“A Lady’s reputation” by Amy D’Orazio, review + giveaway

“Mr. Darcy, I am eager to hear your explanation for the fact that quite a few people believe we are engaged.”

Ok, hello to all! Let’s stop here because if a blurb starts with that sentence, the book must be in want of a reader (or hundreds). How can we read this sentence and not having an urge to read the book described? Let me tell you, you have to read it as soon as possible! However, I will allow you to read the rest of the blurb first 😉

It starts with a bit of well-meant advice. Colonel Fitzwilliam suggests to his cousin Darcy that, before he proposes to Elizabeth Bennet in Kent, perhaps he ought to discuss his plans with their families first. 

What neither man could have predicted however was that Lord Matlock would write the news to his sister or Viscount Saye would overhear, and tell his friends, or that his friends might slip a little and let their friends know as well. The news spreads just as quickly through Hertfordshire once Mrs Bennet opens the express Mr Bennet receives from Mr Darcy, and in a matter of days, it seems like everyone knows that Mr Darcy has proposed marriage to Elizabeth Bennet. 

Everyone, that is, except Elizabeth herself. 

Her refusal is quick and definite—until matters of reputation, hers as well as Jane’s, are considered. Then Mr Darcy makes another offer: summer at Pemberley, so that Jane can be reunited with Mr Bingley and so that he can prove to Elizabeth he is not what she thinks of him. Falling in love with him is naturally impossible…but once she knows the man he truly is, will she be able to help herself?

Chinese Whispers are a joke compared with the gossips among the ton: from admiration, to love and to matrimony in a second! Well, not in this case though.

Back to what is important, a summer at Pemberley!! Well, maybe is not the most important part but it is THE PLACE. The place for love ❤ or not… I will let you know later on on my review.

Let me (re)introduce you to Amy D’Orazio, the author of this great read.

Amy D’Orazio is a long-time devotee of Jane Austen and fiction related to her characters. She began writing her own little stories to amuse herself during hours spent at sports practices and the like and soon discovered a passion for it. By far, however, the thing she loves most is the connections she has made with readers and other writers of Austenesque fiction.amy-dorazio-author-photo

Amy currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and daughters, as well as three Jack Russell terriers who often make appearances (in a human form) in her book.

Amy’s other releases include A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity and the The Best Part of Love, a Readers Choice Gold Medal Winner for 2017. She has also contributed short stories to Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues, Rational Creatures: Stirrings of Feminism in the Hearts of Jane Austen’s Fine Ladies and Yuletide: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories.

If you want to follow Amy’s writing, you can do it here:

Amazon Author’s Page    Facebook   Goodreads

Review

Lately I am finding quite difficult to write reviews without spoilers. It could be because lately I am not writing many reviews on the blog as I barely have time, or maybe it is the author’s fault! Yes, you read it, the author’s fault for writing such a good book that you just want to tell people everything that is going on!

However, I will try to stop myself and just tease you with the review. I hope you like it.

Once upon a time, there was a proud gentleman who was in love with a lady who refused him… Apparently he did not get it the first time and then he decided that he would propose again but checking with his family first, and then with hers. Tiny problem: he forgot to check with her.

Elizabeth was determined to reject him (again) but she then considered her reputation and her sisters’ and gave him an opportunity to “court” her… in Pemberley!! Elizabeth did it also for Jane’s sake as she was supposed to be reunited with Mr. Bingley (thankfully it did not happened… I leave it there! You will have to read the book to know more).

Elizabeth followed her sisters words “Offer your friendship to him, and I think you will be surprised where it leads you”. Elizabeth did and even if it was a bit annoying that her sister, after everything Mr. Darcy did to separate her from Mr. Bingley, recommended her to be nice to Mr. Darcy.

You can imagine what Mr. Darcy is feeling during the book: remorse, regret, guilt. Everything that he could feel, he will feel it because he is soooooo maddening in this book! but we love him anyways. You will read how much he puts on his shoulders, he blames himself or takes responsibility about anything and anyone. Jane Austen was really nice to him compared to Amy D’Orazio! Even the weather may be his fault xD However, Elizabeth and the other characters are there to make him realise that it is not his fault.

Talking about other characters in A Lady’s Reputation, I have a favourite, apart from our main protagonists, and that is Viscount Saye. He is hilarious but he is loyal. He is Darcy’s cousin, the eldest brother of Colonel Fitzwilliam who also appears in the novel and is as usual, very charming. He jokes, he teases, he is somehow a bit liberal, he is engaged to be married to a nice lady, she is a minor character but important enough to appear. Even when she does not talk, the mention of her is important as Saye is all over the place.

Let me give you another “tiny” interesting detail: in this book, Darcy never gave Elizabeth a letter defending himself of the two accusations she gave him on her rejection. She does not know about Wickham, yet.

I was not able to put the book down (in this case my kindle) until I finished the most spread engagement-not-engagement on the history of JAFF! I highly recommend the book, it may be that you want the HEA to happen quicker than it does but everything is worth it.

5out5 stars

You could buy the book here if you cannot wait to read it:

Amazon UK       Amazon US    Amazon CA      Amazon DE

Giveaway and Tour Schedule

You are encouraged to visit all the stops on the blog tour and comment. You are going to enjoy a lot following all this tour.

Quills & Quartos Publishing will be giving away one $50 Amazon gift card to one enthusiastic follower! You get one point for every blog stop you visit and leave a comment. Good luck!

a-ladys-reputation-blog-tour-banner

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“His choice of a wife” by Heather Moll, vignette + giveaway

When a man’s honor is at stake, what is he willing to risk for the woman he loves? 

After a disastrous marriage proposal and the delivery of an illuminating letter, Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet hope never to lay eyes on one another again. When a chance meeting in Hunsford immediately throws them in each other’s way, Darcy realizes his behavior needs correcting, and Elizabeth starts to appreciate his redeeming qualities. But is it enough to forgive the past and overcome their prejudices?

Jane and Bingley’s possible reconciliation and Lydia’s ill-conceived trip to Brighton pose their own challenges for two people struggling to find their way to love. When scandalous news threatens their chance at happiness, will Darcy and Elizabeth’s new bond be shattered, or will their growing affection hold steadfast?

Hello to all! What do you think of this blurb? It is not giving a lot of insight but it is making clear that there are quite a few problems that Elizabeth and Darcy may overcome before… a happy ending?

I am glad to welcome Heather Moll to the blog and to introduce you to her and her first book: His Choice of a Wife. On the JAFF world and, obviously in Pride and Prejudice, the choice of a wife is key and we know the struggle that Mr Darcy has with himself when he realises he is in love with Elizabeth Bennet.

I am also interested on Jane and Charles and how big their role is. We know Lydia is almost always a pain but I hope Jane and Bingley end up together.

Let’s discover a bit more about the author:

Moll author picHeather Moll is an avid reader with a B.A. in European history and a M.A. in library science, so it is astonishing that she did not discover Jane Austen until her late-twenties. Making up for lost time, she devoured all of Austen’s novels, her letters, and unpublished works, joined JASNA, and spent far too much time researching the Regency era. She is thrilled to have found fellow Janeites and the JAFF community, if only to prove that her interests aren’t so strange after all. Heather is a former librarian turned stay-at-home mother who struggles to find time for all of the important things, like reading and writing.

You can follow her and contact her on:

Facebook                  Twitter              Amazon Author Page             Goodreads 

Vignette

Hello Ana and thank you for welcoming me to My Vices and My Weaknesses today! I’m sharing a vignette from His Choice of a Wife. This was a scene between Darcy and Lady Catherine in London that was cut from the final version because it didn’t move the story forward. In the final version, their conflict is only referenced as an exchange of letters. This cut scene is a more heated altercation but didn’t have any impact on the plot. Still, who doesn’t love a good Lady Catherine set-down?

“You need not announce me, step back! I know where to find him.” 

