Category Archives: North and South

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.



  • 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


Isabelle and Alexander by Rebecca Anderson 2021


You can find Isabelle and Alexander at: 

and on Audible




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.



Rebecca Anderson aka Becca Wilhite headshot


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.



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.


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?




You can find Dragon’s Beyond the Pale at:

on Kindle Unlimited




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: 



Random Bits of Fascination 


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



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!


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.




You can find Miss Bennet’s Dragon at:

on Kindle Unlimited




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 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!



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 🙂


Hi Rita! Thank you for having me on your blog today. I’m so excited to be here 🙂

This scene simultaneously takes place at the beginning and the middle of the story. How, you ask? Why, it’s the scene which, chronologically, follows the one from the prologue! After Darcy kisses Elizabeth senseless at the Meryton Assembly, Mr Bennet whisks her away from him for the second time while absolutely denying his consent for them to marry. The following morning, Elizabeth wakes with a new hope and a firm resolution to let no one, even her beloved father, stand in the way of her happiness…


Hertfordshire, October 19, 1811

Through her window, the rosy fingertips of dawn were just barely reaching over the horizon, but Elizabeth had been awake for some time already, waiting for enough light to dress by. In spite of her late night, she felt no fatigue. Quite the contrary; Elizabeth was full of excitement, anticipation, and renewed hope.

He is here! Her dearest, sweetest, most loyal Fitzwilliam was in Hertfordshire.

She kicked her feet free of her covers and wasted not a single moment more in stoking her small fire—indeed, she barely felt anything save the warm glow of happy anticipation—and instead, selected a gown that required no help with the buttons. 

Since returning to Hertfordshire, it had been nigh impossible for Elizabeth to enjoy the familiar comforts of home, though she attempted to appear as regular as possible for the sake of keeping her burdens private from her mother and younger sisters. Elizabeth had performed all her former duties around the estate by rote, socialised with their neighbours with forced cheer, and grudgingly maintained a civil tongue towards her father. Each and every interaction felt like a terrible effort.

She had not yet resumed the habit of whiling away companionable hours in Mr Bennet’s book room. She only entered that room to collect a ledger or book and then perused them elsewhere. No one, except perhaps Jane, her only confidante, had seemingly noticed the new chill between the Bennet patriarch and his favourite daughter, though it was certainly felt between the two of them. 

Oh, but all the strife from the past few weeks could be put aside and hope renewed. Darcy was here—he had staked his claim, kissing her before everyone she knew—all would be as it should, and they could marry. Mr Bennet would not continue to deny them, surely, when to do so would be to invite censure into their lives? A romantic reunion between established lovers could easily be accepted as a sweet if somewhat improper anecdote. Surely her father must come to reason; if an engagement was not announced soon…well, it did not bear thinking of the consequences for not only Elizabeth but also her sisters.

When she recalled this in the midst of her excited preparations, Elizabeth sobered for a moment. She had no doubt Darcy would propose to her with all haste, and her neighbours, who had known the Bennet daughters since infancy, would be more forgiving than London society, but she did rather wish Darcy had not risked their reputations. 

Then again, Elizabeth could understand why he had felt desperate enough to do so. Mr Bennet’s steadfast refusal to even entertain the idea of their match—Elizabeth scowled, as she often did, at the thought of her father’s stubbornness—and his pains to separate them were likely what had driven Darcy to such extremes. How could she be angry with him for doing this much? She might have done the same had she thought of it.

Through the window, she could see the dome of the rising sun arching over the fields and determined it was light enough for her excursion. There had been no time to arrange a rendezvous between them the evening before, but Elizabeth hoped, by loitering along the boundary between Longbourn and Netherfield Park, she might spot Darcy from afar and draw his attention to her presence. Should her attempts prove unsuccessful… Well, Elizabeth would think of something. Nothing would keep them apart now.

“He is the kind of man, indeed, to whom I should never dare refuse anything which he condescended to ask.”– Mr Bennet, Pride and Prejudice Volume III, Chapter 17

IT HAD NEVER OCCURRED TO FITZWILLIAM DARCY that once he had chosen a bride, her father might dare to refuse his consent. When his dearest, loveliest Elizabeth is taken from him with only a curt note of explanation, he determines that, far from accepting her father’s rejection of his suit, he must instead find her again and make his case. After all, a woman worthy of being pleased is also worth fighting for.

SEVERAL MONTHS SHY OF HER MAJORITY, it is not so simple a thing to defy Mr Bennet’s will, but Elizabeth, for the sake of her future happiness, must try. With various allies in her corner, as well as foes standing against her, Elizabeth’s courage must rise against all attempts at intimidation. Even from her own, much beloved father.

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You can find Dare to Refuse Such a Man at:

on Kindle Unlimited




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


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.



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…


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.”


“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.


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:

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!



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.


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.


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…. 



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.



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!

5 Daughters Blog Tour Promo Final

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?


5 Daughters Cover




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






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.


Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

Longbourn Inheritance by Laraba Kendig – Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

I am hosting for the first time at From Pemberley to Milton Laraba Kendig, an author who has already published 10 Pride & Prejudice variations, but who has only recently come to my attention. This month she released another book in the Pride and Prejudice Variation Series called Longbourn Inheritance and it is already #1 Best Seller in Amazon, so I am really happy that Mrs. Kendig accepted to share an excerpt of it in my blog. 

I hope you join me in congratulating Mr. Kendig for this new release and it’s success 🙂 Don’t forget, there is a giveaway of one ebook copy of Longbourn Inheritance, so make sure you leave a comment to apply to it. 

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


In London, he was well received by nobles and gentry alike.  But was that because he was an exemplary person, or because everyone knew of his wealth and status?

“What do you think?” Darcy inquired aloud of his companion.  “Am I truly obnoxious and overly proud to those outside my circle?”

Maxwell, the red spaniel, had been trotting around happily, nosing this, nudging that, kicking his heels with sheer delight at being on a walk with a fine human male on a misty morning in November. At these words, however, the beast sat down and lifted a soulful gaze to the man, his eyes glistening with adoration as he proceeded to pant slowly, his feathery tail wagging slowly back and forth along the ground and accruing a new muddy brown coating.

“You think not?” Darcy inquired, dropping his hand to rub the dog’s ears.  “Well, that is a relief, young fellow. I feel certain that your analysis of human behavior is equal to my friend Bingley’s, or perhaps even more reliable.”

Maxwell barked agreeably and wagged his now very dirty tail, slobbering with ardent enthusiasm.

Darcy laughed and rose to his feet, “Well, I am glad that I have made a friend in you, at any rate.  But come, I think we could both use a little more exercise, do you not think?”

Maxwell leaped forward happily at these words and man and dog wandered farther down the trail, growing increasingly wet from the still dripping fronds.

After slogging another half mile or so, Darcy was pleased to come upon the road which ran along the northern edge of Netherfield. He was pleasantly exhausted and wished to return to his room for a bath and a change of clothes.

He smiled to himself and took a few eager strides down the road. There was a sudden rustle across the lane and before Darcy could react, Maxwell lunged in front of him in search of a fragrant bird which had fluttered into smelling distance.

Darcy tripped over the dog, falling hard, and yelped in pain.




Elizabeth Bennet, dressed in a warm pelisse and woolen gown, was enjoying the chill of a sunny November morning when she heard the barking ahead of her on the road.  With a frown, she peered down the road intently, where a fluffy red dot was leaping up and down in the distance.

She spurred Daisy on gently, causing her mare to begin trotting. A second later, the rope in her hand, the one guiding Buttercup, jerked backward slightly. Of course Buttercup, being old and lazy, had no desire to move quickly.

“Come, Buttercup,” Elizabeth commanded, and to the mare’s credit, Buttercup shifted into a sullen jog.

Two minutes later, the red leaping dot had grown into a long legged puppy who was circling around a gentleman who was sitting up cautiously on the side of the road, a man who was …

“Mr. Darcy?!”

Fitzwilliam Darcy looked up, his brow furrowed, his face slightly pale.

“Miss Elizabeth,” he replied tautly.

Elizabeth gazed down at the man with a mixture of bewilderment and embarrassment. The last time she had met Mr. Darcy, she had given him a set down and while she was not ashamed of her words, she felt a little awkward at meeting him in this way, especially since he was apparently not well.

“Are you injured, sir?”

Darcy shifted a little and winced in pain, “I fear so, yes. Maxwell dashed in front of me in pursuit of a bird, and regrettably I tripped over him.”

“Maxwell?” Elizabeth inquired, and then nodded as she carefully swung herself down to the ground. “Oh, the puppy.  I am so sorry.”

“At least Maxwell seems all right,” Darcy commented, running a careful hand down the animal’s furry body.  “I was afraid I might have lamed him in my fall, as I am a big man to fall on a smallish dog.”

Elizabeth’s eyebrows rose at this remarkable statement. Given Mr. Darcy’s lofty behavior, she would not have expected him to be concerned about the beast responsible, however innocently, for injuring him.

“Is anything broken, Mr. Darcy?” she inquired worriedly, glancing around in search of anyone who might be able to help.  Not surprisingly, no one was in sight.  It was still early in the morning, and the only reason Elizabeth was on the road was because she desired to whisk Jane away from Netherfield as soon as possible. She would not have it said that Miss Bennet of Longbourn overstayed her welcome!

“I hope it is merely a sprain,” Darcy said, trying to rise to his feet before sinking back with soft moan of pain. “It may be broken, however.”

“I can ride to Netherfield and send help or, if you like, you can attempt to mount Buttercup. She is a placid horse, but I do not know if you are able to climb onto her with your injured leg.”

Darcy looked up at Elizabeth eagerly, “I would like to try, Miss Elizabeth.  The ground is uncomfortable, and I confess to being wet and increasingly cold.”


Elizabeth must oversee Longbourn after a family tragedy. Mr. Darcy is intrigued, Mr. Collins is baffled and Mr. Wickham is enticed.

Matthew Bennet, Lydia’s twin brother, has died. Elizabeth finds herself managing the Longbourn estate, while balancing the needs of her family with her own desires for a happy future.

Mr. Bingley rents Netherfield, and his friend, Mr. Darcy, comes to visit. When Darcy is injured, it is Elizabeth who comes to his rescue, sparking a friendship that surprises them both.

Mr. Collins’s foolishness, Mr. Wickham’s greed and Lady Catherine’s ambition cause the situation to grow far more complicated for our favorite characters. Will Darcy and Elizabeth overcome adversity to find their happily ever after?



You can find Longbourn Inheritance at:

on Kindle Unlimited






I am a scientist by training, but a writer at heart. I have always loved reading with a passion and turned my hand to fanfiction a few years ago. I write stories similar to the ones I enjoy reading. They are interesting but light, romantic but not steamy. I am a super fan of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and have been having a wonderful time writing P&P variations, exploring how new circumstances affect the beloved characters. So far I have published several novel-length Regency Romance Pride and Prejudice variations via Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. My books include ‘The Banished Uncle’ and ‘A Fortuitous Fall’.

Laraba Kendig is giving away an ebook copy of Longbourn Inheritance 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 giveaway is internacional and is open until the 10th of April.

Good Luck everyone!



Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

The Unread Letter by Kara Pleasants – Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

Today I am very pleased to welcome Kara Pleasants to From Pemberley to Milton with an excerpt of The Unread Letter, her recently released novella. Ms. Pleasants first book, Disenchanted, was one of my favorites from last year which means I am very excited about this new novel. I am sure the writting style will be exquisite 🙂

Today’s excerpt is one of Ms. Pleasants favorite scenes in the book, and I can easily understand why, I hope you like it as much as I did 🙂

Thank you so much for visiting Ms Pleasants, and thank you to everyone at Quills & Quartos for the opportunity to be a part of this tour 🙂


Hi, Rita! 

A huge thank you for having me come and visit as part of my blog tour for The Unread Letter.

This excerpt is one of my favorite places in the novella—a section that I added while reworking an earlier and much shorter version. In this variation, I explore the question of what might happen to Elizabeth and the Bennets if she had never read Mr. Darcy’s letter—and it takes her to Brighton, rather than to Derbyshire.

This new location allowed me to explore Brighton and the surrounding landscape of Sussex. I had a memory of seeing white cliffs on a visit to England as a child, which I was later able to discover were, in fact, the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs.

Elizabeth is drawn to nature, and I always felt a kinship with her because of this (I am also a very good walker). I hope you enjoy this excerpt, where she explores a true gem of the Sussex seaside. 



Nothing could adequately prepare Elizabeth for the sight of the majestic, rolling series of white chalk cliffs that made up the Seven Sisters. Elizabeth gasped at the sight, quickening her pace when she was able to run out to the pebbly beach, strewn with rocks covered in green seaweed and algae. The peaks of the Seven Sisters lay like a shining crown set against the channel. The sheer cliff-face lay broken off as if at the edge of the earth. Elizabeth waited for Jane to catch up before they counted the seven gentle slopes together. Never had she seen such sharp contrasts of colour—the rich azure water against the white cliffs covered with green grass. And above it all, an endless sky streaked by cirrus clouds.

Here, the beach was free of the throngs of tourists and rows of bathing machines, the swarms of seagulls ready to pounce at the slightest morsel. Elizabeth did not miss the crowds, but she did sigh to think that she could not take advantage of the bathing machine to swim out farther into the channel and gaze at the cliffs from the water. She suggested to Jane instead that they take off their shoes to wade. Thus they spent at least an hour walking up and down the rocky beach, looking for seashells and almost falling in once or twice because of the slippery algae. They managed to stay in the water long enough for their toes to wrinkle, but Elizabeth could not help but stay as long as she could. The beautiful pictures of the sea-people that the children imagined had worked their way into her own thoughts—she liked to think that she was a selkie herself, only in need of her seal skin to let her explore the deep secrets of the ocean.

When the shadows grew longer, Mrs Gardiner called for them from the place where she and Mr Gardiner had been resting on a weathered log. “Will you be ready to go, dears, in half an hour? Though I wish we could stay to see the sunset, we do have a journey back to Brighton, and there is still the walk back to Seaford.”

“Nearly ready!” Elizabeth called back and turned conspiratorially to Jane. “Just this last time, we shall walk East towards the Seven Sisters before we turn back.”

“We may start our slow return to Seaford now,” Mr Gardiner said. “Our legs do not carry us as rapidly as yours.”

Elizabeth and Jane waved them off and decided that it would be better to put back on their shoes. They started walking together along the shoreline, until Jane fell a bit behind.

“Oh, Lizzy, you will never want to leave this place, will you?” she teased with a smile. “But I do think we should rejoin our aunt and uncle!”

“You go, I will catch up,” Elizabeth insisted, “I promise. As much as I wish I could walk from here all the way to Beachy Head, I will content myself with a final glimpse.”

She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply, the salt of the sea in her nostrils and the wind caressing her face. She waved solemnly to the Seven Sisters and then turned back with reluctance, her sister some distance away. Presently, she paused at the sight of a glinting white conical shell amongst the seaweed just ahead. She bent down to retrieve it, marveling at its smooth lines and delicate curve, when she felt her foot lose its grip on the rocks slick with algae and she let out a short exclamation of dismay as she fell backwards onto the beach. 

Imagine her surprise to hear a similar cry of alarm just behind her and the sound of rushing footsteps coming towards her. 

“Are you quite all right?” came the trembling voice of a young girl. 

Elizabeth looked up sheepishly from her place amid the wet seaweed. “I think I am all right, the only thing permanently injured is my pride.”

The girl, who was tall and must have been about sixteen, offered her a hand, which Elizabeth eagerly took. The girl pulled, and Elizabeth struggled to find a footing until she was sure—for a moment—that she was back on her feet, when they both slipped at the same time and found themselves sitting opposite each other. 

“Well, I am no help at all!” the girl cried.

Elizabeth burst into laughter. “What a disaster! I think we had better try to stand independently of one another—however ungraceful our appearance may be.” She saw that Jane had heard their distress and was now approaching. “Wait, wait!” Elizabeth called out to her, “We cannot have you falling into the seaweed, too!” She turned her attention back to her newfound companion, “Oh dear, now I have ruined your fine dress! Are you hurt at all?”

They both scrambled to their feet at the same moment, and Elizabeth tried to assist the girl by brushing her dress. 

Jane arrived out of breath. “Are you well, Lizzy?”

“Yes, Jane, but I have injured this beautiful creature.” Elizabeth took both of their hands to lead them away from the treacherous patch of rocks. 

“I am well,” the girl said, smiling shyly to reassure them.

“Are you quite sure?” Elizabeth tried again to brush off her dress.

“Where is your companion?” Jane enquired, “You are not here alone!”

“No, no,” the girl replied, seeming to draw herself in. “Here is my brother now.”

Elizabeth and Jane turned in the direction the girl indicated and discerned the familiar figure of a tall gentleman walking towards them, concern marking his features. Elizabeth’s mouth dropped open in shock.

“Georgiana, are you well?” the gentleman said, not looking at first towards anyone other than his sister “I am sorry to have let you stray so far. I saw you fall and—” He stopped short as his eyes turned and connected with Elizabeth’s. “Miss Elizabeth!”

“Mr Darcy!” 

For every one of his smiles, she thought of his letter and blushed with shame of what she had done. Oh, that she might have just looked at it!

After rejecting Mr Darcy’s proposal at Hunsford, Elizabeth Bennet is surprised when he finds her walking the next day and hands her a letter. Without any expectation of pleasure—but with the strongest curiosity—she begins to open the letter, fully intending to read it.

It really was an accident—at first. Her shaking hands broke the seal and somehow tore the pages in two. Oh, what pleasure she then felt in tearing the pages again and again! A glorious release of anger and indignation directed towards the man who had insulted her and courted her in the same breath. She did feel remorse, but what could she do? The letter was destroyed, and Elizabeth expected that she would never see Mr Darcy again. 

Home at Longbourn, she discovers that her youngest sisters are consumed by a scheme to go to Brighton—and Elizabeth finds herself drawn to the idea of a visit to the sea. But the surprises of Brighton are many, beginning with a chance meeting on the beach and ending in unexpected romance all around. 






You can find The Unread Letter at:

on Kindle Unlimited






Kara Pleasants lives in a lovely hamlet called Darlington in Maryland, where she and her husband are restoring an 18th century farm in Susquehanna State Park. They have two beautiful and vivacious daughters, Nora and Lina. A Maryland native, Kara spent a great deal of her childhood travelling with her family, including six years living in Siberia, as well as five years in Montana, before finally making her way back home to attend the University of Maryland. 

Kara is an English teacher and Department Chair at West Nottingham Academy. She has taught at the secondary and collegiate level at several different schools in Maryland. Her hobbies include: making scones for the farmer’s market, writing poetry, watching fantasy shows, making quilts, directing choir, and dreaming about writing an epic three-party fantasy series for her daughters.

Quills & Quartos is giving away an ebook copy of The Unread Letter 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 and the winner announced shortly after that.

Good Luck everyone!


Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

Fearful Symmetry by Gailie Ruth Caress – Deleted Scene & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

Today I am very pleased to welcome Gailie Ruth Caress at From Pemberley to Milton for the first time.

It is always a great joy to welcome new authors to this blog and particularly to the genre, especially when they are like minded people as Gailie seems to be 🙂 I found someone else with whom to discuss Gaskell’s work and that is always a reason for joy 🙂 But she is not here to talk about Margaret and John, she will share with you a deleted scene of her book Fearful Symmetry, a very interesting take on Pride and Prejudice. I hope you enjoy the deleted scene and the book 🙂

Thank you for visiting Gailie, and thank you to everyone at Quills & Quartos for the opportunity to be a part of this tour 🙂


Thank you for having me here to visit today, Rita! 

I’m thrilled to introduce Fearful Symmetry to your readers in particular because so many of them are like me: they love reading Elizabeth Gaskell in near-equal measure to Jane Austen!

In immersing into the world of Pride & Prejudice to write my own novel variation, I’m aware that that I consciously chose to pull out and emphasize certain dynamics that resemble elements in North & South that I think readers of Gaskell will recognize and love, including: 

– a heroine (Elizabeth) who showcases her grit in the face of hard circumstances and difficult family dynamics;

– a hero (Darcy) who is unafraid of the circumstances surrounding his beloved, and instead admires her for her grace under such pressure. (And don’t we love him for it!)

Today I wanted to share a deleted scene featuring our favorite couple that builds some playfulness into my tale of hardship. Let me set the scene a little.



Upon discovering Elizabeth on the point of going out to walk Netherfield’s grounds with his playful hound Caesar, Darcy offers to escort her. Elizabeth, surprised but delighted, rushes to make good on his offer. This scene included just a bit of humor from the other Bennet girls towards the end that was later cut but still makes me smile.

“Caesar, you must stay here. Stay!” [Elizabeth] urged him, putting out her hand. Caesar licked it.

“No, boy. Here—sit. Sit!” When he complied, Elizabeth nodded. “Good boy. Stay!”

Examining the hound and finding Caesar was somewhat calmer, Elizabeth began to climb the steps to gather her things. As she progressed, her suspicions were stirred when she heard movement behind her echoing on the marble landing below.

“No, boy! Stay!” she commanded, whirling around on the step.

“If you insist, Miss Elizabeth,” said a surprised Mr Darcy, putting up his hands in surrender and arresting his progress below her.

“Oh! Forgive me, sir,” Elizabeth apologized, her colour rising at once. “I was speaking to Caesar.”

“I believe you will find him obeying my orders and lying down, as I have found he has never shown the will to master the command to ‘stay’.”

“Ah,” said Elizabeth, peering beyond and below Mr Darcy to where the dog was lying belly-down upon the cool marble of the foyer and peering up at both of them curiously. She bit back a smile. “I cannot much blame him. I have never mastered that particular command myself. I was going for a walk, and I hoped to take Caesar with me.”

Mr Darcy nodded and ascended to the step below Elizabeth’s, bringing his gaze nearly level to her own. His eyes searched her face. “If you are indeed well enough for such an excursion, I am certain Caesar would welcome the exercise.” He looked back at the hound that returned his master’s regard with raised ears and a thump of the tail. “As would I. May I accompany you, and perhaps keep your companion from running off into the next county?”

Elizabeth hid her astonishment. “You may, but if only if you will indulge me and explain why you think poor Caesar would ever feel the need to run away from me.”

“Quite simply, madam, it is because you are not as challenging to catch as a rabbit, which has always proven a temptation to Caesar above all other things.”

“You have never seen me run in open country, sir,” she challenged. “I may be every bit as swift as a hare.”

Mr Darcy smiled. “I shall expect you to be quick, then, as you gather your things.”

“I shall bound away soon enough, but I may be detained by one more errand,” Elizabeth replied around a smile as she brought her letter up between their faces. She fluttered her fresh missive teasingly in the air before her as though fanning her cheeks as she finished, “—I must first post my letter to your sister, if she is to receive it by Saturday night.”

The intensity of Mr Darcy’s gaze increased. Before she had time to react, he caught her hand by the wrist with a gentle but firm grasp. While Elizabeth was shocked into stillness, he neatly plucked the note from her fingers.

Mr Darcy grinned in triumph as he released her. “I shall post it now,” he said lightly, saluting her with his prize. “Bingley’s man is presently in the foyer.”

She gave him her curtsey. “You had best be about it, then, before I return,” she said pertly, as she turned and sprinted up the stairs.

From below, she heard Mr Darcy’s quiet chuckle. She felt color fly into her cheeks, but she continued upward with a determined step, finding herself too fascinated by his sudden attentions to waste time questioning them. 

On the landing above, Elizabeth nearly ran poor Kitty down, and she squeaked a hasty apology to her. 

“Gracious me! Elizabeth, did you see a ghost?” Kitty gasped, before she coughed and pressed a hand to her chest. 

“Not a ghost, Kitty! Only a dog!” Elizabeth called over her shoulder.

“A what?” Kitty hollered back.

“I cannot explain now! I have to be away—as swift as a hare!” Unwilling to share her plans with her little sister, Elizabeth made haste her object. She nearly dove into the dormitory she shared with Jane, ready to pillage their scant belongings for the articles she needed for her walk with Mr Darcy.

Kitty still had her mouth agape in the hallway when Lydia emerged from their mother’s room to discover the source of the shouting. 

“Lud, Kitty, what was that all about?” Lydia asked. 

Kitty shrugged. “Lizzy has lost her senses! She ran up the stairs spouting all sorts of nonsense. I cannot make it out. Dogs and hares indeed!”

Lydia snorted in laughter. “Are you certain she is not running away from Mr Collins again? If he were pursuing me, I might sprint a whole staircase and shout nonsense, too.”


This story was a joy to write—especially these moments of humour that sweeten the seriousness of the tale.  Thank you for reading along and getting a little taste of Fearful Symmetry!

Darcy had never known such a woman, one who could rush into an inferno and emerge as bold and brilliant as burnished brass, bright as any mirror.

Fitzwilliam Darcy had planned to leave Netherfield Park and all thoughts of the enchanting Miss Elizabeth Bennet behind him—until one night when he saw smoke rising from Longbourn and realised she was imperiled. 

Elizabeth Bennet found Mr Darcy arrogant and insufferable right up until he became her hero, pulling her and her sister from the fire that devastated their home, and could have claimed both of their lives. Seeing how he put his own life at risk to pull her from the fire, how could she help but change her opinion of him?

Thrown together again in the refuge offered at Netherfield, Darcy and Elizabeth’s unexpected bond gains strength. But disapproval, debts, and doubts all arise when the costs in time and expense involved in rebuilding Longbourn threaten to widen the gulf in standing between Elizabeth and Darcy in the eyes of society. Amidst these perplexities of destruction and decorum, can love’s courage overcome calamity?





You can find Fearful Symmetry at:

on Kindle Unlimited

and on Audible!




Gailie Ruth Caress, author of Fearful Symmetry, never dreamed of writing a debut novel in her own pleasure-reading genre when she was a no-nonsense, 4.0-chasing English major who won prizes for her academic essays at Hanover College in her home state of Indiana. Forced to readily adapt after a pivotal loss in early adulthood, she became a dabbler in many forms of expression and relationship-building—from opera and ballroom dance to nonprofit education and mentoring. And yet, she committed mid-Pandemic to the challenge of completing the manuscript of the story that kept her up at night, driven by a need to borrow from the courageous vulnerability of her favorite Jane Austen couple in a landscape transformed by disaster.

Her everyday life continues to hold unexpected adventures. Her two small boys and a duo of sassy tabby cats run wild on the Illinois prairie around a parsonage, where they keep her busy alongside rural community and ministry work with her pastor-husband. Learn more about Gailie Ruth at

Quills & Quartos is giving away an ebook copy of Fearful Symmetry 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—March 19, 2021 and the winner announced shortly after that.

Good Luck everyone!


Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

Elizabeth and Darcy: Beginning Again by Elaine Jeremiah – Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

I am very happy to receive Elaine Jeremiah for the first time at From Pemberley to Milton to share with you an excerpt of her recently released book: Elizabeth and Darcy: Beginning Again. This excerpt is taken from the earlier chapters of the book and reveals a little more about the events that will shape the entire story. I hope you enjoy it 🙂

Thank you for visiting Elaine, it was a pleasure to have you here with us 🙂

Little does Elizabeth Bennet think the journey across muddy fields from her home at Longbourn to Netherfield Park will change her life forever. 

But an unexpected encounter with the proud and haughty Mr Darcy leaves her injured and vulnerable. Worse still, she is left alone with him for a significant amount of time. Her reputation at risk, she is forced to make a decision about her future. Now her life will never be the same again.

Can Elizabeth ever be happy? Or will she always loathe Mr Darcy?





You can find  at:

and on Kindle Unlimited






As Darcy strode away from Elizabeth Bennet, he contemplated the situation they had found themselves in. Being unable to find help did not bode well. If or when they were discovered alone together, they would have difficulty explaining how it came to pass. He was unsure what he would say in his defence if they were.

He reflected too on his ambiguous feelings for the lady. It was true that she was the daughter of an inconsequential gentleman and her other relations… well vulgar did not begin to describe the mother. As for her sisters, excepting the eldest, Miss Jane Bennet who was perfectly amiable, he had never come across such boisterous, flirtatious misses in his life. 

And yet he could not deny that Elizabeth intrigued him. She piqued his interest and those eyes of hers were most arresting. He shook his head as he thrashed his riding crop through the foliage of the woods, forcing a path through. Their meeting today was unaccountable. His very purpose for heading out from Netherfield on his horse, despite the indifferent weather, had been to clear his thoughts of her. 

These nascent feelings for her simply would not do. She and her family were beneath him in every way. So it was that his surprise on happening upon her so suddenly had been great. At first, dismounting from his horse, he had felt as though he had been robbed of the power of speech. When finally he had turned and spoken to her, he saw by the expression of her fine eyes that her surprise was equal to his. 

‘Attend to the task at hand, William,’ he told himself. At this moment, his biggest regret ought to have been his horse. Under usual circumstances, the horse would never have behaved in such a way. But he was unused to thunder and lightning, poor creature. Darcy had also had to rein him in very suddenly to avoid trampling Elizabeth, which had only added to the horse’s confusion. 

In spite of his attempts to the contrary, however, Darcy’s thoughts would return to Elizabeth. He felt a need to protect her. After all, it was his fault she was injured. It was true that he had no wish to ruin her reputation; in fact, he knew that as a gentleman it was his duty to preserve it. Yet it was something greater than that which spurred him on, forcing him to ignore the raindrops trickling down the back of his neck, his cravat and greatcoat no match for the inclement weather.

He refused to acknowledge that feeling, however. It could lead nowhere. In any case, there were more important considerations to be thought of. He was unsure how long he had been walking for, but at that moment a smallish wooden hut with a stone chimney came into view. He halted abruptly, surveying it. Would it do for their purposes? Was it habitable? Although it was rudimentary, it appeared well kept. When he knocked, there was no answer. Taking a breath, he tried the door and to his relief discovered it was unlocked. 

Darcy took a cursory glance around the interior. There was only the one room, but it did have a substantial fireplace on the far wall with firewood piled up beside it and a small bed in one corner. This will do nicely, he thought. Now all that remained was to fetch Elizabeth. It was a considerable distance for him to carry her, but the thought of having her small, warm, curvaceous body in his arms again made his mouth curve upwards in a grin. 


Could this moment really be lasting an eternity, Elizabeth wondered, as she was sitting under the tree getting wetter by the minute. It certainly felt like it. The pain in her ankle was severe and it occurred to her that it may be broken. God forbid, she thought with a shudder. If she had broken a bone in her ankle and it was then set incorrectly, it could mean she would never walk again.

And Mr Darcy. Elizabeth could not make him out. In all her previous encounters with him, he had been aloof, taciturn and on occasion more than a little rude. During the short time she had been in his company this morning however, he had behaved with great chivalry towards her. It was perplexing to say the least. She shook her head. Mr Darcy was only performing the service that any gentleman would and that was all.

But his keeping hold of her hand for longer than necessary. What could he mean by it, if he truly disliked her? Attempting to answer this vexing question kept her mind occupied for a good while, in fact until the gentleman himself appeared in front of her. Elizabeth felt her face flush and bit her lip as her eyes met Mr Darcy’s own.

For a moment neither of them spoke but remained as they were with their eyes fixed on one another. It was as though someone had cast a spell over them. Elizabeth was startled that Mr Darcy seemed as transfixed as she. She wanted and yet did not want to look away. Finally, he cleared his throat. The spell was broken and he said, ‘Miss Bennet, I have discovered the gamekeeper’s cottage that you mentioned, although in truth it is more of a hut.’ He gave her a rueful smile, which seemed somehow to transform his face, lightening it, making him appear even more handsome than before.

She gave him a brief nod. ‘Thank you for searching in this dreadful weather,’ she said. ‘It may be a mere hut, but I think it is the best we can hope for. Beggars cannot be choosers.’

‘No, indeed,’ he replied. He paused and she saw that he seemed to be bracing himself for what he would say next. ‘Unfortunately, it is quite far from here, about a half mile. Miss Bennet, I must carry you for all of that time, if you will permit me?’ 

‘But of course,’ she replied. ‘I suppose that will have to suffice, as my ankle can scarcely support my weight.’

He gave a wry smile at her tart comment. ‘In that case, I suggest we depart immediately,’ he said and stooped to pick her up. She put her arms around his neck. ‘You are wet through,’ he added as he straightened and began to walk away from the tree which had proved so mean a shelter for her. 

‘It is a very wet day, sir,’ Elizabeth replied lightly. ‘I cannot be expected to look the part of a lady in conditions such as these,’ she added in a mischievous tone. 

He did not understand her. ‘Miss Bennet, I was not suggesting for one moment that you…’

‘Of course not, Mr Darcy,’ she replied. ‘I merely jest.’ 

‘Ah. I see,’ was his response. 

They remained silent for a while as Mr Darcy soldiered on through the rain with Elizabeth in his arms. Gradually, her initial apprehension began to wear off and she found herself relaxing the rigid body posture she had adopted when he had lifted her off the ground. His arms around her made her feel warm in spite of the weather. Yet a sense of unease remained. She, an unmarried woman, was being carried a fair distance by a man who was not her betrothed and certainly never likely to be her husband. What would society say?

Elaine lives in Bristol, South West England with her husband and their golden retriever, Dug. But she was privileged enough to grow up in Jane Austen country, in Hampshire. 

She’s always loved writing, but it’s only been in recent years that she’s been able to devote more time to it. She decided to self-publish with the help of her wonderful husband who’s very tech-savvy! In 2013 she self-published her first novel, but it was only with her fourth, her novel ‘Love Without Time’, that she felt she finally found her niche: Jane Austen Fan Fiction! 

She’s always loved Jane Austen’s writing and the Regency era, so this felt like a natural thing for her to do. ‘Elizabeth and Darcy: Beginning Again’ is the first ‘Pride and Prejudice’ variation she’s written. 


If you want to connect with Elaine online, her Facebook page can be found here:

Her Twitter handle is: @ElaineJeremiah

Her website is here:



Elaine is kindly offering 2 ebook copies of Elizabeth and Darcy: Beginning Again to my readers. The giveaway is international and to apply to it all you have to do is leave a comment on this post and let us know what you thought about the excerpt.

The giveaway is international and will end on the 12th of March. The winners will be announced shortly.

Good Luck everyone!


Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice