Good Afternoon everyone,
Are you a big fan of fantasy? Do you like to have it mixed with Jane Austen’s characters? I never thought I was much into it, but I decided to give it a try, and ever since I read some really good austenesque fantasy books that I’ve been hooked. We should never say no unless we’ve tried something first, right?
Today I am happy to bring to you an excerpt of Miss Bennet’s Dragon, a novel by M. Verant who is a new to me author, but whose writing skills are visible in the excerpt we’re sharing, which means the TBR just keeps growing and growing! The book was released yesterday, but it’s already waiting to be read by me, especially because it already hit Amazon #1 new release in Gaslamp fantasy! That can only mean people are enjoying it right?
I hope you like the excerpt and that you share your opinion of it with us 🙂 Don’t forget there is a giveaway of an ebook for those commenting on this post.
Thank you so much for visiting Mr. Verant! It was a pleasure to welcome you to From Pemberley to Milton, I wish you the best of luck with this release!
Elizabeth Bennet is hiding a forbidden power. She can communicate with draca, the fire-breathing creatures that bind to married gentry. But Mr. Darcy has noticed her secret. He even hinted at his own mystery involving “the darkness of Pemberley.”
War with France is raging, and there are rumors that the English army will recruit married gentlemen so their draca may be used in battle.
Now, Elizabeth meets the handsome and scheming Mr. Wickham in Meryton.
Lydia, Kitty, and Mary were outside the haberdashery with some officers, including Mr. Wickham. He offered his arm, and I latched on, amused at my behavior after scoffing at Charlotte’s advice.
Lydia rewarded me with a grumpy expression. Mr. Wickham was now resplendent in his scarlet regimental uniform.
Fortunately, there were officers enough, including one for Mary. She tended to be stranded when competing with Lydia and Kitty, who were aggressive in securing gentlemen. Of course, I had snatched Mr. Wickham without even considering her. That was an uncomfortable thought, although it turned out all right in the end.
Pondering the dynamics of five unmarried sisters, I watched Mary converse with her companion. She was smiling, but to my eye, her pleasure seemed forced. I was not sure what was wrong, but I wished she were happier.
I returned my attention to Mr. Wickham, but he seemed distracted. I followed his gaze.
On the far side of the street, an iron-barred coach was being loaded with luggage. A steel mesh cage on top held a draca.
Wondering what fascinated him, I said, “Colonel Forster reports the regular army is recruiting married, bound officers.”
Mr. Wickham turned to me with a smile. “Indeed, I have considered joining the regular army. Serving in the militia is an honor, but the regulars, even more. I have little patience for men who shout of patriotism while playing cards in drawing rooms.” The corner of his smile dimpled. “Regretfully, I am unmarried.”
I bit my lip to squash an impending blush. “I am sure you would be welcomed. They have a great shortage of officers for the war. They award commissions to those who demonstrate an officer’s character.”
“You are well informed,” he said, abruptly defensive.
I kicked myself for overstepping. “I am sure I am poorly informed, compared to an officer of the militia.” With a doting smile, I added, “Shall I call you Lieutenant Wickham now?”
The warm smile returned. “Truthfully, I enjoy hearing you say Mr. Wickham.” He gave a bow. I felt we were set right again, although my method left me uncomfortable.
Then I had to ponder whether “Mr. Wickham” was a more intimate address than “Lieutenant,” and I decided it was.
His attention returned to the cage on the carriage. The draca was agitated, jumping against the mesh so the cage shook. It was a smallish quadruped, about the size of a rabbit. A reddish underbelly pressed against the wire, and I recognized a roseworm, who take their name from their color.
Lydia and Lieutenant Denny crossed the street toward it.
Blue flame shot from the cage, shivering the blue sky, barely visible but heating my skin like an open furnace. A patch of mesh on the cage glowed red-hot, the center yellow-white and smoking. The roseworm clawed in a frenzy, and the metal tore like fabric. The creature scrambled over the carriage roof and fell into the street.
Even falling, it fell wrong. Draca of every variety are sinuous and exact in their motion, a graceful mix of stalking cat and hunting bird. But this was a flailing, painful plummet, and I heard a thump and an animal’s shriek as it hit the ground.
People crowded close. Then a woman screamed, and they scattered pell-mell like children at a game. One man cried out with every step while a woman supported him, his trouser leg in bloody shreds.
I caught a flicker of rose among the running feet, then the roseworm darted free. It ran toward Lydia and tumbled to an awkward halt a few feet from her.
Lydia’s hand extended in fright. The roseworm’s chest swelled like our drake’s had before it threw fire.
Ten paces away, my thought was an instinctive, silent scream: Stop!
The roseworm’s threatening pose froze. Lydia’s hand hung, outstretched like a command. Then Denny wrapped her in his arms and pulled her away.
The roseworm’s head twisted toward me. My vision blurred. I felt… shame. Terror and confusion. And pain. Burning pain that had struck while trapped in the cage.
With a snap, the sensation vanished. The roseworm fell on his side, convulsing and screeching. It was horrid, a creature in ultimate agony. He bounced on the ground like a child’s abused rattle, then lay still.
“She stopped the attack,” Wickham said in a wondering voice. His gaze was on Lydia.
“Kill it!” someone shouted. Men ran for sticks. An officer drew his sword. But they hung back, afraid to approach.
“He is killed already,” I whispered. I walked between the standing men and knelt by the poor creature. Dead, he was a little thing, with beautiful red scales that turned golden on his back and tail. The memory of his dying terror tightened my throat.
There was a strange odor. Sour orange and bitter almond.
Firm steps approached. “Miss Bennet, please come away—” a familiar baritone began.
“Elizabeth!” said Mr. Wickham’s concerned voice.
On each side of me, a man’s hand was extended. One was gloved beneath an elegant dark sleeve, the other bare beneath an arm clothed in scarlet regimentals.
As I rose, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham turned from me to each other. Mr. Darcy’s face became cold, then white with fury. Mr. Wickham was red-faced. He took a flustered step back before touching his hat in greeting.
With no word, not even the bare minimum of a nod, Mr. Darcy turned his back. His gray horse was a few steps away, untethered but waiting with perfect discipline. With a horseman’s uninterrupted sweep, Mr. Darcy was into the saddle and trotting away. He kicked the animal and vanished down the street at a gallop.
Mystified, I turned the other way. Mr. Wickham’s scarlet back vanished through the crowd in the opposite direction.
An unforgettable fantasy retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that is romantic, funny, and more relevant than ever.
Elizabeth Bennet is hiding a forbidden power. She can speak to draca, the fire-breathing creatures kept as status symbols by English gentry. If only Mr. Darcy would stop noticing… and hinting at his own dark secret.
When Elizabeth’s sister falls deathly ill, the cure lies in the mysteries of draca. Elizabeth, aided by her brilliant sister Mary, defies restrictive English society to hunt for lost draca lore. She must hurry. England’s war with France has drawn other hunters, and they have darker goals.
Elizabeth’s search leads her to the fabulous Pemberley estate, home of the entitled and infuriating man whose proposal she scorned. There, Elizabeth’s worlds smash together—protocol against passion, and exultation against the risk of love.
But the stakes are greater than her sister’s life. Elizabeth must test herself against a distant war.
And her enemy is not who she thought.
You can find Miss Bennet’s Dragon at:
I write fantasy, sci-fi, and thrillers, all with the same Spotify playlist. My books include social and political issues, but I’m an incurable romantic, so they’re… NobleBright, kind of?
My latest work is Miss Bennet’s Dragon, a fantasy retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that recasts Austen’s social critique as themes of entitlement and empowerment.
Power in the Age of Lies is my first novel. The Culling Gods will be published in 2021 by Montag Press.
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, surrounded by Teslas and wild turkeys. Visit mverant.com for more.
Mr. Verant is kindly offering one ebook copy of Miss Bennet’s Dragon to one reader visiting From Pemberley to Milton. The giveaway is international and all you have to do to apply to it is comment on this post until the 13th of May. The winner will be announced shortly after that.
Good Luck everyone!