Darcy had been indulging in the memory of Elizabeth’s lips on his neck, with his feet propped up on his desk, and was so startled he nearly fell from his chair. He had not noticed the arrival of a carriage, but there was no mistaking the overbearing, booming voice that intruded into hissolitude. The door swung open and Lady Catherine entered with an air more than usually ungracious and sat down without saying a word.

He rose to greet his aunt and tried to disguise his dismay, on both her manner of barging into his home and the fact that she had called at all.  

“Good afternoon, madam.  I trust you are in good health.  I admit that I had quite forgotten that you were to be in town in June.”

“You can be at no loss, Darcy, to know why I come.”

“You are mistaken; I cannot account for seeing you here.”

“Darcy,” replied her Ladyship, in an angry tone, “your most alarming letter reached me last night. It had been sent to Rosings Park and that must explain why it has only come to me now. You have made an offer of marriage to Miss Elizabeth Bennet? Had I heard it from anyone else I would have supposed it a scandalous falsehood!” 

“Lady Catherine,” said Darcy, coloring with astonishment and disdain, “it is no falsehood.  I have made her an offer of marriage and am pleased to have been accepted.”

“Do you still retain the use of your reason? What arts and allurements has she used to make you forget what you owe yourself and all your family?  How is it that she has drawn you in?”

He paced as he attempted to rein in his emotions. That she would charge into his home and disparage his intended’s reputation was not to be borne! He had anticipated Lady Catherine’s disapproval, but he had never dreamed she would accuse Elizabeth of seducing him.

“Do you truly believe that I offered to marry her in a moment of infatuation?” 

“What about Anne? You are engaged to my daughter!”

“No, madam, I am happily engaged to Miss Elizabeth Bennet.” Darcy attempted to placate her.  “It might have been a favorite wish of my mother and you, but I am not destined for my cousin.  I am neither by honor nor inclination confined to Anne and I have made my choice.” 

“Do not expect to be noticed by your family or friends, Darcy, should you willfully act against the inclinations of all and marry this girl. You will be censured, slighted, and despised by everyone connected with you.” 

“I doubt that but, if it were so, with Miss Bennet as my wife I shall have such an extraordinary source of happiness that I would have no cause to repine!”

“You would let the upstart pretensions of a young woman without family, connections, or fortune divide you from uniting our respective houses?”

“Miss Bennet is the daughter of a gentleman and I will have you remember that, madam.”

“True, but what of her mother?  Who are her uncles and aunts?”

“Since I do not object to them, they can be nothing to you!” Darcy found his patience wearing thin.

After some hesitation she replied, “You must find a way to withdraw from this engagement.  I shall convince this girl to release you. I expect Miss Bennet to be a reasonable woman, and she would show me gratitude for my attentions last spring.  I will set off at once and make my sentiments known to her.”

If Darcy had been angry before, this declaration made his blood boil.  He swiftly approached Lady Catherine with his jaw clenched as he towered over her.  “You will do no such thing!” His aunt leaned away from him in her chair, her eyes wide with shock.  “You have widely mistaken my character if you think I can be worked on by such pretensions as these.  Had Miss Bennet not accepted my hand it would not have made me then wish to bestow it on Anne.  I doubt that my family will resent me for acting in a manner which will constitute my happiness.” 

“I am exceedingly angry that you have allowed this, this lady of easy virtue to draw you in!  Did she offer you a bit of muslin on the sly?  I cannot imagine any other possible means for which you would throw off your duty and your honor.  You need not marry her if that be the case; let her be your mistress and take Anne to be your wife.”

“I want you to leave,” Darcy said in an icily quiet voice. 

“I beg your pardon, Darcy, what did you say to me?” Lady Catherine’s jaw hung open.

“You have been ordered to remove yourself from my home.  You have insulted both my betrothed and me in every possible method and I shall no longer suffer your interference in my affairs.”  Darcy strode to the door of his library and threw open the door.  He ordered the footman in the vestibule to call his aunt’s carriage.  Lady Catherine rose from her chair in silent indignation and Darcy led her from the library. “You might wait outside, for I have nothing further to say to you,” and he swiftly shut the door behind her.

Thank you, Heather for sharing this scene with us. It is a pity that it is cut from the final edition but we are able to enjoy it here. I really like when Lady Catherine has an argument about Darcy’s choice of a bride. I simply imagine her almost hyperventilating!!

By the way, Elizabeth kissing Darcy’s neck?!? That sounds like a very happy ending to me *hehehe*

Would you like to buy this book now as you cannot wait how this relationship is going to develop? You can do it on the links below, remember to check if there is the ebook or the paperback edition depending on what you want (not both formats are available on every link).

Amazon US          Amazon UK          Amazon CA            Amazon DE     Bookdepository

Blog Tour Schedule

This is the last stop of this lovely tour, I recommend you to visit previous stops to enjoy much more of His Choice of a Wife.

HCoaW Blog Tour Banner VertJuly 25th More Agreeably Engaged

July 26th Babblings of a Bookworm

July 27th My Love for Jane Austen

July 28th Half Agony, Half Hope

July 29th Austenesque Reviews

July 30th From Pemberley to Milton

July 31st Savvy Verse & Wit

August 1st Darcyholic Diversions

August 2nd Diary of an Eccentric

August 3rd Margie’s Must Reads

August 4th My Jane Austen Book Club

August 5th So Little Time…

August 6th My Vices and Weaknesses

 

time to give away winners

Meryton Press is giving away to eight winners, 8 ebooks of Heather Moll’s His Choice of a Wife. Click the link below and follow instructions. Good luck!

Rafflecopter – His Choice of a Wife

HCOAW_full_cover (1) M

“The Portrait” by Cassandra Austen, review + giveaway

Dear all,

I’m glad to introduce you to Cassandra Austen. It’s her first time with us and we will read about her latest book: The Portrait which is a historical romance set during the Regency era in England and Wales. It is not a JAFF book but it is a romance that I recommend for its angst!
Cassandra Austen writes historical and contemporary fiction set in both old and New England. She is the author of The Portrait, a historical romance that takes place during the Regency period in England, and Coming Home to Greenleigh, a contemporary New England romance. She lives and works in her 1700s farmhouse in northern New England, but you are welcome to visit her at her virtual home: cassandraausten.com.

You can also find Cassandra on Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Before reviewing, I will let you have a rough idea about the book, enjoy the blurb.

Lady Catherine, banished to the countryside as a useless girl with a lame leg, got her revenge by playing a dangerous game. And now it will ruin her.

When the old earl dies, his only child feels no sorrow. The earldom will now revert to the crown and Lady Catherine will continue to live life exactly as she pleases. But when she learns that she is the heir to a secret family title, everything changes. Marriage had once seemed unnecessary and out of the question; now it is the only thing she wants. The two men in her life both need her influence and wealth. Whom shall she choose? The kind but secretive Captain Avebury? Or the notorious Sir Lyle, the handsome smuggler? Both men deal very differently with honor. And when Catherine’s secret self-destructs, which man can be trusted to save her?

The Portrait is about a strong woman, foolish decisions, trust, and the definition of honor. Fans of Jane Austen’s independent women will recognize in Catherine a voice which will not be silenced.

If you are interested, you can buy the book on:

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE

Review

Catherine, a strong-willed woman but also a very stubborn woman. She is almost a “pariah” in good society even if she is rich. Rich but soon without a title because her father is on his deathbed and she is “just” a female who cannot inherit, therefore, the title is about to disappear. That’s the main reason why Catherine’s father has never shown any love for her but there’s something else, the reason why society does not mind her much, she has a physical handicap, her leg. However, Catherine enjoys, more or less, her life. She has given up on many things, like marriage.
Although a turn on events, makes her realise that what she needs is to get married because, unknown to her before, she is the heiress to a title in Wales that goes from her mother to her as an only child. This fact was hidden by her father because he was extremely upset that he had a daughter that could not inherit his title, therefore, he wanted his late wife’s title to disappear.
Catherine has a suitor but she does not trust him completely, he wants to marry her and proposes but eventually she refuses him. However, things may not be as they seem. Moreover, Catherine has started a friendship with Jocelyn, a man of the navy who hides too much. Although he is, for Catherine, the only one who sees past her leg.
Things are never easy and even less when communication is almost inexistent. Bits of suspicion, jealousy, a lot of stubbornness (as I mentioned before) and, even more secrets! The Portrait is a romance story and…
Spoiler alert!
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There is a happy ending but you don’t know who gets the happy ending or how. There’s the big secret that Catherine hides and some other secrets will be discovered. Dreams change during the life of a person and it is not different in this story. Join Catherine on her life, where she almost dies too.
Discover who is Captain Jocelyn Avebury and his secrets. More importantly, who is L??

Thank you very much, Cassandra Austen for writing this book and also having My vices and weaknesses in your blog tour. Thank you, Amy for organising.

Blog tour schedule

Enjoy this blog tour even more if you visit the previous stops, you can find more reviews, excerpts, an interview, etc.

Monday, July 1st
Feature at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Tuesday, July 2nd
Feature at A Holland Reads

Wednesday, July 3rd
Review & Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Thursday, July 4th
Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, July 5th
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Excerpt at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Monday, July 8th
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, July 9th
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, July 10th
Review at McCombs on Main

Thursday, July 11th
Feature at What Is That Book About
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Friday, July 12th
Review at Coffee and Ink
Review at Book Reviews from Canada

Monday, July 15th
Review at My Vices and Weaknesses

Cassandra Austen is giving away two copies of The Portrait to two winners. To participate, click the link below and follow instructions. You can also read the rules after the link.

Gleam – The Portrait

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

“The Colonel” by Beau North, excerpt + giveaway

Hello! ¡Hola!

Pride and Prejudice, that great novel by Jane Austen that we love so much and has given us so much too. Not only the themes and the characters and her insight on people’s minds and lives but also the JAFF part that she may have never thought about it. All the what ifs, the variations, the sequels, different eras, etc. just carry on with her legacy. I’m not going into better written or less well written but I will say that today we have a really good writer who is presenting her latest book: The Colonel: a Longbourn’s Songbird. This book follows Beau’s Longbourn’s Songbird.

Beau North is the author of four books and contributor to multiple anthologies. Beau lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband. In her spare time, she is the co-host of the podcasts Excessively Diverted: Modern Classics On-Screen and Let’s Get Weirding: A Dune Podcast.

You can follow her on:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

An obvious thing about this book: Colonel Fitzwilliam is the main character or the main person in this book. I don’t know what you think about him, but I would love to know. I really like him and the way authors portray him of JAFF: a super nice cousin taking care of them, on regency even marrying Georgiana or Kitty or Charlotte, being always the one making fun of Darcy, etc. I believe he can be so reliable in a story that I immensely enjoy his stories. This story is not going to be an exception. As I mentioned this book is second to Longbourn’s Songbird and I recommend you to do as I’m going to do this summer, read both books. I cannot wait to start them and you will know about it 🙂

Beau North is telling us a bit more about “the Colonel”:

This isn’t a love story, but the end of one. The story of two ships forever passing in the night. This is the story of my father and the woman he spent most of his adult life loving, a woman who was never really his.”

1950:
After letting his chance at love with Elizabeth Bennet slip through his fingers a second time, Richard Fitzwilliam loses himself in women, whiskey, and war as he tries to forget what he left behind. Putting oceans, continents, and decades between himself and his heartbreak, Richard seeks his future, only to be pulled back to the past again and again.

2002:
Shaken by recent events, Ben Fitzwilliam has left everything familiar behind, walking away from his relationship, his Manhattan apartment, his career as a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist to return to his family home in Annapolis, Maryland. Struggling to navigate a world that makes less and less sense, Ben finds purpose where he least expected it: in his father’s private letters. With the help of Annapolis PD Officer Keisha Barnes, Ben attempts to uncover his father’s secrets, heal the rifts those secrets caused, and find the answers he seeks on far shores.

Spanning decades, continents, wars abroad and wars at home, The Colonel is the anticipated companion to Longbourn’s Songbird.

Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
iBooks

I put these links for you to know where to buy this super interesting book but it was also for the sake of distracting you of the fact that he loved Elizabeth Bennet! It should not come to a surprise if you have read the first book but if you haven’t…

Did you read the part: “a second time”?!?! I will leave it there.

If you are intrigued, just wait for it! Read the excerpt that Beau North is sharing with us. Have fun!

Excerpt Setup:
After a somewhat disastrous New Year’s Party at the Fitzwilliam home in New York City, Richard sends his cousin a letter that is partially an apology, and delivers some surprising news.

Excerpt:

January 15, 1951
Dear Will,
Greetings, salutations, etcetera. Thank you for dragging your family complete up to the city for the party. It was, as always, good to see you, but even better to see you so happy. You can be pretty fun to be around when you’re not glowering and putting everyone off of their feed.
You must think I’m very foolish. No need to deny it―I saw the look that passed between you and your excellent wife. Did you know that the two of you, taken separately, are about as easy to read as Greek—but when you’re together, you’re comically transparent.

So yes, I was a foolish man. Nothing to be done for it now. If I can be grateful about anything, it’s that I never fancied myself to be in love. I was thrill seeking, endangering life and limb, hell, my very sanity (or what’s left of it) but never in love. You may be glad to hear that that is all over with now. In any case, I don’t want either of you to worry about what kind of trouble I’ll be getting myself into next because well, damn it, there’s no easy way to say this, but I am back in the army. Old man Tilney himself pulled some strings and brought me back in, with a promotion.

When I took two bullets in Brest, I was a captain. The old bastard got me kicked out as a major, and now I’m going back in a lieutenant colonel. I could be one of the youngest men to make colonel, provided Uncle Sam doesn’t get fed up with my antics before then. I’ll have a bigger command now, which is good but troubling too. I hope that I’m up to the task. I think that there is more to this little skirmish than they’re letting on.

I’m to leave at the end of the month. I was hoping it wouldn’t be an imposition to come spend my last week there at Pemberley. We could settle my affairs (just in case) and I could say my (temporary) goodbyes to you all.

Confer with Mrs. Darcy and ring me up when you know.
Your faithful friend,
Richard
Darcy looked up from the letter at the two women dearest to him. Georgiana had her nose buried in a book while Elizabeth sat buttering her toast. She wore a bemused little half-smile, as if remembering a joke she hadn’t heard in years. She was beginning to show, getting more beautiful every day. She seemed to glow from within all the time these days, even when she was wretchedly sick or weeping or falling asleep every few minutes. His heart beat almost painfully when he thought about the child she carried, their life to come.
He honestly had no idea how she would take this news.
“So,” he began, watching Elizabeth’s face. “I have a letter from Richard here.”
Her only acknowledgment was a tiny lift of her eyebrows. “Any messages from Charlotte?”
“Ah, no. So I’m assuming things must be well.”
Georgiana put her book down and picked up her coffee, making a face. “Wasn’t his girlfriend so awful?”
Elizabeth’s lips twisted in a wry smile. “Actually, I rather liked her, though probably for all the wrong reasons. She was vastly entertaining.”
Darcy smiled. “She was rather appalling. I think she might have even been ruder than I am.”
“Impossible,” Elizabeth teased. “Still, I shouldn’t laugh at her. If she makes your cousin happy…”
She never said his name, Darcy noticed. It was always your cousin. He wondered if she was even aware of it.
“Ah, well. That’s part of why he writes. It seems that Miss Huntington-Whitney is out of the picture now.”
“Thank goodness,” Georgiana said with a sigh. “Poor Richard.”
If any of this talk bothered Elizabeth, she didn’t let it show.
Darcy turned to his sister and asked if she would excuse them for a minute. She shrugged and gathered her things before breezing out the room. Darcy reached over and took his wife’s hand.
“Elizabeth, do you mind if Richard comes to stay for a bit?”
“Why on earth would I mind? As long as he’s not bringing that little goblin with him. Not that I mind but I think she would probably upset Georgie.”
“I think you know what I mean when I ask, and it has nothing to do with Georgiana.”
“Oh good lord, not that again. I think we’d better get used to our new family situation sooner rather than later. We’re all adults, aren’t we?”
“That point is debatable. There’s…something else.”
“You’re worried! Is everything all right?”
“Richard has…well, damn if he’s not in the army again. That’s why he wants to come for visit. He’ll be headed out at the end of the month.”
She looked down at her plate, a small crease appearing between her eyebrows.
“I see. Headed out where?”
“I think you know.”
She cleared her throat, a habit she was picking up from him. “Are you going to tell Georgie or should I?”
“Don’t you want to tell her together?”
“One of us ought to inform Mrs. R, don’t you think? Yes, I think I will. You tell Georgie. I’m sure she’ll have all kinds of questions.” She stood suddenly, smoothing the fabric of her dress with the palms of her hands.
“Elizabeth—”
“I’m fine, William.”
But he wondered. Wondered at the tight set of her shoulders as she walked out of the room, the overly precise and careful way she closed the door behind her.

OMG!! Sorry, I’m speechless right now, or wordless.

Well, you know me, I’m not really wordless but I wanted you to reread that last paragraph and maybe think: what has happened? Was there something between them? Did he declare himself? Did she refuse him? So many questions that need to be answered soon!

Let me know on the comments what you think. Please if you have read Longbourn’s Songbird, do not leave any spoilers for the people who have not.

Thank you very much, Beau North for being with us today and bringing us your latest book which is extremely appealing!!

Beau North is giving away an e-copy of both of her books. To participate, click the link below and follow instructions:

Rafflecopter – The Colonel

Good luck!

“Unexpected Friends and Relations” by Jayne Bamber, excerpt + giveaway

Dear all,

I am happy to introduce you to Jayne Bamber and her newest publication Unexpected Friends and Relations. I would like to apologise to Jayne Bamber once more as I did not publish this post on time. Both of us had a hectic month of April and basically, life happened. However, there was an easy solution and here you have a post about a very interesting book.

I have not read many mash-ups with the character of Jane Austen. However, some that I have read are among my favourites, for instance Joana Starnes’ The Subsequent Proposal where Pride and Prejudice joins Persuasion. Therefore, I am convinced that I would love to read this book, the second one of the Friends and Relations series. 

Let me introduce you to the author:

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-bamber-author-pic

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.

After years of dating Wickhams, Collinses, and the occasional Tilney-that-got-away, Jayne married her very own Darcy (tinged with just the right amount of Mr. Palmer) and the two live together in Texas with a pair of badly behaved rat terriers, and a desire to expand their menagerie of fur babies.

Here you have the blurb of Unexpected Friends and Relations:

Following their marriage and a cozy Christmas at Pemberley, Elizabeth & Fitzwilliam Darcy return to London with their family. As new dilemmas arise, the story shifts its focus to three of Austen’s beloved secondary characters, one of her less exalted heroines, a familiar villainess, and the fan-favorite original character Lady Rebecca.

Georgiana Darcy continues to suffer the consequences of her folly at Ramsgate, as well as the peril of following some well-intended but ill-advised counsel that jeopardizes her chance at true love.

Caroline Bingley, now unhappily married and desperate to salvage her position in society, takes on the arduous task of reforming her wild and willful young ward, though it’s anybody’s guess which of the two of them is in greater need of transformation.

Lady Rebecca Fitzwilliam travels to Surrey on a mission of mercy, but she and her cousin Emma embroil one another, and many familiar faces in the area, in a web of romantic entanglements from which not everyone will escape unscathed.

Mary Bennet struggles with matters of morality and self-discovery, attempting to find good in the world, as well as her own place in it, but must do so on her own terms, always tip-toeing around the dramas and difficulties of those she loves.

Amidst the complex maneuverings of a diverse and demanding family, an unexpected heiress emerges, and with her rise in station come all the glittering delights of the fashionable world, as well as the challenge of navigating the uncharted territories of high society, extended family, and even her own heart.

After attaining a Happily Ever After, the Darcys retreat into the background as their friends and relations pursue destinies of their own. Equal measures of mishap and miracle result in several alternately paired couples, while some stories are left to be resolved in Book Three, and a wide array of Austen characters will make an appearance in this tale of six unlikely heroines.

Let’s read what Jayne wants us to discover:

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Hi! I’d like to introduce my new release, Unexpected Friends & Relations, which is the second of a three-book series in which the characters from all of Jane Austen’s novels live in the same world. Their lives are intertwined through the bonds of family and friendship, and this results in some alternative romantic pairings that did not take place in the originals.

The first volume of the series, Happier in Her Friends Than Relations, is definitely a must-read before embarking on Book Two. Happier focuses primarily on the love story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, with romances for Colonel Fitzwilliam (now a viscount) and a widowed Marianne Brandon, and a shocking secret in the Darcy family.

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The story opens with a surprise villain and sets off a chain reaction that ripples across the story, which spans a full year. Elizabeth meets Mr. Bingley in London, where she isn’t the only one having difficulty with a sister, and she meets a couple of new faces – original characters – who change her life.

Darcy has more than one secret when he first meets Elizabeth, adding to challenges to their relationship that are only exacerbated by more than one death of a familiar character. The story takes Elizabeth from London to Kent, to Pemberley and Somserset before she and Darcy reach their HEA.

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The second volume of the series, Unexpected Friends & Relationsopens four months after the close of Book 1, and shows our beloved characters in London for Georgiana’s season, which is nearly ruined by whispers of the Darcy secret. Another scandalous secret is uncovered, bringing a new heroine into the midst of the extended Bennet-Darcy-Fitzwilliam clan.

Not all goes according to plan, and the characters break off into groups, with many traveling to Rosings Park in Kent, while others go to Highbury in Surrey and unleash havoc in the life of Emma Woodhouse. While Emma’s world is embroiled in romantic entanglements, the same is happening at Rosings, and the stakes are high for Georgiana, Caroline, Lydia, and many others.

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Volume 3 will be released this fall, shifting the action to Sanditon, at the behest of Sidney Parker. More familiar faces from the world of Austen will make an appearance, in the seaside village shrouded in mystery!

I will be doing more blog posts over the next few weeks, sharing details about Unexpected as well as excerpts, and will be drawing winners May 20thfor an e-book giveaway! For more info, follow me on Facebook!

 

Blog Tour Promo

 

For now, I’d like to leave you with an excerpt revealing one of the family secrets that will play a major role in Unexpected….

    On the first of March, Harriet was conveyed to London to meet her parents. The journey from Highbury was a short one, though the two hours felt like an eternity. She was grateful to her friend Miss Woodhouse, who had contrived for Mr. Knightley and Mrs. Weston to accompany her to Town; without their supportive presence, she was sure she would have fallen to pieces with anxiety.

     What would her parents be like? Though she had naturally wondered about them many times over the years, when faced now with the prospect of actually meeting them, she began to feel that she had not given it nearly enough thought. Certainly they must be very grand indeed, and she began to fear that they must be so high above her that she would inevitably be found wanting.

     Her companions were all patience and benevolence during the drive into Town. “You have nothing to fear,” Mrs. Weston assured her. “I am sure all of your family is very eager to have you amongst them at long last. Though we know none of the particulars as to why they should seek you out now, I am sure it will all be made clear in time. Your mother’s letter said they are a large family, and you shall have brothers and sisters and cousins very near in age to yourself. That shall be a blessing indeed for you!”

     “And you have a shared acquaintance with your friend Miss Woodhouse,” Mr. Knightley reminded her. “Lady Rebecca Fitzwilliam is both your cousin as well as Emma’s. Certainly you shall discover some common ground with her. I believe Mr. Darcy’s younger sister is just coming out into society, as well, and I daresay you will find a friend in her.”

     “Quite so,” Mrs. Weston agreed. “I daresay you shall find my company quite unnecessary within a few days, once you have settled in. You shall see how they cherish you, and then we shall laugh about all this fuss over nothing.”

     Harriet doubted very much that this would be the case, for her apprehension only increased as they arrived at her parents’ stately townhouse in Mayfair.

     Mr. Knightley planned on staying near his brother’s house in Brunswick Square, and dropped Harriet and Mrs. Weston at the door of the grandest house Harriet had ever seen. They were greeted by the butler and housekeeper, both called Banks. Mr. Banks saw to their luggage while Mrs. Banks led them up to their guestrooms. Adjoining rooms had been arranged for Harriet and Mrs. Weston, and Mrs. Weston declared it very thoughtful of Harriet’s parents to have taken such a detail into consideration. “I am sure they must have thought of everything you may require for your comfort, Harriet,” she said as they were led upstairs.

     “Begging your pardon, ma’am, but her ladyship is most adamant that you shall want for nothing, Miss Sutton,” the housekeeper replied.

     Realizing that Miss Sutton was now how she was to be addressed, Harriet nodded and murmured some words of gratitude. Assuring them that their trunks would be brought up directly, the housekeeper took her leave, as Harriet took in her new bedroom in unreserved awe.

     It was like living in a palace! She stood in shock for several minutes, soaking in every detail of the very feminine bedchamber that was to be hers. All of this is for me? The room was nearly four times the size of her room at Mrs. Goddard’s, which she had never thought was wanting. This – this was beyond anything. A large canopied bed dominated the center of the room, with elegant linens in shades of pink and ivory – a princess might sleep comfortably there!

     There was a very stately vanity table with a large mirror on one side of the room beside a wide window with elegant damask drapes, offering a view of a quaint little garden beneath. On the other side of the room was a gilded wardrobe so capacious that she could not even begin to imagine ever filling it, though she supposed such things must be normal for ladies of her mother’s station. Altogether, the bedchamber looked as if it belonged to someone Harriet was not sure she could ever be.

     Mrs. Weston came through the adjoining door a moment later, smiling serenely. “What do you think?”

     “It is far too grand,” Harriet breathed. “Oh dear, do you think I shall ever grow accustomed to such finery?”

     “I am certain you shall, and sooner than you think. No one ever minds having what is too good for them, though I am of the opinion that there is nothing too good for a sweet girl such as yourself. It is a testament, I think, to how highly your parents must esteem you.”

     “Oh my, yes,” Harriet replied. “They must indeed, to go through so much trouble. But what if they think I am a very fine lady, and are disappointed to discover that I am not?”

     “Let us have no more of that talk,” Mrs. Weston said. “Your father is brother to Mrs. Goddard, to whom he entrusted your care, and therefore they must have perfectly realistic expectations for you. If they wish to raise your station, you must learn to accept their generosity.”

     “I suppose you are right,” Harriet admitted. Still, she was expecting every minute to wake up from nothing more than a very pleasant dream.

     A moment later came a knock at the door, and Harriet suddenly tensed up, fearing it would be her parents. It was only another servant, who introduced herself as Sally – she was to be Harriet’s own lady’s maid.

     “I’ve come to attend you. Your mother wishes to know if you require some time to freshen up before joining her in the drawing room.” Turning to address Mrs. Weston, she added, “I believe my sister Sarah will be coming to attend you, ma’am.”

     “Thank you, Sally,” Mrs. Weston replied, returning to her own room. A footman entered a moment later, bearing the trunk that contained all of Harriet’s worldly possessions. He set it down beside the wardrobe and left her alone with Sally, and Harriet regarded the little trunk fretfully; how small it looked, just as out of place in such a grand house as she herself must be.

What do you think? Harriet’s family is known at last! She is related to Mr. Darcy too! Very very interesting 🙂

time to give away winners

Jayne Bamber is giving away an ebook of Unexpected Friends and Relations. To participate click the link below and follow instructions. Good luck!

Rafflecopter – Unexpected Friends and Relations

“The Mist of Her Memory” by Suzan Lauder, except and giveaway

What happened that fateful morning in Lambton?

What brutal attacker caused such grievous, near-fatal injuries?

Does she remain in danger? Elizabeth cannot remember!

Sequestered in her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner’s London home, Elizabeth Bennet tries to recover from a devastating incident that stole her memories during their Derbyshire tour. She continues to suffer from strange, angry voices in her head and to recall events that people tell her never happened. Even those who love her refuse to believe her. Elizabeth can barely endure the confusion!

Fitzwilliam Darcy is desperate for any hint of his beloved’s well-being, yet he lacks the information he seeks as her family forbids him contact with Elizabeth. His frustration mounts when he learns that her mental impairment incited taunting and torment in her home village of Meryton.

Which of Elizabeth’s recollections bear the closest resemblance to the truth? And what is the result of her sister Lydia’s elopement with Mr. Wickham? How is Mr. Darcy to rekindle his romance with Elizabeth when her aunt and uncle strictly shield her from him?

Prepare to grip the edge of your seat during this original romantic tale of suspense and mystery, another Pride and Prejudice variation by bestselling author Suzan Lauder.

“Suzan Lauder skillfully weaves a story that submerges you into the plot and doesn’t let go. The Mist of Her Memory’s twists and turns hold a well-guarded secret that keeps you guessing until the very end.”

̶ author L. L. Diamond

What has happened? What’s up with Elizabeth?

Hello dear readers! I am pleased to have Suzan Lauder back with us. However, I am pretty intrigued with her new book. Even the title is intriguing: The Mist of her Memory.

This is Suzan’s fourth published book and I am expecting it to be really good. Just a few weeks ago, I read A most Handsome Gentleman and I enjoyed it a lot. If you do not know anything about this book, I will just point out that the handsome gentleman is Mr. Collins!! (among others).

Let me (re)introduce you to Suzan Lauder:

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 suspense novel, The Mist of her Memory is the fifth 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, the dramatic tension-filled Regency romance Letter from Ramsgate, and the Regency romantic comedy, A Most Handsome Gentleman.suzanlauder

She and Mr. Suze and two rescue cats 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, on Twitter @suzanlauder, and on Instagram as Suzan Lauder. She is a lifetime member of JASNA.

I hope you enjoy this brief excerpt that Suzan is sharing with us. I think that the description is great, the last paragraph is so good that I have imagined everything that he was listening to. Enjoy!

April 1813
Meryton en route to Derbyshire

After he refreshed himself with a quick wash and change of clothes, Darcy boarded his carriage once again and hastened to Longbourn before it was too late in the day for a call. This part of his agenda must not wait until the morrow to be completed.

As might be expected, Miss Catherine’s face peering through the window was the first sign of a Bennet at Longbourn. The delicate fabric of the curtain snapped back into place. They did not know him well, but the nervous, noisy chatter amongst them would not be restrained by lack of familiarity, and the younger Bennet ladies and their mother were famous for their inability to curb their tongues. He smiled to himself. If he were to take them on as family, he would have to become accustomed to behaviour he had complained about in the past.

But he did not come to call upon the ladies of the house, and upon admittance, Darcy requested an audience with Mr. Bennet. As expected, the gentleman was found in his library, his bespectacled nose in a book, when Darcy was announced. As he entered, the older man held up one finger as he finished whatever passage held his interest. While he waited, Darcy perused the room he had seen only briefly in the past. It was small but lined with rich mahogany shelves containing many books of high quality. In fact, there was a lack of space, and piles of volumes stood among those neatly shelved with stacks nestled in corners on the floor and upon the large desk of a library too small for its owner’s collection. The scents of leather, paper, and dust mingled in the air.

After a few moments, Mr. Bennet placed a leather marker at his page and closed the tome whilst viewing Darcy over the tops of his spectacles. Following Darcy’s bow and formal greeting, Mr. Bennet rose and offered his hand in a gesture of friendship.

“This is a gentleman’s library, not a parlour. We are less formal here,” the older man said with a mild smile as he waved the volume in his hand towards a chair.

“Are you enjoying your book?”

“Indeed. I am rereading an old favourite.” He passed the copy of Shakespeare’s plays to Darcy.

“Ah yes, a preferred book in my home as well. I also enjoy seeing the plays performed in the theatre.” Darcy returned the book to him.

“I am seldom in town, so I must rely upon my imagination for that aspect. I am not wistful about it, though. I do enjoy the country life in preference to all that noise and bustle,” replied Mr. Bennet. “So what brings you here so early this morning, sir, and without your friend? Though I suppose whenever you have attended with Bingley, it was while he was making eyes at Jane, and he no longer needs to come to Longbourn for such a thing.”

“I have come to ask your blessing on my engagement to Miss Elizabeth, who has consented to marry me.”

The older man’s bushy brows flew towards the receding line of his white hair, and his eyes became impossibly wide for a few seconds. “Oh!” was all he said before he peeled off his spectacles, bit the earpiece, and seated himself again behind the desk.

11 Darcy is Léon Riesener by Eugène Delacroix 1835.jpg
Darcy is León Riesener by Eugène Delacroix

Darcy started at the loudness of the exclamation then waited for a response, but Mr. Bennet sat silent. Darcy began to notice sounds in the distance that accentuated the absence of one gentleman’s much-desired reply: a clock, high-pitched voices, a service bell. All were muffled as if far away, yet they pierced his ears nearly as much as the one word full of emotion and surprise had done.

 

Who is surprised? Here we are reading that Darcy goes to Mr. Bennet to ask for the blessing to marry Elizabeth but he is on his way to Derbyshire… where is Elizabeth?

You may want to buy this book because with not a lot of information, this is getting bizarre and I have to say that the blurb itself would make me buy it straightaway. In case you may think that, you could buy it on the following links among others (check ebook or paperback):

Amazon      Amazon UK     Amazon CA     Bookdepository    Barnes & Noble    

Do not miss the rest of the blog tour, you will find very interesting post with guest posts, character interviews, etc.

7th May / Just Romantic Suspense/ Book ExcerptBlog Tour Banner Vert.

8th May / Austenesque Reviews/ Vignette Post

9th May My Jane Austen Book Club/ Book Excerpt

10th May / From Pemberley to Milton/ Guest Post

11th May More Agreeably Engaged/ Guest Post

12th May / Half Agony, Half Hope/ Book Review

13th May / Babblings of a Bookworm/ Character Interview

14th May Just Jane 1813/  Author Interview

15th May My Vices and Weaknesses/ Book Excerpt

16th May / Diary of an Eccentric/ Book Review

time to give away winners

Meryton Press is offering eight eBooks copies of The Mist of Her Memory. The giveaway runs until midnight, May 19, 2019.

 Rafflecopter – The Mist of Her Memory

Terms and Conditions: Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified.

One winner per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

“Perilous Siege” by C.P. Odom, excerpt + giveaway

Dear readers,

I am very pleased to introduce you to a new Jan Austen Fan Fiction release by C. P. Odom as well as having him for the first time with us. Welcome, Colin!

Perilous Siege is his last novel published and I would say that it is a very original way of combining our lovely character from Pride and Prejudice with the modern world, well, not even ours just yet… but 2045. Still 26 years to go!

I have not read Perilous Siege yet but I am very intrigued about it. However, I have read one of his other novels and I really like how he writes.

Just to give you a bit of information, read the book blurb and see what your first impressions are:

What is the Siege Perilous, and how does it affect the lives of everyone in the Regency universe of Pride & Prejudice?
When a man dressed in bizarre attire suddenly appears in a field on his Pemberley estate, Fitzwilliam Darcy has little inkling of the many and startling changes this man’s strange arrival will have on his life, his family’s lives, and indeed, his whole world.
Mysteriously sent to the Regency world of Pride and Prejudice, this refugee from a future Armageddon is befriended by Darcy. How will the presence of Major Edward McDunn influence the events of Jane Austen’s signature work, especially the tangled courtship between Darcy and the complex and endearing Elizabeth Bennet?

Major Edward McDunn… Why are you going to do with Lizzie, with Darcy, with the Colonel, with Georgiana…? Are you a friend or a foe? You must be a friend if Mr Darcy befriends you, right? We will see..

Let’s know something else about the author before carrying on with this curious book. C.P. Odom is letting us know a few interesting bits of his life.

By training, I’m a retired engineer, born in Texas, raised in Oklahoma, and graduated from the University of Oklahoma. Sandwiched in there was a stint in the  Marines, and I’ve lived in Arizona since 1977, working first for Motorola and then General Dynamics. I raised two sons with my first wife, Margaret, before her untimely death from cancer, and my second wife, Jeanine, and I adopted two girls from China. The older of my daughters recently graduated with an engineering degree and is working in Phoenix, and the younger girl is heading toward a nursing degree.
I’ve always been a voracious reader and collector of books, and my favorite genres are science fiction, historical fiction, histories, and, in recent years, reading (and later writing) Jane Austen romantic fiction. This late-developing interest was indirectly stimulated when I read my late wife’s beloved Jane Austen books after her passing.  One thing led to another, and I now have three novels published: A Most Civil Proposal (2013), Consequences (2014), and Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets (2015).  My fourth novel, Perilous Siege, was recently published in the second quarter of 2019.
I retired from engineering in 2011, but I still live in Arizona with my family, a pair of dogs (one of which is stubbornly untrainable), and a pair of rather strange cats.  My hobbies are reading, woodworking, and watching college football and LPGA golf (the girls are much nicer than the guys, as well as being fiendishly good putters). Lately I’ve reverted back to my younger years and have taken up building plastic model aircraft and ships (when I can find the time).

Engineering, Marine, aircrafts, Jane Austen… Now maybe, some pennies are dropping, what do you think? Not sure yet? We will get soon to the excerpt but first, let me tell you how you can follow C.P. Odom to discover more about his writing.

 C.P. Odom’s Facebook Page
C.P. Odom’s Amazon Page
C.P. Odom’s Goodreads Page
C.P. Odom’s Meryton Press Page

Without further ado, please enjoy this interesting excerpt that shows us when Darcy met the Major. Let’s see how shocking it may be… or not. However, first, Colin is telling us a bit more about the writing of this book and how fund it was.

Thank you, Ana, for inviting me to share this excerpt from my newest novel, Perilous Siege. It’s from early in the novel, where Fitzwilliam Darcy discovers a man from the future of our world (the year 2045, to be exact) lying in a field on his estate of Pemberley. Yet this novel doesn’t involve the science fiction concept to time travel (which is totally impossible according to Einstein, but then this is fiction, right? And I’m a long-time science fiction reader.). In my novel, I made use of another science fiction concept, that of parallel universes resulting from decision points leading to different outcomes. Thus, in this fanciful concept, the number of parallel universes would be literally infinite, and surely there would be one in which Jane Austen’s characters actually existed!

So, imagine the fun I had in putting myself into the persona of someone from approximately our time who got sent to the world in which he most belonged (he’s a reader of Jane Austen, besides being a US Marine from the future of the United States). The means of transport was the Siege Perilous, an artifact from the legend of Arthur Pendragon, King Arthur. Hence, the title of my book, Perilous Siege – Pride and Prejudice in an Alternate Universe. According to Merlin, the Siege . . . well, perhaps it might be better to include the explanatory paragraph from the Prologue when the wizard Kaswallon, whose family had custody of the Siege for two millinea after the time of Arthur, explained it to Major Edward McDunn:

“Ah, there you are wrong, brave McDunn, for you sit on a remnant from Arthur’s court—the Siege Perilous, the vacant seat at the Round Table. It was found by Merlin, who proclaimed only the knight who was successful in his quest for the Holy Grail could sit in it without dying. Six of Arthur’s knights tried to and died, or so the legend says. But the legend is wrong, as was Merlin, for the knights who disappeared did notdie. They were sent elsewhere to the world meant for them. Only Sir Percival and Sir Galahad, who together achieved the Grail quest, were able to sit in the Siege without disappearing. Or so said Merlin, wrong as always, because the real reason they remained was they belongedto this world, not elsewhere.”
So this is the discovery of McDunn in a world he never imagined . . .

~~~~~~~~~~**********~~~~~~~~~~

If a coin comes down heads, that means that the possibility of its coming down tails has collapsed. Until that moment the two possibilities were equal. But on another world, it does come down tails. And when that happens, the two worlds split apart.
— Philip Pullman,The Golden Compass

Tuesday, October 10, 1809
Pemberley, Derbyshire

“Sir! Sir! Mr. Darcy!”

Fitzwilliam Darcy had been half-dozing as his coach rumbled along on this still-warm autumn day. He was on the final leg of a journey to his Pemberley estate when, startled from his comfortable doze, he sat bolt upright at the call of his driver and the subsequent hard braking of the coach.

“Yes, Wainwright?” he called, looking over at his sister, Georgiana, and his cousin Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam as the vehicle lurched to a stop. “What is it?”

“Over there, sir! A man!”

“A man? Where?”

“In the grass, sir! To your right! A-lyin’ in the grass!”

Darcy felt the coach shake as one of the footmen scrambled down from the back of the coach, and he was not surprised when Brown appeared suddenly at the door.

“I will see what it is, sir,” he said in a gravelly voice and started to turn away.

“Wait!” When Brown turned around with a surprised look, Darcy continued. “I want to have a look myself.”

He opened the door and jumped lightly to the ground without bothering to lower the entry step. Behind him, he heard his cousin descend in the same manner.

“Stay inside the coach, Georgiana,” he called without turning his head. He did not have to look to know she had intended to jump to the ground. Her natural curiosity grew by the day.

“But William!” Georgiana said, beginning to protest. It was clear from her expression that past experience told her the uselessness of doing so when her brother spoke in such a tone of voice. “Oh, very well,” she said, settling back on her seat.

“Now, where is this man, Wainwright?” Darcy asked. “I cannot see anyone.”

“Over there, sir,” his driver said, pointing. “He is just there. Maybe dead. I canna tell.”

“I should do this, Mr. Darcy,” repeated Brown.

“Or I,” Fitzwilliam said, stepping up beside Darcy with his hand on his cavalry saber.

“I want to see for myself,” Darcy said. Then, seeing the look of distress on his footman’s face, he relented. Brown, after all, did have a secondary duty as an armed guard against the possibility of highwaymen on the road. The threat was admittedly rare in recent years, but it remained.

“Very well, then. We shall all investigate.”

“Yes, sir,” his footman said reluctantly, touching the pistol he had stuck in his waistband. Darcy was careful to conceal his smile at Brown’s protectiveness. The man had never had occasion even to withdraw his firearm from under his coat, but he took his duty seriously.

As he and Fitzwilliam walked in the direction his driver had pointed, Brown followed slightly behind and off to the side. Something was clearly pressing down the long grass of the field.

As they got closer, Darcy realized his driver had been right. There was indeed a man lying in the grass, curled up almost into a ball, but he was attired in a most baffling fashion, which added to the mystery of his presence.

His clothing resembled a military uniform since the trousers and jacket were similar in appearance, but the material itself was like no uniform Darcy had ever seen. It had no constant color, being composed of a mottled conglomeration of browns and tans, but the sharp demarcation of the mottling showed it was intentional and not accidental. The man wore a pack of the same material except its mottling was different in pattern.

In addition, the man’s clothing and pack were incredibly dirty and deeply stained with mud. This was puzzling since the roads and fields were dry. There had been no recent rains, yet the man’s boots, unlike any Darcy had ever seen, were also covered in the same type of mud.

As the men moved closer, Darcy was shocked to realize many of the stains on what he was increasingly certain was a kind of uniform looked more like blood than dirt or mud. Dried blood. A lotof blood.

The reddish-brown stains were down the entire front of his uniform. Adding to the mystery was an unfamiliar helmet on the stranger’s head, covered in the same brown and tan cloth as his clothing.

Darcy heard a rustle of cloth and a snapping sound behind him, and he knew Brown had just withdrawn his pistol from his waistband, cocked the hammer, and was no doubt turning the pistol sideways slightly to get a few grains of powder into the priming pan. Darcy felt no inclination to reprove him. The unconscious man’s presence was enough to justify a degree of caution, especially when coupled with his complete unfamiliarity and the strangeness of his clothing.

A sense of alarm struck Darcy as he saw the item his footman had seen, and he understood why Brown had drawn his pistol. Under the stranger’s left armpit was some kind of leather holster, and protruding from it was what appeared to be the butt of a pistol. The butt was significantly smaller than the pistol in Brown’s hands, as well as being quite oddly shaped. Regardless, there was a sleek deadliness about the weapon that convinced him of its danger.

A second shock ran through him when he saw a long object lying in the grass just beyond the stranger’s out-flung hand. From its length and similar appearance of precision as the pistol, Darcy was certain the long object was also a weapon of some kind. It bore a superficial resemblance to the muskets and shotguns with which he was familiar, but this musket was too short, had strange protrusions in various places, and did not appear to be made of metal. Everything, including the barrel, was colored the same as the man’s pack. Perhaps those colors were paint, but he wondered why a musket would be painted.

Darcy stopped about ten feet away and regarded the stranger. He was deeply tanned but unshaven with several weeks of dark beard. He could see the man’s clothing was not only dirty and bloody but also badly worn with numerous tears, especially about the knees and elbows. Some type of bulky vest or harness was strapped about his torso, supporting numerous pouches bulging with unknowable contents. There were also pockets everywhere about his clothing—on the sleeves and down his baggy trousers—all of them bulging like those on his vest. He lay quietly on his side, breathing slowly and deeply, and the large pack strapped to his back looked vaguely like the packs worn by soldiers illustrated in the London newspapers. For the first time, Darcy noticed several canvas bags nearby, and he realized the mottled coloring of the bags had made them almost blend in with the vegetation.

He looked over at Fitzwilliam, but his cousin only shrugged his thick shoulders. His military experience apparently did not provide any more answers than Darcy’s civilian knowledge.

But caution seemed advisable. The man might look rough and bedraggled, but he was also large and muscular with broad shoulders and large hands, somewhat resembling Fitzwilliam who was a colonel of dragoons and a rather formidable man in his own right. The two shared the same weathered features acquired by a life spent mostly outdoors.

Unable to bear the mystery any longer, Darcy ignored the voice of caution sounding a warning in his mind and stepped forward to nudge the sole of one of the stranger’s boots with his cane. It was only a slight touch, but the results were both startling and violent!

With a rapidity that caused the three men to recoil backward in complete surprise, the stranger seemed to explode up from the ground. With astonishing speed, he rolled abruptly to the side while simultaneously whirling about and half-rising. His head whipped about in a blur, quickly scanning the surroundings before fixing on the group of men in front of him. A clicksounded as he came to a halt on one knee, and Darcy realized that a strange-looking pistol had somehow appeared in his hands. It must be the pistol from beneath the man’s armpit, and it was held in a completely unfamiliar manner, supported by both his hands.

The sight of the pistol caused Darcy to freeze, instantly and completely. The stranger’s dark eyes were locked on him with a dangerous fixation, and the sound he had heard was made doubly ominous because of its similarity to the earlier sound of Brown cocking his pistol.

“Brown, do nothing!” Darcy barked the command. He instinctively realized he had made a grave error; the strange pistol was not pointed at him but rather at Brown, and the muzzle, while clearly not as large as the pistols with which he was familiar, seemed even more deadly.

No one moved for a long second or two before the stranger spoke.

“He’s with you?”

Darcy gave a jerky nod.

“I haven’t fired,” the stranger continued, “since the muzzle of your man’s blunderbuss isn’t exactly pointed at me and his finger isn’t on the trigger. Please have him lower the pistol and un-cock the hammer. I don’t want to kill anyone over a misunderstanding, but I also don’t want to die by mistake either. And I won’t warn him again.”

“Brown!” Darcy said quickly. “Put the pistol away!”

“Yes, sir,” Brown said reluctantly, and Darcy heard the sound of the pistol being uncocked and the subsequent rustle of cloth indicating it was being returned to its place.

“And perhaps, if the big man in the red coat might loosen the death grip he has on that large knife he has partway out of its scabbard, I’ll holster my pistol.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Darcy saw Fitzwilliam reluctantly lower his saber back into its sheath and uncurl his fingers from the hilt. He felt a bit of amusement at the way the stranger referred to his cousin’s beloved saber as a big “knife”—though he was not sure Fitzwilliam shared his amusement.

“Better,” the stranger said, standing up. “Much better.”

He touched something on the small, black pistol. It made the same snapping sound Darcy had heard previously, and he put it back in the holster and buckled a strap over it. Darcy saw he wore a matching holster with a similar pistol beneath his right armpit, and he also had what might be another rifle over his back under his pack. The weapon was covered by a multi-colored canvas sheath with a long belt-like strap across his chest, holding it in place.

Clever idea, all those belts and straps,thought Darcy in wonder. It would make sure they stay in place when galloping about a battlefield, but how did he unfasten the strap so quickly when he awoke?

“I did not mean to startle you,” Darcy said, but the stranger waved away his apology.

“And I didn’t mean to startle you either, but when I felt something touch my boot…well, where I’ve been lately, you wake up instantly or you might not wake up at all. It tends to make one twitchywhen startled.”

“Ah yes,” Darcy said in confusion. “Twitchy. Interesting word.”

The stranger looked at Darcy and gave him a crooked smile. “You have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?”

“I have never been so confused in my life, sir,” Darcy answered, and his comment seemed to amuse the stranger further since his smile broadened as he looked about him, taking in the attire of Darcy, Fitzwilliam, and Brown as well as the coach and horses.

The stranger waved at Georgiana, who was standing beside the coach in wide-eyed excitement and curiosity.

“I’m sorry if I startled your passenger. I didn’t even know she was there until just now.”

“My sister.” Darcy glared at her. “I had suggestedshe remain in the coach while we investigated.”

“I suppose all of us are completely confused, sir. Me, for example. Not only do I have no idea where I might be, I don’t even know whenthis is. It’s certainly not where I came from.”

Brown stood nearby, and Darcy remembered his father’s admonition never to discuss serious matters in front of the staff. Turning to his footman, he said, “Please rejoin the coach and keep a sharp eye out. I think we will be safe enough now.”

“Aye, sir,” Brown said dutifully, but the tone of his voice made it clear he did not fully agree with his employer. Darcy waited until he had mounted the coach again before turning back to the stranger.

“You do not know where you are?” Darcy asked, his surprise evident.

When the unknown man shook his head, it seemed to make him aware of the helmet on his head. He unsnapped the strap and removed it, revealing a mop of dark hair that had not been barbered in quite some time.

“I’m not at all sure how I came to be here,” the stranger said slowly with visible uncertainty. “If it would not be too much of an imposition, might you first tell me whereI am?”

“You are on my land. This is a meadow on my estate, sir,” Darcy answered with a trace of irritation in his voice.

“Ah, so I’m a trespasser. Very serious, sir. Very serious, indeed. But since I wasn’t aware I was trespassing, perhaps you might enlighten me as to just whereI’m trespassing? I assume your estate’s in England?”

Darcy openly smiled at the renewed evidence of humor in the stranger’s speech as he had consciously modified his speech to match his own.

Except for the use of those contracted words,Darcy thought. I know they are becoming more fashionable in these modern times, but still…and that accent of his! It is definitely not one with which I am familiar. Nevertheless, this is an educated man. It shows in his speech.

“Yes,” Darcy said with a nod. “Pemberley is indeed in England. In Derbyshire to be exact.”

The man flinched momentarily at this information. “Interesting,” he mused. “I thought I would be in Cornwall.” He shook his head and continued. “The next item to assuage my curiosity is the date—the year to be more specific.”

Darcy wrinkled his brow in confusion, looking at the stranger oddly for a moment before he replied slowly, “It is Wednesday, the tenth of October in the year of our Lord, 1809.”

The stranger’s eyes grew large at the information. “It’s 1809!” he murmured. “I thought the stone—”

Whatever else he meant to say went unsaid, and he shook his head again before standing up straighter.

“I do apologize for appearing in your meadow, sir, but I assure you I’m as surprised to be here as you are to find me. But as an intruder and a trespasser on your land, I really should introduce myself. Edward McDunn. I’m American despite my Scots name. Brevet Major and late Gunnery Sergeant of the United States Marine Corps.”

Darcy’s eyebrows rose just a bit at this bit of information, but he was not completely surprised. “I had surmised you to be American from the manner of your speech.”

“My accent, you mean?”

“Indeed. We both speak the same language, but you clearly hail from elsewhere. If I may hazard a guess, I would say one of the southern of our former colonies.”

“South Carolina,” McDunn confirmed.

Darcy was still confused. What was an American doing in England, much less in Derbyshire? And lying in a Pemberley meadow, especially at this time?

From what his cousin had told him, bad feelings between Britain and the United States of America still lingered from the Chesapeake-Leopard affair back in ’07. Fitzwilliam worried that the Royal Navy’s insistence on stopping ships flying the American flag and impressing seamen from their crews might eventually cause the two countries to stumble into an active state of hostilities.

Have we not enough enemies,he thought sourly, with Bonaparte and the rest of his coalition?

He shook his head at his woolgathering and decided this was not the time to stand on propriety. There was certainly no one to introduce the two of them. “I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Major McDunn…or is it, what did you say, Gunnery Sergeant?”

McDunn smiled wryly. “It’s lateGunnery Sergeant, sir. That rank, as well as my majority and my place in the Marines are—well, it’s long off in time and far away. Very much so.”

“I see,” Darcy said though he did not see at all. “My name is Fitzwilliam Darcy, and as I said, I own Pemberley. And may I present my cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam of His Majesty’s Sixth Regiment of Dragoons.”

Darcy’s hesitation was due to his decision to include his Christian name as the American had done. It was not usual, but he supposed Americans had different customs.

Both men gave the stranger a quick bow, but both Darcy and his cousin were taken aback by McDunn’s reaction. His mouth had dropped open slightly, and he was staring at Darcy as though he had seen a ghost.

***

Fitzwilliam Darcy? McDunn thought, so staggered by the man’s name that he questioned his sanity.

The name “Pemberley”he had put down as coincidence, but it could not be a coincidence that the man who owned Pemberley in this alternate world also claimed the name of Austen’s hero in Pride and Prejudice.

What in the seven levels of hell is going on here? Darcy!And Colonel Fitzwilliam! And that has to be Georgiana by the coach! Has that Siege stone sent me to a world of fictional characters? Characters created in the imagination of an unmarried author of old-time novels? But this man, this Darcy, said this is his estate! Pemberley in Derbyshire! I know Kaswallon said there were an infinite number of alternate possible worlds, but still—! This is not bordering on the ridiculous; it is so far beyond such boundaries, it’s ludicrous!

~~~~~~~~~~**********~~~~~~~~~~

What do you think? How is this going to continue? I have quite a few questions that may be answered by reading Perilous Siege.

You can buy a copy of this book on Amazon and other sites. Just check the one that you prefer 🙂

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Although the tour has just begun, do not miss the premier of the blog tour and check what is coming 🙂

Perilous Siege Blog Tour Schedule

April 8th /
My Jane Austen Book Club / Guest Post

April 10th / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Excerpt

April 12th / Austenesque Reviews / Character Interview

April 13th / Just Jane 1813 / Meet C.P. Odom  

April 14th / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review

April 15th / Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Excerpt

April 16th / From Pemberley to Milton / Vignette

April 17th / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Excerpt

April 18th /More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post

Meryton Press is offering eight eBooks copies of Perilous Siege. The giveaway runs until midnight, April 21, 2019. Just click the link below and follow instructions. The terms and conditions are below the link.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b1ddd45520/?

Terms and Conditions:
Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified. One winner per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.