happy to discover that there is also a Pride & Prejudice: Behind the Scenes which only costs 0,99$ at Amazon.com and whose royalties, just like the ones from Persuasion: Behind the Scenes, will be donated to Jane Austen related charities 🙂

Happy reading everyone!


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You pierce my soul.

Before Jane Austen wrote that romantic letter from Captain Frederick Wentworth to Anne Elliot, she crafted a masterful story of heartbreak and longing that still resonates with readers today.

But what of those scenes that Jane Austen never wrote?  What Persuasion fan doesn’t want to listen in on Anne and Wentworth’s first courtship, laugh at the follies and foibles of the Elliot family, sail along on Captain Wentworth’s harrowing adventures at sea or attend Wentworth and Anne’s wedding.

Twelve authors of Austen-inspired fiction:  Diana Birchall, Marilyn Brant, Jack Caldwell, L.L. Diamond, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Kara Louise, Susan Mason-Milks, Jane Odiwe, C. Allyn Pierson, Mary Lydon Simonsen, and Shannon Winslow collaborated to put this unique collection that fills in “missing” scenes from Austen’s classic work, sure to delight any true Persuasion fan.

 

 

 

You can find Persuasion: Behind the Scenes at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

 

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Lady Russell: Meddling God-mother or Faithful Friend?

To many readers, Lady Russell is the villain of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Afterall, Lady Russell persuaded Anne to refuse Wentworth’s first proposal, largely setting the plot into motion. It seems so clear: Lady Russel is class conscious, snobby and should not have interfered in Anne’s life so freely. Right?

Maybe, maybe not. A closer look at the text suggests that perhaps there might have been more to Lady Russell’s advice than class-consciousness and indifference to Anne’s wishes. In fact, there could have been some really good reasons. But what possible motives might Lady Russell have had that would justify her near disastrous advice to Anne?

First off, Wentworth was an unknown stranger who attached himself to Anne after only a very brief romance. He had neither wealth not any real connections, and his profession was the Navy.  Considering the era, each of these were significant marks against the young suitor.

With Wentworth’s lack of fortune and connection, Anne’s future living situation would certainly have been a big question. During their early acquaintance, Wentworth appeared to spend money freely, giving an impression that he might not be a wise manager of finances. So, even if Anne had a good dowry, which isn’t very clear in the text, Lady Russell may have had very serious questions as to whether or not there would be money for Anne to live off of.

Even more significant, sailors were gone for long periods of time. There was a very real possibility that Anne would be left as a young wife, pregnant and living in a port city without any support system around her. With all the danger of childbirth and the need for assistance through it all, Lady Russell had reason to worry whether Anne would have what she needed.

Moreover, the mortality rate of men in the navy was staggering.  There was a very good chance that when Wentworth left, he might never return, thereby leaving a widow and possibly a small child in uncertain financial conditions. Even if Anne were to return to her father’s home, Sir Walter Elliot was not in a good financial state himself and might not have been able or willing to take Anne and a child in.

In the Regency era, women of the upper class, unless they were wealthy widows, were usually entirely dependent upon their husbands or fathers. Jane Austen provides us a poignant picture of this in Anne’s friend, Mrs. Smith. The stark financial realities of the era meant that a woman had to have a husband who could provide for her and her children. For Anne to walk into a situation with such a high likelihood of leaving her in desperate straits would naturally alarm Lady Russell and move her to dissuade Anne from such a very risky match.

A careful reading of the book, though, suggests an even more sympathetic reason for Lady Russell’s opposition to the match. Jane Austen describes Anne as very much like her mother. Lady Russell knew and esteemed Lady Elliot and was aware that Lady Elliot had married her husband in a youthful infatuation and was not happy in her marriage. Lady Elliot made the best of the difficult situation, though and managed the silliness and vanity of her husband admirably.

After the death of Lady Elliot, Lady Russell looked upon Anne as a favorite and friend. She would have wanted the best for Anne and likely saw an alarming similarity between Anne and Wentworth and Lady Elliot’s youthful infatuation with Sir Walter. Knowing the grief that it brought her friend, is it any wonder that Lady Russell wanted Anne to avoid making the same mistake that played out a generation earlier?

If all this is so, then why would Lady Russell have pushed Anne to accept Sir Walter’s scheming heir presumptive, William Elliot? Perhaps it was his excellent manners that first attracted her attention. His financial security as heir of Kellynch could not have hurt his cause. But in all likelihood, William Elliot was the first person Lady Russell ever saw as truly admiring her favorite goddaughter. Granted, we, as readers, were able to see him through less rose-colored glasses, but Lady Russell had no such reason to be suspicious. To her, finally a worthy man paid Anne proper attentions.

Although it is not what Austen wrote, consider this: had the most likely outcomes taken place, Wentworth dying at sea or returning home as poor as he left, and William Elliot being just as he appeared, Lady Russell’s advice would have been hailed as the making of Anne Elliot.

It seems to me that, without an omniscient narrator to tell her things she could not otherwise know, Lady Russell’s advice was actually quite sound. Really, her biggest mistake was not predicting that Wentworth would go on to be successful enough to support a wife and family. So, far from being a meddling busy body who only succeeded in making Anne and Wentworth miserable for the years until their reunion, I think Lady Russell was a well-meaning friend, who dispensed advice which would have been considered excellent had things turned only a little different.

References:

In Defense of Lady Russell; or, The Godmother Knew Best by JOAN KLINGEL RAY. Persuasions #15, 1993,  Pages 207-215, a JASNA publication.


 

 

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband and one grandson, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, written six different series,  built seven websites, started her eighth year blogging on Random Bits of Fascination, sewn nine Regency era costumes, and shared her life with ten cats.

She can be contacted at:

author.MariaGrace@gmail.com

Facebook 

Random Bits of Fascination

Austen Variations

English Historical Fiction Authors

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The blog tour is almost over but you can still go back and check all the other stops:

 


 

 

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There is a wonderful giveaway accompanying the blog tour and this time it is also open for european residents! Click on the Rafflecopter widget to enter and don’t forget that leaving blog comments will increase your chances of winning 🙂

Good Luck Everyone!

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Through a Different Lens – Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

How is this week treating you? Mine could not have started better!! yesterday I spent a wonderful day at pemberley with the talented Joana Starnes and our dear friend and reader Glynis, and today I will be watching the play All About Eve with Gillian Anderson, whom I’ve loved and admired for more than 20 years, and Lily James who played Elizabeth Bennet in Pride Prejudice & Zombies. Plus, I’m going with Mira Magdo from Obsessed with Mr. Darcy, so I know I’ll be in good company 🙂

Away from my daily life, and on this little corner of the internet, I am pleased to host a writer whose historic knowledge never ceases to amaze me, Riana Everly. Her debut book Teaching Eliza was a big success and it is on my TBR pile for this year, but today she is visiting to talk to you about Through a Different Lens. This book is certainly different from everything you have ever read and it takes courage to write something with this premise, so I hope you like the excerpt and the guest post Ms Everly wrote 🙂

 


A tale of second glances and second chances

Elizabeth Bennet has disliked the aloof and arrogant Mr. Darcy since he insulted her at a village dance several months before. But an unexpected conversation with a startling turn of phrase suddenly causes her to reassess everything she thought she knew about the infuriating and humourless gentleman. 

Elizabeth knows something of people who think differently. Her young cousin in London has always been different from his siblings and peers, and Lizzy sees something of this boy’s unusual traits in the stern gentleman from Derbyshire whose presence has plagued her for so long. She approaches him in friendship and the two begin a tentative association. But is Lizzy’s new understanding of Mr. Darcy accurate? Or was she right the first time? And will the unwelcome appearance of a nemesis from the past destroy any hopes they might have of happiness?

Warning: This variation of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice depicts our hero as having a neurological difference. If you need your hero to be perfect, this might not be the book for you. But if you like adorable children, annoying birds, and wonderful dogs, and are open to a character who struggles to make his way in a world he does not quite comprehend, with a heroine who can see the man behind his challenges, and who celebrates his strengths while supporting his weaknesses, then read on! You, too, can learn what wonders can be found when we see the familiar through a different lens.

This is a full-length novel of about 100,000 words.

You can find Through a Different Lens at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

 

 

 

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Dr. Benjamin Rush and his philosophy of kindness

I’m delighted to be visiting From Pemberley to Milton today on my blog tour for Through a Different Lens. Thanks, Rita, for hosting me.

In Through a Different Lens, Elizabeth recognizes that Mr. Darcy might not be intentionally cold or arrogant, but might instead have a disability which hinders his ability to function comfortably in social situations. In other words, Mr. Darcy has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of “high-functioning” autism. Armed with this understanding, Lizzy attempts to befriend him, which sets off the action of the story.

Lizzy’s experience with autism comes from working with her young cousin and learning from his governess Miss Pierce, a most capable woman who has studied the works of Dr. Benjamin Rush (1746-1813). The name might be familiar to American readers, since he was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He was not only a politician, though, but also a well-respected physician who changed how mental health issues were seen. In fact, he is known as “father of American psychiatry” for his work with the mentally ill. Although we now know that autism is not a mental illness, but rather a neurological difference, at the time of this novel and when Dr. Rush was writing, people with developmental issues were often treated similarly to the mentally ill.

Benjamin Rush, the medical doctor and Founding Father, took after the Renaissance-man civic participation of his mentor, Benjamin Franklin.

Rush, who completed his MD at the University of Edinburgh in 1768, believed that mental illness was not a sign of demonic possession or some other weakness of character, but that it had physiological causes (he incorrectly thought it the result of faulty blood circulation in the brain). Therefore, he believed mental illness could be diagnosed and treated. One significant result of this was that he called for the humane treatment of the mentally ill. Rather than condemning these sufferers to a life in Bedlam, or with locks and restraints, he advocated the need for kindness in their treatment.

He also pioneered a therapeutic approach to addiction, claiming the physical properties of alcohol rather than a weakness of character as the cause of alcohol addiction, and interestingly, was one of the first to identify Savant Syndrome when he described the abilities of Thomas Fuller, a slave who was a lightning calculator in 1789. As an interesting footnote to this novel, Savants pair their incredible abilities with some significant neurological or developmental disability, such as autism.

What Elizabeth Bennet and her friend Miss Pierce learned from Dr. Rush, however, is the importance of treating those who are different with a gentle hand and with sympathetic humanity. In other words, Lizzy learned the importance of kindness, and it is with this lesson in mind that she approaches the cold and inscrutable Mr. Darcy.


 

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With Miss de Bourgh and Colonel Fitzwilliam holding court, the entire gathering was rather pleasant and Elizabeth found herself enjoying the occasion rather more than she had anticipated, until the door opened once more and Lady Catherine sailed in with Mr. Darcy in her wake. Immediately the atmosphere in the room changed. In the moment it took for Lady Catherine to walk across the room and seat herself in the throne-like chair by the fireplace, Anne returned to the timid and sour creature Elizabeth had first encountered, and Colonel Fitzwilliam’s easy smiles and effortless gallantry became stiff formality and cautious glances. The alteration was sudden, striking and most unpleasant.

Intrigued by the glimpse into Anne’s character when not terrorised by her mother, Elizabeth attempted to continue the conversation the two had been having. Anne answered neatly enough, but it was evident that she was measuring every syllable by what she deemed Lady Catherine would approve. So fascinated was Elizabeth by this phenomenon that she nearly missed overhearing the colonel as he spoke to Mr. Darcy.

“You ought to apologise,” the officer whispered. “I know not exactly what you said to her, but I am certain it was not polite.” There was no response from Mr. Darcy, and as Anne had ceased speaking completely, Elizabeth had little difficulty in hearing the rest of the colonel’s words. “At least walk over and offer her a polite greeting. You can be a boor and have a particular talent for insulting people. Take some initiative to be friendly.”

Elizabeth was struck by the similarity of this conversation with the one she had overheard at that first assembly in Meryton so long ago. This time she did not see Mr. Darcy’s eyes meet hers and then withdraw, but she felt his gaze at the back of her neck as he answered, “I cannot imagine what I have to say to her, and even less what she has to tell me. I am not one to make idle chatter with ladies in my aunt’s parlour. Leave me, Richard, and return to your flirtations.”

As these words dropped from those cruel lips, Elizabeth felt her shoulders stiffen and her entire mien shift, just as that of Anne de Bourgh had transformed with the arrival of Lady Catherine. Colonel Fitzwilliam must have observed this, for he now hissed at his cousin, “Darcy, we must speak. In the steward’s office. Now!” The shuffle of boots across the marble floor told Elizabeth that the two men had left the room, and she resisted the urge to feel the back of her neck to ascertain whether her skin was burning from the intensity of Mr. Darcy’s stare.

Horrid man! He was rude, cruel, uncaring, unthinking… he could not even be bothered to say so much as ‘good afternoon’ to her! Well, it was of little matter to her, for she resolved never to have another word with the arrogant man, just as she was certain he wished never to be in her presence again. That was settled, then. They should suit perfectly! She fretted and stewed as the tea was served, thankful now for Anne’s lack of conversation and for Lady Catherine’s claim on Charlotte’s time.

As quickly as the Collinses and their guests had been summoned to Rosings, so they were dismissed. Between one sip of tea and a nibble of cake, Lady Catherine announced that the party was over and that it was time to depart. To her credit, Anne looked distressed at her mother’s discourtesy, but said nothing, being reduced once more to a shell in the fierce lady’s presence. Elizabeth’s only regret as she took her leave was that she had not been able to converse with the colonel, nor to say good-bye to him. For the rest, she was more than delighted to be out of the house.

What a strange family this was! For all her grand gestures and her elaborate displays of noblesse oblige, Lady Catherine was nothing but a petty tyrant, ruling through fear rather than through respect. The mistress of Rosings might be obeyed, but she was also undoubtedly despised behind many a closed door. How preferable was Elizabeth’s own father, with his middling estate and the goodwill of his tenants, than were Lady Catherine’s great riches and the cowering or scorn of these beholden to her.

Of these, the most poorly done by was Anne, the lady’s own daughter, to whom all the wealth and prosperity of Rosings truly belonged. Although not blessed with fine looks or a hale constitution, those few minutes of candid conversation had proven Miss de Bourgh to have a fine mind and a pleasing manner, which were crushed under her mother’s imperiousness. How the heir to Rosings might have blossomed if only she had been treated with a little kindness!

That word nearly stopped Elizabeth as she walked. Kindness: she had seen the outcome of its lack in Anne de Bourgh; she had seen its liberal application work wonders with Sammy. She had the choice of these, and she chose the latter. It seemed unlikely that Mr. Darcy would deign to be in her presence again—he could not lower himself to deal with one such as she after all—but should the occasion arise, she would strive to be kind. Perhaps one day that cold and cruel man might learn something of the idea and might try some kindness himself. To the unlikelihood of that occurrence, she could only give a bitter laugh.


 

Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

Riana’s second novel, The Assistant, was awarded the Jane Austen Award by Jane Austen Readers’ Awards, and her debut novel, Teaching Eliza, was listed on a list of 2017 Favourite Books on the blog Savvy Verse & Wit. For both of these honours, she is delighted and very proud!

You can follow Riana’s blog at https://rianaeverly.com/blog/, and join her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RianaEverly/) and Twitter (@RianaEverly). She loves meeting readers!

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The blog tour is almost over but you can still go back and check all the other stops:

Jan 21 ~ Diary of an Eccentric
Jan 22 ~ Author takeover at Historical Reads and Research with Leila Snow
Jan 23 ~ Rose Fairbanks
Jan 24 ~ Interests of a Jane Austen Girl
Jan 25 ~ Babblings of a Bookworm
Jan 28 ~ So Little Time…So Much to Read
Jan 29 ~ My Love for Jane Austen
Jan 31 ~ Half Agony, Half Hope
Feb 5  ~ From Pemberley to Milton
Feb 6  ~ More Agreeably Engaged
Feb 8  ~ Austenesque Reviews

 


 

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Riana Everly is giving away five copies of Through a Different Lens to readers world-wide! Just sign up through the Rafflecopter widget to enter.
If you prefer not to use Rafflecopter, send her an email message (riana.everly@gmail.com) or leave a note on her Facebook page, and she’ll add you to the list for the draw.
Entries close at midnight Eastern time (GMT-5) on February 10, 2019, so the winners have something to read on Valentine’s Day.

Good Luck Everyone!

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