Category Archives: North and South

Parallels by Linda Gonschior – Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone, 

How are you today?

I am very pleased to welcome Linda Gonschior at From Pemberley to Milton today with a guest post and an excerpt of Parallels, the third and final book in her Reflections series. I haven’t read the first books in the series yet and to be perfectly honest, I hadn’t heard of it until Parallels was released, but  after reading the blurb I got curious. When I started reading JAFF I wasn’t too fond of modernisations, but lately I have had a lot of fun reading those, so it’s becoming a favorite, and this series is definitely under my radar now. 

Thank you so much for visiting Ms Gonschior, it is a true pleasure to welcome you today! And thank you for inviting me to be a part of the tour Janet, not only did you introduce me to this series, but also gave me the opportunity to spread the word about it to other readers 🙂


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Thank you Rita for this opportunity to talk a bit about my Reflections series!  I am honoured to be contributing here and thrilled with the release of Parallels, the final book in this series.

Like many familiar names in JA fanfiction, that 1995 Pride and Prejudice miniseries ignited in me a suppressed desire to write, write, write!  It was not my first encounter with Jane Austen, nor with this particular story.  I’d seen the Olivier/Garson version countless times and read the book a few times, too.

Something clicked, though, and I was off.

Parallels is the third and final book in the Reflections series. It’s a modern variation with the first two set in the early 1990’s.  Book one, Reflections, opens with that fateful meeting at Pemberley. Elizabeth and Will seem about to correct their misunderstandings, put the past behind them and set out on the road to happiness.  The road takes a sharp turn instead.

Austen’s Darcy was able to return Lydia to her family but this Will Darcy was not successful.  Confusion, hurt feelings and a secret drive Elizabeth and Will further apart.  They do manage to put the past behind them to some extent, and the story picks up a few years later.  Elizabeth returns to Meryton then, but she is not alone. She has a little boy, the focus of her life and the apple of his grandfather’s eye. 

Who is her son’s father?  Readers are not in any doubt but Elizabeth’s family has no idea, and neither does the father.  Reflections takes everyone on a journey of discovery; unacknowledged feelings, parenthood and the ability to forgive.

Of course no relationship is without its trials. The second book in the series, A Tarnished Image, picks up immediately where the first left off. Newly married, Elizabeth and Will Darcy have much to learn about how to live with each other and raise their son together.  Old ghosts from the past return, forcing the newlyweds to face some hard truths about themselves. Additionally, Will’s younger sister Georgiana is also coming into her own, ready to find her direction in life.

Even with a happy ending accomplished, Elizabeth and Will were not quiet. Okay, my imagination was not quiet. Parallels takes us forward twenty years.  The little Darcys introduced in the first two books are grown up. Almost.  Like all parents, Elizabeth and Will want the best for their children and hope they are spared the troubles that often come with adulthood and growing independence.  But this is not simply a story about their children. This is still about a relationship that continues to grow and strengthen, a family struggling with joys and tragedies, and the bonds that keep them together.

Parallels completes this journey with William and Elizabeth Darcy and I hope readers will be pleased with the happy lives they found.


“Wait!” called Rich, running across the grass after her. “I want to come with you.”

“No way!” she sputtered. “You think I want my little brother tagging along? Not a chance.”

“But you’re only going to the stables!”

“Yes, Rebecca,” came a deep voice from the other side of the hedge. “You are only going to the stables, aren’t you?”

Rebecca glared at her brother. “Yes, Dad,” she called through the leafy barrier, “but do I have to take him?”

“Is there some reason he shouldn’t go?” Will had stood up and now peered over the hedge at his two children.

“No. He just…” She gave up trying to come up with an excuse, knowing her father wouldn’t believe any of them anyway. “All right, but if you embarrass me just once…” Rebecca made a strangling motion with her hands then set off at a jog towards the parked cars.

Rich grinned and ran after her.

Will watched them go. “Elizabeth,” he said without turning his head. “I think our daughter spends too much time at the stables.” He heard her laugh and looked around. “What’s so funny?”

“You are.” Elizabeth was grinning at him. “You only said that because you think there are too many boys out there!”

“Well, aren’t there?” Will couldn’t suppress his own smile.

His wife pointed to the shovel in his hand. “Back to work, Will.” Clearly satisfied when he returned to his appointed task, she continued. “You know that the only interest Rebecca has at the moment is horses. Stop behaving like a paranoid father.” She stooped to pick up the bulbs exposed as Will turned the earth over.

“I’m not paranoid. I’m vigilant,” Will argued. “You know the moment I let down my guard—”

“—your daughters will finally be asked for a date!” Elizabeth laughed again when he frowned in annoyance. “Will, they’re lovely, intelligent young ladies. Of course the boys are going to be interested. You can’t lock them away, you know.”

Will shook his head in amusement. “You exaggerate. Are you saying that you think I’m too strict? That our girls aren’t allowed any social life?”

“I’m not saying that at all, Will. Just try not to scare the life out of the boys who do express an interest, though. Please?”

“You make me sound like an ogre,” he grumbled, thrusting the shovel into the soil again. “Anna can do as she pleases; she’s away from home. Rebecca, as you say, is far more interested in horses, and Kathleen in books.” Will twisted the shovel, emptying the dirt into a pile, then paused. “Perhaps I’ll give Anna a ring to see how she’s doing,” he said thoughtfully.

“You’ll do nothing of the sort!” Elizabeth told him sternly. “It’s Saturday, and she’s probably out anyway. She certainly won’t want her father phoning her while out with her friends.”

Will narrowed his eyes, a sly smile sliding across his face. “I seem to recall you calling our son every weekend during his first year at university. I can’t wait to see what happens when Rich leaves.”

Elizabeth seemed to bite off a sharp retort at the reminder of her overprotective behaviour where Ben was concerned. Her features then assumed an innocent expression as she smiled sweetly at her husband. “But, Will—when Rich leaves, there won’t be any children left in the house. It will be just you and me. I doubt I’ll have any time to harass him with my phone calls.”

Will just stared at her and blinked. Laughing loudly, he pointed a finger in her direction. “Rich won’t be out of here for another six years at least. Are you sure you’ll be up to chasing me around this place by then?”

Chasing you? Ha!” Elizabeth laughed herself. “You’ll be too old to get away, my dear!”

 


 

Love, heartbreak, and self-discovery are life’s greatest challenges,

no matter who your parents may be.

Will and Elizabeth Darcy faced those challenges twenty years earlier, yet marriage taught them patience, understanding, and most importantly, the irreplaceable value of one another. Now their children are about to embark upon that path, hopefully to learn those lessons more gently and avoid the mistakes of their parents.

This third book in the Reflections series brings to a conclusion the story of a couple whose love drew them together in spite of themselves and continues to test them when least expected.

You can find Parallels at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Kindle Unlimited

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Linda Gonschior has entertained the art of writing since elementary school but never allowed it to come to fruition until Pride and Prejudice lured her into deeper exploration of characters, relationships and ‘what ifs’.  Writing is not the breadwinner, however, as she has a day job and many other interests that compete for attention and time.  Still, she has managed to squeeze in several dozen stories – long and short – and there are many more in the ‘incomplete’ folder on the computer.  As retirement looms on the horizon, some may be dusted off to evaluate their potential to entertain those who share a fondness for Jane Austen’s characters and don’t mind straying a little off the beaten path. 

Amongst her accomplishments Linda counts raising a son, stage managing live theatre productions, flower gardening, and website administration, but not netting purses or painting screens.

 


NEW blog tour

Don’t forget to follow the tour for more information about Parallels 🙂

June 7 Donadee’s Corner

June 8 My Vices and Weaknesses

June 9 Diary of an Eccentric

June 10 From Pemberley to Milton

June 11 Babblings of a Bookworm

June 14 My Jane Austen Book Club

June 15 Probably at the Library


Meryton Press is giving away eight eBooks of Parallels. The giveaway is international. The giveaway ends at midnight on the 17th of June or 12:00 AM on the 18th of June. To enter it all you have to do is click on this Raffle link.

Good Luck everyone!

 

 

15 Comments

Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

An Unexpected Harvest by Cat Andrews – Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone, 

I hope you are all doing well and maybe having some fun on these warmer and longer days. Today is my first vacation day, so I am really happy and relaxed 🙂 It is curious because I am hosting Cat Andrews today and the last time she visited was last year also during my holidays. At the time she was here to talk to you about Sanctuary, a book I have just finished reading this month and that I trully loved (review is already live), so I am very happy to receive her once more. 

Today she brings to you an excerpt of An Unexpected Harvest, a book I really want to read because I simply cannot resist a city girl / country boy story! I am sure this book will be unforgeteble for me because it is just my cup of tea 🙂

Are you also fond of these kind of stories? Do you prefer city girl/country boy? Or city boy/country girl? I love both, but I am a partial to a country boy 🙂

I hope you enjoy the excerpt and don’t forget to comment this post to enter the giveaway. 

Thank you so much for visiting once more cat, it is a pleasure to have you here one more. And best of luck with this new release, I know it will be a sucess!


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Hello! I’m happy to be here at From Pemberley to Milton once again! Thanks, Rita, for taking part in the blog tour for my modern Pride and Prejudice variation, An Unexpected Harvest

I had a lot of fun writing this story, playing with the characters and swapping out their personalities, or completely changing them—one reviewer calls it a “literary shell game,” which I absolutely love! It’s an entirely accurate description. 

The story is divided into two parts, and this deleted scene comes from Part 1. In it, we see Elizabeth meeting with an old flame—the very polished Colin Williams (a flip of Bill Collins)—who shows up at her office and makes a last-ditch effort at winning her back. But his hopes are dashed when he realizes he might be too late; Elizabeth’s heart may already be engaged by another. I hope you enjoy it!

***

When Elizabeth pushed open the doors to the lobby, her eyes went to the receptionist, who nodded discreetly toward the windows. A man stood there, gazing outside and holding a large bouquet of flowers in his arms. Even from behind she could see he was impeccably dressed, his dark blond hair perfectly styled.

He heard her approach and turned, smiling widely. “Liz.”
She sighed. “Hello, Colin. Did you give up web design for a career in floral delivery?”
“A ploy that had the desired result.” He handed her the flowers and leaned in to kiss her cheek.
“Thanks, but you shouldn’t have.” Her eyebrows rose at his answering shrug. “I mean you really shouldn’t have. What are you doing here?”
“Can we go somewhere to talk privately?”
She hesitated, wary of encouraging him, but knew they’d be better off without an audience. She led him through the lobby and into a conference room, closing the door behind them, and carefully laid the flowers on the table.  

“Why are you here?”
“Isn’t it obvious? I’m here to win you back.”
She folded her arms across her chest. “It’s not going to happen. And how did you know I’d even be here? Technically I’m still on vacation.”
“Because I know you well enough to know you wouldn’t be able to stay away. You can’t. This is your second home.” He tugged on a loose curl of her hair. “And I think it could happen. Me winning you back, I mean.”
She took a step back. “It won’t.”
“Because of the farmer?” 

“I broke up with you before I even met the farmer. I’m not involved with him—”
“You could have fooled me.”
Her patience waned. “For crying out loud, Colin! I kissed him. Once.”
“You like him.”
Her cheeks heated. “I’m not involved with him, and I didn’t cheat on you with him. Do I feel badly things happened the way they did? Yes, of course. But no matter what you say or how many bouquets you buy me”—she gestured toward the flowers—“nothing will change my feelings for you.”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“You didn’t ask one.”
He tilted his head and smiled sadly. “Do you have feelings for the farmer?”
She pulled her eyes from his and shook her head.
“There’s a right way to respond, Liz. Just answer honestly.”
Her eyes went back to his and she took a deep breath. “Yes, I–I do. But—”
“I don’t want to know anything else.”
She remained silent, grateful he’d stopped her from saying more. Telling him her affection for Will wasn’t reciprocated would have only made Colin feel worse; she was turning him away, only to pine for someone who didn’t want her.
“You know I had to try just once, right?” he said. “I felt lousy about the way things ended on New Year’s Eve, and I hoped that being back home might make you see things differently.”
“I’m sorry, Colin, but I don’t.” 

Things would be so much easier if she felt for him what he felt for her. But she didn’t, and she couldn’t pretend otherwise. It wouldn’t be fair to either of them.
He smiled. “We’ll still be friends, won’t we? I don’t want things to be weird when we bump into each other.”
She nodded. “Friends.”
After a long moment of looking at her, he kissed her cheek again. “Bye, Liz. I’ll see you.”
“Bye, Colin.”
He let himself out of the conference room, and when he was gone she picked up the flowers and held them to her nose, inhaling deeply. One of the things he’d said resonated deeply.

You know I had to try just once, right? 

She didn’t want to understand, but she did. They’d been a couple for eight months, after all. Sadly, of the two of them, she was the more pathetic. She’d only known Will Darcy for a month, and couldn’t make herself walk away; she’d had to try. Just once. And that was after a few apparently meaningless encounters and a lusty but empty kiss. God only knew what she’d do after eight months.


Elizabeth Bennet left her affluent New England home at the age of sixteen and never looked back. She’s built a fabulous life in Boston and loves everything about the city—especially her dream job as creative director at an advertising agency.

Will Darcy has never lived anywhere but in rural Stockbridge, Massachusetts. He lives the quintessential small-town life and loves everything about the country—especially his family’s farm, which he’s doing his best to modernize and return to prosperity.

When her older sister moves back to New England, Elizabeth reluctantly pays a visit to the hometown she left behind. Soon enough, the city girl meets the country boy and the insults and misunderstandings fly—but so do the sparks.

No one is more surprised than Elizabeth and Will when those sparks turn into a brilliant flame, and the 300 miles between them that once felt far too close suddenly turns into an unbearable distance.

The city girl and the country boy know a good thing when they see it—even if they don’t see it nearly enough. Can they overcome their greatest challenge and find common ground—and their happily-ever-after?

***

This novel is a modern variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but with a slight spin on the usual cast of characters. It contains adult content and is meant for mature readers.

 

Full AUH cover

You can find An Unexpected Harvest at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Kindle Unlimited

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Cat Andrews has always been an avid reader, but didn’t discover Jane Austen until her love of a certain British actor led her to the BBC’s 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice, because she just had to know—why all the fuss over this Darcy guy? What followed her viewing of that glorious miniseries was an inhalation of and immediate fixation on all of Austen’s novels, though Pride and Prejudice remains her favorite.

Her discovery of Jane Austen Fan Fiction opened up a whole new world, and thus began her addiction, and months and months of sleep deprivation, as she immersed herself in JAFF. After reading a modern Pride and Prejudice variation that she fell in love with, she was inspired to begin a cautious but earnest foray into the world of writing. 

In real life, Cat has spent thirty-plus years working in healthcare. She enjoys life on the shores of Cape Cod, Massachusetts where she grew up, fell in love with her own Mr. Darcy, and raised a family (and a three-legged dog). More often than not, you can find her at the beach with a book in her hand and her toes in the sand.

An Unexpected Harvest is her second novel. 

Contact/Social Media:

Website: http://www.catandrews.com

Email: catandrews.author@gmail.com

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cat_a_auth

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cat.andrews.583

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/cat_andrews_author


NEW blog tour

The blog tour is just starting, so don’t forget to check the other stops:

June 1 – author’s blog – www.catandrews.com

June 4 – Babblings of a Bookworm

June 7 – From Pemberley to Milton

June 9 – Jane Austen State of Mind

June 11 – Austenesque Reviews

June 14 – Diary of an Eccentric

June 16 – Probably at the Library

June 18 – My Vices and Weaknesses


Cat Andrews would like to  give away one ebook copy of An Unexpected Harvest to one reader. The giveaway is open to readers with a US amazon account and all you have to do to apply is leave a comment on this post.  

Good Luck everyone!

 

39 Comments

Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

Fitzwilliam Darcy, in His Own Words by Shannon Winslow – Excerpt

Good Afternoon everyone,

I hope this week is starting well for all of you. Mine has been terrific, I know it’s only been one day and I probably should not jinx it but I’m finally back in the office, and it feels really good to be back to a routine and to see all my colleagues, well…some of them anyway 🙂

I am also very happy to start the week with Shannon Winslow visiting From Pemberley to Milton as she is an author I truly admire. In case you haven’t noticed, she has released a new book called Fitzwilliam Darcy, in His Own Words, and this retelling is not only a different POV story, but it also brings new characters and plot twists always under Mr. Darcy’s perspective, so I believe this is something you will all enjoy. 

Now, I cannot ask you to read the excerpt we are sharing today without mentioning the cover. OMG, isn’t it beautiful!!! You know I am a sucker for covers, and this one is just terrific! I absolutely love it! Congratulations on such a beautiful cover and on this new release Shannon, and thank you so much for visiting us today 🙂


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Thanks so much, Rita, for welcoming me to From Pemberley to Milton again to share a bit about my new novel: Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words!

This is the first time I’ve written a Pride and Prejudice book that completely overlaps the original, and so it presented an entirely new set of pleasures and challenges. The greatest pleasure was to experience my favorite story all over again, almost like for the first time, because it was through fresh eyes: Darcy’s. The new challenge was deciding how much and which bits of the original dialogue to include, and how precisely to quote it.

The excerpt I’ve chosen for you today is a good example. Although there’s no point in repeating everything in P&P word-for-word, we certainly can’t have Darcy’s first meeting with Elizabeth at the Meryton Assembly without the infamous “She is tolerable, I suppose” statement. So the question is, how much of the rest is essential?

Since Darcy is relating the story in His Own Words, it’s ultimately his decision! He shares the actions and snatches of dialogue he believes are important and necessary, along with his perceptions and thoughts at the time. Of course his perceptions of what’s going on are rather different from Elizabeth’s, which is kind of the point!

You can’t fully understand a complex love story if you only hear one side of it, can you? So that was my focus – not reiterating what we already knew (Elizabeth’s perspective) but filling in what was missing: the other side of the story. In Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words, therefore, you’ll find some but not every bit of delightful dialogue Jane Austen wrote in her original novel, some but not every one of her perfectly turned phrases. Instead, you’ll find a rich mixture of the original and the supplement to it.

I hope you will enjoy reading the book as much as I did writing it! To whet your appetite, here’s a bit of the Meryton assembly – Darcy’s version:

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Now, however, I come to the most infamous portion of the evening, notorious both for my ill-considered behavior and for its unanticipated and lasting effects. In Bingley’s determination to engage my interest in what the assembly had to offer, he drew my attention to another young lady.

“There is one of Miss Bennet’s sisters sitting down just behind you, who is very pretty, and I dare say, very agreeable.”

“Which do you mean?” I asked, turning round to see for myself. The dark-haired young woman to whom Bingley had referred was indeed reasonably pretty, I decided, at least to a certain taste. She had a cherubic face set with chestnut eyes that sparkled like jewels. I had in fact noticed her before, her light figure and gracefulness of movement as she danced earning my mild approbation at the time. Still, I observed little of fashion or manner to admire in her.

Meanwhile, Bingley had continued. “Is it not a shame – a clear injustice, even – to see so fair a lady sitting down in want of a partner? Now, be reasonable, Darcy. Do let me ask Miss Bennet to introduce you, so that you may invite her to dance.”

I was unlikely to allow myself to be goaded into doing something I had already decided against for good reason. And when I momentarily caught the lady’s eye, it hardened my resolve, for she seemed to be laughing at me, or perhaps it was a look of challenge. Neither sat well with me. In that instant, I realized that she must have been over listening our conversation as well. She had heard Bingley’s compliments to herself and his offer to me of an introduction. Just as her friends and neighbors about us had already judged me that night, this Miss Bennet was now waiting to hear and to criticize whatever I might say.

So, allowing my distain to show, I withdrew my eye and gave her something to hear that she would not like. “She is tolerable,” I began in a tone of hauteur, “but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humor at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.”

It was entirely true. It was also unforgivably rude, of course, and no matter what the circumstances, a gentleman should never be that. My conscience smote me at once and repeatedly thereafter, both for my questionable assumptions about the young lady and for my childish response. However, I was hardly so repentant as to not resent Bingley’s provoking me to act in such a way, to act against my own principles.

As for the lady I had supposedly injured, however, I could not detect that she suffered one jot for what I had said. In fact, she could not seem to suppress her merriment at being so well entertained. When she presently left her seat and walked by, she gave me a look – such a look! – and a saucy smile to be sure I knew she had heard me and did not care. Next, she went to her friends, who all then seemed to be laughing with her, looking at me and enjoying a good joke at my expense. I could have been wrong about this assumption as well, but I did not think so.

Consequently, my discomfort grew still more pronounced. I endured the balance of our time at the assembly in a heightened state of mortification, nurturing an overpowering wish that I should never be forced into company with the laughing lady or her friends again.


What was Mr. Darcy’s life like before he met Elizabeth Bennet? – before he stepped onto the Pride and Prejudice stage at the Meryton assembly? More importantly, where is he and what is he doing all the time he’s absent from the page thereafter? And what is his relationship to a woman named Amelia?

With “Fitzwilliam Darcy, in His Own Words,” the iconic literary hero finally tells his own story, from the traumas of his early life to the consummation of his love for Elizabeth and everything in between.

This is not a variation but a supplement to the original story, chronicled in Darcy’s point of view – a behind-the-scenes look at the things Jane Austen didn’t tell us. As it happens, Darcy’s journey was more tortuous than she let on, his happy ending with Elizabeth in jeopardy at every turn in his struggle between duty and his heart’s desire, between the suitable lady he has promised to marry and the woman he can’t stop thinking about.

You can find Fitzwilliam Darcy, in His Own Words at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

on Kindle Unlimited


 

 

10 Comments

Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

Faults of Understanding by Jennifer Altman – Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

How have you been? I am happy to say that I am finally over my reading slumber and I am back to daily reading 🙂

Today I bring to you an excerpt from a book that I haven’t read yet, but that seems absolutely marvellous! I am talking about Faults of Understanding, Jennifer Altman’s second novel which will be released on May 27th. 

The excerpt she brings us today depicts Darcy’s proposal and I couldn’t think of a better scene to have here at From Pemberley to Milton. 

Thank you so much for visiting Jennifer, and best of luck with your new book 🙂


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Hi Rita! Thank you for hosting the fourth stop on my blog tour for my upcoming release, Faults of Understanding. If you’ve been following the tour, you may have already read the prologue and the beginning of Chapter 1, but today I thought I’d skip ahead a bit with an excerpt from Chapter 2, featuring Darcy’s proposal. 🙂 But just to catch you up, if you haven’t already read my previous excerpts: Darcy learns at the Netherfield ball that Mr. Collins is planning to make an offer of marriage to Elizabeth Bennet and decides to pre-empt him with a proposal of his own. Prior to the excerpt below, he has already visited Mr. Bennet, and Mr. Bennet has communicated Darcy’s intentions to Elizabeth. This scene begins shortly thereafter. 

 

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An hour later, Elizabeth was no closer to a solution to her conundrum about Mr. Darcy when she made her reluctant return to Longbourn. This was an unfortunate occurrence, as she had no sooner entered the lane that led to the house when she became aware of a tall black stallion approaching from the opposite direction. Dread twisted her stomach as she recognized the rider, but she grudgingly halted her steps, waiting as the horse drew near. 

When he gained the drive, Mr. Darcy neatly dismounted, leading his horse the remainder of the way before removing his hat and offering her a formal bow.

“Mr. Darcy,” Elizabeth murmured.

“Miss Elizabeth.” 

The two stood in silence for several minutes before Darcy continued, “I trust your father has spoken with you?”

“He has, sir.”

Darcy nodded, and Elizabeth watched as he shifted his hat from one hand to another. 

“I had thought we might take some time to discuss my proposition. Shall we return to the house? Or a walk, perhaps?

Elizabeth hesitated. She would greatly prefer to speak with Mr. Darcy outside, where they might be assured of more privacy, but she had already been gone for some time. Besides, she was confident that Mr. Darcy would also prefer to speak outside the house, and a certain perverseness made her not want to make things any easier on him.

“You may accompany me back to Longbourn if you wish. I am sure my father will not object to our making use of his book room.”

Darcy nodded, his expression pained, and they moved into the yard. One of the grooms approached to take the horse, and Elizabeth led Mr. Darcy through the gardens to the side entrance she had used earlier. She was not surprised when her father met them in the corridor, having seen them approaching from the window. After briefly informing Elizabeth that her mother and sisters remained above stairs, and that Mr. Collins was still out, he ushered them into his library with a wry smile before quitting the room, leaving the door slightly ajar.

Elizabeth took a seat by the window, folding her hands demurely in her lap and watching as Mr. Darcy paced about the room, finally coming to stand several feet away.

“Your father has shown you the papers I drew up?” he inquired abruptly.

“He has, sir,” Elizabeth answered before adding, “I suppose I should thank you. The settlement you proposed was very generous.”

Darcy dismissed her words with a wave of his hand. “It is no more than you deserve. There is very little I would be unable or unwilling to provide you with, once we are married, but if there is anything in particular you would like outlined in the articles, you need only ask.”

Elizabeth murmured her thanks, and the room grew quiet.

 “No doubt you were surprised by my intentions,” Darcy eventually stated.

“Indeed. I was quite astounded.”

“Yes. I must beg your pardon for taking you unawares. Given the disparity in our stations, I can see that this must come as a shock. In truth, I had not made up my mind to offer for you until last night.” 

Elizabeth could feel the heat building in her cheeks, but she somehow managed to answer serenely, “Disparity? Forgive me, I do not understand. You are a gentleman, and I am a gentleman’s daughter. So far as I can see, we are equal.”

Across from her, Darcy’s eyebrows lifted. He opened his mouth and closed it again several times, before finally saying, “I beg your pardon. What I meant to say is that it would not have been appropriate to give rise to expectations by showing any partiality to you before such a time as I had determined to pay my addresses. However, when I came to understand that an offer of marriage was soon to be made to you by Mr. Collins, I knew I must act with all due haste.”

“I see. And pray, tell me, Mr. Darcy, what concern is it of yours whether I should marry my cousin, or any other gentleman for that matter?”

Elizabeth watched as Darcy’s entire body stiffened. “I had the misfortune of spending almost twenty minutes in conversation with Collins last evening, and it took less than five of those minutes to know that it would be a degradation for you to wed such a man! He is not your equal in intelligence or wit, and I must add that his lack of decorum was truly shocking. You are his superior in every way. I do not believe your cousin could ever make you happy, nor give you the life you deserve. Marriage to him would be a misery for you!”

Despite her intention to remain detached, Elizabeth’s eyes grew wide at Darcy’s impassioned speech. Could it be that the gentleman had formed some sort of attachment to her after all? Elizabeth flushed at the thought. To keep herself from dwelling on such a notion, she responded in a way she knew must provoke him further. 

“Nevertheless, he would be a prudent match for me.”

For a moment, Mr. Darcy looked physically ill, before his expression softened and he leaned forward, addressing her earnestly, “Aye. And that is why I knew I must speak. I am aware that your father’s estate is entailed upon your cousin, and as such, you may feel it would be pragmatic to accept him, for the sake of all your family. But now you see, you have another way. I know I cannot give you Longbourn, but should you agree to marry me, your family will always be provided for. On this, I give you my word.”

Elizabeth shifted uncomfortably in her seat. She had promised her father she would not make any hasty decisions regarding Mr. Darcy’s offer, but she could not in good conscience allow him to continue if his sole motive was to save her from a marriage to her cousin. 

“Mr. Darcy, I thank you for your concern for my welfare, however, you may rest easy, sir. I have already decided I will not be accepting my cousin’s proposal of marriage, should he see fit to make one. So you need not worry for my future, and as such, you should feel under no further obligation to me. You have made me no formal offer, and I understand that you will have no wish to make your addresses now. We may both continue on as we were before.”

Darcy’s thick brows drew together, and he studied her for a moment before he spoke. 

“While I am gratified to know you have decided against attaching yourself to your cousin, pray, allow me to correct your misapprehension as to my desires. I have no wish to withdraw my offer. I have made my intentions known to your father, and it would be dishonorable to back out now. However, you are correct that no formal address has been made. I hope you will allow me to correct this oversight.” 

To Elizabeth’s horror, he dropped to one knee, taking up her hand. “Miss Elizabeth, will you do me the courtesy of becoming my wife?”

An unexpected jolt traveled up Elizabeth’s arm at the warmth of Mr. Darcy’s fingers on her ungloved hand. Quickly, she stood, breaking their connection and forcing Mr. Darcy to rise. Pacing several steps away, Elizabeth stared through the mullioned glass before turning back to face her unexpected suitor.

“Mr. Darcy, I hope you do not think I spoke in such a way to entreat you to make your proposal. I was in earnest when I offered to forget the entire situation.” 

“I am well aware of your intentions.”

“Then you are saying you still wish to marry me?”

“I do.”

Exasperated, Elizabeth threw up her hands. “But why? I have already told you I do not intend to marry my cousin and that I have no expectations of you!”

Mr. Darcy’s eyes widened, clearly taken aback by her outburst. 

“Is it so surprising that I would wish to marry you?”

At such a remarkable question, Elizabeth could not help quirking one eyebrow in surprise. “I believe I have already stated as much. And as you can no longer claim Mr. Collins as your motive, I should like to know why you would wish to make me your wife. We have scarcely known each other a month, and as you have so helpfully stated, we are not of the same circles.”

“Yes, of course you are correct. And while I realize our acquaintance has been of a brief duration, I assure you, I have given this matter a great deal of thought. We get on satisfactorily. We are well matched in intelligence, if not in temperament. I believe you would be an admirable mistress for my estate, and a worthy example to my sister. Are these not all respectable reasons to marry?”

Elizabeth released a frustrated sigh. This was not going at all as she had planned. 

“Yes, I suppose they are. But you must wish for something beyond all that? Certainly, you could find someone more… more…” Her voice faltered and she drew a breath before changing tactics. “In any case, I was under the impression that you were already promised. Are you not betrothed to your own cousin?” she asked archly.

“My cousin?” Darcy repeated.

“Yes, Miss de Bourgh. I believe she will have a very large fortune, and that it is the wish of both your families that you unite your two estates.”

Inexplicably, Darcy’s lips tightened as he ground out, “I am not engaged to Anne. And you would do well to avoid listening to idle gossip.”

Elizabeth looked away in embarrassment. He was right, of course. But before she could formulate an adequate apology, Mr. Darcy continued in a gentler tone, “It is true that when my cousin and I were children, our mothers spoke of our one day growing up to marry, but it was merely an idle wish. It was never anything more than that. Had my matrimonial interest veered in that direction, I assure you, Anne and I would have wed some time ago.” 

Elizabeth nodded. “Very well. I accept your assertion that you are not promised to Miss de Bourgh; however, I am still not convinced I would make you a good wife.” 

Darcy looked momentarily startled, but answered smoothly, “Is this your only objection? If it is my feelings you are worried for, I have already told you it is my belief that you would suit me quite well. However, if I can say anything further to put your mind at ease, I am happy to do so.” 

Elizabeth paced to the window, drawing back the curtain. Once again gazing out into the garden, she attempted to bring order to her jumbled thoughts. She did not know how long she stood there before she felt the light press of a hand upon her shoulder and heard Mr. Darcy’s deep baritone speaking softly in her ear.

“You must know that I will treat you with kindness, Miss Elizabeth. I realize I am asking you to take a leap of faith, but I promise you will want for nothing. Whatever is in my power to give, you shall have.”

Elizabeth turned away from the glass and gazed up into Mr. Darcy’s warm brown eyes. He stared back at her, and Elizabeth saw a host of emotions written across his features. Without conscious thought, her eyes dropped to his lips, which were full and looked surprisingly soft. Before she knew what she was about, she heard herself speaking the question that was at the forefront of her mind.

“You would want a child, I imagine. A son and heir for your estate.”

She could see him start, but after a brief hesitation, he answered carefully, “Pemberley is not entailed, so if we do not have a son, a daughter may inherit. And if for some reason we are not blessed with children, the estate would pass to my sister’s offspring. But to answer your question: Yes, I do want children. Not for the purposes of the estate, but because I would wish to have a family one day.”

Elizabeth turned away, surprised by how strongly both his words and the tenderness of his gaze had affected her. At her back, she heard Darcy clear his throat.

“Do you not… that is… are you not fond of children?”

“Oh, no. I am very fond of children,” she answered, shifting to face him again.

Darcy nodded, appearing somewhat uncertain. “Good. That is… good. I am glad to hear it.”

Elizabeth stepped away, crossing to the far side of the room. If she was going to maintain her composure, she needed to put some distance between them. Darcy followed her with his eyes, but remained standing where he was. 

Clearing her throat, Elizabeth began, “There is one more matter I think it imperative that we discuss. What have you to say of Mr. Wickham?”

At the mention of Wickham’s name, Mr. Darcy’s spine stiffened and his countenance, which had been so animated only a moment ago, turned cold. 

“I have nothing whatsoever to say on the subject of that gentleman. What has he to do with this?”

Elizabeth lifted her chin. “I believe he has everything to do with this. Your ill treatment of him speaks to your character.”

“My ill treatment?” Darcy virtually spat, crossing the floor in quick steps before turning back and pacing in the opposite direction. When he finally stopped in front of her, his eyes were hard and his voice when he spoke had a frosty edge. “As I have already stated once, you would do well not to believe everything you hear. There are, after all, two sides to every story.”

“Very well. Then I am willing to listen to yours.”

Darcy was silent, but Elizabeth could see the tic of a muscle in his jaw.

“I see,” Elizabeth eventually answered. 

“If you are hoping for a proposal from him,” Mr. Darcy said darkly, “you are bound to be disappointed. Wickham will marry a woman of means, if he marries at all.”

“And whose fault is that?” Elizabeth cried. “You are the one who has reduced him to his present circumstances. Had you provided him with the living promised in your father’s will, he would not be forced to live in comparable poverty even now. It is because of you that Mr. Wickham cannot marry where he chooses.”

“Is that what he told you?” Darcy turned away, muttering under his breath, “Good God. The man will stop at nothing to blacken my name.” When he moved to face her again, Elizabeth could see him struggling to regain control of his emotions. 

“I cannot divulge all of my dealings with Wickham, as there are others who would be harmed by my disclosures. However, I can tell you that Mr. Wickham lies as easily as he breathes. The living in question was rejected by him. Instead, he requested monetary compensation, as he did not think himself suited to the church—a sentiment with which I whole-heartedly agreed—and instead I paid him three thousand pounds, in lieu of the living. This was in addition to the one thousand pounds left him by my father. So, if Mr. Wickham currently finds himself in precarious financial circumstances, you might ask yourself why that is.”

Elizabeth stared back at Mr. Darcy, fully feeling the shock of his declaration and the humiliation of her misplaced conviction. When she did not speak, Darcy continued, “If you doubt my words, I can summon more than one witness to speak to their veracity. I assure you, Mr. Wickham cannot say the same.”

“No,” she murmured, a flush warming her cheeks, “that will not be necessary. I believe you.”

In an instant, Darcy’s expression softened, and his anger seemed to dissipate as quickly as it had come. 

“I beg your pardon. It was not my intention to cause you distress. But I am glad to have had an opportunity to speak to you on this matter. I hope you will heed my warning and stay far away from Mr. Wickham. He is not an honorable man.”

Elizabeth offered him a shaky nod before saying, “You have given me much to think about, Mr. Darcy, and I hope you understand that I can give you no answer today. I must first speak to my cousin, and then I would like some time to consider the matter. This has all been rather… sudden.”

“Of course,” Darcy answered quickly. “I will importune you no further. But I hope you will permit me to call on you tomorrow?”

Elizabeth nodded, and Darcy bowed slightly at the waist before turning towards the door, but Elizabeth’s voice halted his progress.

“You will remain at Netherfield, then?” she asked.

Darcy turned. “I will. Bingley has been kind enough to allow me the use of the house for as long as I should require it.”

“Then it is true… that he has left the neighborhood? My sister had a letter from Miss Bingley earlier today.”

“Yes, I believe he had some business in Town.”

“And… will he return? When his business is concluded?”

Darcy shrugged. “With Bingley, it is hard to say. His sisters, I know, would prefer to remain in London, and Bingley is always happiest wherever he is—as I think he remarked once when we were together at Netherfield.”

Elizabeth nodded slowly, and with another bow, Darcy quit the room, leaving her with much to ponder about the man she was so certain she despised.

~~~~

I hope you enjoyed that little sneak peek! The book releases one week from today, on May 27th, but the ebook is available for pre-order now: getbook.at/FaultsOfUnderstanding


 

“I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of understanding.” – Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice

 

When Fitzwilliam Darcy makes an impetuous offer of marriage to Miss Elizabeth Bennet, he is convinced they have as good a chance as any for a harmonious life together. That is, until an overheard conversation changes everything, and Darcy realizes he is now joined in perpetuity to a woman who loathes the very sight of him.

Elizabeth Bennet’s expectations for matrimonial accord were never very high, having accepted Mr. Darcy’s proposal in a fit of pique, not love. Still, she is determined to make the best of her situation, despite having tied herself to such an arrogant, disagreeable man. 

But life at Pemberley is not at all what she imagined, and Elizabeth soon finds herself with more questions than answers about the enigmatic gentleman she agreed to wed.

Trapped in a marriage founded on misunderstandings, Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy struggle with deepening attraction while confronting self-doubt and old betrayals. But is love enough to heal the wounds of the past? What will it take for two people bound by duty to find their way home to one another?

JenniferAltman_Faults of Understanding_FINAL_COVER

 

 

 

You can find Faults of Understanding on pre-order at:

Amazon.com

 

 

 

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Jennifer Altman is a novelist, an anglophile, and a lover of all things Regency. After a long career in the television industry, Jennifer shifted to book publishing in 2016. She currently works in the corporate division of a large publishing company. Jennifer makes her home just outside New York City, where she lives in a compact apartment with a considerable collection of books. When she’s not writing, Jennifer can be found reading, watching British period dramas, and not cleaning her house. Her debut novel, To Conquer Pride, released in 2018.


NEW blog tour

The blog tour is almost over, but you can sill go back and read all the wonderful informations Jennifer Altman has released so far 🙂

April 29th – Austenesque Reviews: Cover Reveal, Giveaway

May 6th – Austen Variations: Excerpt, Giveaway

May 14th – Babblings of a Bookworm: Author Interview, Giveaway

May 20th – From Pemberley to Milton: Excerpt, Giveaway

May 27th – Austen Variations: Book Release, Excerpt, Giveaway


As part of my blog tour, Jennifer Altman will be giving away one copy of the ebook. To enter the drawing, simply comment below. The winner will be chosen on May 27th

Good Luck everyone!

 

44 Comments

Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

Isabelle and Alexander by Rebecca Anderson – Spotlight

Good Afternoon everyone, 

I hope you’re all well this week and that you’re stacked with good books to read 🙂 As usual, I have more on my TBR pile then I can read, and a few interesting books remain unread. One of them is Isabelle and Alexander, a new Poper Romance novel from Shadow Mountain that reminds me a lot of North & South, and that I would really love to read! If days had 48 hours I would be here with a review of this book, but unfortunetely with a full time job during the day, and only a few hours available to read and blog, all I can bring you at this moment is a bit more information about this book. 

What do you think of the blurb? Is this story appealing to you? Doesn’t it remind you a little of John and Margaret?

I’ve read a few reviews on Amazon and readers are not only loving it, but also mentioning that it does indeed have a few similarities with North & South:

I absolutely loved the moody North and South vibe in this book! ~Amazon reviewer

While it compares in some ways to the classic North & South in setting and contrasts of the hero and heroine’s personality, its plot is distinct ~Amazon reviewer

If you’re a fan of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, also known as the BBC film of the same name starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe, then Isabelle and Alexander is something you’ll most likely want to read ~Amazon reviewer

With comments as the one I quoted above, this book is definitely on my TBR! Is this a book you’d like me to review? Let me know in the comments as your opinion may move Isabelle and Alexander up or down in the TBR 🙂


Isabelle Rackham knows she will not marry for love. Though arranged marriages have fallen out of fashion, hers has been settled for some time to combine the upper-middle-class wealth of her father’s coal mines with Alexander Osgood’s prospering Northern country textile mills. Though not a man prone to romantic gestures, Alexander is well-known as an eligible bachelor. His good looks have turned more than one head, so Isabelle is content to think of herself as Alexander’s wife.

However, her marriage is not what she expected. Northern England is nothing like her home farther west in the lake country. Cold, dreary, and dark, the soot from the textile mills creates a gray hue that seems to cling to everything in the city of Manchester. Alexander is distant and aloof, preferring to spend his time at the mill rather than with her at home. Their few conversations are brief, polite, and lacking any emotion, leaving Isabelle lonely and desperately homesick.

Sensing his wife’s unhappiness, Alexander suggests a trip to his country estate. Isabelle hopes this will be an opportunity to get to know her new husband without the distractions of his business. But the change of scenery doesn’t bring them any closer. While riding together on horses, Alexander is thrown from his and becomes paralyzed. Tragedy or destiny? The help and care that Alexander now needs is Isabelle’s opportunity to forge a connection and create a deep and romantic love where nothing else could.

 

QUICK FACTS:

  • Title: Isabelle and Alexander (Proper Romance Victorian)
  • Author: Rebecca Anderson
  • Genre: Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction, Victorian Romance
  • Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing (May 4, 2021)
  • Format: Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook (368) pages
  • Tour Dates: May 3-16. 2021
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Isabelle and Alexander by Rebecca Anderson 2021

 

You can find Isabelle and Alexander at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk 

and on Audible

 


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Rebecca Anderson is the nom de plume of contemporary romance novelist Becca Wilhite, author of Wedding Belles: A Novel in Four Parts, Check Me Out, and My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions. Isabelle and Alexander is her debut historical romance novel. 

High school English teacher by day, writer by night (or very early morning), she loves hiking, Broadway shows, food, books, and movies. She is happily married and a mom to four above-average kids.

 

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM  | GOODREADS

Rebecca Anderson aka Becca Wilhite headshot

4 Comments

Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

Dragon’s Beyond the Pale by Maria Grace – Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone, 

It is dragon week and today I have another excerpt involving dragons to share with you! This time it is a passage from Dragon’s Beyond the Pale, Maria Grace’s seventh book of the Jane Austen’s Dragons series.

If you thought this series would end with Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion you were very wrong! Not only Anne and Frederick Wentworth are back to find their way into the Blue Order, but also Dragon Sage Elizabeth Darcy and Sir Fitzwilliam Darcy are present in this story to enter into another adventure. I love the fact that Maria Grace decided to keep both couples in her stories, I love Pride & Prejudice and Persuasion mash ups 🙂

I have read five of the seven books in this series and loved them all, so I honestly cannot wait to listen to the audiobook of Dragon’s Beyond the Pale. I am not sure if we will get and audiobook, but I am hoping Maria Grace will once more collaborate with Benjamin Fife to release an audio version.

Have you listened to any of the previous audiobooks from this series? If not, have you read the books?

I hope you like the excerpt Maria brought us today, and don’t forget to comment the post for a change to win a copy of this book.

 


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Good morning, Rita! Thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to share an excerpt from my newest Jane Austen’s Dragons book, Dragons Beyond the Pale

 

Chapter 2 

January 11, 1815, Kellynch-by-the-Sea

 

The sun hung midway between dawn and noon, steadfastly refusing to deliver enough warmth to vanquish the prevailing chill. Anne rubbed her gloved hands over the arms of her navy-blue wool pelisse and pulled the heavy basket closer to her chest. 

Would she ever become accustomed to the near-constant sea breeze buffeting her every time she visited Kellynch’s lair? Probably no sooner than she became accustomed to being addressed as Lady Wentworth—it was still difficult not to look for some dowager lurking in the shadows when she heard the name. 

Perhaps Kellynch was right; using the dragon tunnels from the house to the lair would be more comfortable. If only they did not remind her of the dark alley behind the Bath Assembly rooms—and Mr. Elliot.

Thankfully, Wentworth understood and did not insist.

She sucked in cold, salt-tinged air as she looked over her shoulder and across the open—empty— meadow. Mr. Elliot and his cockatrice Friend Jet were safely ensconced in a Blue Order prison. Even if they managed to escape, Kellynch would not tolerate them anywhere near Lyme. With as many friends as Kellynch had made among the local minor dragons, and one other major dragon in the vicinity, Mr. Elliot could not possibly conceal himself anywhere near Lyme. 

She smoothed the prickled hair on the back of her neck. An assault to one’s person was not easily dismissed, even when one had been rescued by the man she loved. Yes, that was the part of the story she should dwell upon.

“Kellynch? Kellynch?” She stepped into the dim stony lair, dank and smelling of dragon musk. How much warmer it seemed now out of the wind.

“Come in.” The space filled with the sound of scales scraping stone. “Have you brought their majesties, my wyrmlings?” 

“Of course I have. They would not miss a chance to visit with you.” She set the basket on the floor. Corn, the black and white tatzelwurmling with white tufty ears and blue eyes, and Wall with the black nose and green eyes, tumbled onto the dusty limestone floor. They bounded down the tunnel, chirruping with glee as Kellynch’s long, toothy grey-green head came into view.

He rumbled something almost like a great purr, which she felt in her chest more than heard. The wyrmlings pounced on him, licking his face and climbing onto the ridges above his eyes. Not the way one was supposed to greet their laird, but as long as they were all happy with it, what harm could it do?

Who would have ever thought Kellynch could be a happy, easy-going dragon?

“When will you allow them to visit me on their own? I do not get to see them often enough.” Kellynch muttered, slithering closer, careful not to dislodge Corn and Wall.

She crouched to scratch the itchy spot between his eyes, just able to make out his pout in the meager light. “They are still small enough to be carried away by the local predatory birds. When they are big enough to no longer be prey, then they can visit whenever you and they wish.”

“They could use the tunnels.”

“Not until I am certain they will not lose their way. They are still very silly little babies and have occasionally lost their way in the house.” She ruffled Corn’s ears. Wall nudged her hands with his nose and demanded the same.

Kellynch sighed and snorted.

“Besides, you visit with them in the cellar nearly every day. You cannot be that lonely.”

“It is not the same as having them in my lair with me. I have been alone so long—”

She sat tailor-style on the floor beside him, her hand on his scaly snout. “I know you have. In fact, that is what I need to talk to you about. Are you certain about us traveling to London, and you remaining here, alone?”

Kellynch grumbled, his lips working in little waves that rippled along his jaw. “Not really.”

Finally, he confessed to the obvious truth. “Then we will inform the Order that we will take the house that boasts a lair with tunnel access to the Thames. That way you will be able to join us easily.”

One brow ridge rose. “Wentworth says the house is not as pleasant as the other you were considering.”

“It is a little enough thing to part with in the interest of your comfort.” She scratched the ridges along his snout as he snuffled appreciative sounds.

“Is it true that I might attend the Cotillion whilst in London? I have never been to the primary Blue Order office.” 

“Indeed. The official invitation includes dragons with new Keepers. The three of us are expected to be presented at the Cotillion.”

Presented by the Dragon Sage. She swallowed hard. Was it a privilege or a punishment to have such a prestigious sponsor? Certainly, the expectations of society upon her would be higher because of it. Father would approve, if he were not banned from all Blue Order society events. 

Was Lady Elizabeth trying to mitigate the repercussions of Father’s ignominy by her show of support? If only she and not Lady Matlock had written to her to tell her of it, it would be easier to judge what to make of it all. 

If only Father had seen fit to have her come out to the Order when she began to hear and allowed her to attend a Keepers’ Cotillion as a young woman. At least she would know firsthand what to expect now. If only he had not fallen from Blue Order society in disgrace, she would not be establishing herself while trying to overcome the huge hurdle he had raised before her. Yet more ways in which she was still paying for Father’s failures.

Kellynch nudged her with his snout and trained a piercing look upon her. Could he tell what she was thinking or only how she felt about it? Who would have guessed he was such a perceptive creature?

“I should like to see such an event, if it would not be burdensome on you.” How polite he was trying to be even though his longing to attend shone clear. He would love the attention and notoriety it would bring him. So like a true Elliot he was. 

“I will consider it an honor for you to be there with us.” 

Kellynch rumbled happily. Corn and Wall purred along with him, though they had little understanding of why. His pleasure was enough to make them happy.

“You will bring their majesties?” He crossed his eyes trying to focus on the wyrmlings perched on his nose.

“Of course, they cannot be left alone.”

“Good, good. I shall go out and have a good feed now so I need not worry about fishing rights whilst I am there.”

How much had Kellynch changed since that day in court? He seemed like an utterly different dragon to the angry, hibernating, threatening sea serpent he had been.

“That seems a sound plan. I am sure Wentworth will agree. I will take their majesties back to the house now and get them ready for traveling in the morning.” She called Corn and Wall back to their basket. Though they lingered in their goodbyes to Kellynch, they did as they were bid. Someday, when they were grown, they would—hopefully—have the good sense of their sire, Laconia. But for now, they were silly, shatter-brained—if very dear — little creatures.

Despite the wind, she took the long way home. Kellynch-by-the-Sea was so different to Kellynch where she had grown up. How could she not miss the spreading old trees, the farmlands, the fields of sheep? The coast was not without its beauties—and it made Kellynch and Wentworth so very happy—but sometimes it still caught her off guard not to see her mother’s gardens, or Lady Russell’s.

A dozen, no there were more than that, small and moderate-sized white rent cottages lined the main road from the manor to Lyme Regis. Several more were set back from the road with small lanes or footpaths leading to them. So many people looked to her as the mistress of Kellynch-by-the-Sea. It could be daunting some days, more so than at Kellynch where she was only standing in for the mistress of the manor.

On the whole, the tenants were pleasant and good-humored, many of them dragon Friends who were quite astonished that Kellynch enjoyed the company of the minor dragons on his estate. 

Despite all the new friends, Kellynch did not neglect Uppercross. Dragon tunnels linked the two estates, and they exchanged regular visits. Uppercross was developing a taste for fish, which Sister Mary definitely did not approve of—it left his breath quite frightful!

According to Lady Elizabeth’s last letter, their whole relationship was very unusual among land dragons. But perhaps not so among marine creatures? She still hoped to visit them soon and learn more about England’s only marine wyrm.

“Mrrrrow.” 

When had Laconia come upon her?

He bumped up against her leg, all three stones worth of fluffy, black tatzelwurm jolting her from her reverie. “Wentworth wonders where you have gotten to.”

“I told him I would be checking on Kellynch. Is he very worried?” She glanced past Laconia as a gust of chill air raced down the neat line of cottages.

“He is accustomed to having all his sailors at an easy distance.” Laconia glanced over his shoulder and backed up two steps, a very odd movement for a tatzelwurm.

“And I am out of range of his spyglass, I suppose?” 

“Come back to the house with me.” An odd note of concern tinged his voice as he turned for the manor.

She followed. “Is there something wrong?”

“It is difficult to say. A cockatrice messenger from the Order arrived not very long ago.”

Merciful heavens!

Anne increased her pace to a near run; Laconia spring-hopped to keep up.

 

Anne stopped in the study’s doorway and stared at an unfamiliar hawk-sized cockatrice, red-brown and a bit weather-beaten, wearing a small pack embossed with the signet of the Order strapped to his back. He stood on Wentworth’s desk, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

Wentworth did the same as he stood, a mite awkwardly, at the far side of the desk.

He still had not got the room quite arranged to his liking. Long and narrow, he complained there was both too much room and not enough at the same time. Too big to be compact and efficient like the accommodations on his ship, but not spacious enough for the desk that had been shoehorned in and the three leather-covered chairs that seemed to take up the remaining floor space. A bookcase lined the long wall, opposite the windows, lacking both enough books to look scholarly and sufficient bric-a-brac to appear well traveled. 

He declared the entire affair felt a bit like a midshipman’s effort. At least he judged the desk chair comfortable and that sufficient sunlight streamed through the windows so reading was possible most of the day. That was something.

Someday she would have enough saved to commission a proper suite of office furniture for him. An extravagance he would never purchase himself. 

Laconia chirruped and pawed at the doorframe.

Wentworth glanced up and caught Anne’s eye with a brief nod. “There now.” He opened the messenger’s pack and removed a letter bearing the Blue Order Seal.

The cockatrice shook out his compacted feather-scales and scratched behind his tiny ear with his talons, leaning back on his dusty serpentine tail for balance.

“Laconia, show our guest to the kitchen for a solid meal whilst I read this and pen a reply. The wyrmlings may accompany you as well.” That was not a suggestion, but an order.

Anne placed the basket on the floor. Corn and Wall tumbled out and led the way to the kitchen, spring-hopping with speed only the possibility of a snack could induce. The Blue Order messenger flew low behind them.

Wentworth beckoned her in, and she shut the door behind her. He closed the window that the messenger had probably entered.

“Would it be too optimistic to hope it is merely an announcement of time changes to the Cotillion?” She bit her lip and dodged around the clumsy chairs to join him near the desk.

He cracked the seal. “Considering this is written in cipher, I imagine something less mundane.” He yanked open the top drawer and removed a small red leatherbound notebook no larger than the palm of his hand. “The specific cipher was pressed into the wax seal—one that is reserved for only select operatives of the Order.”

“So definitely not good news.” She perched in the nearest chair, stiff and smelling of leather polish. 

He fell into his chair. It groaned, long-suffering. “It will take me some time to sort the message out. Tell me of your visit to Kellynch whilst I work on it.”

“I still wonder that he is the same creature who threatened me in the sea cave. Though I suppose I should not be, considering what Lady Elizabeth has told me about dragons who have been wronged. They certainly take their offenses seriously.”

“Indeed they do, large and small.”

“Dragons or offenses?”

“Both.” He snickered softly though his brow drew low over his eyes.

 “If he had his druthers, I think he would take up residence in the cellar under the house. At least he would if only it were a little larger and had a proper soaking pool for him, like his lair does—apparently after all the decades without water, he is unwilling to do without again. But still, he truly hates to be alone. Can you imagine? He complained he had not seen Corn and Wall recently enough. Who would have thought he would be so fond of them? At times I wonder whether they are our Friends or his.”

“According to Laconia, they talk of Kellynch constantly, honored by the attention of a true wyrm. Shatter-brained little creatures! I half expect that the Sage will ask you to write a monograph on their relationship.” He glanced up from his work. 

Oh, the way he looked at her! It would never grow old. 

The crests of her cheeks heated.

“I imagine you are going to tell me he has decided to accompany us to London, no?”

“He was rather considerate about it, though. He seemed concerned that the house with the lair might not be as pleasing as the other we had inquired after.”

He set down his pencil and fixed her gaze with his own. “And you are all right with the change? You are being presented into Dragon Keeping society by the Sage herself, after all. I expect we will be required to do a great deal of entertaining.”

She swallowed hard, her eyes burning just a bit. He was so considerate. “I cannot imagine a house with a dragon lair being any mean accommodation. As to it being unable to accommodate a large party—I think that is rather a good thing. Hosting small events, for now, suits me very well indeed.”

“A baronet and his lady need not be seen living as a baronet and his lady?” The corners of his lips turned up just a mite.

“I think being seen as honoring one’s dragon is living as a baronet and his family should, do you not?”

 “I could not say it better myself.” He chuckled, picked up his pencil and began scratching away again. 

Perhaps on the journey to London they could talk about what entertaining Blue Order society during the Cotillion season would look like. Wentworth had no experience with such things.

Would he chafe amidst the expectations of “good” society? Would he be accepted among them, or simply viewed a novelty—a Dragon Keeping naval officer who had to be tolerated and humored whilst behind his back talk would fly? How hard did he expect, or even want, to work to be accepted? How important was it to him?

How important was it to her?

His expression slowly crumpled into a deep frown. “It seems the plans you made with Kellynch are fortuitous. Lord Matlock himself requests that Kellynch remain with his Keepers in light of current events.” 

A cold chill snaked down her spine. “Does he say what current events?”

He scribbled down a few more words. “Apparently, Mr. William Elliot finds his accommodations in prison rather uncomfortable—not gentleman’s lodgings, it seems. He has attempted to trade information for some favors toward himself.”

She clutched the edge of the desk. “They are not going to release him, are they?”

“No, that would be far too dangerous—for him. Kellynch will never forgive the assault on his Keeper. Not to mention Elliot is far from paying his debts to the Order. I am sure he has only bought himself a softer bed or better rations. In any case, the information suggests there are those, dragon hearers and some dragon-deaf, maybe even some members of the Order itself, who are hostile toward dragons. There are hints of schemes to profit off trading in dragons and—” he gulped, “—their body parts.”

“Gracious heavens!” The dragon scale lotion she made from the scales Uppercross happily gave her was one thing, but this? The edges of her vision fuzzed and the room spun slightly. She clutched the arms of the chair.

“At this point, there is no way of knowing the accuracy of Elliot’s information. It could have been merely a fiction traded for comfort. But then again, it might not. Matlock insists—and I agree—it must be thoroughly investigated.”

“Of course, of course it must. The possibility is too awful to take lightly!” Anne stood, knees shaking almost too hard to hold her up.

“Lord Matlock asks that we alter our travel plans. He has arranged for post horses so we do not need to stop and rest ours. He wants us to visit a list of persons and places of interest along the way to London. If we travel day and night, it will delay our arrival by a day, at most two.”

“That does not seem so bad. I am sure it will be hardly noticeable.” 

“It will be uncomfortable. At best. There will be no sleeping at inns, we will take meals in the carriage, not at proper tables. It is a form of travel to which you are not accustomed.”

“I am hardly accustomed to any sort of travel at all. I will make do.”

He skirted around the desk and took her hands firmly. “Are you sure?” 

“This is what we decided upon when we wed. I admit, I had not expected Order business to come up so soon, or to be so serious, but I will not back down from our commitment.” Hopefully he did not notice her fingers trembling.

“Then I will write to him straight away.” He pressed her hands to his cheek.

“I will adjust our packing in light of our new plans. Corn and Wall will need plenty of snacks and a few extra bones for teething.”

 

***

 

So, what do you think is going on? No spoilers, but I will say, it’s far more than you might imagine!


Smugglers. A kidnapping. A fire-breathing fairy dragon? The Blue Order is falling apart at the seams.  

After months in Bath mentoring Dragon Keepers and Friends, Dragon Sage Elizabeth Darcy actually anticipates traveling to London for the Keeper’s Cotillion. Which says a great deal considering the she-dragons who make up the Cotillion board would very much like to show the Sage her proper place.

The she-dragons, though, are no match for what Sir Fitzwilliam Darcy finds waiting for him in London. Threats to the Order on every side, and Lord Matlock demands he keep them secret from Elizabeth. No one keeps secrets from Elizabeth.

In the meantime, Anne and Frederick Wentworth arrive in London with hopes of finally being accepted in good Blue Order society, unaware of the burgeoning maelstrom about to engulf them.

Darcy manages to keep matters under control until a fairy-dragon’s prank unleashes sinister forces who perpetrate an unthinkable crime that could spell the end of the Pendragon Accords and usher in a new age of dragon war.

Can Elizabeth and Darcy, with the Wentworths’ help, restore balance to the Blue Order before the dragons decide to take matters into their own talons and right the wrongs themselves?

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You can find Dragon’s Beyond the Pale at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

on Kindle Unlimited

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Six-time BRAG Medallion Honoree, Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16-year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development and counseling. None of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences. She pretends to be a mild-mannered writer/cat-lady, but most of her vacations require helmets and waivers or historical costumes, usually not at the same time. 

She writes gas lamp fantasy, historical romance and non-fiction to help justify her research addiction. 

dragon author2

She can be contacted at:

author.MariaGrace@gmail.com 

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Maria Grace is kindly offering an ebook copy of Dragon’s Beyond the Pale to one reader commenting this post, or if you haven’t read any book from the series yet, you can pick an ebook copy of Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon. Leave a comment on this post until the 13th of May to apply. The winner will be announced shortly after. 

Good Luck everyone!

dragon group 7 cover

 

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Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

Miss Bennet’s Dragon by M Verant – Excerpt & Giveaway

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!


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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.

 
Excerpt from Chapter 9 
 

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.

 

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You can find Miss Bennet’s Dragon at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

on Kindle Unlimited

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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!

 

19 Comments

Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

Dare to Refuse Such a Man by Mary Smythe – Excerpt & Giveaway

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 🙂


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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…

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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.

DTRSAM cover

 

 

You can find Dare to Refuse Such a Man at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

on Kindle Unlimited

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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.

Mary Smythe pic


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!

DTRSAM Blog Tour

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Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

The Predisposition of Miss Elizabeth Bennet by Hunter Quinn – Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

The blog tour for The Predisposition of Miss Elizabeth Bennet is starting today at From Pemberley to Milton, and I could not be more excited to welcome Hunter Quinn here today for the first time 🙂

She is a new author to the genre, but after reading the excerpt she brought us today, I am incredibly happy Meryton Press decided to publish her work. This book sounds very promising and I cannot wait to read it! Plus, it has a gorgeous cover!! Don’t you think? The back cover got me particularly interested. Who are the two gentleman in the back?

I would like to thank Mrs. Quinn for the visit, and for sharing such a beautiful excerpt with my readers, and Janet Taylor for all the hard work she keeps doing in this community. Thank you so much for organizing this blog tour and inviting me to be a part of it 🙂

It is a pleasure to be one of the first to share information about this The Predisposition of Miss Elizabeth Bennet.


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Hello!

Firstly, I would like to say a massive thank you to Rita for hosting me!

My name is Hunter Quinn, and I am very excited to be here to introduce my debut novel, The Predisposition of Miss Elizabeth Bennet, to this wonderful and engaging genre of Austen variations. I, myself, have read every variation I can get my hands, and all the great and inspiring words of so many superb authors inspired me to try my hand at penning/typing my own.

This is a full-length novel which explores the possible consequences had Elizabeth not received the letter from Mr. Darcy after his disastrous proposal in Kent. One of my favourite facets of this book that I enjoyed exploring most, was swapping the usual roles/dynamics between Elizabeth and Darcy. Though we do see glimpses of Darcy efforts to improve himself, we also explore a few other characters’ growth into maturity and Elizabeth’s acknowledgement that she had misjudged Mr. Darcy in a sweet way.

For those of you who have read my first excerpt at the Meryton Press Cover Reveal Blog Post, we left off where Elizabeth had sought and been granted an audience with very disheveled Mr. Darcy. She arrives at his town house without a chaperone or invitation to ask for his help. In this next excerpt we jump back slightly to see Darcy’s thoughts and reactions upon being informed that Elizabeth has come to call…

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Fitzwilliam Darcy was in his study, brooding over the past five months as he nursed a brandy. As he was not usually one to over-imbibe, this particular spirit had become an imperfect balm for his bruised heart. He had yet to make it to bed, and he was starting to feel a dull ache growing in his head. He released a deep sigh and rubbed his eyes, trying to ease their strain. Pushing himself upright, he ran his hands through his unruly hair and down his jaw, grimacing at the roughness of his chin. The room was dim, lit only by the fire burning in the grate. His tired gaze rested for a moment on the untouched dinner tray before returning to the bottom of his almost-empty glass.

Everything he knew about himself, everything others expected of him, and everything he had been taught meant nothing after that horrible day at the parsonage. He had made a complete fool of himself. He had put aside his pride and sense and offered his heart to the woman he loved, and she had mercilessly ripped it to pieces. Initially, Darcy dealt with his grief in the only way he knew. Willing himself to ignore the pain, he threw himself into running his estates and finding new investments. Knocking back the remaining brandy, he flinched at the distasteful memories now assailing him. How could he have been such a simpleton to think that she reciprocated his feelings? He had assuredly believed, without an ounce of doubt, that Elizabeth would welcome his proposal. It was laughable! The only positive aspect of this anguish was his wealth, which had grown in proportion to his heartbreak.

More hurtful than the rejection was the look of disgust on her face. She had treated him with such contempt, professing that he was “the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.” Even at such a moment, she had found a way to catalogue his faults: “your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others.” She had accused him of ruining the happiness of her beloved sister Jane, and—worse—of being responsible for Wickham’s “misfortunes.”

Ha!

“His misfortunes have been great indeed,” he muttered to himself bitterly, closing his eyes and trying to shake her angry words from his mind as he strode to the sideboard and poured another generous helping of his rapidly depleting brandy. With drink in hand, he resettled himself behind his desk into the plush leather armchair that had once belonged to his father and heaved another sigh.

Darcy recalled storming away from the parsonage. Upon his return to Rosings Park, his aunt’s estate, he had locked himself in his room and wallowed in self-pity. He eschewed dinner with his relatives that evening, choosing instead to write Elizabeth a letter explaining and justifying his actions. He had behaved with the best of intentions, and at the very least he would defend himself, by God! However, in doing so, he knew he would be revealing his and his beloved sister’s most painful secrets. The next morning, after pacing the grove for over an hour in the hopes of seeing her, he lost his nerve and, upon his return to his room, threw the letter into the fire. It would be too dangerous to leave those secrets committed to paper. Besides, why should he care for her good opinion? It was not as if they would see each other again. They hardly moved in the same circles.

Darcy had come back to London as quickly as possible with the sole purpose of forgetting Elizabeth Bennet. He told no one of what had happened and naïvely hoped that, by immersing himself in estate management, he would quickly conquer his ill-fated infatuation. And he had succeeded! Except that food had lost its taste, and he could no longer sleep for longer than a few restless hours at a stretch. He would lie awake at night, thinking of her and all that might have been. Although Darcy was loath to admit it, he knew he spent too much time imagining a future in which a joyous Elizabeth had smiled and said yes.

In the past few weeks, he had thrown himself back into society in an attempt to assuage his family and their worries over his behaviour. He must find a suitable bride and begin the process of begetting an heir. He was convinced that would be the way to conquer his heartache. But, alas, no one could compare to Elizabeth.

Gah!

When had he become such a lovesick schoolboy? What a pathetic wretch he was!

It was then that he heard knocking on his study door. Surely his household knew not to disturb him so early. He tried to ignore this intrusion into his solitude, but the knocking persisted.

He slammed a fist into his desk. “GO AWAY!”

Much to his annoyance, Jarvis slowly opened the door and entered. Darcy levelled him a withering glare.

“Good morning, sir. My apologies for disturbing you, but there is a young lady here requesting to see you,” Jarvis said with a lift of his eyebrows as he made his way towards the closed curtains.

“What?” exclaimed Darcy as he watched his butler’s steady progress across the study, straightening objects along the way and tsk-tsking as he passed the untouched food.

“There is an unescorted young lady here to see—”

“Yes, I heard you the first time,” he snapped. “Tell her I am busy and not receiving visitors. And there is no need to open the drapes!”

Jarvis left the curtains untouched, but he did not obey his master’s other order. “Sir, I would have done so, as per your instructions. However, she explained that she is an acquaintance of yours and would need only a moment of your time. She said the matter was urgent, and she looks very distressed, sir,” explained Jarvis as he lit the two candles nearest his master.

“I see,” Darcy said as he pinched the bridge of his nose in consternation. Normally, he would not be swayed once he had decided not to receive visitors, especially at such an early hour. On the other hand, Jarvis had never gone against his specific instructions, much less offered justifications for doing so.

After a brief hesitation, Darcy looked up. “Does the lady have a name?”

“Miss Elizabeth Bennet, sir.”

Darcy blanched and shot up, catching his elbow on the side of the desk and nearly upsetting his drink.

“Jarvis, are you certain?” he demanded, absentmindedly rubbing the ache from his elbow.

“Yes, quite certain, sir.” Jarvis seemed taken aback by the extreme reaction from his normally staid master. “Will you receive her?”

Darcy nodded slowly. Once the door closed, he expelled a loud breath and began pacing. What on earth is she doing here? Damn! And why did I agree to see her? He needed to compose himself and, above all, act as unaffected by her presence as he could.

He paused in front of his desk, searching for some correspondence or other paperwork so he might look occupied when she appeared. But then he changed his mind and decided to perch on the edge of his desk with a book…no, no, no—far too contrived! He was acting like a bloody simpleton.

“What are you doing?” he berated himself. “Just sit at your desk, man! This is your study, after all. Where else would you be?” Once he had situated himself, Darcy took a few deep breaths in an attempt to gain some equanimity.

Unfortunately, the knowledge that Elizabeth was there made it difficult for him to be calm.

In London!

In his house!

After all these months!

Darcy braced himself to see her again, but how could anything prepare his heart for this unexpected turn of events?


When her sister Lydia elopes without a trace, Elizabeth Bennet must put aside her predisposition against Mr. Darcy—the man whose hand she refused months earlier—and plead for his assistance in locating the wayward couple. As a result, they face daunting hurdles with help from well-loved friends and interference from old rivals. Will their struggles result in permanent estrangement or a love match?

 

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You can find The Predisposition of Miss Elizabeth Bennet at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

on Kindle Unlimited


Hunter Quinn is a British writer, residing in the southwest of England. She is an avid reader, no doubt due to the influence of her mother, an English classics’ professor and lecturer. 

Having grown up a stone’s throw from Bath and always surrounded by the words of literary greats, Hunter first discovered Jane Austen at a young age. But it was the ubiquitous scene where Mr. Darcy—portrayed by Colin Firth (a moment of silence and applause)—first emerged from the lake in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that cemented her love for Jane Austen and the regency romance genre of spirited damsels, dashing gentleman, and glittering ballrooms. Afterwards, Hunter walked through life daydreaming and writing ‘what if’ scenarios between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy but never had the courage to share them. Once the lockdown went into effect, Hunter took the plunge and began sharing her first novel on well-known JAFF sites. The praise and interest of readers gave her the confidence to submit The Predisposition of Miss Elizabeth Bennet to Meryton Press Publishing…and the rest is history!

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NEW blog tour

The Blog Tour for The Predisposition of Miss Elizabeth Bennet is just starting today, so please don’t forget to check the other stops on tour: 

April 19th From Pemberley to Milton

April 20th Probably at the Library

April 21st My Jane Austen Book Club

April 22nd Diary of an Eccentric

April 23rd My Vices and Weaknesses

April 24th Donadee’s Corner

April 26th Austenesque Reviews

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Meryton Press will give away one eBook of The Predisposition of Miss Elizabeth Bennet per stop on the blog tour. The giveaway is international and to apply to your copy here at From Pemberley to Milton, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post until the 24th of April. The winner will be announced shortly after that.

Good Luck everyone!

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Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

Five Daughters Out at Once by Jayne Bamber – Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

I am very happy to welcome once more at From Pemberley to Milton author Jayne Bamber who is here to talk a little more about her upcoming novel Five Daughters Out at Once. Mrs. Bamber has released some of the most innovative austenesque stories I’ve heard about mixing up many of Austen’s novels in one single story and recently I have learned that many of them are actuallly available at audible, so I will certainly be checking them out soon!

Are you a fan of audiobooks? If so, you can find Jayne Bamber’s audiobooks by clicking on the following link. If not, you can find them all on Kindle too.

Thank you so much for visiting Jayne, and best of luck with this new book 🙂 I am sure readers will like reading what you brought us.


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Hello Dear Janeites, it is a pleasure to be back at From Pemberley to Milton to share more details of my new release, Five Daughters Out At Once.

This is my eighth novel in the Austenesque genre, and like most of the ones that have preceded it, this book is focused on, but not limited to, the characters of Pride & Prejudice. The Bennet sisters are the primary focus of the novel, which begins with tragedy at Longbourn and then at Rosings. Bonding over loss – and loathing of Mr. Collins – Lady Catherine and the Bennet sisters find themselves residing harmoniously together at Netherfield.

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Those of you who have been following my blog tour will know that Mr. Darcy, his sister Georgiana, and their cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam also come to stay at Netherfield, and that ere long Lady Catherine fills the house up even more, with a house party full of eligible bachelors for the Bennet sisters’ benefit.  Lady Catherine is convinced these familiar Austen heroes are in possession of large fortunes and in want of wives, but Elizabeth Bennet is not so sure about her companions, and will be stirring the pot in today’s excerpt, which gives of some serious Box Hill vibes…. 

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Frank Churchill would make a sketch of Elizabeth, and took prodigious pride in his work. “You have taken my likeness metaphorically – I shall reciprocate in the most literal of terms,” he said, making little invisible adjustments to her pose, his fingertips brushing her shoulders, her chin, a loose wisp of her hair. It was a bold means of flirting, accompanied by many brief, smoldering looks, and yet he made such a show of arranging everything before beginning his sketch that to anyone else looking on it might have appeared more comical than provocative.

Lady Catherine was certainly watching them from the card table with the others of her old set, and though she looked on with proud affection and even the occasional wink, Elizabeth was mortified. “You must let me hold something.” She picked up the nearest book, a volume of poetry, and with one hand she raised it up to shield her face from view.

“Ahem – Miss Elizabeth, nobody really reads in so serious a fashion as that, I am sure, and I must see your face,” Mr. Churchill cajoled her.

Elizabeth lowered the book enough to peek up at him with a wide smile. Mr. Darcy had come into the room and was moving that way, to approach his sister; Elizabeth could not resist the impulse to reply to Frank a little louder than strictly necessary, “I am resolved to improve my mind through extensive reading.”

Mr. Churchill laughed, and in making way for Mr. Darcy to pass, he drew closer to Elizabeth, repositioning her posture once more. His hands covered hers as he gently lowered the book to a more realistic pose, and Elizabeth felt her face flush with heat at the contact; beyond them, Mr. Darcy scowled and retreated to speak with Georgiana.

Here, the proud gentleman was thwarted again – Miss Crawford intercepted him, begging for a partner in a game of chess. “Your cousin promised me yesterday that he and I would have a game, but I understand he is much occupied with estate matters – how magnanimous of him to be so attentive to your aunt. But I am sure you will show the same gallantry in indulging me,” she purred at Mr. Darcy, who looked so reluctant to oblige Miss Crawford that Elizabeth almost pitied the man.

Miss Tilney looked up and offered Miss Crawford a warm smile. “I will play with you, if Mr. Darcy does not like to.”

“No, no indeed,” Miss Crawford cried, attempting to wave her off with a gentle laugh. “I could not disrupt your conference in the corner, there – you are all afflicted with novel-mania, and I am sure you would not be minding the game at all. But I daresay Mr. Darcy despises novels, and would do much better to employ the powers of his mind over a game of strategy.”

While seated beside the great readers of their group, Miss Tilney appeared to be sketching, though more discreetly than Mr. Churchill; she did not correct Miss Crawford’s misapprehension, but looked over at her nearest companions. Lydia, Georgiana, and Henry Tilney were poring over a book Mr. Crawford had given them to examine – Lydia and Georgiana seemed especially affronted by the slight upon their pursuit, offering Miss Crawford a matching pair of grimaces before returning their attention to their beloved novels. Miss Crawford looked momentarily chagrined, but squared her shoulders back and laughed it off. “Sir?”

“I would by no means suspend any pleasure of yours,” Mr. Darcy said in all solemnity; he sat across from Miss Crawford at a little table just large enough for the chessboard and motioned for her to open the game.

Elizabeth and Mr. Churchill had watched this exchange with considerable private amusement; a look between them served to express their mutual appreciation of such an absurd display of hauteur. He ceased his sketching for just a moment to lean close to Elizabeth and whispered, “She certainly knows how to enthrall a man of such discernment.”

“Oh yes,” Elizabeth replied softly. “She shall make him a proper wife!”

Mr. Churchill smirked, looking ready to say something else very wicked and very clever, when Lady Catherine called out to him, playfully demanding to know what he and Elizabeth were speaking of. “Husbands and wives,” he answered directly.

Elizabeth managed to hold her pose as Mr. Churchill resumed his sketching once more, but she flicked her eyes over to the dowager as she added, “I have always supposed that felicity in marriage is entirely a matter of chance, your ladyship – that it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.”

Jane had been playing at the pianoforte on the other side of the room, but she missed a few notes and turned to look at Elizabeth with some little alarm. Mr. Crawford, who had been listening attentively at Jane’s side, now chuckled merrily and turned about to speak. “You know that is not sound, Miss Elizabeth – I do hope you would not act that way yourself. My uncle had such a marriage, and I quite pitied my aunt.”

“He is happier now – but the less said about that the better,” Miss Crawford said with a sniff.

“Miss Elizabeth is laughing at us all,” Mr. Darcy said evenly, something like mirth in his eyes as he moved his knight across the board to capture one of Miss Crawford’s pawns. “A poor gambit,” he murmured.

He had once before noted her delight in professing opinions which were not her own, and Elizabeth was at once impressed and annoyed by his ability to see through her teasing with such acuity. “Indeed, I am not,” she replied to the room at large – nearly everybody was listening to her banter now, but Elizabeth was not daunted by this. “I am quite at my leisure, you know, and am grown philosophical. It occurs to me to wonder how well one person might become acquainted with another, at a house party or in some public place like Bath.”

“Such things do occur, undoubtedly,” Lady Catherine said wryly.

“A hasty and impudent attachment may arise,” Mr. Darcy, his gaze alighting upon Elizabeth as cannily as ever. “But there is generally time to recover from it afterward. It can only be weak, irresolute characters – whose happiness must be always at the mercy of chance – who will suffer an unfortunate acquaintance to be an inconvenience, an oppression forever.”

“Short of that, it is all guess and luck,” Miss Crawford tittered.

Mr. Bertram looked up from a book depicting illustrations of the cathedrals of Rome, which he had been examining with Mary, and fixed Miss Crawford with an inscrutable look. “Perhaps you are right – how many a man has committed himself on short acquaintance and rued it all the rest of his life!”

Mr. Ferrars began to cough; Kitty patted him gently on the back. Everyone in the room was now looking about at one another; Elizabeth had not intended to spark such a debate, but relished what she had unwittingly initiated. She smiled broadly as she waited for someone else to speak out, and ere long Mr. Crawford obliged them. “It is only by seeing women in their own homes, among their own set, just as they always are, that one can form any just judgement.” He smiled at Elizabeth, offering her just the trace of a wink before he leaned forward against the pianoforte and beckoned for Jane to continue playing.

Elizabeth was ready to consider the group discussion at an end, but as she glanced over at Mr. Churchill, he looked up from his sketching and flashed her a bright smile before saying, “I have so little confidence in my own judgement that whenever I marry, I hope someone shall choose my wife for me. Lady Catherine, what do you say? Shall you undertake the commission?”

Elizabeth was happy to still be holding the book of poetry, and raised it higher to cover the blush that spread across her cheeks at Mr. Churchill’s saucy teasing. As she tried to regain command of her countenance, Lady Catherine replied in her most imperious tone, “You shall have a charming wife, Frank.”

Jane resumed the concerto she had been practicing; Elizabeth was as pleased to see her elder sister smile shyly up at Mr. Crawford as she was to hear the conversation turn – the talk of husbands and wives had dwindled, and the division of their large party into smaller groups once again prevailed. Mr. Churchill was still prone to giving her some very significant looks as he went about his sketching, and Elizabeth began to read aloud to him to distract herself from the flustering effect of his gaze. His endeavors lasted another half-hour, and then he was ready to display the fruit of his labors and be praised for the result.

Lady Catherine beckoned Mr. Churchill to bring the sketch to her, that she might have the first look at it when it was complete, and she was at once in raptures, declaring it must be framed and displayed in a place of great distinction. Mr. Churchill was subsequently entreated to make a circuit of the room, showing the portrait to all, to mixed review. Most of their companions were pleased and ready to offer praise; Elizabeth’s sisters were the only critics, finding fault with the eyebrows and lashes – until Mr. Churchill presented the drawing to Mr. Darcy for inspection.

He looked at it in silence for an interminable space of time; until Miss Crawford leaned across the chessboard, displaying herself to no little advantage as she declared, “You have made her too tall.”

“Certainly not,” Frank cried. “Consider, she is sitting down, which naturally presents a different aspect – I am sure the proportions have been preserved.”

“I rather wonder at her reading material,” Mr. Darcy quipped. “You have shaded over the cover of the book, and given it no title at all, though I have heard her reading poetry to you. You ought to inscribe a title – a volume of sonnets, I think, would do very well.”

Elizabeth had expected something more severe; her surprise was tinged with relief – and something else. She knew he intended some private insinuation by referencing sonnets, as this had been a jest she made her first night at Netherfield – something about driving away love – but she was determined not to attempt to puzzle the man out.

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Thank you, dearest readers, for following my blog tour! Best of luck to all of you in the giveaway – I will be announcing the winners on Release Day, April 7th. For those of you who missed a post, each stop on the blog tour has featured a tantalizing excerpt. Happy Reading!

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After the untimely death of their parents, Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters are left to make their own way in the world, and the dubious decision to stay at Longbourn until they are forced out leads to chaos and confrontation two years later, when their cousin Mr. Collins comes to claim his inheritance.
Hot on his heels is his noble patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, a woman consumed by grief of her own after the loss of her husband and daughter in a terrible fire at her estate, Rosings Park. While her nephew Mr. Darcy is shocked by his aunt’s interest in the five orphaned girls, her niece Georgiana thinks it just the thing to soothe the dowager’s low spirits. Moved by the bonds of sorrow and a shared contempt of Mr. Collins, Lady Catherine offers the Bennet sisters her protection and assistance in society – and what better way to help them than to find them all rich husbands?
Much to her chagrin, Lady Catherine is not the only one to meddle in Meryton’s marriage mart – Richard Fitzwilliam joins her, at leisure to make mischief, Charlotte Lucas, now an heiress in her own right, has a secret of her own, and Georgiana Darcy finds herself inspired to write a novel that will document – and change – the lives of her new friends.
Tensions rise between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy as they both bristle at Lady Catherine’s plans – for very different reasons. Misapprehension and misunderstandings abound and plans go awry as the great lady rents Netherfield Park and hosts a horde of single gentlemen in possession of good fortunes, who must be in want of wives.
Will the Bennet sisters find love and happiness? What other Austen heroes and rakes might appear in the once dull village of Meryton? Will Darcy and Lizzy overcome the obstacles of their own making?

 

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You can find Five Daughters Out at once on pre order at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

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NEW giveaaway time

Jayne Bamber is kindly offering one ebook copy of Five Daughters Out at Once to readers following her blog tour. To apply to the giveaway, comment on this post and click on the following Rafflecopter Link.

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Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice