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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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!