Good Afternoon everyone,
I am very pleased to welcome Mary Smythe to From Pemberley to Milton today. Quills & Quartos has recently published her book Dare to Refuse Such a Man, and she decided to present us with a very intriguing excerpt of it. I find it intriguing because I have never imagined a story where Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy wanted to get married but Mr. Bennet would not give his consent, have you? What do you think of this premise? Isn’t it promising? This book is definitely on my TBR and I believe I will be reading it very shortly 🙂
Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this tour Q&Q team! And thank you for choosing such a wonderful excerpt Mary! I wish you all the luck with this book 🙂
Hi Rita! Thank you for having me on your blog today. I’m so excited to be here 🙂
This scene simultaneously takes place at the beginning and the middle of the story. How, you ask? Why, it’s the scene which, chronologically, follows the one from the prologue! After Darcy kisses Elizabeth senseless at the Meryton Assembly, Mr Bennet whisks her away from him for the second time while absolutely denying his consent for them to marry. The following morning, Elizabeth wakes with a new hope and a firm resolution to let no one, even her beloved father, stand in the way of her happiness…
Hertfordshire, October 19, 1811
Through her window, the rosy fingertips of dawn were just barely reaching over the horizon, but Elizabeth had been awake for some time already, waiting for enough light to dress by. In spite of her late night, she felt no fatigue. Quite the contrary; Elizabeth was full of excitement, anticipation, and renewed hope.
He is here! Her dearest, sweetest, most loyal Fitzwilliam was in Hertfordshire.
She kicked her feet free of her covers and wasted not a single moment more in stoking her small fire—indeed, she barely felt anything save the warm glow of happy anticipation—and instead, selected a gown that required no help with the buttons.
Since returning to Hertfordshire, it had been nigh impossible for Elizabeth to enjoy the familiar comforts of home, though she attempted to appear as regular as possible for the sake of keeping her burdens private from her mother and younger sisters. Elizabeth had performed all her former duties around the estate by rote, socialised with their neighbours with forced cheer, and grudgingly maintained a civil tongue towards her father. Each and every interaction felt like a terrible effort.
She had not yet resumed the habit of whiling away companionable hours in Mr Bennet’s book room. She only entered that room to collect a ledger or book and then perused them elsewhere. No one, except perhaps Jane, her only confidante, had seemingly noticed the new chill between the Bennet patriarch and his favourite daughter, though it was certainly felt between the two of them.
Oh, but all the strife from the past few weeks could be put aside and hope renewed. Darcy was here—he had staked his claim, kissing her before everyone she knew—all would be as it should, and they could marry. Mr Bennet would not continue to deny them, surely, when to do so would be to invite censure into their lives? A romantic reunion between established lovers could easily be accepted as a sweet if somewhat improper anecdote. Surely her father must come to reason; if an engagement was not announced soon…well, it did not bear thinking of the consequences for not only Elizabeth but also her sisters.
When she recalled this in the midst of her excited preparations, Elizabeth sobered for a moment. She had no doubt Darcy would propose to her with all haste, and her neighbours, who had known the Bennet daughters since infancy, would be more forgiving than London society, but she did rather wish Darcy had not risked their reputations.
Then again, Elizabeth could understand why he had felt desperate enough to do so. Mr Bennet’s steadfast refusal to even entertain the idea of their match—Elizabeth scowled, as she often did, at the thought of her father’s stubbornness—and his pains to separate them were likely what had driven Darcy to such extremes. How could she be angry with him for doing this much? She might have done the same had she thought of it.
Through the window, she could see the dome of the rising sun arching over the fields and determined it was light enough for her excursion. There had been no time to arrange a rendezvous between them the evening before, but Elizabeth hoped, by loitering along the boundary between Longbourn and Netherfield Park, she might spot Darcy from afar and draw his attention to her presence. Should her attempts prove unsuccessful… Well, Elizabeth would think of something. Nothing would keep them apart now.
“He is the kind of man, indeed, to whom I should never dare refuse anything which he condescended to ask.”– Mr Bennet, Pride and Prejudice Volume III, Chapter 17
IT HAD NEVER OCCURRED TO FITZWILLIAM DARCY that once he had chosen a bride, her father might dare to refuse his consent. When his dearest, loveliest Elizabeth is taken from him with only a curt note of explanation, he determines that, far from accepting her father’s rejection of his suit, he must instead find her again and make his case. After all, a woman worthy of being pleased is also worth fighting for.
SEVERAL MONTHS SHY OF HER MAJORITY, it is not so simple a thing to defy Mr Bennet’s will, but Elizabeth, for the sake of her future happiness, must try. With various allies in her corner, as well as foes standing against her, Elizabeth’s courage must rise against all attempts at intimidation. Even from her own, much beloved father.
You can find Dare to Refuse Such a Man at:
Mary Smythe is a homemaker living in South Carolina with a rather useless BA in English collecting dust in a closet somewhere. Mrs Smythe discovered the works of Jane Austen as a teenager thanks to the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries featuring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle and has since gone on to read everything written by Ms Austen at least once yearly, always wishing that there were more. She has been writing since 2001, but only discovered Jane Austen Fanfiction in the summer of 2018. Dare to Refuse Such a Man is the first full-length novel she has ever completed, though she can boast a few shorter works in her library, as well.
Quills & Quartos is giving away an ebook copy of Dare to Refuse Such a Man to one of my readers. To enter the giveaway please comment on this post and let us know what you thought about this excerpt.
The drawing will occur a week after the tour ends (7 May) and the winner announced shortly after that on Q&Q’s social media.
Good Luck everyone!