Monthly Archives: January 2021

Georgiana’s Secret by Arlem Hawks- Spotlight

Good Afternoon everyone, 

I hope you had a wonderful weekend. I’ve spent mine reading by the fire and I kind of wish I could extend it for a few more days. Lately I have been reading more non austenesque regency romances to get a break from the usual characters and I find it very revitalizing, which got me wondering, what about you? Do you also mix your jaff books with regency novels? If so, which ones do you usually read? Also, would you like me to start reading and reviewing more of these novels? Or would you prefer if I kept my reviews to Jane Austen Fan Fiction and North and South adaptations?

I have a few regency reviews coming up, so I hope you like those, and I would also like to bring to your attention one book whose story seems really interesting to me, Georgiana’s Secret. I am sure that apart from the romance that I have now come to expect from the Proper Romance Regency series from Shadow Mountain, this will also be full of adventure. I’ll leave you with the blurb in case you’re interested 🙂


A Regency romance on the high seas. Two hearts yearning to find a safe harbor, and possibly, a lasting love.

As a young girl, Georgana Woodall dreamed of beautiful dresses, fancy balls, and falling in love. However, when her mother dies, she cannot face a future under the guardianship of her abusive grandmother and instead chooses to join her father on his ship disguised as his cabin boy, “George.”

Lieutenant Dominic Peyton has no time in his life for love, not with his dedication to His Majesty’s Royal Navy claiming his full attention. While trying to adjust to a new crew, he strives to be an exemplary officer and leader. When he sees the captain’s cabin boy being harassed by the crew, he immediately puts a stop to it and takes the “boy” under his wing. After discovering a number of clues, Dominic deduces that George is really a woman. Knowing that revealing the cabin boy’s secret would put her in serious danger from the rowdy crew, Dominic keeps silent and hides his growing affection for her.

Georgana is quickly losing her heart to Dominic’s compassion and care but is convinced nothing can come of her affection. She cannot continue to live her life on the sea, and having already missed too many seasons in London, her chances of being welcomed back into polite society and finding a suitable husband are quickly slipping away.

 

QUICK FACTS:

  • Title: Georgana’s Secret (Proper Romance Regency)
  • Author: Arlem Hawks
  • Genre: Regency Romance, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction
  • Hook:  A young woman masquerading as a cabin boy aboard a Royal Navy ship is aided by a dashing Lieutenant.
  • Comparable authors: Georgette Heyer, Julie Klassen, Sarah E. Ladd, Sally Britton, Joanna Baker.
  • Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing (January 12, 2021)
  • Format: Trade paperback, eBook (320) pages and Audiobook

.

 

You can find Georgiana’s Secret at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk 

and on Audible

 


.

 

Arlem Hawks began making up stories before she could write. Living all over the Western United States and traveling around the world gave her a love of cultures and people and the stories they have to tell. With her travels came an interest in history, especially the history of her English heritage. When she isn’t writing, Arlem is baking her characters’ favorite foods, sewing Regency dresses, learning how to play the tin whistle, and water coloring. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two children.

7 Comments

Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

January Bookmail Giveaway

Good Afternoon dear readers, 

I hope January treated you well! I can’t complain because, even though we are once more on full lockdown, during the entire month I was gifted many books which arrived through the mail 🙂 I absolutely love finding letters or postcards in my mailbox, but books are definitely the best mail, and January was a busy month!

Seeing these books arriving in the mail made me so happy, that I decided to share a little of my happiness with one of you by offering one ebook copy of any of the books I received in the mail during this month. In fact, I think I’ll make this a monthly tradition, what do you think? Does it sound like a good idea?

I thought it would be nice to let you know what I was receiving because all of these books will make it to my TBR and I would like to know if you’ve read any of those, which ones you would recommend, or even which you also have on your own TBR’s.

To participate in the giveaway, all you have to do is tell me in the comments you are interested. I will announce the winner next Saturday, so you’ll have until the 5th of February to let me know. You don’t need to choose right away, but feel free to discuss any of these books 🙂 Unfortunetely the option to offer an ebook is only available to me on Amazon.com so you’ll have to have an account there to participate.

I will also post this giveaway on From Pemberley to Milton’s Facebook and Instagram page’s and participants from all platforms will be eligible for this giveaway 🙂

The winner may choose one ebook copy from one the below books:

 

Persuasion (Portuguese Edition) by Jane Austen – Source: Bought it second hand

Cake & Courtship by Mark Brownlow – Source: Gift from a friend

The Price of Pride by Abigail Reynolds – Source: Christmas gift from hubbie (of course I told him what to buy)

When the Sun Sleeps by Alix James – Source: Gift from author

Tempted  by Nicole Clarkston – Source: Gift from author

Elizabeth Bennet : Short and Sassy: Four Pride and Prejudice Tales by Alix James – Source: Gift from author

The Rogue’s Widow  by Nicole Clarkston – Source: Gift from author

Captain Wentworth Home From the Sea by Mary Lydon Simonsen – Source: Christmas gift from hubbie (of course I told him what to buy)

In Consequence by Trudy Brasure – Source: Christmas gift from hubbie (of course I told him what to buy)

Pemberley Ranch by Jack Caldwell – Source: Christmas gift from hubbie (of course I told him what to buy)

Lovers’ Meeting  by Catherine Lodge – Source: Gift from publisher

Treading Water by Hannah Lynn- Source: Gift from a friend

Back to the Bonnet by Jennifer Duke – Source: Gift from author

Aerendgast by Rachel Berman – Source: Gift from Austenesque Jolabokaflod friend

Plots, Ploys and The Art of Matchmaking by Sarah Courtney – Source: Gift from author

Fallen by Jessie Lewis – Source: Gift from publisher

 

 

 

 

Good Luck Everyone!


 

29 Comments

Filed under JAFF

All That This Entails by Noell Chesney

All That This Entails picks up the Pride and Prejudice storyline a few months before Elizabeth’s visit to Derbyshire with the Gardiners, and it has a very unique and appealing plot twist.

In this book, Mr. Bennet is a relation to Duke Everard, with whom there was breach in the past which prevented people from knowing of the connection. When the Duke and his heirs die in a ship wreck, Mr. Bennet is the only heir alive and becomes a Duke himself. This means that Mrs. Bennet becomes a duchess and the Bennet girls will all be Lady’s, way above Darcy’s station. I’ve read a few books where Elizabeth is above Darcy’s station in society and I confess this is a trope I don’t particularly like. I believe the changes it causes in the characters personalities, and in the storyline, are so big it hardly resembles Pride and Prejudice. Noell Chesney was able to use this trope without doing that because Elizabeth only becomes Lady Elizabeth after the Hunsford proposal, and this was certainly one of the aspects I enjoyed the most in the book. It was interesting to see how each of the Bennet’s adapted and reacted to their new reality.

Another aspect I enjoyed immensely in this book where the Darcy/Elizabeth moments due to their flirtatious dialogues and courtship games. If you usually love no angst books with a long and tender courtship filled with romantic moments, this one is for you! Once Elizabeth and Darcy reconnected, the story became filled of memorable romantic moments 🙂

My main quibble with this book was the lack of conflict that would push the story forward. At moments, everything seemed too perfect and easy for our characters as we go through dinner parties, walks in the park and theatre plays surrounded by caring, accepting and loving family members. I believe the pace of the story would have been more compelling if some scenes, descriptions or dialogues were reduced, and if the actual conflict that appeared in the very end of the book would have come sooner.

Nevertheless, the writing style in All That This Entails is very easy to follow and invites the reader to keep reading, which was another of aspect I appreciated in this book.

I would recommend All That This Entails to readers who enjoy slow-paced stories with little to no angst. It is a romantic tale, and Darcy is a true gentleman on this one. I am sure he will conquer many readers’ hearts 🙂

You can find All That This Entails at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

and on Kindle Unlimited

6 Comments

Filed under JAFF

Mr. Darcy’s Daughters by Elizabeth Aston

One of my goals this year is to read and review older Austenesque books, so I thought that Mr. Darcy’s Daughters by Elizabeth Aston would be a good place to start as it was published in 2003.

The story begins twenty years after Pride and Prejudice left off and tells us the story of Mr. Darcy’s daughters first season in London. Similarly to the Bennets, there are five Darcy girls, Letitia who is the eldest, Camilla who is similar to her mother Elizabeth, Georgina and Belle who are twins, and Alethea, the youngest. The girls also have some brothers but they are only mentioned in the story, just like Darcy and Elizabeth who are in Constantinople and do not make an appearance.

When I started reading this book, I knew that Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth would not be at the centre of the stage, but I was not expecting them to be completely missing from the story, which was a minor quibble I had with the book. Even if it was necessary for them to be absent for the plot to work, I still missed their presence, especially because all the other characters were new to me. In fact, because we were introduced to so many new characters in the beginning of the book, not only the girls, but also their relatives, friends and acquaintances, it was very hard for me to feel any real attachment to any of them, and for the greatest part of the book I was not very engaged with either the characters or the story.

In terms of characters there were a few I liked and a few I disliked. Aunt Lydia, for example, was really fun to be around with (Wickham is long gone), and Wytton was certainly the best character in this book with his resemblance to Darcy in terms of personality (even if I cannot understand his fickleness of heart). But Fitzwilliam was a despicable character I could not enjoy due to his coldness and obtuseness, and Sophie was truly annoying which is a strange fact to accept when I think she is the Gardiners daughter. The same applies to Mr. Darcy’s daughters whom I could not like. Their behaviour was scandalous and not at all what I would imagine from girls raised by Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. The only one I started caring a little about was Camilla, and that was only towards the end of the book.

In terms of plot, I think the idea was interesting and it was nice to see a little more of the ton, but what I enjoyed the most was Camilla’s romance towards the end. If the book had been only about that I think I would love it very much, however, there were too many scandals and elopements for my taste in this story. It was mainly this exaggeration of scandalous behaviours from Mr. Darcy’s daughters that made me dislike the general plot. I am not particularly fond of Lydia, so seeing so many of Darcy’s daughters having Lydia like behaviours was truly a disappointment for me.

Mr. Darcy’s Daughters is a very well written book released at a time when not many ventured into Jane Austen Fan Fiction. It has its own merits for bringing to live so many new and different characters but unfortunately, the exaggeration of certain behaviours coming from certain characters, the farfetched explanations and the language that was often used prevented me from enjoying it more.

 

You can find Mr. Darcy’s Daughters at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

and on Audible

23 Comments

Filed under JAFF

Death of Clergyman by Riana Everly

Death of a Clergyman is the first book in the Miss Mary Investigates series and can be read as a standalone story, however, I highly recommend starting by its prequel, The Mystery of the Missing Heiress, which is a small novella (currently free) that introduces to us an original character who will be crucial in Death of a Clergyman. I’ve read this prequel and absolutely loved not only the main character but also the writing style, and how the author was able to build the plot, so my expectations towards Death of a Clergyman were very high.

In Death of a Clergyman Mr. Collins is found dead and Elizabeth is accused of his murder. When Mr. Darcy hears the news, he immediately reaches out to Alexander Lyons, the private investigator we are introduced to in the novella, and hires him to investigate the murder of Mr. Collins and prove Elizabeth’s innocence. Both Mr. Darcy and Lyons travel to Hertfordshire with the objective of helping Elizabeth, but they are not the only ones who are focused on finding the real criminal. Miss Mary, the sister no one seems to remember exists, is the perfect ally to solve this crime because she sees and hears much more than people ever stop to consider. Her discreet personality along with an intelligence not many know of and a very curious nature, will gain Lyons respect and after a rough beginning, they will pair up to follow all the clues.

The initial approach to Mary and how she is able to obtain most of her intel about the crime was very interesting. The author did Mary credit and I truly liked her personality on this story. Plus, I truly liked having her as a main character in a novel that is more of a mystery than a romance. In fact, I was expecting to see more romance between Mary and Lyons, but I guess that is waiting for me in the next novel: Death in Highbury. I did like their relationship, and how it grew, so it will be very nice to see it evolve a bit more in the next novel.

Apart from Mary’s character and the approach the author had towards her, I also loved to see Elizabeth and Darcy present in this book. Do not be fooled by the idea that this is a secondary character story, it is true that Mary is the main character but there are many Darcy and Elizabeth scenes present on this book, including a proposal! Not only did I like to have them as an active part in this story, especially Darcy, but also to see all their encounters from a third party perspective. That is very rare as we usually see books from either Elizabeth or Darcy’s point of view, and here we witness the scenes from Mary or Lyons eyes, and that neutrality was super interesting.

I liked to see how all the pieces came together to form the puzzle that was Mr. Collins death and I only started realizing who the guilty party was towards the end. For me, the enthusiasm was not to find out who did it, but to follow Mary and Lyons investigations and to trail their line of thought. I was happy to see how their minds started working as one towards the end, which is another indicator that the next story will be quite interesting.

Summing up, Death of a Clergyman is a curious mystery that gives Mary Bennet the attention she deserves. If you like this character, you will certainly like this book, and if you do not, you should give it a try, you may be surprised.

You can find Death of Clergyman at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

9 Comments

Filed under JAFF

Fallen by Jessie Lewis

I recommend asking Amazon for a sample of Fallen from Jessie Lewis because if you read the prologue, you’ll be bound to read the rest of the book. That is what happened to me. I read the first two pages and immediately knew I would stay up late reading this story.

Fallen opens with a lady realising that after being compromised by a gentleman he will not marry her. We later realise she is with child and it is that child that will change the entire story. When I read the prologue I guessed who the lady was, but I was far from guessing who was the father of sweet Anna. That mystery is kept right until the end, which was definitely a plus for me.

Fallen will closely follow canon and the main difference is the presence of a small child and the dynamics between the Bingley’s and Darcy, a fact that Elizabeth perceives and wonders about. Why does Darcy seem so displeased with some of Bingley’s attitudes? Why does he seem keen on diverting certain subjects from conversation? Why does Miss Bingley seem so bipolar, displaying different attitudes every day? Who is young Anna? And what is her connection to the Netherfield residents?

The answers to those questions may seem small differences, but because of them, Elizabeth and Darcy become closer to one another and are able to have many conversations that will give her a different light on his character. Slowly she starts falling for Mr. Darcy, especially after all their walks at Rosings Park, where they share beautiful and soul bearing conversations. This was my favorite aspect of the entire book because we see Elizabeth getting closer to Darcy and slowly falling in love with him, which is something I always love in a novel.

The love story between Darcy and Elizabeth is deep, romantic and a little different than usual because the we can see that both love one another but are not getting together because there is still a bridge to cross, this provides the reader with a little angst but also the assurance of an exhilarating HEA.

Apart from all the Darcy/Elizabeth moments, I also enjoyed immensely the dialogues behind the usual scenes. We can finally see what the Bennet sisters tell one another when they are together, and even Kitty has a say when the Bennets are in their parlour. This detail made me enjoy the book much more and even like Jane Bennet, who is a character I don’t particularly love. These dialogues allow the reader to get to know all characters much better, and to see them as part of the story, instead of props simply added to make it work. The characters in Fallen are real and complex, which makes the prose richer and the enjoyment of reading it bigger.

The structure of the book makes it a compelling read with small chapters that keep pulling the reader into the next one, and the writing style is exquisite. Summing up, Fallen is a very romantic novel with a little mystery that will please all readers. I highly recommend it.

You can find Fallen at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

and Kindle Unlimited

6 Comments

Filed under JAFF

Giveaway Winners

Good Afternoon everyone,

I hope you’re all having a nice weekend. We’ve entered a new lockdown in Portugal this week so I’ve spent the last couple of days reading indoors, which is actually quite good in these winter months 🙂

Hopefully I’ll be able to reduce that TBR pile. Do you think there is any syndrome about not being able to conquer one’s TBR? If there is, I think I may suffer from it. 

Anyway, today I would like to announce the winners Games of Love and Cruelty by Laura Moretti. Ms. Moretti was the first guest at From Pemberley to Milton in 2021 and a true pleasure to work with. I’ve realised we like the same type of literature and hopefully I’ll be able to host her once more with another exciting book soon 🙂

She was offering 3 ebook copies of Games of Love and Cruelty and the winners are:

 

Games of Love and Cruelty

*** Shelby6666***

*** Rellaenthia***

*** Kayelem***

Congratulations ladies! As always, can you please contact me throught e-mail ritaluzdeodato at gmail dot com so your prize may be sent to you? Please provide me with the email address to which the book may be sent to you, and the Amazon store in which you have an account.

Happy Reading everyone!

6 Comments

Filed under JAFF

Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion by Maria Grace

I have been a huge fan of Maria Grace’s Jane Austen’s Dragons series, so reading Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion was not an option; I simply had to read it.

While The Dragons of Kellynch is a prequel to Persuasion, showing us Anne and Wentworth’s lives a few years before the events start in canon, Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion continues that story and goes through the events we already know from Austen’s work.

One of the things I found more interesting about this book was how the story followed canon without re-creating the same events. The dragons have obviously a major role in this book, and because of them, the events that allow the story to progress are very different from the ones we see in Persuasion, yet very similar in their essence, which gives this book a refreshing sense of familiarity and surprise at the same time.

In this last book of the Jane Austen’s Dragons series, we are introduced to another major dragon, Kellynch, and surprisingly he is a very different type of dragon! In fact, this book’s key breakthrough was the introduction of many different types of dragons, foreigners who did not know the Blue Order rules (or decided to ignore them), dragon twins, and maritime dragons! If we think about it, because this book is set in Persuasion and Captain Wentworth is a seaman, it would make sense to have sea dragons, but I never really considered it. Maria Grace did a wonderful job at incorporating them in this story, and most of all, in taking advantage of their existence to provide Anne and Wentworth an incredible happily ever after ending.

Mr. and Mrs Darcy are also present in this book and I loved the fact that Maria Grace took the opportunity to bring characters from the previous books into this last instalment. Especially towards the end of the book Mrs. Darcy’s character gives the story an extra charm that made me appreciate it even more.

I was expecting to see more romance between Anne and Wentworth, but their support for one another was satisfying enough, and as always this book is not romance centric, it is a tale of adventure and fantasy.

As for the dragons, I cannot say I loved Kellynch as much as I loved the previous major dragons but Laconia continued to make me smile. I loved his insistence concerning who the right mate for Wentworth was, and his despise for dragon deaf humans, particularly the ones present in Lyme.

Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion is an entertaining book with a writing style that pulls the reader right into the story. I have enjoyed it immensely and I can only wonder if Maria Grace will now bring the dragons into other Austen’s novels. If you’ve read the previous books in this series, you have to read this one. You cannot go without meeting Kellynch 🙂

You can find Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Kindle Unlimited

and Audible

3 Comments

Filed under JAFF, Persuasion

The Dragons of Kellynch by Maria Grace

I was never into fantasy literature and I never had any fascination with dragons, goblins or any other type of creature, but I was completely captivated by the Jane Austen’s Dragons series by Maria Grace, and after reading the first 3 books, I was extremely excited to know that she would take this series into a Persuasion setting.

Persuasion is my second favorite Austen novel, and if you’ve read any of the first books in the series, you’ll know that Maria Grace’s dragons have the power of persuading humans, so I thought that bringing this feature into Persuasion would be extremely interesting and precisely my cup of tea. 

My expectations for The Dragons of Kellynch were high, but Maria Grace was able to surpass them by taking this series into a whole different level. Unlike the first three books in the series, this one is not focused on a major dragon, but on minor dragons and Anne Elliot’s slow discovery of their existence.

The storyline in this book takse place before canon Persuasion and even if most events are seen from Anne’s point of view, making us privy to the Elliots life at Kellynch, we also have some chapters dedicated to Wentworth where we see him developing a relationship with Laconia, his dragon friend and one of my favorites so far.

Because this book is a prequel, we see both Wentworth and Anne’s life after their break up but before their reunion, and I found this very interesting because they are not yet the characters we see in Persuasion, they are growing to become those characters. Wentowrth is still trying to make a living in the navy and Anne is still under Lady Elliot’s wings at Kellynch. Not only do we see her grow in terms of dragon hearing but also as a character. We see her refusing Charles Musgrove, meeting Mr. Elliot for the first time, and acknowledging her father’s true nature. These are aspects we rarely see in Persuasion inspired books and I really liked to go through these life events with Anne.

I was amazed with how unexpectedly Maria Grace integrated some characters such as Lady Russel into this new narrative and even the persuasion element, which I was expecting to see, was constructed in an unexpected manner. Summing up, this book is pleasantly full of surprises.

The author brought the Elliots’s faults into this new setting in a very clever way because she kept them true to themselves but adapted their faults to a world ruled by dragons. However, what I loved the most in this story was accompanying Anne as she started hearing dragons. We had only seen a glimpse of this process with Lydia, but Anne’s path was much more detailed and fascinating. 

Once more Maria Grace penned an engaging and fascinating story which I recommend to all who loved the first books in the series. The Dragons of Kellynch did not disappoint and is the perfect introduction to Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion.

 

You can find The Dragons of Kellynch at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Kindle Unlimited 

and Audible

5 Comments

Filed under JAFF, Persuasion

Games of Love and Cruelty by Laura Moretti – Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Morning everyone,

My first post of the year (well, after the From Pemberley to Milton’s 2020 Favorite Books) is an excerpt of Games of Love and Cruelty, a modern take on Pride and Prejudice by Laura Moretti,  a new author at From Pemberley to Milton. This makes me super happy because there is nothing like starting the year with something new, or in this case with someone new, right?

Laura Moretti has written three Pride and Prejudice variations, The Governess, a 54 page novella released in 2018, Do you Love Me?, another novella released in 2019, and  Games of Love and Cruelty released in the end of 2020. This last book is not the type of novel that would get my attention, but I confess that when I started reading the reviews on Amazon I was impressed, and I added it immediately to my TBR. The writting style appears to be unique and very interesting as you can see by the excerpt Ms Moretti brought to us today, and something tells me that Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship will be electrifying on this one.

I hope you like this excerpt and that you tell me what you thought about it in the comments. I am very curious to know your opinion! Plus, there is a giveaway of 3 ebooks, so you may have a change to read the entire book 🙂

Thank you for visiting Ms Moretti, I hope this is the first of many visits 🙂


 

Set in the 21st century…

Fitzwilliam Darcy falls madly in love with the vivacious and clever Elizabeth Bennet. After a few shots of tequila, he declares his affections for her. It is a disaster. Elizabeth resoundingly rejects him.

But…it’s late, they’re alone and slightly intoxicated.

They sleep together.

Now Darcy has everything…and nothing. He is having sex with Elizabeth and while he falls more desperately in love each day, she still hates him. It is the beginning of a secret, sensual, complicated liaison, wherein each plays a cruel game; Darcy because he is hiding his passion and growing despair, Elizabeth because she is feeling lost.

As Darcy gets more hopeless, and Elizabeth tries to deny her budding feelings, another man begins to vie for her affections…

.

 

 

 

You can find Games of Love and Cruelty at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk 

and on Kindle Unlimited

 

 

 

 


.

 

Darcy is late and in a bad mood when he enters the subway. And of course, the gates are blocked, because a family of tourists is trying to forcibly get through with four suitcases and a stroller. They can’t; the entrance is too narrow. So they stay stuck.

And they block everybody’s way.

Darcy is ready to…be an ass. To tell the tourists, in his most haughty tone—cold anger implied—that there is a main entrance, you know, with a special door for strollers and people with suitcases. That maybe they could read a fucking guide, where these things are explained, so they fucking wouldn’t block everybody’s way.

Except there’s this girl.

A brunette. Not that pretty, but…sparkling eyes, gorgeous smile. She’s kind. She helps them. She helps with the stroller. Thanks to her, the family actually make it to the other side, and when they are not blocking everybody’s way anymore, she explains about the main subway entrance, the special gate, “so it will be easier on you next time.”

She’s wearing a purple sweater. Darcy doesn’t talk to her; he hurries to catch his train, but his anger has evaporated. Her voice, her smile. It’s nice to know that there are people who…kind people. It was something Georgiana would have done.

(It was something he should have done.)

(But he was in a hurry.)

Still.

**

That same night.

Two weeks ago, Darcy’s best friend Charles Bingley bought a loft in a ‘trendy’ neighbourhood; translation: in a cheap, dirty cluster of streets, where two bars have miraculously popped up and real estate dealers are calling it a trend. So tonight, Darcy, Bingley, and Bingley’s sister Caroline are at this party, in someone’s apartment. The owners are absent, but the Bennet girls, whoever they are, have borrowed the place for the night.

Darcy is still in a bad mood. Worse than this morning, even. Because of…life. Because of Georgiana. His sister, she’s barely fifteen, she’s had a rough time recently. Darcy should have kept a better eye on her. And Pemberley weighs on him, the size of the business, the never-ending responsibilities…and now Darcy doesn’t want to be here, in this stupid party in this vulgar place. The building is owned by the Bennets, he learns from Caroline, who somehow already knows all the gossip.

Well, Darcy thinks, the Bennets (he’s already sick of the name) are not doing a good job of maintaining their property.

“You should dance with Elizabeth!” Bingley says, pointing to someone, a girl with brown hair, who apparently is the sister of the blonde Bingley has been spending all evening with.

“Not pretty enough for me,” Darcy states.

Then he takes a sip of wine; it’s awful.

God. This day.

“You can be such an ass sometimes,” Bingley comments cheerfully, before going back to the blonde.

The young woman walks away—the brunette—the one Darcy said was not pretty enough. He realises she was close enough to hear—strike that, she has definitely heard. Darcy half recognises her—then she puts her sweater on over her nice, cheap black dress and—yep—she is the purple sweater girl from the subway.

He feels bad. It’s not fair to her. Here she was, putting good vibes into the universe— being kind to random tourists—and the universe thanks her the same night with a stranger insulting her.

Darcy doesn’t regret what he said—she isn’t pretty enough for him–but he regrets she heard it.

Moments pass. It’s a little irrational, how bad he feels, really. It’s just that kindness should not be met with spite.

For some reason, he observes her the rest of the evening. Elizabeth is her name. She laughs a lot. She seems happy. She dances well.

She really has the most sparkling eyes.

**

It’s dark and grey the next day in Elizabeth’s studio.

Because. November.

Late Saturday morning. The building is awakening; it’s so old, you can hear everything. Upstairs, in Elizabeth’s parents’ place, her mom must be cooking for the mandatory Saturday morning Bennet brunch. Elizabeth’s father is certainly on the computer. On the third floor, below Elizabeth, the Lucases are stirring. Steps, muffled noises. Music. Charlotte, maybe.

Elizabeth is a little hungover. Yesterday, she danced a lot, drank a lot.

Time for coffee. Liquid bubbles in a vintage Italian metallic coffee maker; it belonged to her grandmother, like the table, like most of the furniture. Elizabeth loves it all— how her studio feels old, lived in, familiar.

The machine hisses. Warm coffee smell in the November gloom.

The party yesterday was a tad disappointing; Elizabeth is not sure why. Great music, flirting, laughter, meaningless talk, drunken political discussions, being insulted by a random prick (“not pretty enough”—come on), a perfectly average, absurd evening, but—.

Elizabeth wants more.

She doesn’t know what she wants.

She sips her coffee.

A Christmas tinsel lies forgotten. Jane and Elizabeth used Christmas lights to decorate the Philips’ apartment yesterday—when the Philipses leave for the weekend, they rent their place for parties. Elizabeth hesitates, then she takes the lonely, orphaned tinsel, steps up on her small, unsafe balcony (it’s so cold, so grey), and arranges the cord around the railing before plugging it inside.

The lights flicker in the mist.

Trees. You can see autumn far away.

**

One year later

Hunsford Pub.

One of the rooms in the back, near the billiard table.

Darcy. “I love you.”

Elizabeth is stunned. She cannot believe this is happening. Darcy is still talking, pacing the room, declaring his affections; he’s somewhat drunk, maybe Elizabeth is too, a lot of tequila has been consumed tonight. Darcy is STILL walking, still talking, the word ‘passion’ is uttered, while Elizabeth is quickly reviewing her conduct of the last months, trying to see how she erred, how she could have given him the wrong impression, because… she hates Darcy. HATES him.

He was odious to her, to Jane, to everyone she loves.

Darcy pauses. He looks at Elizabeth as if he was, at last, expecting an answer.

The answer comes.

**

Darcy doesn’t take it so well.

All hell breaks loose.

**

Darcy.

“The deplorable lack of sense and decorum of your younger sisters”
“Your vulgar mother, in your father’s derelict building”
“If I had flattered you”
“But I hate lying, I am not a hypocrite, Elizabeth, like everybody is around you—pretending to be blind to…”

Elizabeth.

“Your selfish disdain for the feelings of others”
“Swimming in money” “Treating everybody with contempt” “Reducing friends to poverty”
“I have every reason in the world to despise you”
“I don’t think you are capable of showing even a modicum of charm, Darcy, or even a twinge of—I don’t know, basic politeness—but even if you had…”

Darcy is the one that initiates it. They are very close, very angry. 

“Even if you were the last man in the world,” Elizabeth begins. She pauses; she is in his face—a light brown stubble is visible on Darcy’s chin.

He smells faintly of tequila.

Yes, a pause.

Darcy caresses Elizabeth’s cheek. It comes from nowhere. It is so strange. And tender, really.

Elizabeth takes a step back. The light is low. Muddled voices, glasses clinking, music coming in waves from other parts of the pub. This place is a labyrinth; Richard Fitzwilliam, Charlotte Lucas, and William Collins are drinking somewhere near the bar.

Darcy and Elizabeth are alone.

In this tiny room and its pool table. In this deserted, random corner of the universe.

They kiss. Lips tentatively brushing. Next thing Elizabeth knows, one of her hands is on Darcy’s collarbone, the other in his hair; Darcy is holding her tight, kissing her temples, her brow, he is biting her earlobe (not too hard), and then they are kissing, period. Passionately. Elizabeth has always thought, you know, those movies, where two people fight angrily before rage-fucking in a closet—those scenes were crazy, unbelievable, come on, who does that, but when Elizabeth finds herself half-naked in Darcy’s arms on the leather couch, she understands that—yes—that is what she is doing now.

Yes.

The sex is gorgeous.

Elizabeth doesn’t think—and she’s always thinking. Darcy’s naked skin is perfect against her. When he’s inside her she’s losing…the stream of time, if it makes sense? His eyes and his hands and…

Then it’s later and Elizabeth is putting her clothes back on and she’s stunned. Shocked.

Clearly Darcy is too.

Elizabeth goes back to the other part of the pub. To the bar. To Richard and the others. She doesn’t want to flee, she doesn’t want to look like she’s ashamed, so she purposely orders a beer, she sits on a stool, she makes small talk. 

Her cheeks are burning. She thinks that it must be painted on her face. That everybody must see. (But nobody does.)

Darcy joins them after a few minutes. He orders a beer, too.

Everybody drinks and jokes around. (Nobody suspects a thing.)

Darcy and Elizabeth’s eyes do not meet.

 


 

Laura Moretti would like to offer three ebook copies of Games of Love and Cruelty to my readers. The giveaway is international and will end on the 14th of January. All you have to do to participate in the giveaway is comment on this post. Every comment earns an entry in the drawing.

Good Luck everyone!

 

17 Comments

Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice