A Most Handsome Gentleman Cover Reveal

Hello everyone,

I hope you are enjoying the beginning of the weekend 🙂 I am having a wonderful time at home with hubbie and my kindle, that’s all a girl needs to be happy right?

I’m also happy because today I’m having the opportunity to share with you the cover for Suzan Lauder’s new book, A Most Handsome Gentleman.

You know how much I love covers, and how important I consider them, so I was thrilled to be doing the cover reveal of such an interesting book! Suzan Lauder is a talented author who comes up with very interesting premises and characters, so I was already expecting something different when I heard about this book, what I wasn’t expecting though was a HOT Mr. Collins!!! Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, there is a hot Mr. Collins in this story…but let me share with you the book blurb so that you can find out for yourself of what this book is all about.

 

 

Elizabeth Bennet’s life is uncomplicated until she meets a quartet of new men: the haughty but handsome Mr. Darcy, the pert-with-a-pout Mr. Bingley, the confident and captivating Mr. Wickham—and then there is her father’s cousin, the happy man towards whom almost every female eye has turned.

Mr. Collins is HOT—well, incredibly handsome in Regency-speak—beautiful of face, fine of figure, elegant of air, his perfect clothing and hair matching his Greek god-like form. Unfortunately, when he opens his mouth, Elizabeth wishes he were mute. With affected servility and prideful self-conceit, he capitalizes upon his exquisite appearance and fixes on Jane Bennet as his bride.

Can Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy form an alliance to stop Jane’s suitors from issuing challenges—and will Elizabeth coax a smile from Mr. Darcy?

Bestselling Regency romance author Suzan Lauder delivers a hilarious Austenesque romance suitable for all readers of Pride and Prejudice.

 

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Interesting isn’t it? I think this will be a very fun read and I can’t wait to get my hands into it.

What I also consider interesting is the cover! I never imagined I would ever like to see a Mr. Collins in a cover, but this book made it possible! As always Janet Taylor did an amazing job! This time she had the help of several handsome man…

But I guess it is time I share with you the beautiful cover of A Most Handsome Gentleman…

 

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What do you think of this cover? Isn’t it beautiful? My favourite gentleman is certainly the one at the center, who I’m hoping is Mr. Darcy. God…I hope that’s not Collins! In what world would I be if I considered Collins more handsome than Darcy?. The one on the left is also very appealing, but I clearly prefer the one in the center. There is something darker about him and I like that. Also, he has a book :))) If that book turns out to be Fordyce’s Sermons I’ll just go and hide my head in the sand for the next weeks…

I also love the heart on the word handsome, don’t you think that is an adorable detail?

And what bout the back cover? What do you think you’ll find in it? Well, a cover reveal is not a very good one if we do not reveal the entirity of the cover right? So here is the full cover 🙂

I love the back cover too and I wonder how Janet created such an image! Even though it’s not hard to imagine some couples in this circumstance during regency, I do not believe any painter would dare to put it on canvas, so I’m imagining this is all her creation… Either way, congratulations Suzan and Janet! this cover is absolutely gorgeous, I love it !!!

Book should be available on or about October 1, 2017.

 

 

A lover of Jane Austen, Regency period research and costuming, cycling, yoga, blogging, and independent travel, cat mom Suzan Lauder is seldom idle.

Her first effort at a comedy, A Most Handsome Gentleman is the fourth time Lauder has been published by Meryton Press. Her earlier works include a mature Regency romance with a mystery twist, Alias Thomas Bennet, a modern short romance Delivery Boy in the holiday anthology Then Comes Winter, and the dramatic tension filled Regency romance Letter from Ramsgate.

She and Mr. Suze split their time between a loft condo overlooking the Salish Sea and a

150-year-old Spanish colonial home near the sea in Mexico.

Suzan’s lively prose is also available to her readers on her blog, road trips with the redhead www.suzan.lauder.merytonpress.com, on her Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/SuzanLauder, and on Twitter @suzanlauder.

 

 

A note from Suzan Lauder on the cover for A Most Handsome Gentleman or #HOTCollins

When this novella was serial posting at A Happy Assembly, I included a handsome Regency man’s portrait at the end of each chapter, each one intended to represent Mr. Collins in the story. Commenters there added a few portraits of their own and piped in on their idea of who might be the best #HOTCollins in this comedy twist. Over the last couple of months, I’ve shared many of those portraits in weekly posts on Facebook and Twitter, and readers have replied with amusing compliments. Because each of these hot men could be Mr. Collins in my story, any one could become good cover art for a book. My readers are savvy enough to realize I wouldn’t post the “real” cover, however, which is here for your enjoyment today. I had a great time working with Janet Taylor on the choice of HOT gentlemen as well as the amorous scene on the back cover, which is from later in the novella. I’m sure everyone will agree it’s a catchy cover for a twisted plot twist on Pride and Prejudice!

 

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Thank you for allowing me to do the cover reveal today ladies, and I wish you much success with this book! Also, I hope you give me more information about each man on the cover, and maybe a little spoiler about the scene in the back 😉

 

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Filed under Cover reveal, JAFF

These Dreams Review & Giveaway

Let me start by saying I would give These Dreams a 10 star rating if I could. I’ve read and loved all of Nicole Clarkston’s books, but so far this is her best novel and it only proves that talent can produce amazing books, but talent and experience are the recipe for memorable stories such as this one.

In These Dreams, after locating Wickham and arranging everything for his marriage to Lydia Bennet, Mr. Darcy is abducted and taken to Portugal where a mysterious plotline will be developed and new interesting and original characters will make their first appearance.

Darcy will of course return to England, but some parts of the book occur in Portugal and as a portuguese I have to say that it is clear the author did a great job at historical and linguistic research. Everything on the portuguese settings is perfectly accurate, and reading words such as “Amo-te” and “saudade” so well placed in the dialogues warmed my heart. Bravo Nicole Clarkston!

I believe some readers may consider the first part of the book a bit angsty but the intensity of Darcy and Elizabeth’s feelings for one another, and the very special way they were connected, make it a very romantic novel that is pleasing even for those who don’t normally tolerate angst, even because the moments between Darcy and Elizabeth after they are reunited are worth all the angst lived until that moment.

I personally love angsty books so this one was just my cup of tea! I consider These Dreams perfect in every way and I honestly cannot point one single thing I didn’t enjoy. If I have to point something out, it is the fact that there isn’t a prequel written yet. (I’m really cheering for a prequel about Col. Fitzwilliam and Amália 🙂 )

The book is quite long but the cliff-hangers at the end of each chapter and the connections to the subsequent chapters kept me interested until the very end, making it seem a very fast read. In fact, the connection between the ending of one chapter and the beginning of another is part of why I love Nicole Clarkston’s writing so much, these little details in her writing make These Dreams a gripping book.

Apart from Elizabeth and Darcy’s love story, which was profound, solid and beautiful, I absolutely LOVED Col. Fitzwilliam’s love story and love interest! Amália was an incredible character and I wish the author will some day dedicate a book to her and the Colonel. I kept wishing the next chapter would be about them, and sometimes, I even forgot about Darcy and Elizabeth, which says a lot!

These Dreams is a masterfully written story, full of layers and twists that will keep the reader interested until the last page. The character development was incredible, not only when it comes to Darcy and Elizabeth, but also concerning secondary characters like Lydia and Wickham and even original characters such as Amália and her father.

The book approaches several interesting subjects like PTSD, patriotist, religion, honour, trust and love that only add to its complexity and contribute to place These Dreams amongst the best JAFF books out there.

This is a book that should not be missed and I can not recommend it enough for those who like quality literature, mystery and romance.

 

You can find These Dreams at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

 

 

An abandoned bride

    A missing man

        And a dream that refuses to die…

Pride and patriotism lend fervor to greed and cruelty, and Fitzwilliam Darcy

is caught at the centre of a decades-old international feud. Taken far

from England, presumed dead by his family, and lost to all he holds dear,

only one name remains as his beacon in the darkness: Elizabeth.

Georgiana Darcy is now the reluctant, heartbroken heiress to Pemberley,

and Colonel Fitwilliam her bewildered guardian. Vulnerable and unprepared,

Georgiana desperately longs for a friend, while Fitzwilliam seeks to protect her

from his own family. As the conspiracy around Darcy’s death widens and

questions mount, Colonel Fitzwilliam must confront his own past.

An impossible dream, long ago sacrificed for duty, may become his only hope.

Newly married Lydia Wickham returns to Longbourn- alone and under

mysterious circumstances. Elizabeth Bennet watches one sister suffer and

another find joy, while she lives her own days in empty regrets over what might

have been. Believing Darcy lost forever, she closes her heart against both pain

and happiness, but finds no escape from her dreams of him.

 


Nicole Clarkston is a book lover and a happily married mom of three. Originally from Idaho, she now lives in Oregon with her own romantic hero, several horses, and one very fat dog. She has loved crafting alternate stories and sequels since she was a child watching Disney’s Robin Hood, and she is never found sitting quietly without a book of some sort.

Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties―how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project, she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Her need for more time with these characters led her to simultaneously write Rumours & Recklessness, a P&P inspired novel, and No Such Thing as Luck, a N&S inspired novel. Both immediately became best selling books. The success she had with her first attempt at writing led her to write three other novels that are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.

Nicole was recently invited to join Austenvariations.com, a group of talented authors in the Jane Austen Fiction genre. In addition to her work with the Austen Variations blog, Nicole can be reached through Facebook at http://fb.me/NicoleClarkstonAuthor, Twitter @N_Clarkston, her blog at Goodreads.com, or her personal blog and website, NicoleClarkson.com.

 

You can contact Nicole through the following links:

Website

Goodreads Author Page

Goodreads Blog

Facebook

Amazon Author Page

Twitter

 


 

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09/19   So little time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

09/20   My Jane Austen Book Club; Vignette, GA

09/21   From Pemberley to Milton; Review, GA

09/22   Interests of a Jane Austen Girl; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway

09/23   Just Jane 1813; Review, GA

09/24   My Vices and Weaknesses; Excerpt, GA

09/25   Babblings of a Bookworm;  Guest Post or Vignette, GA

09/26   Diary of an Eccentric; Review, Giveaway

09/27   Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt

09/28   Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, GA

09/29   My Love for Jane Austen; Charcter Interview, GA

09/30   Margie’s Must Reads; Guest Post, Excerpt, GA

10/01   Savvy Verse and Wit; Review, GA

10/02   Austenesque Reviews; Character Interview, GA

10/03   Obsessed with Mr. Darcy; Review, GA

10/04   From Pemberley to Milton; Guest Post, GA


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Nicole Clarkston would like to offer 10 eBook copies of These Dreams to readers following the blog tour.

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.

A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook of These Dreams by Nicole Clarkston. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

To enter the Rafflecopter giveaway click here.

Good Luck Everyone!

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Filed under JAFF

My all time favourite JAFF books with giveaways

I have been wanting to publish a list of my favourite JAFF books for a long time, but I always felt the number of books I had read would not justify such a list. Now that my blog has celebrated 2 years, and that I’ve read over 150 JAFF stories, I think it is justifiable to share with all of you which ones are my favourite.

There are several criteria that can be used to choose the best books one has ever read, such as the originality and interest of the plot, the writing style, the pacing, the ability to captivate the reader etc, but I always said that to me, a great book is one that has the ability to make me feel something. In my opinion the best books are the ones which cause such an impression in the reader that he will never forgets how he felt when reading it. That is what I consider a book memorable. And of course, I don’t think we can get caught in the story and feel so intensely attached to a book and its characters if the plot is not believable, or if the books is badly written, so if in the end I suppose all those criteria I mentioned before are also taken into consideration.

That being said, my favourite JAFF books of all times, and by no particular order, are:

 

A Peculiar Connection – Jan Hahn

My review      Amazon.com    Amazon.uk

Perfect for the angst addicts such as myself 🙂

A Peculiar Connection begins near the close of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Bent on preventing the engagement of her nephew to Elizabeth Bennet, Lady Catherine de Bourgh declares that any union between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth would be “a sin against Heaven itself!” Her shocking revelation, along with a cryptic message written over twenty years earlier, thrusts the couple into a whirlwind of heartbreak and disbelief. They must endure the exquisite torture of denying the indisputable desire that still hovers between them, but the journey is sooooooo wonderful that it’s impossible not to love this book.

 

Ardently – Caitlin Williams

My review      Amazon.com    Amazon.uk

Perfect for the hopeless romantics who happen to love Bath 😉

What if Elizabeth actually went to the Lake District and was nowhere near Pemberley, and she and Mr. Darcy never met again until another four years had gone by? Now they are very different people, altered by marriage, time and situation, although, Mr Darcy’s failed proposal in the Parsonage at Hunsford still haunts both of them in different ways.

 

A Fair Prospect – Cassandra Grafton

My review      Amazon.com    Amazon.uk

Perfect for the hopeless romantics who are eager for excellent dialogues and romantic scenes

Nursing his wounds after his rejection by Miss Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy returns to London, a devastated and humbled man. The lady, meanwhile, is battling the unprecedented feelings stirred by having endured an innocent but intimate encounter with the gentleman in the aftermath of his proposal. Soon on her way to Town herself for an unanticipated stay, she is comforted by the presence of an old family friend, one Nicholas Harington – the son of a wealthy family whose position in society rivals that of the Darcys of Pemberley and who has emerged as a potential suitor for Elizabeth.

 

Darcy by Any Other Name – Laura Hile

My review      Amazon.com    Amazon.uk

Perfect for those who love romance and are willing to have an open mind 🙂

Two men are arguing while a ferocious rainstorm swirls round. And then the unthinkable happens: a lightning bolt from heaven strikes. In that instant everything changes. Jane Austen’s heartthrob hero becomes the bumbling Reverend Collins.

Shorn of his fortune, his social standing, and his good looks, Mr. Darcy is trapped in Mr. Collins’ body. And Mr. Collins wakes up to discover that he is master of Pemberley.

Could there be anything worse?

 

The Unthinkable Triangle – Joana Starnes

My review      Amazon.com    Amazon.uk

Perfect for the angst addicts such as myself 🙂

What if Mr. Darcy’s rival for Elizabeth Bennet’s hand and heart is not some inconsequential stranger, but his dearest, closest friend? How is he to reconcile the claims of loyalty and kinship with the urge to pursue his heart’s desire?

 

The Madness of Mr. Darcy – Alexa Adams

My review      Amazon.com    Amazon.uk

Perfect for those who can find the beauty of love after hardship and suffering.

The year is 1832 and regrets beleaguer Fitzwilliam Darcy. All he ever cared for has been taken from him: his pride, his sister, and his true love, Elizabeth Bennet. Now, having nearly murdered a man in a fit of rage, he might lose Pemberley, too. More than just his home, his very identity is at stake. In desperation, he seeks the help of Dr. Frederick Wilson, owner and proprietor of Ramsey House, a madhouse for fine ladies and gentlemen. Is Darcy’s confinement the inevitable end to his tortured descent, or will he rediscover what he lost in the most unlikely of places?

 

Haunting Mr. Darcy – Karalynne MaCrory

My review (coming soon)      Amazon.com    Amazon.uk

Perfect for those who love romance and are willing to have an open mind 🙂

That fickle friend Fate intervenes when an unexpected event threatens the happily ever after of literature’s favorite love story. The gentlemen from Netherfield have left, winter is upon the land, and after a horrifying carriage accident, Elizabeth Bennet finds her spirit transported as if by magic into Mr. Darcy’s London home. Paranormally tethered to the disagreeable man, it doesn’t help that he believes she is a phantasm of his love-struck mind and not the real Elizabeth. Somehow they must learn to trust, learn to love and learn to bring Elizabeth back to her earthly form before it is too late.

 

Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections – Abigail Reynolds

My review      Amazon.com    Amazon.uk

Perfect for those who love romance and adventure in a different scenario 🙂

When Darcy discovers that Lord Charles’ new target is none other than Elizabeth Bennet, the woman who refused Darcy’s offer of marriage, he cannot stand by and watch as the woman he still loves is callously ruined. What he doesn’t know is that Lord Charles has a dark secret, and that his attentions to Elizabeth may not be what they seem. After a midnight rescue, clandestine meetings, a long-lost son, conspiracies, blackmail, and an attempted elopement, everyone can agree that this house party is anything but dull.

 

Suddenly Mrs. Darcy – Jenneta James

My review (coming soon)      Amazon.com    Amazon.uk

Perfect for those who demand a good writing and are not afraid to wait for the happy ending 🙂

Elizabeth Bennett never imagined her own parents would force her to marry a virtual stranger. But when Mrs. Bennett accuses Fitzwilliam Darcy of compromising her daughter, that is exactly the outcome. Trapped in a seemingly loveless marriage and far from home, she grows suspicious of her new husband’s heart and further, suspects he is hiding a great secret. Is there even a chance at love given the happenstance of their hasty marriage?

 

Mr. Darcy’s Voyage – Kara Louise

My review      Amazon.com    Amazon.uk

Perfect for those who are eager for a hertfelt romance in a different scenario:)

In this enchanting and highly original retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet sets out for the new world aboard the grand ship Pemberley’s Promise. She’s prepared for an uneventful voyage until a chance encounter with the handsome, taciturn Mr. Darcy turns her world upside down

 

The Falmouth Connection – Joana Starnes

My review      Amazon.com    Amazon.uk

Perfect for those who love intense romance 🙂

Just as Mr. Darcy finally decides to propose to the enticing Miss Elizabeth Bennet, she is summoned to Falmouth, to meet a relation she never knew she had.

Thus, the ill-starred Hunsford proposal is avoided – but before he could even begin to understand his luck, adverse circumstances hasten to conspire against him, and Fitzwilliam Darcy is compelled to follow the woman he loves to the far reaches of Cornwall, into a world of deceit and peril, where few – if any – are what they seem to be…

 

The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth – Victoria Kincaid

My review      Amazon.com    Amazon.uk

Perfect for those who love adventure and idyllic romance 🙂

It is 1803, and a treaty has allowed England and France to enjoy a brief moment of peace in the midst of the Napoleonic wars. Darcy is despondent over Elizabeth’s refusal of his proposal at Hunsford, so Colonel Fitzwilliam proposes a trip to Paris as a distraction. At a ball Darcy unexpectedly encounters Elizabeth, who is visiting Paris with the Gardiners. He sees this as his opportunity to court Elizabeth properly and rectify past mistakes. Before he can make much progress, however, England declares war again and Darcy must help Elizabeth flee France.

 

Darcy’s Ultimatum – Jennifer Joy

My review      Amazon.com    Amazon.uk

Perfect for those who love page turner romances 🙂

When Fitzwilliam Darcy’s arranged life falls to pieces, his father, Mr. George Darcy, gives him an ultimatum: Marry by the end of the London Season or risk disinheritance. Can Darcy cast aside society’s frigid attitude toward marriage and find true love? Or will his desire to honor his deceased mother’s memory hold him back?
Elizabeth Bennet faces the greatest challenge of her life: Find a husband by the end of the London Season or be forced to marry the heir apparent of her family home, Mr. Collins. A romantic at heart, will Elizabeth find a gentlemen to meet her high expectations?

 

These Dreams – Nicole Clarkston

My review(coming soon)   Amazon.com    Amazon.uk

Perfect for those who love Col. Fitzwilliam as much as they love Darcy (or almost as much)

Pride and patriotism lend fervor to greed and cruelty, and Fitzwilliam Darcy is caught at the centre of a decades-old international feud. Taken far from England, presumed dead by his family, and lost to all he holds dear, only one name remains as his beacon in the darkness: Elizabeth.

 

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My favourite genre is regency variations and this is the type of books I read the most, so it is natural that most of these books, if not all, are regency variations. Also, these are my personal list of favourites, I don’t mean to say they are better than any others, only that they were the ones I enjoyed reading the most 🙂

Are any of these books on your own lists? Have you read them all? Is there any that you particularly love and that I am not mentioning? Please do share! I’ve only discovered some extraordinary books that have been published a long time ago this year, so I’m not surprised if some amazing books are missing from this list because I haven’t read them yet and suggestions are always welcome 🙂

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I love these books so much that I would like to share some of them with you 🙂

I am giving away 5 signed paperbacks of some of my favourite books. As you know I was very fortunate to meet Joana Starnes, Caitlin Williams and Cassandra Grafton on my last trip to the UK, so I asked them to sign several books to giveaway to my readers 🙂 Today I am offering The Falmouth Connection, The Unthinkable Triangle, Volumes I, II and II of A Fair Prospect and Ardently.

Two winners will be randomly chosen by the comments left on this post and any review of the books listed above, and two other winners will be randomly chosen from the list of the blog followers. If you want to increase your chances of winning a signed paperback subscribe to follow my blog and comment the reviews  🙂

All volumes of a Fair Prospect are signed, but they will be offered to one single winner considering they are one single story.

The giveaway is international and will be open until the 30th of September. The winners will be announced shortly after.

Good luck everyone!

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Filed under JAFF, Pride and Prejudice

Fair Stands the Wind & These Dreams available in Amazon

Hello dear readers,

I believe some of you may have noticed that Amazon has been giving some problems to a couple of our beloved JAFF authors, with several errors occurring on publication date that prevented us from having our kindle copies to read. Amongst others, those issues happened with Catherine Lodge when releasing Fair Stands the Wind and Nicole Clarkston on the release of These Dreams.

I thought that you might like to know that all the constraints are finally solved and you can now find your copies of Fair Stands the Wind and These Dreams available in Amazon 🙂

 

Happy Reading!

 

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A Less Agreeable Man & The Land Stewards role

A few days ago Maria Grace has released a new book entitled A Less Agreeable Man which is the 3rd book in her series The Queen of Rosings Park, and today, she brings to From Pemberley to Milton a cut scene from it and a guest post about land stewards.

It is always a huge pleasure to receive Maria in my blog because she always creates very interesting guest posts that teach me a lot about regency. In fact, she has also written some non-fiction books on the Jane Austen Regency Life collection that I consider very interesting, and would suggest to anyone who likes this era, they are: Courtship and Marriage in Jane Austen’s World and A Jane Austen Christmas: Regency Christmas Traditions.

But I’m starting to digress as usual, so I will only wish Maria all the success with her new book and thank her for another interesting post before leaving you to read the blurb, the cut scene and the guest post 🙂

 

 

Dull, plain and practical, Mary Bennet was the girl men always overlooked. Nobody thought she’d garner a second glance, much less a husband. But she did, and now she’s grateful to be engaged to Mr. Michaels, the steady, even tempered steward of Rosings Park. By all appearances, they are made for each other, serious, hard-working, and boring.

Michaels finds managing Rosings Park relatively straight forward, but he desperately needs a helpmeet like Mary, able to manage his employers: the once proud Lady Catherine de Bourgh who is descending into madness and her currently proud nephew and heir, Colonel Fitzwilliam, whose extravagant lifestyle has left him ill-equipped for economy and privation.

Colonel Fitzwilliam had faced cannon fire and sabers, taken a musket ball to the shoulder and another to the thigh, stood against Napoleon and lived to tell of it, but barking out orders and the point of his sword aren’t helping him save Rosings Park from financial ruin. Something must change quickly if he wants to salvage any of his inheritance. He needs help, but Michaels is tedious and Michaels’ fiancée, the opinionated Mary Bennet, is stubborn and not to be borne.

Apparently, quiet was not the same thing as meek, and reserved did not mean mild. The audacity of the woman, lecturing him on how he should manage his barmy aunt. The fact that she is usually right doesn’t help. Miss Bennet gets under his skin, growing worse by the day until he finds it very difficult to remember that she’s engaged to another man.

Can order be restored to Rosings Park or will Lady Catherine’s madness ruin them all?

Buy link:

Amazon

Kobo

Barnes and Noble

Apple

 

 

Land Stewards: Professional help in running an estate.

 

We often hear about gentlemen employing stewards to help manage their estates. Who were these men, though, and what did they do?

Small estates, like Longbourn of Pride and Prejudice, could be managed by the master of the estate with the assistance of a non-professional man, called a bailiff. Typically a bailiff would be one of the major tenants on the estate, hired to act as a go-between to collect tenants’ rents. In the era, it would have been considered vulgar for a gentleman to collect the rents himself.

Larger estates, like Darcy’s Pemberley or Lady Catherine’s Rosings Park, were major economic endeavors that necessitated professional help in the form of a steward.

 

Qualifications

Where the bailiff simply collected rents for the master of the estate, the steward was responsible for actually running the business of the estate and thus was integral to its success. He had to be an educated man, often the son of clergy, a smaller landowner or a professional man. He needed a head for numbers, scrupulous record-keeping skills, an exceptional knowledge of all aspects of agriculture, and excellent people-skills. Typically he would be university trained as a solicitor, necessary because of his dealings with contracts. A steward was not considered a servant, but rather a skilled professional with a higher status than the family lawyer.

For these reasons, a steward was addressed as ‘Mister’. Not long after the regency era, the term ‘steward’, with its servile connotations, was dropped in favor of the more professional term ‘land agent.’

 

Duties

Stewards were tied to the estate and did not travel with the master of the estate. They managed all the activities associated with making the estate profitable, including record and account keeping, managing contracts, and overseeing the agricultural aspects of the home farm.

A good steward kept meticulous accounts and records of everything—seriously everything. In addition to the expected accounting that would go with such an enterprise, he kept logs of work done, including repairs to buildings, fences and roads, as well as records of the parkland, game animals, livestock and crops. He also maintained a rent roll of tenancies and records of the farm boundaries. Further, an estate employed a number of department heads, such as the head gardener, head gamekeeper, and the like. The steward kept records for all these departments and paid the wages of their workmen.

Beyond these duties, stewards also spent a lot of time touring the estate on horseback, dealing with the people of the estate face to face. He collected rents, found new tenants when necessary and leased land, supervised the tenantry, directed any work and improvements done on the land, settled squabbles that arose among the tenants or workers, purchased animals, seed and so on. (Shapard, 2003)

 

Salaries

A steward’s salary related both to the size of the estate and his expertise. Typically, a steward’s salary would range from £100-300 annually. In addition he would have use of a private house on the estate. For reference, Austen’s Longbourn had an income of about £2000, which probably put hiring a steward out of their range.

 

Risks

Although not nearly as hazardous as many professions of the era, working as a steward was not without risks. Although employers relied heavily upon their stewards for their efficient management of their estates, that did not prevent employers from doubting their honesty, especially as the large sums that many of them handled offered opportunities for speculation. Accusations of wrongdoing could ruin a man’s reputation and (wrongful) conviction for the same could result in prison time or worse, depending on the amount of money involved.

Since the steward was also in charge of collecting the rent from the tenants, he could be an unpopular figure. Historical records show assaults on stewards and in one case, the murder of one. So, in a very literal sense, his people-skills could be a life-saver.

 

References

Austen, Jane, and David M. Shapard. The Annotated Pride and Prejudice. New York: Anchor Books, 2003.

Karsten, Susan. “The Steward: Guardian of the Noble Estate (Farm).” Vanessa Riley’s Regency Life. Accessed May 26, 2014.

http://christianregency.com/blog/2013/09/09/the-steward-guardian-of-the-noble-estate-farm-by-susan-karsten/

Laudermilk, Sharon H., and Teresa L. Hamlin. The Regency Companion. New York: Garland, 1989.

LeFaye, Deirdre. Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels. New York: Abrams, 2002.

Ray, Joan Klingel. Jane Austen for Dummies. Chichester: John Wiley, 2006.

Schmidt,  Wayne.  “Victorian Domestic Servant Hierarchy and Wage Scale.” This and That. Accessed May 26, 2014.  http://www.waynesthisandthat.com/servantwages.htm

Sullivan, Margaret C., and Kathryn Rathke. The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England. Philadelphia, PA: Quirk Books, 2007.

 

 


 

Cut Scene: Dinner with the Collinses

The brass inlaid mahogany bracket clock on the parlor mantle chimed five o’clock and Charlotte instructed the maid to set the table for dinner.  The Collinses and Mary gathered in the parlor to await their dinner guest. Weak rays of daylight streamed through the windows, but they had lost the warmth of afternoon, leaving a faint chill in the air. But it was too early for candles or a fire, so the room hovered between day and night far earlier than necessary.

Mr. Collins paced from the fireplace to the old fashioned portraits on the far wall, between the sofa where Charlotte sat and settee where Mary perched, dodging around the leather armchairs placed a little too close to walk between. In time with each footfall, he pontificated on Lady Catherine’s opinions regarding the virtue of timeliness. It would have been annoying enough had those been his own opinions. But they were only Lady Catherine’s, and that made him insufferable.

The floorboards under the worn carpet squeaked and groaned with each step, as if to agree with every word. They were the only things in the room that did.

The clock chimed six times, and Mr. Collins excused himself to his room where he could watch the lane from his windows as though that might make their guest appear sooner.

“I am sorry, Charlotte.” Mary studied her hands. Her fingernails had become rather ragged. How unladylike.

“There is nothing for you to apologize for. Truly, I am not offended. I am well aware of the situation. Truly, I do not mind.” Charlotte’s voice dropped to a whisper as she glanced at the parlor door. “The situation at Rosings Park is so unpredictable now. It is not at all surprising that Mr. Michaels might be caught up there.”

“I know you are right, but still…” Mary sighed and picked up her book once more, squinting and holding it very close to make out the words in the failing light.

A loud rap at the parlor door made Mary jump.

Mr. Collins trundled in a candlestick in hand, Mr. Michaels just behind.

“Please forgive my delay. It was difficult to break away from Colonel Fitzwilliam.” He glanced at Mary.

Something about the look in his eye suggested that there was a great deal more that he needed to tell her. At least his excuse of service to the colonel had to be acceptable to Mr. Collins.

“Shall we to the dining room?” Charlotte did not wait for an answer, shuffling past them and out the door.

The quaint, cozy dining room could easily accommodate more than twice their number, though the oblong oak table was really too large for the space making them edge awkwardly around it as they tried to seat themselves. Decorated in a manner befitting their station, all overseen by Lady Catherine’s hand, it had the flavor of Rosings all over it. Not so much Rosings, but a stripped-down impoverished version of it that Lady Catherine saw fitting for those beneath her.

No crystal glittered in the candlelight. The pewter candlesticks muted rather than reflected the candles glow. Few mirrors graced the room, only those that could be excused as economies—reflecting the light so as to reduce the necessary number of candles. Deep burgundy paint covered the walls, paintings—mostly apprentice-effort florals and landscapes—hung in odd places covering up scratches and spots the paint had chipped away.  The chairs all matched, but the seats were covered in serviceable dirt-colored fabric. Only the one at the head of the table had arms.

Eight platters—china, earthenware and pewter, all plain and sturdy—held fragrant offerings. The most notably, a joint of roast pork that made her mouth water. Mr. Collins carved the it, a larger cut of meat than they usually enjoyed. But now that Lady Catherine was less likely to countermand her orders at the butcher, Charlotte exercised greater freedom at her table.

“Are things well at Rosings?” Mr. Collins piled sliced pork on his plate and sat down.

“They remain in the state that they have been for some time.” Mr. Michaels used that special, patient tone that belied great impatience with the conversation.

“So then your news from London was favorable?” Did Mr. Collins think himself so subtle that none could tell he was hoping for more intimate news from the manor?

“It was as expected. I have discussed it at length with Colonel Fitzwilliam.” Mr. Michaels took a large mouthful of stewed spinach, one which would take a long time to chew.

“We have had some news of our own.” Charlotte caught Mary’s eye briefly.

Bless her gentle ability to shift the conversation. She was truly a social asset to her husband, even if he did not realize it.

Mr. Collins sat up a little straighter. “Yes, indeed we have. I received a most interesting letter yesterday. As you know, I have been blessed as the recipient of the entail to an estate in Hertfordshire. We have been waiting for news of the birth of the current owners’ new child. A son, of course, would be the heir to the estate.”

“Was the mistress of the estate safely delivered of her child?” Mary took a tiny bit of pease pudding, one she could swallow quickly if she needed to respond—or redirect the conversation—quickly. The peas had not been cooked quite long enough and the cook and skimped on the bacon, leaving them just a touch mealy and lacking in salt. Edible, but not entirely pleasing.

“A son was born, but did not survive the week. Sadly, his mother was succumbed to childbed fever as well.” Did Collins really have to talk through a mouthful of pork?

No wonder Charlotte was contemplating disaster.

“Tragic,” Mr. Michaels murmured.

“The story becomes sadder, yet.” Somehow Mr. Collins’ voice did not match the sentiment. “The owner of the estate, overindulged in drink and was found drowned in a pond on the estate several days later.”

“An interesting turn of events to be sure.” Mr. Michaels’ eyes darted up and a little to the right. He was thinking, perhaps planning. “So now the estate goes to you?”

“So it would seem sir, so it would seem. I was wondering, if your duties at Rosings do not require all your time, is it possible for you to assist me with some of the official business regarding in this matter?”

There was an ulterior motive to today’s invitation after all.

“I shall be pleased to assist, sir. I offer my condolences and congratulations to you at the same time. How ironic that such a tragedy for part of your family can become such a blessing to another.”

“It is interesting how the hand of Providence comes to work.” That was not humility in Mr. Collins eyes.

“What then will become of Hunsford Parish?” Mary’s stomach roiled.

“That is a quandary to be sure. I must go to attend the estate. They cannot function, at least for the first few years without a master in attendance. After that if I can, I might hire a bailiff to manage the property and rent the house to a worthy tenant. But, at the very least, I will be unable to fulfill my duties here during that time. I suppose a curate would be the ideal solution, however, I fear that Lady Catherine would be highly opposed to my hiring someone of my own choosing. She is ever so particular, as she well should be in her position, about who will tend the parish flock.”

In the past, Lady Catherine would insist on hiring the curate herself or hiring a bailiff for the estate and managing that to her satisfaction. As it was now, she would probably just throw a fit. A long, protracted one, that someone how Mary would be called upon to manage.

Collins set down his knife and fork and leaned in against the table. “In truth I am uncertain what to do. I fear upsetting her ladyship with the news. She is so fragile. Even if I tell her that I will stay at my post, she may take it very badly.”

“That is very likely.” Mr. Michaels rubbed his chin. “Perhaps, I should broach the subject with the colonel. At the very least, he should know before Lady Catherine finds out. Might I discuss it when I meet with him tomorrow afternoon?”

“Would you like me to go with you, to talk of how Lady Catherine might be … comforted during this time?” Mary whispered. Mr. Collins probably would not like the implication that Lady Catherine required management.

“I would very much appreciate your assistance. With all the other concerns weighing upon him, the colonel has little patience for Lady Catherine. I think your calm input would be of great value.” Mr. Michaels’ sharp glance silenced Mr. Collins before he could offer his opinions on the matter.


 

.

 

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband and one grandson, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, is starting her sixth year blogging on Random Bits of Fascination, has built seven websites, attended eight English country dance balls, sewn nine Regency era costumes, and shared her life with ten cats.

 

She can be contacted at:

author.MariaGrace@gmail.com

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Particular Attachments – Excerpt

Hello dear readers,

I’m very happy to be hosting author L.L. Diamond for the first time at From Pemberley to Milton with an excerpt of her upcoming novel Particular Attachments.

I am currently reading her book Particular Intentions, so I cannot think of a better timing to be sharing with you and excerpt of its sequel.

Particular Attachments will be released in 3 days, on the 14th of September, but until then, you can pre-order it on Amazon, read a marvelous excerpt below and follow the blog tour for more info on the book 🙂

***

 

 

Thank you so much for having me! It’s so nerve-wracking and exciting to finally be publishing Particular Attachments! I really enjoyed writing Georgiana’s story and introducing Lord Sele. I just love him. I hope the readers do as well!

 

 

From the edge of the ballroom, Georgiana sipped her punch while Lydia chatted merrily with her current dance partner. Her behaviour had been similar with all of her partners thus far: open and gregarious. She was definitely enjoying the ball.
Georgiana peered a short distance away where Lizzy and Fitzwilliam were deep in conversation with a good friend of her brother’s. Lizzy tilted her head as she regarded Georgiana. Lizzy was ensuring she was well, so she lifted a corner of her lips to set her sister’s mind at ease.
In contrast to Lydia, Georgiana’s card this evening had been dominated by her male relations, who all made certain she was not forced to endure awkward conversation with a stranger during her first ball. Uncle Henry, her brother, Richard, and Milton had each partnered her for a dance and now, she struggled not to fidget while she awaited Nathaniel for the next set.
Lady Lindsey had greeted her after the second set, and they spoke amiably until Richard claimed her hand before the music could begin again. She had even espied Lord Lindsey taking a turn with his wife, but thus far, Nathaniel was missing.
After another sip of her drink, she rose to her tiptoes to scan the room. Lydia could no longer claim Nathaniel held a tendre for her if he failed to even make an appearance at the ball. Ha! She would not be forced to uphold her side of a polite discourse on the weather, the state of the roads, or—
“Miss Darcy, I hope you are well this evening.”
She dropped ungracefully from her toes as she attempted to whirl around. A palm supported her elbow while she steadied, her punch splashing precariously around the edge of her cup. Did it spill? A glance down the pale blush silk revealed her gown was unblemished. Thank heavens!
“I believe we have escaped catastrophe.”
Her eyes rose from her cup to the cheerful, deep mahogany eyes she had just been seeking. “You startled me.”
His hand left her arm as he bowed. “I wholeheartedly apologise. I had no reason to believe you would take such a fright in a room crowded with people.”
One side of his lip twitched, and it took all her strength to withhold a frustrated growl. “I was by no means frightened. You merely caught me unawares.”
“As I said, I humbly beg your forgiveness.” His voice was tinged with humour.
Good heavens! He was still as impossible as when they were young!
With a grin, he offered his arm. “We should move closer to the dancers. I would not want to miss our set. Should I be so careless, you might not see fit to grant me one in its stead, and your brother would tease me mercilessly after I sought his permission.”
“You did?” Fitzwilliam would have allowed the privilege with the close relationship of their families, but he was correct. Her brother would enjoy pestering Nathaniel if she refused to dance with him now.
She placed her punch on a passing servant’s tray and rested her hand upon the heavy wool of his sleeve. Better to have this portion of the evening concluded than to prolong the agony.
“I anticipate an enlightening conversation at dinner. We have not spoken in years, so I hope to learn of your adventures since we were last in company.”
Dinner! Custom dictated they be seated together during the meal following, and he actually expected it of her. Could she not sit with Lydia and Lizzy?
“I had not thought . . .” What was she to say? Would he consider her rude if she claimed she had no desire to dine with him?
“Miss Darcy.” His voice lowered as he faced her. “I requested the supper set for the pleasure of dancing with you as well as conversing with you during the meal. I do hope you are not considering abandoning me to the whims of the other ladies present.”
Her eyebrows rose. “They might expect the enjoyment of your company after you prove yourself a willing and able partner. I may not have the ability to protect you as you seem to think.”
“Nathaniel!” called Lady Lindsey, strolling forward on her husband’s arm. “I am glad to see you have arrived. I sent the carriage back as you requested.” A mischievous glint lit the lady’s countenance and Nathaniel’s face coloured.
“Yes, Mother. I arrived a few moments ago.”
Georgiana flinched. He arrived a few moments ago? He avoided the beginning of the ball and made an appearance merely for their set and dinner?
Lady Lindsey grasped her free hand. “Miss Darcy, I do hope you remember my husband?”
She gave a quick curtsey. “Yes, I do. I am glad to see you hale, my lord.”
With a slight bow, the earl smiled. “Not as glad as I am to be well again, I assure you.”
The music ended, the dancers dispersed to find their next partners, and Nathaniel dipped his head to his parents. “I was promised a dance by Miss Darcy. If you will excuse us.”
His steady and sure stride brought them to the top of the set near Lydia. The impertinent hussy glanced over and bit her bottom lip with a grin. Oh no! Lydia would not embarrass her again, would she?
A few moments after he took his place across from her, the music began and Nathaniel bowed as she curtsied. They both stepped forward and joined hands.
“How are you enjoying London?”
Her gaze met his, but she could not hold it. Instead, she looked over his shoulder. “We have only been in town a short time. Other than preparing for the ball and making several calls, we have not ventured much further than Bond Street.”
“If you are at all like my mother, nothing exists beyond Bond Street.”
Her head whipped back in his direction with a huff. “In the past, I have taken great enjoyment in a few small recitals and performances as well as several plays at Covent Garden.”
Their turn completed, they retreated to their original positions and awaited the other members of their group to take their turn. Nathaniel’s curved lips and the crinkles at the corners of his eyes betrayed his amusement. How could he prick every last nerve she possessed?
As the pattern shifted them together once more, he stepped a hairsbreadth closer than necessary. “I beg your pardon if I caused offence. You will forgive me, will you not?” His bottom lip protruded into a slight pout. He appeared ridiculous with such a childish expression. A laugh burst from her, and she pressed her lips together in an effort to quash the sound.
She gave an affected sigh. “I suppose I must, though I do so begrudgingly.”
“Oh ho!” he cried. “The Georgiana Darcy I remember still exists beneath the layers of silk and bejewelled pins in her hair. Should I be concerned you might care for retribution should I speak without thought?” He bent slightly towards her ear. “You will not kick me in the shin, will you?”
A wisp of his breath caught her ear and a frisson travelled down her spine, causing her to start. “I might. If you behave as you did at twelve.” Good! Her voice did not tremble!
“’Tis tempting, but I believe I should prefer you to know me as I am now.” He watched her from the corner of his eye. “However, you must allow me to prove myself.”
They parted to take their places in the line once more.
Their eyes met and she held his gaze. Why would he need to prove himself? “To what purpose?”
His brow drew down. “Will you ask the same of any man who requests to call this Season? You cannot expect to début without gentlemen taking notice.”
She stiffened, filled her chest with air, and drew herself as tall as she could. “I cannot prevent their interest, but I can dissuade them. I have no reason to torment a respectable man.”
They bowed and curtsied when the first song ended.
With a tilt of the head, he stared at her while the music for the second dance began. They again honoured their partners and Georgiana stepped inside to turn with the neighbouring gentleman. When she returned to the line, Nathaniel did the same with the lady beside her. When they joined hands, he drew her closer.
“Pray tell, how would you torment a respectable man?”
The muscles in her back tensed. “I have no intention of marrying.”
“Never?”
“No, never.”

Blurb: She swore would never marry!

Georgiana Darcy is a lady with a secret! The last thing she wants is to return to London, but what else can she do when her brother and his wife make plans to spend the Christmas season in town. When Lizzy’s youngest sister, Lydia, joins them, Georgiana gains a confidante, but will Lydia’s outgoing nature cause problems when Lord Sele, son of a family friend reappears in Georgiana’s life?

As an insufferable boy, Lord Sele vowed he would marry Georgiana, but was his return from Ireland a coincidence or was his sole purpose to pursue her? He admits to desiring friendship, but Lydia is determined his desire is Georgiana and she will stop at nothing to see her best friend happily settled.

What is Georgiana to do when faced with the society she has managed to avoid for her entire adult life as well as the one man determined to change her mind about marriage? Will she be able to overcome her fears despite the spectre from the past that seems to be haunting her? Will she be forced to tell her secret and choose happiness or will someone from her past ruin everything?

 

.

L.L. Diamond is more commonly known as Leslie to her friends and Mom to her three kids. A native of Louisiana, she spent the majority of her life living within an hour of New Orleans before following her husband all over as a military wife. Louisiana, Mississippi, California, Texas, New Mexico, Nebraska, and now England have all been called home along the way.

After watching Sense and Sensibility with her mother, Leslie became a fan of Jane Austen, reading her collected works over the next few years. Pride and Prejudice stood out as a favourite and has dominated her writing since finding Jane Austen Fan Fiction.

Aside from mother and writer, Leslie considers herself a perpetual student. She has degrees in biology and studio art, but will devour any subject of interest simply for the knowledge. Her most recent endeavours have included certifications to coach swimming as well as a fitness instructor. As an artist, her concentration is in graphic design, but watercolour is her medium of choice with one of her watercolours featured on the cover of her second book, A Matter of Chance. She is also a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Leslie also plays flute and piano, but much like Elizabeth Bennet, she is always in need of practice!

Leslie’s books include: Rain and Retribution, A Matter of Chance, An Unwavering Trust, The Earl’s Conquest, Particular Intentions, and Particular Attachments.

 

 

 

Don’t forget to follow the blog tour 🙂

September 8: Just Jane 1813 – Review
September 9: Babblings of a Bookworm – Character Interview
September 11: From Pemberley to Milton – Excerpt
September 12: More Agreeably Engaged – Character Interview
September 13: Austenesque Reviews – Outtake
September 14: Austen Variations – Release Day Post and Giveaway
September 15: Just Jane 1813 – Character Interview
September 16: My Jane Austen Book Club – Outtake
September 17: My Vices and Weaknesses – Excerpt


I hope you have enjoyed the excerpt, and I look forward to discuss this book with you 🙂

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Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues

Oops, I’m at it again.

I’m Christina Boyd, the editor of The Darcy Monologues, and I am thrilled to finally announce that my next anthology project, Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues, is well underway. My team and I thank you for helping us launch the news to the Jane Austen community.

Jane Austen’s masterpieces are littered with any number of unsuitable gentlemen—Willoughby, Wickham, Churchill, Crawford, Tilney, Elliot—adding color and depth to her plots but often barely sketched out to the reader. Have you never wondered about the back story of her rakes and gentlemen rogues? Surely, there’s more than one side to their stories.

I have always been drawn to characters that are not simply one dimensional. Through first person point-of-view, Philippa Gregory masterfully created empathy in her Plantagenet and Tudor novels: one novel I would find myself championing a queen and in the very next, she had become the villain! Author Laura Hile skillfully penned nobody’s favorite, Elizabeth Elliot from Persuasion in her Mercy’s Embrace series, and turned her into a true heroine we all might sympathize, all the while remaining faithful to the seemingly superficial and vain snob Jane Austen created. Even my own anthology The Darcy Monologues gave voice to the previously concealed wit and charm of the proud, brooding, and officious Mr. Darcy, allowing us some quality time in his handsome head.

After publishing The Darcy Monologues in May 2017, murmurings began about another project. Maybe from Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s point-of-view? With a surfeit of quality Jane Austen fanfiction recounting Lizzy’s story, I thought it might be a more titillating challenge to expose the histories of Jane Austen’s anti-heroes. It is a universal truth, despite our wisdom, we are captivated by smoldering looks, dangerous charms … a happy-go-lucky, cool confidence. Alas, some of us fall for the one that needs to be mended. All the while, our BFFs are shouting to deaf ears, “He is a cad! He is a brute! He is all wrong!” But isn’t that how tender hearts are broken…by giving credit to the undeserving? How did they become the men Jane Austen wrote? The challenge was just too delicious to not undertake.

Once again, a Dream Team of authors were approached to join this project. Titles were bandied about: everything from “Consequently a Rogue” taken from the Jonathon Swift quote “He was a fiddler and consequently a rogue” to “Rakes and Rogues” to “Jane Austen’s Gentlemen Rogues”. “Mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” the very phrase used by Lady Caroline Lamb to describe Lord Byron, married the previous suggestions and—voila! A title was born.

As an editor, I have been extremely fortunate to work with some incomparable authors in the past. This project is a testament to my providence. It has been a pleasure to have several authors from The Darcy Monologues anthology including Karen M Cox, J. Marie Croft, Jenetta James, Beau North, Sophia Rose, and Joana Starnes join Amy D’Orazio, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Katie Oliver, and Brooke West on creating this current collection of stories. The intent: create short stories, each told from one of Austen’s male antagonists’ eyes—a backstory and, or parallel story from off-stage of canon—all the while remaining steadfast to the characters we recognize in Austen’s masterpieces. As in The Darcy Monologues, these authors certainly can turn up the heat with but the turn of a phrase!

Here are a few quick lines from a sampling of the authors to whet your appetite:

 

We arranged to fight our duel at that place where all the most elegant duels were fought: the secluded gardens near the Circus, accessed by the Gravel Walk; naturally, the occasion was to be held at dawn. I had been in my chair, subject to the shavings and combings and clippings of old Morley until at last, I cried out, “’Tis enough man! I am not gone to my wedding day!”

Morley frowned at me, his dark eyes sharp with disapproval. “Your wedding day? That is not a day I shall likely live to see so I must keep at my art on these, more common, events.”—Captain Frederick Tilney, For Mischief’s Sake, Amy D’Orazio

I smiled drowsily as she caressed my chest. “I love you, Clémence.”

Her fingers stilled as I closed my eyes in pleasurable exhaustion and drifted towards sleep.

She did not reply. —Mr. George Wickham, A Wicked Game, Katie Oliver

Yes, fellows, since you press me so hard, yes, I confess it: Cupid’s darts have winged me. If you must have the story, pass me that bottle first. I can lift it with my left hand without paining my collarbone excessively. Now, you may not like what you are about to hear. You think lightning will never strike you. But let me tell you, last year on Basingstoke Down, I was neither looking to fall in love, nor looking for someone to fall in love with me, when all unawares—but stay, I must go further back… —Mr. Tom Bertram, The Address of Frenchwoman, Lona Manning

 

What say you? Are you in? Everyone may be attracted to a bad boy…even temporarily…but heaven help us if we marry one. Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues will be released mid-November and is listed at Goodreads so you might add to your “Want to Read” list.

 

 

To help us celebrate this project, we have prizes! One international Grand Prize via rafflecopter link.

One print copy or ebook of Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues (when published), a print or ebook of The Darcy Monologues, one set of Jane Austen Playing Cards, one 16 oz. PEMBERLEY drinking glass, and Accoutrements Jane Austen novelty tattoos.  Got to play to win! If you “lose the game, it shall not be for not striving for it.”

—Christina Boyd, @xtnaboyd of The Quill Ink

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Darcy and Elizabeth: Hope of the Future

Last month I received for the first time in From Pemberley to Milton author Sharon Lathan for one of the most interesting guest posts I ever hosted. She was celebrating her recently released Darcy and Elizabeth: Hope of the Future  and brought a quiz she dared my readers to take as part of the giveaway she was offering. Those who attempted the quiz earned 1+ bonus point for the attempt and 1+ bonus point for each correct answer. The total points earned equalled a name entry into Random.org which increased the odds of winning an eBook copy of her newest novel.

But before announcing the name of the winners, I would like to share with you the correct answers to the quiz (marked in bold).

 

Who is the Character Talking?

  1.  “I have never hosted a tea party all on my own and admit that doing so unnerves me. Why I initiated the idea is unfathomable! What if I embarrass us by saying something inappropriate? Or what if my tongue refuses to move at all and I stare dumbly for hours?” . . . “Now you must describe your wedding gowns. Is the train four feet and of the spun silk you wanted?” . . . “I’ll spare you guessing my favorite aspect of the chapel. It is the organ! It dates to 1732, and the sound is incredible. The rector let me play it once. Oh, it was such a thrill!”
  1. Georgiana Darcy
  2. Mary Bennet
  3. Anne de Bourgh

 

  1.  “Men are always thinking about…that. This is part of the problem with the male gender if you ask me.” . . . “Why are your new shifts and other undergarment made of such thin fabrics and adorned with lace and ribbon accents? Why, this stay is barely boned at all! And it is pink!” . . . “Precisely why the wedding must be perfect. Two Bennet daughters marrying wealthy, respected gentlemen of Society. We shall be the talk of the county for ages!”
  1. Mrs. Gardiner
  2. Kitty Bennet
  3. Mrs. Bennet

 

  1.  “I am glad to hear of it, Lizzy. Long private audiences during one’s betrothal period are necessary for a happy, fulfilled marriage. A new bride should not be wholly surprised on her wedding night. A bit of prior knowledge and practice is most beneficial for early and lasting pleasure with your husband in the bedchamber. Make sure you arrange a few private interludes with Mr. Bingley, Jane dear.”  . . .  “Now, I wonder, which has you two the most shocked? That I would approve of such scandalous behavior before marriage? That an old woman like me still engages in and enjoys bedroom antics? Or that I would openly broach the topic in the first place?”
  1. Mrs. Bennet
  2. Mrs. Gardiner
  3. Lady Lucas

 

  1.  “Females and weddings! A most riveting topic of conversation! Please, do tell us all about the wedding gown, Miss Bennet. I can’t fathom anything more fascinating. Can you, Darcy?” . . . “Very well, I concede. You are the superior horseman. Just never forget that I trump you at dancing and witty conversation!” . . . “I am incognito. Actually, I am a notorious spy blending in with the common folk for an ultra-secret mission for the Crown. Quite heroic and dangerous. Are you impressed?”
  1. Mr. Bingley
  2. The Earl of Matlock
  3. Colonel Fitzwilliam

 

  1.  “Oh, we have so much to talk about! I have known Fitzwilliam since he was born, you know? Just imagine the stories I have accumulated.” . . . “In due course, you will visit much of the country. William is fond of travel, although not as fond as he is of staying at Pemberley.” . . . “In all seriousness, Miss Bennet, you have no cause to worry. Pemberley may seem imposing, but the Darcys have made it a home. William is the soul of patience and kindness. I assure you, you will be most happy there.”
  1. Colonel Fitzwilliam
  2. Mrs. Reynolds
  3. The Countess of Matlock

 

  1.  “Ooh la! Fancy Mrs. Darcy to have a fancy lady’s maid. Shall I wear the taffeta or the silk? The mink or the ermine? Oh! And what jewels shall I choose?” . . . “You must eat or you will faint at the altar. Can you imagine the horror? Come, come! You can sleep later. Oh! I forgot. You won’t be getting much sleep for days and days and days!” . . . “I maintain it is a travesty to conceal and restrain these lush locks, which God gave me, may I remind. Besides, all the pulling and tugging, and those pins stuck into my scalp give me a headache.”
  1. Georgiana Darcy
  2. Kitty Bennet
  3. Lydia Wickham

 

  1.  “If two open carriages driving together as allowable under the rules of propriety, who am I to argue? Besides, we both have excellent vision so can see the other carriage even if little more than a dot on the horizon. If asked, we can swear we were within eyesight the whole time.” . . . “She was but a babe in a wheeled miniature carriage, Miss Darcy. Although, now that you mention it, I never recall nurse being as generous with flowers for my younger sister.”
  1. Jane Bennet
  2. Lizzy Bennet
  3. Mr. Bingley

 

  1.  “Mr. Darcy specifically noted that allowing modest decoration inside the church was his request as a gift to Mrs. Bennet for her kindness. Is that not kind of him? I do not think he wanted you to know, so do not make a fuss over it. He does not like undue attention.” . . . “I believe it is imprudent to squander the time God has given us in pointless anxiety. As the wise proverb of Solomon instructs, ‘Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.’” . . . “You judge Mr. Collins too harshly, Lizzy. He is a gentleman and has devoted his life to serving God. That is a noble calling with heavy burdens and, as such, is worthy of respect.”
  1. Charlotte Collins
  2. Mary Bennet
  3. Mrs. Gardiner

 

  1.  “Frankly, I cannot fathom how the ton manages the endless dances, dinner parties, and theatre events of the Season! I feel a bit overwhelmed merely thinking of it.” . . . “At the first mention of gowns or hair accessories he would run screaming from the room. To be fair, my mind wanders the second the topic of cigars or firearms is broached.” . . . “It is an excellent house with generous proportions to the rooms, tall windows, a pleasant garden, and a parlor on the uppermost floor with a superb view of the square. The decor is…unique. There are plenty of furnishings, no doubt of that. Some are not quite my taste.”
  1. Jane Bennet
  2. Mrs. Bennet
  3. Georgiana Darcy

 

  1.  “A scolding by Lizzy is a rather fearsome thing, as I suspect you know. A rousing challenge, most of the time, but I’m not up to it tonight.” . . . “You two want to make a grand entrance, do you not? Trust me. You two just concentrate on breathing. I can’t drag both of you down the aisle.” . . . “The foyer is fine, if you wish, but you might consider the terrace. Lizzy has a fondness for starry skies and fresh air. You may have learned that already.”
  1. Mr. Bennet
  2. Mr. Gardiner
  3. Mrs. Bennet

 

So, did you correctly guessed most of them? This was a fun idea wasn’t it? I personally loved it, but I shouldn’t continue rambling and leave you waiting, so without further ado the lucky winners are:

 

*** Charlotte ***

*** Kimberley Sooy***

*** Samantha Clark ***

 

Congratulations ladies!! Please send me your contacts until the 15th of September so we can send you your prizes. Unfortunetely if we don’t hear from you, we will have to give the prizes to the readers who were drawn right after you.

Happy reading!

 

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Fair Stands the Wind – Excerpt & Giveaway

Hello everyone,

I’m very pleased to be welcoming Catherine Lodge on From Pemberley to Milton to present to you an excerpt of her debut book Fair Stands the Wind .

Her blog tour has started a few days ago and so far I’ve seen many interesting posts, I hope you find this one just as enjoyable. Don’t forget there is a giveaway going on, and please follow the blog tour because I’m sure there is much more to come 🙂

 

 

We all know that in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mr Darcy is proud and prejudiced because he is a wealthy landowner who believes himself above his company; and that Elizabeth Bennet can afford to be proud and prejudiced because she believes she has the freedom to make choices for herself.

But what if Mr Darcy is the second son, sent to sea at a young age? What if Elizabeth is trapped by circumstances, with an ill father on one side and an understandably desperate mother on the other?

Meet Captain Darcy of the Royal Navy, a successful frigate captain, with ample prize-money and a sister he needs to provide for while he is at sea. Meet Elizabeth Bennet, who needs a husband and is trying to resign herself to Mr Collins, the worst “least worst alternative” in the history of literature.

 

Isn’t the cover  BEAUTIFUL?…I really love beautiful covers 🙂


 

Hepzibah Dalton cries herself to sleep every night. She knows it is horribly ungrateful and unchristian and all the other uns the Reverend Carter talked about, but she’s only 14 and she wants her Ma.

She misses Ma and Da and Jackie, and Toby, and Mary, and Carrie. She never wanted to go into service. Da always said she was going to be apprenticed as a dress-maker. She’s always liked pretty things and she’d been making dresses for the little ones dollies for years. She wanted to sit in the back of Mrs Finch’s shop, surrounded by the bolts of cloth and the little drawers with buttons and tapes in. Instead she has to carry the slop buckets and make the fires and polish things, so many things. Her arms ache and hands are all cracked and sore.

She turns over in bed and hears to straw crackle beneath her. It could be worse, she knows it could be worse. Cook told her about Martha who’d had the job before her. She’s been caught stealing feathers from one of the ladies’ beds to sell and been turned off without a character. Terrible things happen to girls turned off without a character. Hepzibah doesn’t quite understand what the terrible things are, although it has something to do with babies. She is terrified of being turned off so she works as hard as she can but she’s so tired all the time and she doesn’t really know what she is doing. She helped Ma about the house, but it’s not the same in a gentry house, there’s so many things she might break. The big clock in the hall stopped while she was dusting the swinging bit, and she had been terrified – before she gave it a poke and it started again. She doesn’t think her ladies would turn her off for breaking something, they’re only young and they don’t shout, but she isn’t sure.

Maria is snoring in the other bed. Carrie and Mary didn’t snore. They used to have the attic room to themselves and she used to tell them stories as they huddled under the covers. Ma had made the quilt before Toby was born, bits and bobs of old dresses and shirts and left-over scraps Mrs Finch gave her. She always had the blue patch under her chin when they pulled it up. There was a faded patch from where she used to chew it when she was a little ‘un.

She tries to remember what she learned in the Dame School, but it is all draining away, she can feel it. I before E except after C. 30 days hath September. April, June and November. Seven eights are fifty six. Noah and his ark. She hopes the Vicar doesn’t expect her to believe the bit about the Ark. You’d never get all the animals in the world into one boat. Jackie knew all the animals in the woods and all the birds and the fish in the river. When you knew how many there were round here, you’d never believe that they’d all fit in one boat. You’d never get Hoggart’s bull to go on a boat and be quiet for a start. Let alone all the animals in foreign places. Lions and elephants and the things she’d seen on Mrs Finches teapot that had come all the way from Staffordshire – wherever that was.

She sighs and tries not to think about Ma and Pa. At least the food is good. She can still smell the meat pie they’d had for supper. Cook knew what she was doing, and she said she’d teach Hepzibah when she got more used to the job. Perhaps she could be a cook if she couldn’t be a dressmaker. Cook got 15 pounds a year, and an allowance for tea and sugar. If she had 15 pounds a year she could go see the others. She knows Toby is all right. One of her ladies had said something to Mr Bingley and got him moved to the stables, where he should have been all along. It was just like the gentry, they thought everyone could go anywhere. Toby should never have been in the house to start with. But Jacky is over a Stowe Park and Mary and Carrie are somewhere in Hatfield but she doesn’t know where. They’re lucky. They’re together. But perhaps, never time she goes to the shop for something Cook has left off the order, she could ask. Or perhaps Mr Puttnam would ask at the Eagle and Child. He looks scary but Maria says he’s nice. She thinks Maria fancies Mr Puttnam, wooden foot an all.

The moon is out and she can see her dress at the end of the bed. It’s quite nice for all the Vicar said she had to wear black when Ma and Pa died. It had been much too big when she got it, but it’s getting to be a better fit. Cook’s meat pie and that broth she keeps making Hepzibah drink to make her stronger. They have better table beer than she’s used to too.

She wants to go to sleep. The main lady wakes up ever so early and though she isn’t like some Cook’s told her about, wanting everything ready and waiting the minute she stirs, Hepizbah knows there’s so much to do in the house and only the three of them to do it. She remembers the poem on the sampler she’d seen downstairs. “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” She doesn’t believe a word of it. It just makes you tired if you can’t do the early to bed part.

She shake herself – no used crying. What can’t be cured must be endured, as Mrs Finch says. She stretches out and pulls the blankets up to her ears. She isn’t cold, she isn’t hungry and lots of folk are both. Maybe it’ll get better once she’s more used to it. She falls asleep eventually, chewing on a blue patch of quilt that isn’t there.

 


 

 

Catherine Lodge is a semi-retired lawyer and lecturer, living in Yorkshire–a part of the UK even more beautiful than Derbyshire. One of five daughters, although by birth order regrettably the Jane, she found 19th Century literature early in her teens and never looked back–even if that meant her school essays kept coming back with “archaic!” written in the margin next to some of her favourite words. She still thinks that “bruited” is a much nicer word than “rumoured.”

After years of drafting leases and pleadings, she finally started to write for fun in her forties and has never stopped since. Much of this will never see the light of day, having been fed to the digital equivalent of a roaring bonfire, but “Fair Stands the Wind” is the first book she thinks worthy of public attention.

She spends her day fixing computer problems for friends and family, singing in her local choir, and avoiding the ironing

 

08/30   Babblings of a Bookworm;  Guest Post or Vignette, GA

08/31   My Vices and Weaknesses; Character Interview, GA

09/01   Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, Excerpt, GA

09/02   Interests of a Jane Austen Girl; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway

09/03   Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, GA

09/04   Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Vignette

09/05   Of Pens and Pages; Review, Excerpt, GA

09/06   Diary of an Eccentric; Guest Post, Vignette, Giveaway

09/07   From Pemberley to Milton; Guest Post or Vignette, Excerpt, GA

09/08   So little time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

09/09   My Love for Jane Austen; Vignette, GA

09/10   Margie’s Must Reads; Review, Excerpt, GA

09/11   My Jane Austen Book Club; Guest Post, Excerpt, GA

09/12   Just Jane 1813; Review, GA


 

 

Meryton Press is offering 8 ebooks to readers following the blog tour. Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.

A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook of Fair Stands the Wind by Catherine Lodge. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

To enter the Rafflecopter giveaway click here.

Good Luck everyone!

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Fitzwilliam Darcy vs. John Thornton

By Nicole Clarkston

It is a tremendous disservice to relegate both Pride & Prejudice and North & South to the category of romantic novels and simply leave them there. Both handle issues of far-reaching social impact with delicacy, but today, let us simply sit back and admire the masterpieces who are Fitzwilliam Darcy and John Thornton.

Delicious, aren’t they? What is it about these fictional characters that seems so real to us that I actually fear somewhat for my own safety in labeling them as fictional? Together, they represent two of the strongest, most iconic male characters ever conceived in literature, and, perhaps most fittingly, they were created by female authors. I believe that both Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell have bestowed on us far more than a few hours of entertaining reading. They have crafted paragons of imperfection- men already possessing honor and dignity, but lacking the requisite social skills and humility to win the objects of their hearts’ desires. Both must travel a very hard path, and in the process, they reveal to us some of the secrets of love and humanity.

.

Filling in for Dad

Darcy, as we all know, is wealthy and powerful, the master of his own destiny at a young age, but all that prestige has come at a steep price. He has lost both of his parents, and must now manage his sprawling estate without the continued advice of his father. Everyone has a plan for his life, and so far, he has fallen into step just as he was expected to… but it chafes. He is mortified by all the women seeking his attention, and clearly has never been impressed by any. Though Austen is silent on this point, one begins to think that he would eventually have done his duty and married the least embarrassing and most convenient debutante at hand, simply to secure the required heir. He is certainly taking his time about doing it- perhaps not yet ready to completely fill his father’s shoes? Or could he be searching for something he cannot accurately describe, and has never yet encountered? However, he has his hands full enough without the bother of searching for a wife. In addition to all the expectations on him, he has been betrayed by one he used to consider a friend, and his own sister threw off his protection and put herself in harm’s way. It is a wonder the man is not gray by the time Elizabeth Bennet meets him.

Thornton has also lost his father, in a betrayal that will color all his future relationships with a deep, hidden sense of unworthiness. He spends the next sixteen years trying to bury that shame but has no time to admit that fact, because somewhere in his early adolescence, he had suddenly become the sole provider and head of the family. Thornton has neither the luxury nor the burden of a fortune and a great estate dumped into his lap. Rather, he contends with the family’s disgrace over his father’s suicide and debts, and one imagines that the boy never has a chance to properly mourn his lost father. He is driven by both pride and ambition, and devotes all his energies to raising his family from poverty to prosperity. This, I think, is where Thornton really stands out. Gaskell gives us hints that Mrs Thornton had once come from good family, but their change in circumstances at George Thornton’s death is not one which was easily reversed. The hard-working young John Thornton, however, defies the odds. Unfortunately, he has learned to measure his worth by what he has achieved. By the time he meets Margaret Hale, he has become well-regarded and wealthy, and is starting to think that maybe, just maybe, he might finally have earned the right to be loved.

I find it interesting that both men have been forced into a position of authority at a young age by the loss of their fathers. Both also find themselves responsible for their younger sisters, who give evidence that the gravity of life’s experiences has been quite masterfully spared them- perhaps to their detriment. Both men have at last come to a place where they feel comfortably in control of their fortunes, despite their own looming worries about traitorous friends or pending labor strikes. Both, however, are deeply private men, and likely very lonely men, ripe for overpowering infatuations with women who might be their intellectual equals.

 

The Crush

Darcy has no intentions of finding any woman appealing in that crowded country dance. There are none of his social sphere- hard as Caroline Bingley tries to persuade him otherwise. No woman in that room is even a candidate for the title of Mrs Darcy, until one walks away from him. Over their first several encounters, Darcy is repeatedly fascinated by this woman who seems not to be in pursuit of his purse, and who possesses the wit to close his mouth on more than one occasion. Elizabeth stands out not because she makes an effort to, but because her very nature is in such stark contrast to everything he has already grown weary of. He cannot help watching her, and learns that she is generous, ladylike, and well-read- all qualities which he admires. She is also devastatingly clever, and will not suffer insults in silence. He grows to respect her able, poised defense of herself, but her sparkling good humor and genuine zest for life may be the final blow to his denial of feelings for her. She is everything he lacks, and unlike anything he has ever seen, but oh, her family! The world is not fair.

 

Thornton is a tradesman- a manufacturer, lest we overlook that distinction- and as such, his society is not considered worthy of many of the gentry. Milton, however, is his own particular little kingdom, and here, the manufacturers reign. There is some confusion about whether he, a man of resources and authority, is on lesser, equal, or greater footing than the penniless gentlewoman he encounters. He is used to having his way, but Margaret coolly puts him in his place at their first meeting (which is different in the book, as Trudy Brasure’s post explains beautifully). She is clearly not intimidated by him, demanding his respect immediately, but he is well and truly gobsmacked by her grace and beauty. He becomes rather tongue-tied in her presence, which must surely be a new experience for him, and does little to impress her. She represents everything that he has long been working for- she is elegance, serenity, and gracious ease; the very living evidence of the kind of security he has been longing to provide and at last thinks he might have earned.

Throughout their early acquaintance she challenges his opinions, and though naïve, her intelligence inspires him to desire her respect. He tries to earn it, but the harder he tries, the more she scorns him. Thornton’s mother claims that other women were interested in him, but apparently he has never bothered with them. One wonders if his early experiences learning at the knees of his strong, determined mother might have taught him exactly what sort of woman was worthy of his regard. Unfortunately, he can sense from the beginning of their acquaintance that Margaret considers him unworthy of hers. This haughty Southern maid both repels and captivates him, and he spends each encounter bouncing between indignation and breathless adoration.

So, here we have two men who are ostensibly great catches for a marriage-minded young lady, but have proven rather elusive. The authoresses leave the readers to conclude that their heroes cannot be satisfied by a marriage of convenience, and that it will take a remarkable woman to jar them from their complacency. These women turn out to be somewhat unconventional, intelligent, and possessed of rather unique charms which manifest as astonishing beauty in the eyes of their enraptured beholders. Their attractions are on every level- physical, emotional, intellectual, and in Thornton’s case, even spiritual. In both cases, our gentlemen fight tooth and nail not to succumb- in the first case to a woman beneath Darcy’s notice, and in the second to a woman who considers Thornton beneath hers. It has been said that in North & South, the Pride was Margaret’s, and the Prejudice was Thornton’s. That observation is, perhaps, not at all inaccurate.

 

The Shoe Leather

When Darcy finally overcomes all his own objections to Elizabeth’s connections, he anticipates that she will accept him immediately. Oh, Darcy. Many a treatise has eloquently detailed why he never expected a refusal, but refuse him she does- mercilessly and jaw-droppingly. In apologizing for the delay in his confession of love, he manages to offend her so thoroughly that she clubs him over the head with a verbal ton of bricks before he escapes the parsonage that day. Ouch. Never has Mr In Control of the World been so humbled. She is wrong, entirely wrong, about everything! Isn’t she? Surely, a nice, civil letter will help clear things up. He scurries back to London with his tail between his legs, but at the very least, hopefully he has put to rights some of her misapprehensions. Sadly for poor Mr Darcy’s wounded pride, he is forced to admit that the only woman he has ever wished to impress also happens to be the only woman to see him for what he truly is- a man of too much conceit for his own good.

Thornton, in his more rational moments, knows very well that Margaret would never have him. Unfortunately, his judgement becomes a little hazy whenever he is around her, and for some while he has been privately watching her and fantasizing about her. All it would take to set off the powder keg of his growing passion is a simple sign from her that she might not despise him. When she feels compelled to shield him from his own workers, believing that her femininity provides her a natural, sacrosanct safeguard of sorts, she does so without considering what he might think of her motives, and with just as much pity on the workers as on the unprotected Thornton. Thus, when he shows up at her door the next day to thank her and to do what he considers his duty as a gentleman, she righteously slaps him down. The ensuing argument is glorious and deliciously highlights the stark contrasts in their ways of thinking. Thornton goes away heartbroken, but vowing to love her still. Margaret feels as though her innocence and dignity have been stripped away because her lofty motives have been mistaken for something so vulgar as affection for a man she does not like. Really, she doesn’t like him. At all.

Oh, the misunderstandings! The reader can see clearly from the beginning that the characters would complement each other in ways which even they do not yet fully comprehend, but those ladies are having none of it. Elizabeth is offended that Mr Darcy thinks he can insult with impunity, and still believe he is doing her a favor by offering his hand. Money cannot buy this girl, which we cannot help but admire, even though at the same time we shake our heads at her stubbornness.

Mr Thornton and Margaret’s argument is subtler. Margaret has never really come to terms with her own feminine maturity or the fact that she might be an object of desire. She is scandalized that Thornton could think she wished to protect him personally, finding such an emotion abhorrent to her maidenly sensibilities. She later confesses to herself that there was something of a spark there, else how could she have found such courage in the face of danger? Mostly, however, she feels that she acted out of sacrificial honor despite her personal feelings, and she certainly does not need him messing things up by claiming love for her. In addition, marrying Thornton for the security he might offer rankles, because in her mind, he is a giant social step beneath her, and in effect, she would appear to be marrying him for improper reasons.

 

The White Horse

Austen never gives us any indication that Darcy confessed his failed proposal to anyone. Plenty of authors have since toyed with that entertaining notion, but in the original, Darcy keeps his stiff upper lip and goes back to the business of living without Elizabeth Bennet. Apparently he is not doing a very good job of it, because at their next encounter, he is anything but composed. He sees at once that his letter has improved her view of him somewhat, and almost immediately he sets out to win her good opinion once more. Things might have continued rather swimmingly, until Wickham decided to take a holiday with Elizabeth’s younger sister. Darcy’s subsequent actions are why we all love him. He patches it all up and saves the day, but he doesn’t want Elizabeth to know about it. He doesn’t want her gratitude, because he senses that along with it might come a feeling of obligation, and eventually, resentment. He does want to restore her family’s dignity with a minimal amount of fanfare, so he goes about it quietly. He sets out on his mission knowing that she may forever be beyond his reach.

Thornton tries to go on with life too, but only after assuring himself that there is no other woman out there to equal the one he has lost. He refuses to allow his mother to abuse Margaret in his hearing, immediately taking upon himself the blame for her refusal. Clearly, he was not worthy, and he knew it beforehand. Slowly, Milton goes back to “normal” after the strikes, but Thornton has a new outlook on his business. Margaret has held a mirror to his face, and he does not like what he saw there. As he is processing his new ideas, he discovers Margaret in a compromising situation. Though he believes her lost to him and devoted to another, he steps in to save her from legal troubles because he cannot bear to see her come to harm.

His involvement is both a blessing and a curse, for now Margaret sees his inherent goodness, but his knowledge of her own personal fall from grace drives yet another rift between them. The modern audience is more caught up in Thornton’s misapprehension regarding the identity of Margaret’s companion at the train station that evening. Thornton naturally takes the man to be Margaret’s suitor, when, in fact, he was her embattled brother. This shakes Thornton and leaves him sick with jealousy, but the real damage to his regard comes when she lies about her presence at the station. He had been used to at least respecting Margaret’s nobility- which, incidentally, is the very virtue she claimed to hold over him at his failed proposal. Watching her trade her integrity for the sake of concealing that mysterious other man becomes an ongoing source of agony for him.

Unbeknownst to our favorite fellows, their fair maidens are both tormented with regret by now. Darcy and Thornton have begun to show themselves as men of purest honor, too good to behave resentfully when they had every right to. We want to shake them all- force them into the same room, bolt the door, and refuse to let them out until they have talked things through. Of course, that is not the way of the world, and by this point, we have four very anguished souls pining for the ones who got away. For the ladies to go to them and apologize for their grievous errors would be the vilest display of immodesty, and both Elizabeth and Margaret are feeling as though they have already sunk low enough in their loves’ eyes. Darcy and Thornton, for their parts, are quite simply too terrified to try again. They have learned the hard way that they were not all that they had considered themselves to be, and their new humility prevents them from reaching out at a number of points.

 

Humble Pie

Seeing Elizabeth and her family returned to respectability is possibly all Darcy can hope for. At least he settles the matter knowing that she is safe, and that he has done what he can to secure the family’s future. Elizabeth has the option again to marry, with her prospects no less limited than they had been before. In other words, she is now freed up to find someone else. In another attempt to right his own wrongs, Darcy encourages Bingley to return, and even attends his friend… you know, just to assure himself that he has done right by Bingley and Jane. Really, that’s all. Most distressingly for poor Darcy, he has no idea if Elizabeth is happy to receive him, or wishes him on another continent. Our shy hero goes back to staring at her and making her uncomfortable again. Darcy, Darcy….

Unfortunately for poor Thornton, Margaret is the least of his troubles. The month-long strike disrupted the flow of commerce in Milton so badly that nearly all the businesses are suffering. Thornton is behind on orders and income. Where once his mill had shown tremendous promise, now he is struggling for capital. Blow after blow then falls- he loses his only true friend, Mr Hale. As a consequence, the woman whose very presence in Milton is both inspiration and misery for him removes to London. He has lost all connection to her, until, most humiliatingly, Mr Bell also dies and leaves Margaret his heir. The penniless woman who had disdained him before now becomes his wealthy land lady, and has even more reason to look down on him. Thornton is at length faced with the prospect of confessing to her that he must give up his lease, but at least by this time he has learned the truth about her brother. Sorry that he has misjudged her, and knowing there is little chance for reconciliation, he makes the humbling journey to London where he will permanently sever ties with her.

The darkest chapters of the books are where our gentlemen shine the brightest. This is love as it was meant to be- putting aside one’s own interests to look after the welfare of another. Not only have they proved that they never were the heartless malefactors that their fair ladies had once taken them for, but they have also made tremendous strides to improve their already honourable characters. Both feel they owe it to their own sense of dignity to become the man their lady deserves, although both have by now given up hope. By stepping in and saving their ladies from disgrace at the hands of an imprudent relative, each might have had an opportunity to collect on her gratitude, but they refuse to stoop to that level. They do not stop there, though. Each makes a meek “final” journey from the North to see their lady one last time, setting right their affairs. It is likely that each bore a spark of hope, but it was not a strong one.

 

The Only Sensible Outcome

Well, we all know how a proper story must end, but in both cases, the final reconciliation is positively delicious- fraught with nerve-wracking angst, and at long last, joyous surrender. Apologies and forgiveness abound, and lingering feelings of shame are washed away. I shall not detail those scenes for you- either you have not read them and I do not wish to spoil them, or you have… and I do not wish to spoil them. Let me only say that the tender passion, tempered with the excruciating restraint of the period, is simply exquisite in both cases. We have glimpses- very little ones, mind you- of the strength of the couples’ new attachments, and even little peeks into a budding sense of play as it develops. It is a travesty long lamented that neither authoress returned to her story to pen a sequel- in fact, Gaskell was forced to cut hers entirely too short for our taste. We are left wanting more. And more.

So what is it about those two imaginary characters that makes them, to us, the absolute definition of gentle manhood? To love, passionately and uncontrollably, is at the same time their greatest vulnerability and their most profound strength. We adore that these two men, who both thought themselves quite the masters of their own destinies, fell flat on their faces when confronted with the kind of women whom even other women can admire. We swoon over their heartbreak, gasp our approval when we see them striving to better themselves, and rejoice when their loves finally see them for who they really are.

I dare not pick a favorite. Not only would my mind change as soon as I encountered yet another delightful take on one of these lovely gents, but I would likely offend the other man’s very loyal audience! I admire both so completely. It has been my privilege to borrow these characters from their original creators, continuing to torment and examine them from new angles. They are each an absolute fascination, and happy is the woman who finds her own Fitzwilliam Darcy or John Thornton.


.

 

Nicole Clarkston is a book lover and a happily married mom of three. Originally from Idaho, she now lives in Oregon with her own romantic hero, several horses, and one very fat dog. She has loved crafting alternate stories and sequels since she was a child watching Disney’s Robin Hood, and is never found sitting quietly without a book of some sort.

Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties- how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love.

Her need for more time with these characters led her to simultaneously write Rumours and Recklessness, a P&P inspired novel, and No Such Thing as Luck a N&S inspired novel which immediately became best selling books. The success she had with her first attempt at writing led her to write 3 other novels that are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.

Nicole was recently invited to join Austenvariations.com, a group of talented authors in the Jane Austen Fiction genre. In addition to her work with the Austen Variations blog, Nicole can be reached through Facebook at http://fb.me/NicoleClarkstonAuthor, Twitter @N_Clarkston,  her blog at Goodreads.com, or her personal blog and website, NicoleClarkston.com

Pride and Prejudice Inspired Novels                 North and South Inspired Novels

Rumours and Recklessness                                 No Such Thing as Luck

The Courtship of Edward Gardiner                   Northern Rain

These Dreams                                                         Nowhere but North (coming soon)

 


 

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Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice