Good Afternoon everyone,
I’m very happy to welcome back author Christine Combe to From Pemberley to Milton today. Ms Combe is celebrating the release of her newest book, Born to be a Heroine, in which characters from Pride & Prejudice will meet and befriend characters from Northanger Abbey! I always love the idea of mash ups, and this sounds like an intriguing one 😊
Ms Combe has brought an excerpt from Born to be a Heroine to share with you. I hope you like it! And if you do, there are more excerpts being shared in the other blog tour stops, so you can always read more 😊
Greetings, fellow Austenians! I’m so excited to be visiting From Pemberley to Milton again. Today I’m here to brag about my newest release, Born to be a Heroine. Now, the title might bring to mind Northanger Abbey, but this is actually a Pride and Prejudice story with Northanger characters in it!
Now that you have some idea what’s going on, here’s a sneaky-peek at chapter 2:
“Lizzy, you made it!”
Elizabeth Bennet smiled and held out her hands to her dearest friend. “Now Charlotte, you know very well that Mamma would not pass up the chance to meet the mysterious Mr. Bingley and his friends.”
Charlotte Lucas laughed as she glanced to where Elizabeth’s mother now stood talking to her own. “How much do you want to wager that they are discussing the fortunes of the gentlemen at Netherfield?”
Elizabeth feigned shock and gasped dramatically. “Charlotte Lucas, I am surprised at you! Gambling is an unladylike activity—whatever would Lady Lucas say if she heard you?”
Charlotte snorted softly—also an unladylike thing to do—before she replied, “I have no doubt my mother would not only make a point of saying how extraordinarily fortunate I would be should I catch the eye of one of the single gentlemen, but also the unlikelihood of my actually being so fortunate because I am a plain old spinster next to the likes of Jane and Elizabeth Bennet.”
Jane Bennet, Elizabeth’s elder sister, stood nearby and turned at the sound of her name. “Oh, dear Charlotte—how I wish you would not disparage yourself so! You are as handsome as any of us and you know it.”
Charlotte smiled. “It is most kind of you to say so, Jane, but I am seven-and-twenty and have not had a single offer of marriage.”
Elizabeth frowned. “If only ‘wife and mother’ weren’t the only respectable occupations for a young woman of genteel birth,” she groused. “Then those of us with more intelligence than the average society debutante could be appreciated for more than our ability to bear children and host dinner parties.”
“Lizzy!” cried Jane. “How can you say such things?”
“Very easily, Jane,” Elizabeth rejoined. “I would much rather be recognized for who I am and what I can do to better my community than simply as Mrs. Edward Smith.”
Jane only shook her head in apparent dismay; Elizabeth grinned and returned her gaze to scanning the room for their younger sisters. Mary, who was next after Elizabeth, sat primly in a chair by the wall, while the two youngest girls—Catherine and Lydia—were already engaged in dancing, each one paired with a young officer from the militia that had recently encamped in Meryton for the winter.
Elizabeth suppressed a sigh. Ever since the militia had come to town, there had been nothing but red coats and officers in her sisters’ heads. Kitty and Lydia were wild about them, always running off to talk to one or the other of the militia anytime they went into Meryton. And their mother! Rather than curb such inappropriate behavior, she encouraged it!
She was just considering going to have a word with Lydia about her forwardness when the atmosphere in the ballroom changed perceptibly. Conversation all but stopped entirely, leading even Elizabeth to turn her head in the direction much of the crowd was now looking.
A large party had just entered, and she knew instantly they must be the new residents of Netherfield, for she had seen none of them before. There were an equal number of men and ladies—four of each—though one of the latter was a matronly lady dressed in a dark lavender gown trimmed with black lace that hinted of her being still in mourning.
Leaning close to Charlotte, whose father was now approaching the group with a wide, welcoming smile, Elizabeth asked in a low voice, “Your father was to meet Mr. Bingley this morning, was he not Charlotte?”
Her friend nodded. “He did, yes—and returned with a very thorough report.”
“Can you tell us who they are?” asked Jane.
“If I have Papa’s descriptions correct, I believe the young one at the front with the older lady on his arm to be Mr. Bingley, and the lady must be his great aunt, a Mrs. Allen—who I understand lost her husband very unexpectedly earlier this year.”
Elizabeth nodded, having guessed as much. “And the others?” she queried.
“The tall fellow should be Mr. Bingley’s friend, Mr. Darcy. Beside him are Mr. Morland and his sister Miss Morland, whose family are very close friends of Mrs. Allen; in fact, their father is the vicar at Fullerton, where they are from. Next is Miss Bingley, Mr. Bingley’s younger sister, and Mr. and Mrs. Hurst, who are Mr. Bingley’s brother-in-law and elder sister.”
Mrs. Bennet was bustling over then, and almost pushed her way between Charlotte and Elizabeth as she said to them, “Girls, girls! You’ll not believe what Lady Lucas has just told me. That tall gentleman has a greater fortune than Mr. Bingley—ten thousand a year!”
Embarrassment flooded through Elizabeth—not only was her mother gossiping about Mr. Darcy’s fortune, but she was “whispering” quite loud enough for the whole of the Bingley party to hear.
“Now, here is what the two of you must do,” her mother was saying. “Jane, as the eldest—and the most beautiful girl in the county—you must do everything you can to secure Mr. Darcy, for he has twice the fortune of his friend and a grand estate in Derbyshire. And you, Elizabeth, ought set your cap at Mr. Bingley.”
“Mamma, please,” said Elizabeth, trying to keep the exasperation out of her voice. “You know very well I’ve no interest in matrimony at present.”
It was a statement that could turn into an argument—and had, several times. And though she knew the risk of bringing it up in the midst of a crowd of people, Elizabeth could not help herself reminding her mother she just wasn’t ready to be married.
“Oh, Lizzy, don’t be ridiculous,” admonished her mother. “You just haven’t met the right young man, but you will have once Mr. Bingley is introduced to us.”
“Which I believe he will be, presently,” spoke up Charlotte. “Papa is even now leading the gentleman this way.”
She was right—Sir William Lucas, smiling widely as he perpetually did, was escorting Mr. Bingley and the lady Charlotte believe to be his aunt over to them. They were followed by the two believed to be Mr. and Miss Morland.
“Mrs. Bennet, how do you do this evening?” asked Sir William.
“Oh, very well, Sir William, very well indeed!” replied Mrs. Bennet with a flutter of her fan. “And you, sir?”
“Oh, I am quite well, as you can see,” the gentleman replied. “Now, I beg your pardon for interrupting, but our newest neighbor has asked for an introduction to your family. May I present Mr. Bingley of Netherfield, his aunt Mrs. Allen, and their friends Mr. and Miss Morland.”
Each person bowed or curtsied as they were introduced. “We are very pleased to meet you, Mr. Bingley,” said Mrs. Bennet. “All of you are most welcome to the neighborhood. Might I introduce my daughters to you?”
Bingley blinked, and Elizabeth was forced to temper the brilliance of her smile, for his eyes had fallen on Jane the moment the party walked up, and had not moved from her sister’s face.
“Of course, ma’am,” he managed. “Please do.”
In moments, Mrs. Bennet had introduced her and Jane, and pointed out their younger three sisters.
“Five daughters in one family!” cried Mrs. Allen. “I could scarcely imagine it, were I not so intimately acquainted with my dear friends the Morlands.”
Elizabeth looked to the Morlands and asked, “Is yours a large family then, Mr. Morland?”
He looked to his sister and the two shared a smile. “I should say, Miss Elizabeth. Catherine and I are two of ten children—I was born first and she fourth.”
Mrs. Bennet’s fan fluttered faster. “Good heavens. Ten children? I wonder your mother had the constitution, for I barely survived five!”
She leaned closer, peering at them with narrowed eyes. “How old are you, sir?”
Mr. Morland grinned. “I shall be two-and-twenty in December, ma’am.”
“And I turned eighteen only yesterday,” added Miss Morland. “Our youngest brother is four years.”
Elizabeth laughed. “Well, a belated happy birthday to you, Miss Morland. I am sure yours is a fine family, when you have heads and arms and legs enough for the number.”
“Oh indeed!” cried Miss Morland. “I very much love all my brothers and sisters, though I must admit that at times they do try my patience—especially the younger girls.”
Here Elizabeth shared a knowing look with Jane. “In that, Miss Morland, Jane and I can very much empathize.”
“Miss Bennet!” said Mr. Bingley, perhaps louder than he intended, as his cheeks grew rosy. “May I have the pleasure of the next dance? That is, if you are not already engaged.”
Jane’s smile was warm as she replied, “I am not engaged, sir.”
“Excellent!” said Bingley with enthusiasm. He turned to the young man next to him and said, “Morland, are you going to dance?”
Mr. Morland blinked. “Um, I should be delighted, as soon as I have myself a partner. Miss Elizabeth, are you engaged for the next dance?”
Elizabeth was delighted to be asked, for she’d been longing to dance and there never seemed to be enough partners—Meryton’s monthly assemblies always drew more young ladies than young men.
“I am not, sir. Thank you, Mr. Morland,” she replied.
“I want to dance, too!” cried his sister. “But I’ve not been introduced to any young men yet—perhaps I’ll go and talk Mr. Darcy into dancing.”
Bingley laughed. “I wish you luck, Miss Morland, for you shall need it. I’m afraid my friend Darcy doesn’t dance unless he is already intimately acquainted with his partner.”
Elizabeth was amused by the other young lady’s wide grin. “I accept your challenge, Mr. Bingley,” said Miss Morland, before she twirled away and headed over to where Mr. Darcy stood in brooding silence next to Mr. Bingley’s sisters.
Oh boy! Do you think Catherine will succeed and convince Darcy to dance? Check out the next stop o the tour to find out — or better yet, pick up a copy of theook to read the whole story! Born to be a Heroine is available in eBook, paperback, and hardcover at Amazon!
Christine, like many a JAFF author before her, is a long-time admirer of Jane Austen’s work, and she hopes that her alternate versions are as enjoyable as the originals. She has plans to one day visit England and take a tour of all the grand country estates which have featured in film adaptations, and often dreams of owning one. Christine lives in Ohio and is already at work on her next book.
Blog: All That They Desire / Facebook: (1) Christine Combe | Facebook