Good Afternoon everyone,
Today is a very special day for me because it is my mother’s birthday and to celebrate this special day, I am taking her to visit one of Portugal’s iconic places, the caves of Mira D’aire, but before I do, I am pleased to share with you a guest post from one of my favourite authors, Nicole Clarkston.
I’m sure you’ve noticed I have been very quiet lately due to the break I was taking from JAFF, but I’m back and that is patly because of Nicole Clarkston’s new book, Nefariouos. I will read anything from her, literally anything! She is one of the most talented authors I have ever read and I have heard nothing but good things about Nefarious so I had to return to JAFF and read this book! Needless to say you may expect a review very, very soon!
Until then I’ll try to entice you with this excerpt, even if no enticement is necessary when it comes to someone as talented as Nicole Clarkston 🙂
I hope you enjoy it, and please join me in welcoming Nicole Clarkston once more to From Pemberley to Milton 🙂
P.S – I could move on with this post without mentioning how much I love this cover!!! It is stunning! And it is currently in a cover contest, so if you love it as much as I do, please help Nicole and vote for it.
He hates everything about her.
She despises him even more.
So why is his heart so determined to belong to her?
Once trapped by marriage to a woman he loathed, Fitzwilliam Darcy is finally free again. Resentful, bewildered, and angry, he is eager to begin his life over—preferably with a woman who is the exact opposite of his wife.
He never imagined a short stay in Hertfordshire would bring him face to face with his worst nightmare; a woman similar in face, form, and name. He certainly never expected her to be so impossible to ignore.
Torn between what he believes he wants and what his heart cannot live without, his dignity begins to unravel. Will his desperation to escape his past drive a wedge into his closest friendship and destroy any hope of a future?
Will Miss Elizabeth Bennet prove to be as nefarious as his wife? Or, will the last woman in the world be his only chance at happiness?
You can find Nefarious at:
I lifted my eyes over the edge of the book I was reading and caught him peeking at me again.
Mr Darcy had come into Netherfield’s library a quarter hour earlier, and only a very obvious, excruciatingly humiliating, superhuman effort had kept him from acknowledging me. Indeed, he walked right on by the stacks, pointedly turning his head to the shelves opposite my chair so that it might not seem so apparent that he “did not see me.”
I snuggled more deeply into my chair and proceeded to ignore him. It was difficult, however, with him pacing about the room like that. At one point he stopped, and I heard him catch his breath as if he meant to speak, but by the time I looked up at him—for I was leisurely and casual in my manner—he was already investigating a book on the shelf nearest him. I looked down, but in the periphery of my vision, I watched him put the book away in frustration and seek another. I wondered how long it had taken him to discover that the book he had been reading the previous evening was the very one I had chosen prior to his arrival.
It truly was sublime. Rarely had I been so successful in tormenting anyone, nor found such satisfaction in another’s vexation. It was wrong of me, and I knew it… but Mr Darcy seemed determined to be displeased in my presence, whether I provoked him or not. Was I wrong to amuse myself where I could?
At length, I had pity on the man and quitted the room. We had been alone together for above half an hour without ever speaking to each other, and he did not even look up when I left. Instead, he seemed so involved in whatever dull book he was reading that even a bird slamming into the window from outside had failed to draw his notice. A fine act the man could put up, indeed!
That evening, Miss Bingley persuaded me to play for the entire party, over all my protestations and reluctance. The way it occurred was, no doubt, her own contrivance to exhibit her superior skills against mine. It was true—her fingers were deft, her expression remarkable, and her execution flawless. My own performance, I cannot recall without some humiliation.
It would not have been so bad, if only I had been permitted to play the piece I first selected. Miss Bingley, however, cried out after only a few measures. “Pray, Miss Eliza, will you grace us all with this selection?”
I made a valiant effort at playing the piece she gave me. Truly, I did, though my poor lip bore the punishment as I unconsciously chewed it all the while. When I was nearly halfway through it, and trying to conquer a particularly difficult section, Miss Bingley drew near again. “Oh, dear, Miss Eliza, I am afraid you do not like this concerto. Here, I have another that I am sure will strike your fancy.”
The piece she presented me was even more challenging. I hesitated as I glanced over the lines, and my eyes raised from the instrument just long enough to catch Jane’s eye… except it was not Jane’s gaze I encountered, but Mr Darcy’s. The look I found there—inscrutable interest, some obscure intensity—made me fearfully uneasy, but I refused to show it. I drew a steady breath, lifted my chin, and proceeded to abuse the ivories for the next ten minutes.
After that, for no particular reason that I could discern, Mr Darcy made his excuses and left the room. I watched him go in both relief and confusion. I had played ill—even I could not deny it—but it was not so bad that my listeners must have acquired the head ache! We saw him no more for the rest of the night, so Miss Bingley was unable to importune him for the cause of his hasty departure. Jane and I exchanged glances. Whatever the reason, we both counted his absence a blessing.
We left Netherfield on the following day, only to arrive home to the news that Mr Collins, a cousin whom we had never before met, was to arrive by evening. Mary and Kitty were in great hopes that he would prove admirable in one way or another. Mama absolutely insisted that he would show an interest in one of us. For once, my own sentiments aligned with Lydia’s, though not for the same reason. Lydia meant to save her own interests for the red-coated officers in town, while I merely wished to know more of the man before someone supposed me to be intended for him.
Alas, no such luxury was afforded me. Almost from the moment he arrived at the house, my mother was thrusting me into his way. He had not been our gest for four hours before I felt the sinking reality of my mother’s hopes and the gentleman’s wishes. My father, at least, indulged in a laugh or two with me at Mr Collins’ expense, but to the others, it was a foregone conclusion that I was to become Mrs Collins before the month was out.
Intending to put pin to such talk, I donned my muff and cape on the second morning after Mr Collins’ arrival and announced my intentions to walk into Meryton. Such intelligence instantly spurred Lydia and Kitty to join me, which, I assumed, would result in Mr Collins declining our company. In this, I was sadly mistaken, for not only did he accompany us, but he insisted on walking beside me.
My dismay knew no bounds until we arrived in town. There, a troop of officers gathered on the walk immediately drew Lydia and Kitty’s admiration. Struck by a diabolical scheme, I turned to my youngest sister. “Oh, look, Lydia, there is Captain Denny. But is that another young lady he is speaking to?”
Lydia looked on in aggrieved surprised. “Oh, surely it is only because I had not yet arrived in town. I shall catch his notice, you can be sure of that.”
“Do you know, Lydia, I believe a certain way of catching a man’s notice is for him to see you in the company of another gentleman,” I suggested.
Her eyes brightened. “Oh, dear Mr Collins!” she cried. “My good cousin—sir, I have a very great favour to ask of you.”
And so it was that my protesting, bumbling cousin was drawn away by my two youngest sisters—an event which delighted me more than I could say. Not only was I now spared his rather cumbersome presence, but Kitty and Lydia had just acquired a natural safeguard of sorts against their typical improprieties.
“That was well done, Lizzy,” Jane murmured.
I nodded. “I am rather proud of it myself. Come, Jane, I see Mr Bingley crossing the street just there. Shall we not greet our neighbour?”
Jane smiled timidly and nodded. A moment later, the gentleman had sought us out of his own accord, and I stood back in pleasure as they greeted one another. That was when a handsome, unfamiliar face stood out to me from the crowd—a tallish fellow, with genial features and a crimson uniform. He bowed to Mr Bingley, and begged an introduction.
“Indeed,” the latter agreed. “Miss Jane Bennet, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, may I present Mr George Wickham.”
The dashing young officer proved most personable, doffing his hat and greeting us with all civility. “It is a pleasure,” he effused, “to meet such lovely ladies. I had fancied I would be quite alone and desolate in Meryton.”
“Not so, sir,” I disagreed. “If you are a friend of Mr Bingley’s, you may be assured of being well received in the neighbourhood, for he is a great favourite among all the local families.”
“Alas,” he sighed, “I have but a passing acquaintance with Mr Bingley. It is Mr Darcy with whom I am chiefly acquainted. I understand he is presently a guest at Netherfield?”
“Indeed, he is, but we will try not to hold that against you,” I retorted.
Mr Wickham laughed. “Ah! I understand how it is already. I fear my old friend is not always amiable amongst strangers.”
“If by that, you mean that he is constantly scowling and above his company, you are quite correct.”
“Oh! Miss Elizabeth, I suspect that you and I shall become great friends. Ah! There is the old fellow now. I say, is that not Miss Darcy with him? I did not know she was in this part of the country.”
I looked beyond Mr Wickham’s shoulder, and found Mr Darcy in the company of a tall, large-boned girl of handsome features and gawky movements. Her complexion was clear and rosy, but she clung to Mr Darcy’s arm as if she feared she would be ill.
“I had heard his sister was to come to Netherfield,” I replied, “but I had not met her yet. She must have only just arrived.”
“Indeed! Well, I simply must go pay my respects. Excuse me, won’t you, Miss Elizabeth?”
I watched as Mr Wickham presented himself, and marveled at the one man’s easy manner while the other seemed instantly off-putting. Mr Darcy had appeared… heaven strike me dead if he did not look happy! But then, as soon as Mr Wickham bowed before him, his face blackened and his brow clouded. They exchanged a few words, with Mr Wickham paying every civility while Mr Darcy remained his typically odious self, and a moment later, they were coming towards us.
I found Miss Darcy to be the perfect opposite of her brother. Where he was commanding and austere, she was awkward and unassuming. And yet, I could trace the same detachment of manner, the same light in their eyes. However, just as my favourite gown could appear bright yellow in my bedroom and cream-coloured outdoors, so that peculiar tint appeared in Mr Darcy’s eyes to be disdain and in his sister’s to be insecurity.
We exchanged pleasantries for only a moment, but it was long enough for me to settle with myself that I would heartily befriend this shy girl. If nothing else, doing so would grant me a golden opportunity to nettle Mr Darcy. Moreover, perhaps she might be able to shed some light on the strange, almost jealous looks passing between her brother and Mr Wickham. I confess, I was perplexed in the extreme… but not perplexed enough to remain standing there when I saw Mr Collins returning with Kitty and Lydia.
“Oh, Cousin Elizabeth!” he cried. “Ah, there you are!”
I cringed when I saw Mr Darcy’s jaw drop, then seal itself again. Good heavens, what further humiliation must I endure at Mr Collins’ hands? Poor Jane was shrinking unconsciously towards Mr Bingley, and I sighed audibly, rolling my eyes.
“I am afraid we must be on our way,” I announced. “Good day, Miss Darcy. I hope we shall see you soon.”
With that, I caught Jane’s arm and marched her down the street, away from Mr Collins and our younger sisters. Unfortunately, they would catch us up eventually, but at least they would not linger and embarrass us before the other gentlemen.
“Well, Lizzy, what do you think of that?” Jane whispered.
“Of Miss Darcy, Mr Wickham, or our relatives?” I asked.
She raised an eyebrow. “All of it.”
“I think…” I blew out a huff of air. “I am dreadfully curious. I only wish we could call on Miss Darcy tomorrow alone, so that we might know her better.”
“No chance of that,” Jane lamented. “Not once Mama hears of her arrival.”
I sighed. “I know.”
The blog tour is just beggining so please don’t forget to check all the other stops:
June 3rd – More Agreeably Engaged; Vignette, Giveaway
June 4th – From Pemberley to Milton; Guest Post, Giveaway
June 7th – Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, Giveaway
June 8th – Babblings of a Bookworm; Vignette, Giveaway
June 11th – So Little Time…; Guest Post, Giveaway
June 13th – Savvy Verse & Wit; Guest Post, Giveaway
June 15th – Diary of an Eccentric; Review, Giveaway
Nicole Clarkston is offering a very generous giveaway. On this stop you can either win a $10 Amazon Gift Card plus eBook or Audiobook of winner’s choice which will be available for all readers acrosss the globe, or a signed paperback of winner’s choice which is only available for US residents. To enter this giveaway all you have to do is comment on this post and give us your opinion of this author or your expectations regarding Nefarious.
The giveaway is open until the 10th of June and the winner will be announced shortly after.
Good Luck Everyone!