First of all, I would like to apologise to Suzan and Janet as I am posting too late. Had a bit of a complicated day yesterday.
However, it does not mean that you are not going to enjoy everything about An Accomplished Woman by Suzan Lauder! Apart from introducing us to her first Cecilia´s Mismatches, she is sharing a pretty nice vignette with us.
Let me share the blurb with you from An Accomplished Woman and Cecilia´s Mismatches.
Audra Hales is a lady of many perfect accomplishments—at least she believes so. It is no wonder: she has mirrored her great friend Cecilia, the newly minted Lady Hoxley, so how could her talents not be worthy of the highest praise? A self-described matchmaker, Cecilia has brought Audra to Bath—where balls and excursions abound—with the intention of matching her with the gregarious Lord Garner Tremaine. Though he seems an affable and talented gentleman, his brother, the marquess, is quite the opposite.
As head of his family, Everett Tremaine, the Marquess of Vernon acts on behalf of his father, the duke, who remains secluded from Lady Hoxley’s guests. With his obligations, Everett has no time for foolish temptations such as Miss Hales…so why does he constantly find her thrown into his path?
Meanwhile, Audra has conjured all sorts of wild imaginings concerning the frustrating marquess, and every time she encounters him, he leaves her breathless rather than answering her questions! After all, what is ailing the mysterious duke? Could the marquess be a villain masquerading as the savior of his family? And most importantly: should she marry Lord Garner, the safe suitor, or follow her heart?
Book One of the Cecilia’s Mismatches series is a stand-alone novel.
Cecilia’s Mismatches Series – Blurb
Who is Cecilia? She’s Lady Hoxley, a recently married young lady whose husband is old enough to be her father. Theirs is a love match. She loves his money and title, and he loves her youth and vivacity. Cecilia is so gratified with her own match that she is determined to match her friends with worthy gentlemen—but what happens when all her grand schemes seem to go awry?
What do you think about Cecilia? and moreover, about Audra and how annoying is the marquess 😀
A lover of Jane Austen, Regency period research and costuming, yoga, fitness, home renovation, design, sustainability, and independent travel, cat mom Suzan Lauder keeps busy even when she’s not writing novels based on Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, all of which are published by Meryton Press.
Prior to publishing An Accomplished Woman of the Cecilia’s Mismatches series, Lauder had four novels, a novella, and a novelette published by Meryton Press and has short stories in two Austenesque anthologies. All are popular, most earning four-plus star ratings on Amazon and Goodreads. Accolades include Amazon bestseller for Letter from Ramsgate and The Barrister’s Bride, a Finalist for Sexy Scribbles for an excerpt from Alias Thomas Bennet, and several of her books were placed on top ten of the year lists by influential bloggers.
Hi, Ana! I’ve always loved your blog for various reasons, and today, I’m offering an original story line that would be behind the scenes. Since An Accomplished Woman is all from Audra’s point of view, I thought it would be fun to explore our hero’s feelings for a change. Here, Lord Vernon speaks to his father, the duke, before going to the ball with the intention of dancing with Audra.
The words were scribbled with a pencil onto a sheet of foolscap. Vernon chuckled. Despite a serious apoplexy and rendered him unable to speak, the bedridden Duke of Alderton remained bright in the mind and must have made the observation upon Vernon’s entry into the bedchamber to scratch the note.
“Yes. I intend to dance one dance at the ball tonight.”
One? Who? Wrote his father with his one good hand. It required an effort for his father to write, even with the hardboard mounted at an angle he could manage.
“A rather argumentative young lady with whom I wish to make amends.”
“Because I am fond of her and would rather not leave her thinking poorly of me.”
The duke made a noise halfway between a huff and a horse’s snort. Vernon smiled inside while frowning at his father. The response was reasonable if one was a duke: no one should be allowed to think poorly of the heir to the dukedom. But Everett Tremaine, Marquess of Vernon, was not the same sort of man as his father. Of course, he seemed staid and proud to the onlooker; he had spent his life working on the guise. But inside he remained sensitive, with a delicate heart that could easily be touched. And touched, it was. No other reason existed for him to seek out Miss Audra Hales for a single dance—hopefully, the supper dance—at tonight’s ball at the Bath Assembly rooms.
He made himself busy tucking the bed clothes around his father. “How do you do today?”
“Oh, it is nothing. She is meant for Garner in any case.”
Where Garner? Never see.
“He is busy, I suppose, entertaining all the young ladies.”
The same noise came out of his father. Tonight, he was in a disapproving mood.
“Well, he is supposed to be matched to Miss Hales. But as you know, that will not stop him from flirting.” He could not keep the annoyance out of his voice.
Unable to look directly at the duke, he gazed to one side of the room. “I do not have time to court anyone, yet I suppose if I had it, I would have an interest in Miss Hales. Even were I to consider making the effort, she is too young for me.”
You try. His father’s mouth worked on one side as though he wanted to say something, but alas, the effort came to naught. This was a common occurrence and usually meant the duke had a great deal more to express than one- and two-word comments. He would soon become frustrated at his infirmity. The best solution was to change the topic.
“Mama had a fine time shopping with the ladies the other day.”
Already know. Lady.
Very well. His father was stubborn to a fault, which meant he would cling to the subject Vernon had attempted to dismiss. “What do you want to know? The usual? She is pretty and has a healthy figure, her father was a middling gentleman who had no sons thus a cousin inherited, she now lives with a wealthy widowed sister, she has a decent portion, and as I said, she is young so is rather dependent upon the opinions of others to form her own, and she makes me smile like I have never smiled before.”
How could his father have come to such a conclusion when Vernon had not yet battled with the topic himself? Yet he ought to face his own feelings and soon, before they ripped him apart. “I don’t…I can’t…no, father, it is not right for me to fall in love with Miss Hales. She is meant for Garner.”
His father wrote nothing, but his eyes shone as he stared at him. Vernon had to look away. What if he did try for Miss Hales? Garner did not deserve her. He was a distracted, self-absorbed, silly man who was not ready for a wife. Yet all and sundry supported the match. Vernon would look the fool if he stepped in. For now, he could merely enjoy her company—oh, no! The hour had become late. He had surely missed the supper dance by now! He stood and leaned forward.
“I must go and collect my dance before she has promised them all away.” He kissed his father on the forehead. “Sweet dreams, dear father.”
Let me know what do you like about this vignette? I think I like the whole conversation. I am pretty sure I like this “frustrating marquess”. I like the duke too, very clever indeed.
So much for you!! Do not miss it!
The blog tour started on April 10th, but Suzan had lots going on even before the blog tour started (spotlights) and after it finishes.
Meryton Press is giving away one eBook copy to one of my readers. Comment on the post, tell me what you think about these characters from the blurb or the vignette. The giveaway is open internationally and it finishes on the 24th of April 2023 at 23:59 CET.
What a treat we have today. Don Jacobson is bringing us so much from her latest novel: The Sailor’s Rest. I am looking forward to your comments. I really hope you enjoy everythings he is bringing!
The Sailor’s Rest was released almost two weeks ago and I promise you that the press announcement is very interesting and a great way into Don´s brain and how plot connexions are made.
The Naval Adventure Jane Austen Might Have Written
Las Vegas, NV: The Sailor’s Rest, the latest Austenesque novel by Don Jacobson, will be released worldwide on March 28, 2023. Published independently, this is the author’s twelfth variation using Austen’s Canon as a basis for the story. The book is a cross-over (not a mash-up) of Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. For plot purposes, the novel (approx. 117,000 words) is set on the Persuasion timeline in 1815. However, the age and plot constructs from Pride and Prejudice have been maintained to establish context.
According to the author, the book grew out of his interest in learning how the two pairs of lovers would interact with each other when placed in proximity. “One of the more popular plot tropes in Pride and Prejudice variations is the kidnapping model. However, this usually is limited to the premise Darcy and Elizabeth are kidnapped—usually by Wickham.
“The core question is How will they escape from their assailants? The secondary one would be How will they overcome the attendant scandal which will force them to marry even though their relationship is on uneven ground?
“Certainly, this is interesting and entertaining.”
However, Jacobson wished to explore the strengths of the women and the men.
“By situating the story after the betrothals but before the weddings—where their loves is established—I was able to move the plot in a different direction.
“In The Sailor’s Rest, the kidnapping is the device that throws Wentworth and Darcy together as well as teaming Elizabeth Bennet and Anne Elliot. One pair seeks to survive their captivity while the other seeks to survive the possible deaths of their heartmates.
“Also, where many kidnapping-motif Pride and Prejudice variations focus exclusively—and logically so—on ODC’s struggle to free themselves, The Sailor’s Rest considers the emotional costs on both the seekers and the prisoners.”
Jacobson also engaged in one of his favorite activities when writing the book: the building of secondary characters. “I imported several characters from my other works including Sergeant and Mrs. Wilson. Then there were new characters like the pair of lovers—the maid Sarah Small and Wentworth’s Coxswain Michael Tomkins—who echoed and enhanced my belief that the deepest love is not solely reserved for the gentry.
“However, my favorite bit of development—one which I hope readers will enjoy—is the treatment of Admiral and Mrs. Croft. I always felt that he was treated as a bit of a ‘Colonel Blimp’ type. My research showed that only thirty seagoing admirals were active at any time in the Napoleonic Wars. The Croft’s leased Kellynch upon their return from a Far Eastern command.
“Admiral Alfred Croft was not a fool. He was a well-experienced fighting man. As such, his wife would also be most capable, and, as a rector’s daughter, she was no society wife. Both are imbued with their own brands of common sense. I brought that out, I hope. This makes a difference for both Anne Elliot and Elizabeth Bennet.”
According to Alice McVeigh, the author of Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel, the book is “Part mystery, part adventure – and all heart – This has the feel of a Hornblower epic.”
The Sailor’s Rest is available exclusively on Amazon—print and e-book—and Audible (performed by Benjamin Fife). Retailer prices are available through Amazon.
What do you think? I like how things that may be overlooked in some narrations are essential in this book. Moreover, I am very glad that I cansee Admiral Croft with a more positive view as the one we read. I actually like him and Mrs. Croft very much. In addition to that, seeing Elizabeth and Darcy, Wentworth and Anne before the weedings is very appealing.
Just in case you are not familiar with Don Jacobson, you have his biography and bibliography, as well as the different ways to follow him. I recommend you to follow his newsletter!
Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years, from news and features to advertising, television, and radio. His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards. He has previously published five books, all nonfiction. In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series, The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey. Since then, Meryton Press re-edited and republished Keeper and the subsequent six volumes in the series. In 2022, Meryton Press published the eighth and final book in the series—The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy. Other Meryton Press books by Jacobson include Lessers and Betters, In Plain Sight, and The Longbourn Quarantine. All his works are also available as audiobooks (Audible).
Jacobson holds an advanced degree in history. As a college instructor, he taught United States history, world history, the history of western civilization, and research writing. He is in his third career as an author and is a JASNA and Regency Fiction Writers member. He is also a member of the Always Austen collective.
Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the Austenesque world, Jacobson enjoys cooking, dining out, fine wine, and well-aged scotch whiskey.
His other passion is cycling. He has ridden several “centuries” (hundred-mile days). He is incredibly proud of having completed the AIDS Ride–Midwest (five hundred miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-a-Wish Miracle Ride (three hundred miles from Traverse City to Brooklyn, both in Michigan).
When not traveling, Jacobson lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with his wife and co-author, Pam—a woman Miss Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize.
Miss Bennet’s First Christmas (2015)
The Bennet Wardrobe: Origins (2016)
The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey (2016)
Of Fortune’s Reversal (2016)
The Maid and The Footman (2016)
Henry Fitzwilliam’s War (2016)
The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque (2017)
Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess (2017)
The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn (2018)
Lessers and Betters (2018)
The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament (2018)
The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion (2019)
Cinders and Smoke in Falling for Mr. Thornton (2019)
Without further ado, I wil let you discover what Don has prepared for us. I promise you that you will enjoy it immensely!
I wish to thank Ana for hosting me today as the blog tour for The Sailor’s Rest comes closer to the end. I hope you will enjoy the following interview with Admiral Alfred Croft by a researcher from the Bennet Family Trust. NOTE: I cast Iain Glen as Admiral Croft in my imaginary movie.
This interview is transcribed from stenographic notes of an interview conducted by Margaret Reynolds, MA, of the Bennet Family Trust Research Department on December 29, 1940.
The Old Admiralty Building
My first image—and one that has stayed with me in the months since his departure—of Rear Admiral Lord Alfred Michael Gabriel Croft, KCB, Baron Nore, was of his back as he looked out the window onto Whitehall, the Thames, and the great city beyond. The pitch-dark room was open to the world, the thick blackout curtains were thrown open, and his figure was backlit against the fires raging throughout the city. His shoulders, broad but not overly so, leaned toward the roiling blazes on the other side of the glass as if he could somehow will the explosive eggs laid by the Nazis to be stillborn.
CROFT: Bastards! At least in my day, most outrages were confined to killing crapaud matelots and mustaches. Our jacktars had little opportunity to sack towns. If we were to shell a port, we’d give them some notice so the civilians could head for the hills. If the garrison decided to follow, all the better. As for the army, after Badajoz, Wellington instituted brutal disciplinary measures to end the traditional rape and pillage.
“For this monstrosity, I have no words. Like get my hands on that fat bastard Goring.”
REYNOLDS: This is what we have come to expect of the Hitler gang.
CROFT: What little I have read about this corporal since I arrived makes our little Tyrant look the epitome of nobility.”
Then he rumbled, “However, like all who see themselves as the infallible heritors of Alexander and Charlemagne, this one makes the same mistake as ours. He underestimates the resolve of a free people to remain in that blessed state. As was with the Greeks, so again will it be with today’s Britons!
The admiral pulled shut the drapes, felt his way to his desk—not cautiously enough to avoid barking his shin—and flicked on the desk lamp. He motioned me to sit opposite.
The light was dim, not relieving the shadowy pools thrown by furniture. However, even in the watery yellow, I could sketch the man. Of medium height, his build was that of someone used to rigorous living. Although he wore a well-tailored navy blue suit, civilian clothing could not disguise his martial bearing. His eyes bored into me to measure my debits and credits.
CROFT: “Now, Miss Reynolds: I understand that you are one of the breed known about the Trust as a “Research Reynolds.” The only Reynoldses I know of are Mr. Reynolds, Larchmont’s butler, and his daughter Mrs. Adelaide Reynolds, the Pemberley housekeeper. Might they be kin of some remove?”
REYNOLDS: “Both are, indeed. We are indeed proud of our tradition of serving the Families. My branch has found a home in the Research Department.”
CROFT: “And now you are here to add my story to your library?”
REYNOLDS: “Perhaps if you have the time later. However, the Managing Director is most curious about why you and Mrs. Croft stepped out of the Wardrobe and into the middle of the family Christmas celebration.”
CROFT: “Do you cultivate that air of imperturbability? You sit there blinking owlishly and make Earl Michael sound like a confused schoolboy seeing a gypsy maiden make his new shilling vanish. Given the number of stern young men who surrounded Sophie and me when we dropped in unannounced, I imagine the Earl is more than a little impatient to have his ‘curiosity’ satisfied. I have no doubt he is wondering if he ought to lock that fey cabinet in the Tower lest those people invade and find a way to use it for foul purposes!
“Well, my dear, his interest tells me that he is less concerned about why a rear admiral of the White landed in 1940 than how I was able to arrive at Matlock House in the middle of The Blitz.
“Miss Reynolds, I had little to do with it. ’Twas all my wife…and Mrs. Mary Benton, the Keeper.”
REYNOLDS: “Your wife? Mrs. Benton?”
CROFT: “Come now, do not be coy: ’tis unbecoming in anyone. Least of all a well-educated woman like you.
“Have you ever looked into Mrs. Croft’s eyes? Have you seen their shape? Mrs. Benton pulled her aside for something she called The Keeper’s Talk. Ring any bells?
“My wife is a descendent of the Hunters line. Her great-grandmother was daughter to Benjamin Bennet and married a Hunters. Her granddaughter—Sophia Hunters—married the Reverend Wentworth and settled in Bristol. Thus, she is of Bennet blood.”
REYNOLDS: “As is Captain Wentworth!”
CROFT: “Yes, Miss Reynolds, as is Captain Wentworth. Both my wife and the Baron Balears can avail themselves of the Wardrobe’s unique properties. Mrs. Benton confirmed it.
“But, before my brother could undertake a mission and gain a glimpse of the future, I prevailed upon Sophie to use the same method as will Thomas Bennet with his wife. She carried me forward.”
REYNOLDS: “Why, Admiral?”
CROFT: “Because England needs Frederick Wentworth in our here/now, not this where/when. The man is still young and has much to do shepherding Rochet in the West Africa Squadron while preaching the Navy’s cause in the Lords.
“Your Admiral Pound has the fleet well in hand. And the Prime Minister’s arrangement with the Americans to exchange Caribbean bases for fifty of those small ships you call destroyers allows us to concentrate the fleet on convoy duty to the Island.
“I did not want Wentworth playing dice with the universe and running the risk of injury or death because the Wardrobe sent him where he learned what he needed about the service’s future. He will be an essential man as we relinquish sail and wood for steam and iron in the coming decades.
“I knew I had one more campaign in me and took the risk myself. What is happening on the other side of those curtains tells me I was correct.
“So I put on my number one rig like I was going rail-to-rail with a frog, took my wife in my arms, and, how did Mrs. Benton put it? Oh yes: a thousand bees buzzed, and the pressure built.
“I have done my part for King and Country. If I died right now, if one of Hitler’s bombs found its way to this room, I doubt if little would change. Sophie could return Home or take her chances here, although I wager she would find her way back to Kellynch, Anne, and the children.”
The admiral fell silent as a warden pounded on the door, ordering us to evacuate to the shelter.
Despite the damage wrought upon the frigate, Persephone’s carpenter’s mates had returned the cabin to its former state. Fresh timber’s aroma pervaded the captain’s lair testifying that new wood replaced the splintered remains of the larboard quarter. Walinsham’s Berber carpets softened the deck, and walnut-stained chairs faced the stump-legged desk before the transom seat. Chests and bureaus lined the walls. The cabin could have been a satrap’s throne room, although naked of silken ceiling hangings.
Croft groaned as he dropped into the desk chair and planted his hands on the waxed desktop. The late afternoon sun poured through the windows warming his shoulders beneath his topcoat. He looked around the compartment, and his eyes squinted in disgust.
Looks like a bordello, or at least what some tradesman showing off his newly-earned wealth thinks a whorehouse plying its trade to ducal sons would appear. Tasteless—not that I would know! Sophie would have my guts for garters and hang my tanned hide on the stable doors if I abandoned her arms for the ‘pleasures’ of one of those places behind St. James!
The admiral grimly considered the creased sheet framed by his meaty paws. His jaw thrust forward pugnaciously, giving his glower even more menace. Wilson and Tomkins lounged against the opposite bulkhead. The cox’n had planted a foot proprietarily atop an enameled writing slope.
“Is this thing,” Croft pointed at the letter like a viper coiled to strike, “representative of the lot?”
Since this was a naval matter, Tomkins straightened and answered for the other subaltern. “Th’ sarn’ ’tis bett’r at siftin’ through trait’rous commun’cations. ’owever, Ad’m’r’l, from what I can divine, Walinsham’s been th’ puppet and nay th’ mast’r, doin’ the bidding of another an’ ’opin’ for some sort o’ return.
“What I find most ’ncredible is that ’e kept ev’ry letter—or so it seems—’e ever received from ’is controll’r.
“Found ev’ry one o’ ’em in ’is writin’ box.”
Croft snorted. “Arrogant bastard: that’s all he is. Like a fair number of his class.”
The admiral looked directly at Wilson. “I am excepting General Fitzwilliam. The son of Matlock learned humility at both his sire’s and dam’s knees. I would ride to war any time with the general. Walinsham undoubtedly is your everyday, garden-variety-privileged popinjay and looked for every way to avoid coming to grips with the enemy.
“My Lord, Byng may have been shy, but only after his fleet had been well-chewed, and he paid the blood debt for his indecision.
“This slug was never indecisive. He ran.”
Croft warmed to his topic and returned to the more profound question. “His actions today will be his undoing, but his crimes against decency are older.
“Like all those who live a cossetted life, he thinks his private correspondence was private. Thus, he was unguarded and ignored operational security basics. Never commit anything to paper that you do not want printed on the front page of The Advertiser! Then again, I wager he is typical of those who sneer at your Jermyn Street fellows, Sergeant. It would never occur to him that gentlemen would read another gentleman’s mail.
“I am a gentleman only because His Majesty has deemed it so. As for you two miscreants:” Croft shot a humorless grin across the room, “you own more gentility than this bastard. ’Tis society’s loss that neither you nor your ladies will be considered gentle. That will be the lot of your children. However, wherever Mrs. Croft and I reside, you and yours will have a place at our high table.”
The admiral shook his head. “What is more incredible, and I say that in its crapaud sense, incroyable, is that Walinsham kept true copies of his letters to his principal, including the bottom feeder’s name and direction.
“And now everything that has happened in the past months becomes clear.
“But, before we can take on the canker at the center, we must deal with this pustule.
“Bring him to me.”
With Tomkins and Wilson absent, only his dark thoughts sat with the admiral: the cabin’s silence was broken only by the gentle slap of water against the ship’s stern.
How have you enjoyed the interview and the excerpt? He is an amazing author.
Don Jacobson will give away ten e-book copies of “The Sailor’s Rest” to randomly selected winners during the whole tour. Please comment to enter the drawing. No purchase is necessary.
I have today a mush-up that I cannot wait to read: Handsome, Clever & Rich by Jayne Bamber. What is she mixing? Emma and Pride and Prejudice!! How cool is that!
Even if Jayne is telling us a bit about her book, let me share the blurb with you.
What if Elizabeth is not a Bennet by birth, but by marriage?
When Netherfield Park is let at last, the village of Meryton is inveigled in romance, intrigue, and a few less-than-happy reunions. The Bingley siblings return to the home of their youth, an estate purchased just before the death of their father. The neighborhood, especially the Bennet family, is ready to welcome them back with open arms, but Mr. Bingley’s attempt to make a good impression on his community backfires so badly that it is his awkward friend Mr. Darcy who is obliged to salvage the situation in the aftermath of Mr. Bingley insulting Jane Bennet at the Assembly.
Young widow Elizabeth Bennet begins her acquaintance with Mr. Darcy on amiable terms, but the reckless folly of his friend and the regrets from her own past create a bumpy path to Happily Ever After for them. Not long after an injury obliges Elizabeth to recover at Netherfield Park, her estranged sister finally discovers Elizabeth’s whereabouts, and journeys from Highbury to Meryton in all haste, suitors in tow.
When one unexpected betrothal arises out of necessity, Jane Austen’s most notorious matchmaker is inspired to work her magic at Longbourn, Netherfield, and Lucas Lodge – but she, too, will have met her match in matters of meddling & mischief….
In case you have not read it before, what do you think? If you have just read it or before now, I am happy to say that you are going to read how badly it goes for Bingley!! Very badly indeed!
“Badly Done, Bingley!” A First Glimpse at Handsome, Clever, & Rich
Hello again! It’s great to be back at ‘My Vices & Weaknesses’ to share a little more about my new release – Handsome, Clever, & Rich is now available on Kindle Unlimited.
If you’ve been following my blog tour, you’ll know that this mash-up of Emma and Pride & Prejudice features an Elizabeth who is a Bennet by marriage and not by birth. The Bingleys also have a slightly altered background – their arrival at Netherfield is a return to the home of their youth, as their father purchased the estate before his death. One thing definitely remains the same – Caroline Bingley is not nearly as pleased as her brother to be spending time in the Hertfordshire countryside! With her pouring poison in his ear, how is Charles Bingley ever going to make a good impression on his neighbors, and his old friends, the Bennets?
Darcy glanced between Charles and Caroline Bingley with mounting impatience. He knew how important this evening was to his friend, and had faithfully promised to be sociable himself, though it was not in his nature. At present, however, Darcy felt himself to be making a more favorable impression than the Bingley siblings.
Caroline Bingley had come to the assembly with the express intention of being unpleasant and she was succeeding admirably already. Darcy knew his own manners would do little to recommend himself or Bingley to the people of Meryton; he knew his best chance of helping Bingley make a good impression on his former neighbors was to contain Miss Bingley’s vitriol and prevent her from giving further offense to those Bingley most wished to impress.
Richard was doing his part; he had expressed a wish to dance with all the Bennet girls as soon as Bingley began to flounder in his conversation with Mrs. Bennet. Darcy had not been of much use then – he had neither his cousin’s charm nor the inclination to dance every set. Even now he was silently berating himself for failing to find the right words when Bingley had reacted so poorly to the news that his former friend had been dead for four long years. Mrs. Bennet had been on the point of offering to introduce Benjamin Bennet’s widow, but Bingley’s panicked babbling had prevented this, and only incited further nonsense from the kindly matron – ample fodder for Miss Bingley to sweep in and ridicule. She had already managed to offend Miss Lucas, prompting George to stand up with her.
Darcy had no wish to dance with Miss Bingley, or anybody else; leading her away from the Bennets was the best sort of kindness he could offer them. He had not intended for Bingley to follow, but the poor fellow was too out of his wits to say anything that the Bennets might wish to hear, and if Darcy did not intervene, he might do worse yet.
“I cannot think why you should be so distraught, Charles,” Miss Bingley drawled, sipping at a glass of wine. “I never told you, but Benjamin Bennet was a grasping, artful fortune hunter – one could hardly expect any different from such a family. You have such superior company staying at Netherfield. It is no great loss.”
Bingley only gaped at his sister. Darcy cleared his throat, but before he could think of how to tactfully pose his objections to such a calloused speech, Miss Bingley seized the opportunity to press on.
“His widow may perhaps be worth meeting, if we had any interest in residing long term at Netherfield, and adding her holdings to our own – but I am sure it will not be many weeks before you recall how tiresome the country is, and are wishing yourself away. At any rate, I shudder to think which of these ghastly chits could be the widow – she would have to be vulgar indeed to have formed such an alliance. Only think of all the fine ladies in London! You are too young yet to give up on finding a proper society bride.”
Bingley had approached them in a state of wild, unmoored grief; he seemed now to be focusing intently on his sister, and giving her words more consideration than Darcy could wish. He knew he had to intervene before Miss Bingley’s influence took too firm a hold.
“You have often told me that you had never met with pleasanter people or prettier girls in all your life, than you had in Hertfordshire,” Darcy interjected. “I would not be as fastidious as Miss Bingley for a kingdom! I see several very handsome women in the room, and in want of partners – George and Richard cannot rescue them all. And your Miss Bennet seems like an angel. You cannot hope to win her back by standing about with us in such a stupor. I must bid you dance, Bingley.”
Miss Bingley screwed up her face, linking her arm possessively through her brother’s as she whispered in his ear. “Mr. Darcy is all politeness. Jane is nearly an old maid, and certainly looks it! I am sure I should never have known her, had we met elsewhere.”
Miss Bennet was moving that way with the striking brunette Darcy had more than once caught staring at him, and been caught out admiring in return. He unconsciously took a step closer to them. Surely he might ask her to dance – for Bingley’s sake. But he was not fast enough, and Bingley’s reply put paid to any chance of salvaging the damage already done.
He looked to his sister for some further reassurance as he observed, “She is tolerable still, but certainly not as handsome as some I have seen in London. I cannot think why she should tempt me, but for….” Bingley’s face twisted with a sort of despair that defied his capacity to express; he sighed and dropped his voice low as he added, “but for so many fond remembrances of the past. She is not the most beautiful woman I have ever met, but I have loved her for as long as I can recall, and I do still.”
This last was nearly lost amidst the sound of Miss Bingley’s acidic laughter, but Darcy was certain Miss Bennet had heard the first half of Bingley’s thoughtless speech, for she turned sharply away from them; her companion cast a chilling glare in their direction before pursuing her.
Darcy was horrified. It was the sort of faux pas he might make himself, but Bingley was better than this. He had never been prone to such snobbery, and Miss Bennet could not possibly know that it was only Bingley’s desperate state of mind that had led him so far astray as to seek such reassurance from his malicious sister.
“You are a damned fool,” Darcy muttered, before hastening after Miss Bennet.
Elizabeth was fuming as she pursued Jane across the crowded ballroom, torn between comforting her sister and ripping the Bingleys to shreds. Her solicitude for Jane won out, and she caught Jane by the hand and led her out of sight, letting the swelling throng of revelers conceal them so that at least Mr. Bingley would not have the satisfaction of seeing the effect his words had on Jane.
“I beg you would not vex yourself, dearest,” Elizabeth pleaded with her. “He seems such a disagreeable man that it would be a greater misfortune to be liked by him!”
Jane wiped at her tears, shaking her head wildly. “Oh, Lizzy! If he were a stranger, I might dismiss it, or laugh it off as you would surely do. I might forgive his vanity, despite his wounding mine – but that such words should come from a man I once admired – I loved him once, and actually believed that he – well, I was certainly mistaken.”
“I am inclined to suppose he never deserved you,” Elizabeth spat. “I should hardly think anybody could, but him least of all.”
“I dared not share Mamma’s hopes, but I wished that we might at least meet again as friends,” Jane groaned.
“I cannot think any of his party to be worthy of your manner of friendship, Jane – you are too angelic for such pretentious, ill-mannered, standoffish, inconsiderate snobs!”
Elizabeth might have gone on railing for quite some time, in increasingly animated language, but they were interrupted; the two women turned around in mortified surprise as Mr. Darcy cleared his throat and bowed. Elizabeth hoped he had heard her – it was a small repayment of his friend’s vicious venom, and she held her head up high as he fidgeted with his hands and gazed from one sister to the other.
Jane recovered herself enough to look up at the gentleman – though the company he kept made Elizabeth doubt he deserved the word. “Mr. Darcy, may I present my – my sister, Elizabeth Bennet.”
“I am pleased to meet you, Miss Elizabeth. Miss Bennet, would you do me the honor of joining the set with me?”
Elizabeth was too astonished by his kindness to correct his misapprehension; Jane parted her lips and looked up at Mr. Darcy in wonder for a moment before placing her hand in his. “Oh – why, yes,” Jane stammered. Mr. Darcy nodded to Elizabeth with such a look in his eye as to suggest his conciliatory gesture was as much a compliment to herself as to Jane, and then he led Jane away to join the other dancers, leaving Elizabeth reeling as her rage gave way to other feelings.
Badly done, indeed, Mr. Bingley! Will the Bennets ever forgive him? Will Mr. Darcy continue to be the better liked man in Meryton? Follow my blog tour for more glimpses into the twists and turns of Handsome, Clever, & Rich – and don’t miss your chance to win a free digital copy of the book!
Did you expect this introduction into “country society”? Wow Bingley, you have done a big big mess of everything!
Jayne Bamber is a life-long Austen fan, and a total sucker for costume dramas. Jayne read her first Austen variation as a teenager and has spent more than a decade devouring as many of them as she can. This of course has led her to the ultimate conclusion of her addiction, writing one herself.
Jayne’s favorite Austen work is Sense and Sensibility, though Sanditon is a strong second. Despite her love for Pride and Prejudice, Jayne realizes that she is no Lizzy Bennet, and is in fact growing up to be Mrs. Bennet more and more each day.
Without further ado, I want to congratulate Glory!!
Glory, please email me to myvicesandweaknesses(at)gmail(dot)com and let me know if you need the ebook on epub or mobi format. I will pass your email address to Janet Taylor to get your book to you as soon as possible.
I would like to introduce you to a new author here in the blog: KC Cowan. I have not read yet her book but I am intrigued to see how Mary Bennet is able to secure her happiness. Let me tell you a bit more…
Either ignored or ridiculed by her family, Mary Bennet desires only happiness.
Poor Miss Bennet—with three sisters married, she will no doubt be left “on the shelf” unless she takes steps to secure her own happiness. So, with the arrival of Mr. Yarby, a handsome new rector for Longbourn chapel, Mary decides to use her Biblical knowledge to win his heart.
Meanwhile, her recently widowed fatherfinds himself falling for the older sister of his new reverend. But Mr. Bennet is officially in mourning for his late wife—what a scandalous situation! Unfortunately, Longbourn’s heir, Mr. Collins, has the antennae for a scandal and makes blackmail threats.
Will an overheard conversation between the Yarby siblings break Mary’s heart? Or will it impel her to a desperate act that threatens everyone’s hopes for lasting love?
What do you think? I do not really like whatever Mr. Colling is going to do.
I want to know what the siblings say in that conversation…
Let me introduce KC Cowan. Welcome!
KC Cowan spent her professional life working in the media as a news reporter in Portland, Oregon for KGW-TV, KPAM-AM and KXL-AM radio, and as original host and story producer for a weekly arts program on Oregon Public Television. She is co-author of the fantasy series:Journey to Wizards’ Keep, The Hunt for Winter, and Everfire. The Hunt for Winter and Everfire were both awarded First Place OZMA citations from Chanticleer International Book Awards for fantasy writing.
KC is also the author of two other books: “The Riches of a City” – the story of Portland, Oregon, and “They Ain’t Called Saints for Nothing!” in collaboration with artist Chris Haberman, a tongue-in-cheek look at saints. She is married and lives in Tucson, Arizona.
KC Cowan has definitely very different genres she enjoys to write and I am always amazed about that. Apparently the vignette she is sharing today shows a scene that KC wishes she had written 😉
Amelia returned to the parsonage after her walk with Mr. Bennet. Robert was out making parish calls, so she had the cottage to herself. After consulting with their cook on that evening’s menu, she ordered tea and went into the rear parlor—her favorite room in the house. French doors looked out into the back garden where she had already found a great source of happiness in planting flowers. When they bloomed, they would surround the paved area where she hoped to enjoy more time in the warmer weather—reading or doing needle work. It was a bit of a splurge to purchase the flower seeds and young rose bushes and she knew it would have been far more practical to spend the money on additional seeds for the vegetable garden, but Amelia adored flowers. It made her feel rich to have fresh flowers in her home.
Ellen brought in tea and Amelia poured herself a cup before sitting in one of the newly reupholstered chairs. Running her hand over the fine fabric, she reflected once more upon the generosity of Mr. Bennet. Although she would never have spoken of it, she had been slightly dismayed at how dirty and dingy the parsonage had seemed to her upon first inspection. However, because it was Robert’s first full parish and they were both so grateful for the living, she had vowed to endure the somewhat shabby furnishings, wall papers, and rugs until they had set aside enough from Robert’s salary to slowly replace things, bit by bit. To then have Mr. Bennet provide them with enough of a budget to virtually makeover the entire place was more than she could have ever expected!
As she gazed around the cozy parlor, Amelia truly thought no home could ever bring her more happiness. Well, Longbourn house would be even a grander improvement from the parsonage, but of course, she could have no expectation of ever living there! She and Robert could look forward to many dinners invitations, and with Mary Bennet becoming a closer friend, she might indeed find herself spending more time at Longbourn. She looked forward to it. Longbourn was a beautifully furnished house, to be sure—though not one that overtly displayed wealth. Mr. Bennet’s income was not grand but she could see that furnishings had been chosen over the years with great care and consideration.
Sipping her tea, Amelia allowed herself to daydream about how she might improve it, were the house hers. Some of the old draperies might go, she reflected, as they had clearly seen better days, though they were not shabby by any means. And the dining room might be improved upon with wallpaper that was brighter and more colorful. She smiled and shook her head—it was silly to even imagine she might one day make any choices for Longbourn! Mr. Bennet was so newly single after losing his wife. And he might prefer to remain alone in that single state, as his marriage had been less than fully happy. From what Amelia had gathered from talks with Mary and some other gossip she had heard in Meryton, Mrs. Bennet had not been a good match for her husband.
He married her for her looks and youth, you know, a shopkeeper had said to Amelia. So certain was he she would provide him with sons. Instead, she lost her looks from birthing five daughters and that’s when Mr. Bennet discovered just what he was married to! No great conversation to be had from her—unless the topic was herself or getting those girls married.
But Amelia was certain there must have been some affection underneath it all. She had come across Mr. Bennet standing by his wife’s new grave and his sorrow was apparent to her even from a distance. That unexpected meeting led to the first walk together of what was now becoming a near-daily occurrence. Not only did Amelia enjoy the out of doors, she had quickly discovered how genial and intelligent Mr. Bennet’s discourse was. They had discussed poetry, philosophy, even religion. She never felt she was being lectured to, however—Mr. Bennet would offer an opinion and then eagerly ask for hers. She felt quite equal to him as they spoke and every encounter only improved her opinion of him. She felt he might be a man with whom she could be happy. The very idea was a revelation to her.
After losing her husband, Amelia was certain love should never enter her life again. She was now three and thirty, and childless. She had no fortune to attract a gentleman into her life. In addition, although she had loved her husband, she often felt very unequal in the marriage. He had tended to dominate matters of how their household was run. He was not cruel, though, just…determined to have his way in all things. As she looked back on it, his death was both sad, and a bit of a release.
However, now she had this lovely home to manage as she pleased and was making friends in Meryton. Her life felt more filled with purpose than she could recall having in some time. If her brother were to marry, however, she knew she would have to give way to the new bride’s tastes and style. Such a thought made her a bit apprehensive. She should hate above all things to begin to feel unwelcome in her own home! Perhaps she should begin to think of finding someone to marry again. Mary had mentioned the Meryton butcher as a likely suitor, but Amelia sought a more intellectual partner. Someone more similar to…well, Mr. Bennet.
He was only a walking companion to her. But perhaps—just perhaps—more might be possible?
It feels a bit strange to read somebody falling in love with Mr. Bennet when he is a widower, don´t you think? However, I would like to read their conversations.
Did I write I want to know what they talk about and what they discuss? Enjoy this excerpt! I find it quite endearing 🙂
“Mrs. Withers is here, sir.”
Mr. Bennet happily set aside his work for the unplanned visitor. “Thank you, Hill. Please send her right in.” He smiled and rose as the lady entered. “Good day to you, Mrs. Withers. Have you come to see Mary? I believe she is out just now, calling on neighbors.”
“Forgive me for intruding on your work, Mr. Bennet, I came to see you. I shan’t take but a minute of your time.”
“Not at all, I was just doing some estate work. You make a most pleasant distraction, I assure you. Please have a seat.” He motioned to the chair next to the window opposite his desk. Amelia sat with her reticule perched on her lap. “Would you care for some tea?” he asked.
“Oh no, I don’t wish to be any trouble.”
“No trouble at all!” Mr. Bennet went to the bell cord and gave it a firm yank. When Mrs. Hill arrived, he ordered tea.
“Shall I set up in the parlor, sir?” she asked.
“Would you prefer that, Mrs. Withers?” Mr. Bennet asked his guest.
“Here is fine. I feel so at ease in this cozy room—it must be all the books.”
Mrs. Hill nodded and departed.
Mr. Bennet moved from behind his desk to the chair next to Mrs. Withers. “Would you care to borrow anything from my library? I should be most happy to oblige. Though the collection is not very extensive, I am quite proud of it. I would rather spend money on books than almost anything, I believe.”
“In that, you are very like your daughter Mary,” Amelia said. “A bookstore is always her first choice on any visit to Meryton.”
Mr. Bennet’s eyebrows lifted. “Oh—I suppose we do have that in common. I never much thought about it, to own the truth.”
“Have you never offered her a book to read and then discussed it with her later? I believe she would be very flattered.”
Mr. Bennet was a bit flummoxed at the thought. “No. No, I have not done so. The thought never—” He broke off and shook his head. “May I make a small confession, Mrs. Withers? I fear I have not been the most attentive of fathers to my daughters. The only one who showed much wit was Elizabeth. The rest I rather lumped together as silly girls without any great intellect. Mrs. Bennet oft accused me of always giving Lizzy the preference, and I confess she was right. But even Lizzy aside, I let my wife deal with the girls for the most part. How could I have missed what a great reader Mary is? I feel heartily ashamed of myself for my lack of fatherly interest and affection.”
Mrs. Hill arrived with the tea, and conversation halted for a time as she served. Once they were alone, they drank silently before Mrs. Withers ventured, “Regrets are a funny thing, Mr. Bennet. Sometimes they come and you know there is nothing you can do to change the situation; the opportunity has passed, and you must live with that knowledge. But other times—” She paused, seeming to choose her words carefully. “Other times, there is yet the chance to take a different path.”
She sipped her tea, waiting for him to respond, but he could think of nothing to say. After a moment, she continued, “It is surely not too late for you to give Mary the attention you neglected to give before. And, if I may be so bold, it may help her to blossom a bit.”
“Do you truly think so?” His expression conveyed his doubt.
“I do. Life can be hard for a middle child. I saw it oft in families in our last parish. Parents seem to leave them on their own, for good or ill. I myself am a middle child. I escaped the neglect others do because I was the only girl and, therefore, was singled out for attention in that way.”
“I did not realize you and Mr. Yarby have another sibling. You have never mentioned him.”
“Have I not? Yes, our eldest brother is Phillip, a solicitor in London. We hope he will come for a visit soon. Oh! That reminds me of my purpose in interrupting your day. The improvements are finished, and Robert and I wish to have all of the Bennets over for dinner this Thursday—four o’clock. Does that suit?”
“It does. I can speak for the girls, we have no fixed engagements.”
“Wonderful. Now, let us find a book for you to give to Mary.” She set her tea cup down, rose, and moved to the bookcase where she began to scan the titles. “Have you many novels? I am trying to encourage your daughter to read fewer books of a serious and weighty nature.”
Mr. Bennet moved to join her. “I agree; not to reflect poorly on your brother’s profession, but I believe choosing something that is not of a religious bent would be a positive change for her. Ah! Perhaps this—”
Mr. Bennet reached for a book at the same moment Mrs. Withers spied it and also moved to take it. Their hands met and lingered just a bit longer than necessary. Then Mr. Bennet dropped his hand and gave a nervous laugh.
“Pray excuse me, Mrs. Withers, I did not mean—”
“No, I should not have…that is, it is your library after all.”
There was an awkward pause, their eyes holding a gaze warily, before Mr. Bennet turned back to the books and cleared his throat.
“Well, we clearly both had the same idea. This novel is not one of those dreadful gothic tales so popular with young ladies, but a sound, moral story, although I do not believe Mary has ever examined it. Have you read it?” He pulled it out and showed it to her. “Belinda by Maria Edgeworth.”
Mrs. Withers nodded, but he noted she did not move to take the book from his hands. “Oh yes, a very good choice. I believe she will enjoy it.”
“And…do you see anything you would care to borrow?” he said hesitantly. Mr. Bennet was reluctant to see her go quite so soon. He never could discuss books with his wife. This was so…pleasant.
Mrs. Withers turned to study the shelves silently. Her eyes lit up at one title and she pulled it out. “Oh, this one, with your permission. I am so fond of poetry.”
“William Blake,” he said approvingly. “You enjoy poetry of a more romantic nature, Mrs. Withers?” His eyes now sought hers with more assurance. Why had he not noticed before how fine her hazel eyes were? A stray lock of her hair had come loose and it took all his will and concentration not to reach up and tuck it back in place. They stood silently for another long pause before replying.
“Indeed. I feel I am an incurable…romantic, Mr. Bennet,” she murmured.
“Ah,” was the only reply he could manage.
What do you think? Let me know. I feel is it quite “cute” and sweet.
Here you have the link where you could buy this book with Mary and Mr. Bennet as our most important characters.
Meryton Press is giving away one ebook copy of The Bennets: Providence & Perception to one person who comments on this post. The giveaway is international and it will end on the 28th of March 2023 at 23:59 CET.
I love the colours of this cover and of course both couples. I would have never imagined Mary wearing that light green, I think it suits her.
Hello everyone! I am so very excited to be returning to My Vices and Weaknesses to talk about my latest Austen variation, Why I Kissed You. I wrote this book faster than any other I’ve written before, and I really hope you’ll like it!
Although she vehemently refuses the marriage proposal of Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet soon learns that an unexplainable moment of passion that occurred between them has led a furious Lady Catherine de Bourgh to demand she be thrown out of Mr. Collins’ house!
Fitzwilliam Darcy, although his pride was wounded by Elizabeth’s rejection, finds he cannot allow her to be harmed by his aunt’s fanciful ambition for a marriage between him and her daughter. Fearing further action may be taken to damage Elizabeth’s reputation, he knows that marriage is the only form of protection he can offer her.
Elizabeth and Darcy travel to London to begin the arrangements for a wedding that for all intents and purposes shouldn’t be taking place. In the midst of shopping for wedding clothes, sharing the news with family, and meeting Darcy’s noble relatives, Elizabeth is coming to learn more about who Darcy really is than she ever knew before. At the same time, Darcy is navigating the intricacies of realizing how wrong it is to interfere in the lives of others and how to deserve forgiveness from a friend.
Though they act quickly to begin a new life together where one person is in love and the other now unsure of their feelings, Elizabeth and Darcy can’t stop one final attempt to keep them apart forever. But faith and love—and a little bit of luck—will play their part in determining whether there is a chance to pursue the happily ever after that both of them desperately want.
Hope that little blurb intrigues you! Now here is a sneaky-peek at the second half of chapter one:
Nearly an hour later, half a dozen crumpled sheets lay scattered across the desk. Darcy was just about to begin a seventh draft when a knock sounded at the door, followed by a well-known voice.
“Darcy, are you well?”
He sighed. Darcy did not think himself favorable to company, but then he recalled just how well his cousin, Colonel Theodore Fitzwilliam, and Elizabeth had got on. Perhaps the colonel might offer him some insight.
“Come in, Theo,” he called out, and turned toward the door as it opened.
Fitzwilliam stepped inside and closed the door quickly, concern etched upon his countenance. “When you didn’t appear for tea, our aunt worried for you.”
Darcy scoffed. “You mean to say that she badgered you to tell her where I was, and when you could not provide the information, she complained about how ill-mannered I was not to attend her.”
His cousin grinned as he stopped by his side. “Something to that effect,” said he. Fitzwilliam then reached for one of the crumpled balls of paper. “Will, you may be rich, but even you are aware that paper is expensive and should not be wasted in this manner.”
Darcy snatched it back from him and tossed it back with the others. “I cannot seem to get my thoughts in order,” he grumbled.
Fitzwilliam turned and leaned against the desk, crossing his arms as he said, “Tell me what the trouble is; maybe I can help you sort it.”
With a sigh, Darcy sat back in his chair. “I… I paid a call on Miss Bennet.”
“Oh, did you?” Fitzwilliam returned. “I am glad of it, for how suddenly that headache came upon her concerned me. Is she well?”
He glanced again at the balls of paper and his expression fell. “Oh dear… What happened? Did she confront you about Bingley? She did seem rather incensed when I told her of your triumph there.”
Darcy looked up at him. “Oh, so you have been the means of ruining my chances? Thank you, Theodore. Thank you ever so much.”
“Ruining your chances?” Fitzwilliam queried. “Don’t tell me you… Oh, good heavens, did you propose marriage to her?”
“I did,” Darcy replied with a nod. “And she has refused me.”
Fitzwilliam stood back, a frown on his face. “Refused you? I thought Miss Bennet to have more sense than to refuse so eligible a match as you! Whatever is the foolish girl about? Why did she refuse you?”
Darcy turned to face his cousin, draping his arm across the back of his chair as he said, “In part because someone revealed that I’d had a hand in separating Charles Bingley from her sister.”
Fitzwilliam’s expression showed him to be both mortified and astonished. “Good God, Darcy… I had no idea that… Her sister was the lady?”
He turned and paced away, running a hand through his dark hair before he turned back to say, “I’m sorry, cousin. It’s just that I had noticed you seemed enamored of Miss Bennet, and I spoke of your triumph only to showcase how kind you are to your friends. I was trying to help you on, not sabotage your chances.”
Darcy sighed. “You could hardly be trying to sabotage me when you had no idea of Bingley’s paramour being Miss Bennet’s elder sister,” he said.
Fitzwilliam retrieved a chair from across the room and brought it over to sit next to him. “What happened? What did she say to you? What did you say to her?”
With another heavy sigh, and no small amount of embarrassment, Darcy recounted the disastrous visit to the parsonage. Repeating every word he had said only increased his mortification at his own boorish behaviour—repeating hers only served to drive home the fact that she was right about him. He’d hardly conducted himself in Meryton in such a way as to curry favor, with her or anyone else. It was no wonder he’d been thought proud and conceited there, and he had little doubt that after he’d gone, Wickham’s lies had spread like the plague. He’d been blind to Elizabeth’s dislike of him and had only thought of how happy she must be to receive his offer.
We are all of us fools in love, he thought morosely.
Darcy stopped himself just before confessing that he and Elizabeth had kissed. His cousin did not need to hear of that particular bit of ungentlemanly behaviour. When Fitzwilliam only continued to stare silently at him, his countenance once again full of astonishment, Darcy groaned and prompted him to speak.
“I… I honestly am not sure what to say,” Fitzwilliam said. “I am amazed at both of you.”
“In what way?”
Fitzwilliam scoffed. “Well, for starters, that you were fool enough to think telling a lady why you shouldn’t marry her and that you’d fought like the dickens to repress your feelings was an acceptable means of proposing marriage. I’m also astonished that a smart young woman like Miss Bennet is fool enough to believe the word of a scoundrel like George Wickham.”
“She does not know him as we do, Theo,” Darcy said. “As I told you, I believe she already disliked me when she met him, and he found in her a sympathetic ear. And you know how I am among strangers—we talked of the very subject with Miss Bennet after dinner one evening, do not you remember?”
Fitzwilliam nodded. “I remember. I also recall telling you once that your reticence to engage with unfamiliar company would be your undoing.”
“Yes, if only I had heeded you then,” Darcy grumbled. “What am I to do? I do not imagine Miss Bennet will ever rescind her rejection, nor that I should even accept her if she did change her mind. But I cannot bear the thought of her thinking ill of me.”
“Hence the letter,” his cousin mused, looking once again to the crumpled sheets. “Do not write one, Will, and cast the waste into the fireplace. A letter won’t do.”
“I know that writing to her is inappropriate—given we are not bound by betrothal, marriage, or blood—but how then am I to explain why I sought to separate Bingley from her sister, as well as reveal Wickham for the libertine that he is?”
Fitzwilliam surprised him by laughing. “Come now, Will, you’re a smarter lad than this! If you can’t write to a lady, what else can you do?”
Darcy frowned. “You think I should talk to her?”
“Yes!” his cousin cried. “Call upon her again—not right now, of course, for sensibilities are still much too provoked on both sides, I imagine. Wait until tomorrow, that you’ve both some time to settle your vexation and think rationally.”
Fitzwilliam then stood and carried his chair back to its original place. “I am truly sorry for my part in making things difficult for you, Will. You must know I would never maliciously interfere.”
Sighing, Darcy nodded. “I know that your intentions were noble.”
“At the very least, I would say you owe Miss Bennet some form of apology,” Fitzwilliam went on. “It doesn’t matter if you were right about anything, the fact is that you insulted her and her family, and that was an ungentlemanlike thing to do. Take the night to think about what each of you said to the other—sober reflection can only do you good, and I cannot imagine that her thoughts and meditations will be any different than yours. Hopefully you will both see that neither of you is entirely faultless, and that only owning your mistakes will make things right between you. Even if she never changes her mind and you never renew your addresses, at least you’ll have peace between you.”
For a moment Darcy could only stare at his cousin, then he slowly gave a nod. “I do so hate it when you are right.”
Fitzwilliam, as he expected, flashed a rakish grin. “What can I say, old boy? All this wisdom has to go somewhere.”
“Wiseacre,” Darcy muttered as he picked up one of the crumpled drafts of his letter and sent it flying toward his cousin’s head. Fitzwilliam cleverly ducked away from the paper cannonball and quit the room with a laugh.
Darcy groaned as he rose and went to fetch his errant weapon; he collected the others and threw the lot into the hearth, then used a matchstick to set them aflame. As he watched the paper burn, he was forced to admit that Fitzwilliam had been right—at the least, he must offer his apologies to Elizabeth. Yet he hoped to do more, to make her understand why he’d interfered in Bingley’s courtship, even if he did not feel he’d done wrong there. To Bingley he’d been kinder than to himself.
More than that, however, he was determined to make her see Wickham’s true character. Darcy could think of no other way to do so than to reveal the whole of their history—the good and the bad. If nothing else, Elizabeth would know to keep watch over her sisters. Lydia Bennet, the youngest, was the most impressionable of the family, and she was just the sort of girl that Wickham liked to ruin before simply disappearing. Darcy had little doubt that several shopkeepers’ daughters had already been meddled with, or that his one-time friend had accounts open that would never be paid.
Yes, he thought with a sigh. Tonight, he would continue to think and reflect, and tomorrow he would explain himself. He could only hope that his words had the desired effect.
What do you think of the colonel’s advice to Darcy? Will Darcy succeed in winning Elizabeth’s good opinion when he explains himself? You’ll have to read the book to find out! My heartfelt thanks to Ana for having me here once again, I hope to be back later in the year.
Why I Kissed You is now available from Amazon in eBook, paperback, and hardcover editions! Leave a comment on today’s blog for a chance to win your very own Kindle copy—and follow along on the blog tour for a chance to win a signed paperback! If for any reason you cannot comment on a blog, notify me (Christine) by email and I will be sure to add you to the drawing for the paperback.
Christine, like many a JAFF author before her, is a long-time admirer of Jane Austen’s work, and she hopes that her alternate versions are as enjoyable as the originals. She has plans to one day visit England and take a tour of all the grand country estates which have featured in film adaptations, and often dreams of owning one. Christine lives in Ohio and is already at work on her next book.
I am very glad to have MJ Stratton again in the blog and even a bit happier as I am the lucky person to reveal the cover of her latest book!!
Let me tell you a bit more about From Another Persepctive:
The events of Pride and Prejudice are well known by those familiar with Jane Austen’s work, but what would we see if the minor characters told the story? What were Mrs. Hill’s thoughts on the heir to Longbourn? How did Anne de Bourgh feel about her cousin’s fascination with the guests at the parsonage? Did Mrs. Younge willingly help Mr. Darcy find Wickham? From Another Perspective follows the events of Pride and Prejudice as seen through the eyes of some of the lesser players found in the novel, along with some others of the author’s own creation.
What do you think? I really want to know Mrs. Hill´s opinion of Mr. Collins 😀
MJ Stratton grew up in a small town in rural Utah, moving back in 2021 after being away for ten years. Her love of Jane Austen was born at a young age when she read Pride and Prejudice for the first time. Her first ever exposure to JAFF was watching Lost in Austen as a teen. MJ recently left her teaching job to be at home with her four children, and hopefully pursue her passion for writing more fully. After feeding her love of books by editing and beta reading for years, she hopes to commit more fully to penning her own stories. MJ loves food, growing things, and the quiet of the countryside.
I am aware that I have not put the cover on the main image of the post, because I would like to read the thoughts on the cover by MJ Stratton:
I saw this picture by Carl Herpfer when I was looking for a cover image and fell in love with it. Though the couple on the cover probably resembles Jane and Bingley more so than Lizzy and Darcy, I loved the surrounding people watching them, which totally fits with writing Pride and Prejudice through the eyes of other people.
Here you have it!
I agree that fits, other people looking at the main characters, living with the main characters, havind their own opinions but not being protagonists.
MJ Stratton is giving away three ebook copies during this tour. Check the link below and follow instructions. Good luck!
I am so happy that I had authors that I have read commenting on the post of a book of a fellow author! Thank you 🙂
The winner of the randomiser is Suzan Lauder! Suzan, could you send me your email address and le tme know if you prefer .mobi or .epub for your ebook? The email is myvicesandweaknesses(at)gmail(dot)com.