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 really glad that I got a bit of time to say hello to you and most importantly, to present you the latest novel by Christine Combe: Three Brides for Three Cousins.
I hope you are all well and if you celebrate Christmas, I wish you a great time. If you do not celebrate it, I still wish you a lovely time if you get some holidays. Either way, what would be best but to add a book to these days? You have the blurb below and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. I find I pretty refreshing and original. I am also expecting to read some nice verses 🙂 Look at that colourful and beautiful cover too.
Let´s welcome Christine once more as she is bringing so much for us today!
Hello everyone! I am so very excited to be returning to My Vices and Weaknesses to talk about my latest Austen variation, Three Brides for Three Cousins. And if you’re wondering if my title was inspired by a certain John Wayne movie, you’d be right!
Fitzwilliam Darcy’s twin cousins are ready for their debut in society, and one might think that would keep their mother—the Countess of Disley—well occupied. But even preparing her daughters for presentation to the Queen and their debut ball has not stopped Lady Disley’s plans to marry off her two sons and her nephew at last.
Elizabeth Bennet and her elder sister Jane are in London with their aunt and uncle at Gracechurch Street to enjoy some of the delights of the Season. They do not expect that meeting Mrs. Gardiner’s cousin from Derbyshire and the young lady to whom she is companion will lead to a reunion with the young man who wrote Jane some verses of poetry when she was 15 … or that he will be revealed to be a viscount.
Although sure this means the end of their new acquaintance with the shy Miss Darcy, Elizabeth and Jane are surprised when her brother lets the friendship continue. More than that, Lord Rowarth is forced to confess that his feelings for Jane remain strong, and his determination to defy convention and pursue a match with her unintentionally draws Elizabeth and Darcy to each other. Amidst supporting his brother’s attachment to one Bennet sister and encouraging his cousin Darcy’s growing feelings for the other, Colonel Theodore Fitzwilliam is enlisted by a duke’s daughter to help prevent her family’s ruination from scandal.
Family drama, misunderstandings, and the expectations of society are difficult waters to navigate. Can these three cousins get through it all to win the hearts of their chosen ladies and secure their own happiness?
Hope that little blurb intrigues you! Now here is a sneaky-peek at the first part of chapter one:
Sunday, 15 December 1811
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a lady with children will be quite determined to see them all married very well.
Better than she did, if possible.
This mission is the same for sons as well as daughters, though the former are generally more stubborn than the latter at being properly directed. Many a mother over the ages despaired for sons that preferred more to enjoy the pleasures of life than to do their duty of seeking a suitable wife with whom to sire an heir and continue the family.
Frances Faulkner Fitzwilliam, Countess of Disley, was one such woman. Lady Disley had two grown sons well past their majority—her eldest, in fact, was already four-and-thirty, and his younger brother was but five years his junior. She often lamented the single state of her sons, Philip and Theodore—occasionally joined by her husband—and was not shy about haranguing them about their duty. Philip, Viscount Rowarth, was adamant that he would marry for love or not at all, and as he’d yet to meet a woman who inspired the emotion, he steadfastly remained a bachelor. Only Theodore had some excuse for being single in their parents’ eyes, as he was a soldier in His Majesty’s army, and was often away from home for months at a time. In fact, his most recent return from the war—Britain’s capture of Isle de France, now known as Mauritius—had been after more than a year’s separation from his family.
And that was more than a year ago—plenty of time in which to find a wife and settle down. But neither of the brothers seemed inclined to be serious about the matter, choosing instead to visit with friends, enjoy their clubs, and go to parties where they were very much admired, but with no intention of forming any serious attachment to any of the girls to whom they were introduced.
Their cousin, Fitzwilliam Darcy, was too much the same. Nearing eight-and-twenty himself, and already in command of a vast estate, Lady Disley felt it was past time he select a wife to manage his household. Her nephew, unfortunately, was not as outgoing as her sons, and so had more difficulty in conversing with those he had not met before. Darcy had made it clear some time ago that could he stay at Pemberley all year round, he would.
“My lord,” said the lady to her husband one day, “we really must do something about the boys.”
Richard Fitzwilliam, the Earl of Disley, did not look up from his newspaper. Emitting a light scoff, he replied, “So you have said, my dear, at least once a week for the last five years.”
“Fie, my love,” Lady Disley said with a flip of her hand. “You know you are as adamant as I am that they should marry! Philip will be the last Earl of Disley if he does not soon take a wife. Do you not understand that we shall never have grandchildren if our sons do not marry?”
“Frances, you know very well that we will once our daughters are married,” Lord Disley reminded her. The couple also had twin daughters, Cecilia and Olivia, who were seventeen. They were to have their come-out in the upcoming Season—which they and their mother were looking forward to with great pleasure and which their father and brothers were not. Lord Disley had said to his wife on more than one occasion that he was just not ready for his “surprise girls”—called so due to their coming so long after the birth of their second son—to be grown up.
“Yes, and if one of them should have a son, the title will pass to him,” his wife reminded him in turn.
“No, my dear, it will go to my nephew before my grandson—which you well know,” said the earl.
Lady Disley frowned. “And I love your sister’s son, you know I do, but Fitzwilliam is his Christian name, not his family name. As deserving as the Darcys have long been of having a title, I know how much you desire yours to remain with the Fitzwilliam line.”
That was the one point on which His Lordship most agreed with his wife. It had been his family’s honor for nearly three hundred years to have the Disley earldom and Rowarth viscountcy, and it would pain him indeed to see it passed to another—even a nephew.
Disley lowered the newspaper slowly, casting a shrewd gaze to his lady. She was a sharp one, his wife, as she knew precisely which points to needle every time the subject of their sons’ bachelorhood was brought up. Lady Disley did not bother to hide her triumphant smile.
“All right, my lady, I see what you are about,” said he. “You’ve some scheme in mind, haven’t you?”
Lady Disley grinned. “I do indeed! I should like to invite some friends to the Court for a few weeks’ visit—”
“Frances, do you not recall your own determination to have the girls in London in only a fortnight?” her husband interjected. “You said yourself you wanted to arrive in Town a little early, that they might have several new gowns made for all the balls and parties you intend to take them to.”
Lady Disley’s expression became thoughtful. “Yes, there is that… Not to mention we have the girls’ presentation at Court and their come-out ball to prepare for.”
“And yet with so much shopping and party planning to be done, you still have time to be concerned over the unmarried state of your sons,” Lord Disley mused. “I cannot fathom how you manage it all.”
“I am a mother, Lord Disley. It is what we do.”
He could not argue the point. “I agree, my dear, that both our sons marrying is long overdue.”
“And Fitzwilliam,” said Lady Disley. “He’s but two years younger than Theodore, and Pemberley really is too large a house for only him and Georgiana. He needs a wife!”
“Indeed, Lady Disley. With your plan to be in London early to raid the linen drapers and buy up all the most fashionable fabrics for your daughters’ wardrobes, therefore to have an edge on the other mothers of the ton, how then do you propose to have both of your sons and your nephew married by the end of the Season? All three of them do their utmost to spend as little time in Town as may be during those six months.”
“Philip and Theodore are already to be in London for the girls’ come-out ball,” Lady Disley replied. “We must insist that Fitzwilliam attend also.”
“That won’t keep any of them in London for long, Frances,” said her husband with a snort, before lifting his newspaper and giving it a slight shake to even it out again.
Lady Disley scoffed. “They will stay in London if they know what is good for them, Richard,” said she. “As we cannot have a house party—it really is too close to Christmas anyway for such a scheme, now I think on it—then I shall just have to see to it they are all of them invited to every ball and party the girls will be attending. It will stir up a little brotherly protectiveness in our sons and give Fitzwilliam a taste of what it will be like for Georgiana next year.”
“I doubt Fitzwilliam will allow his sister to debut next year, given what happened this summer.”
“I hardly think he will punish her for that long,” Lady Disley said then.
“And I hardly think he would have his sister debut at an age younger than our daughters,” said Lord Disley. “Cecilia and Olivia are already seventeen, Georgiana little more than fifteen. Her birthday’s not until the Season is nearly over, so I’d not put it past my nephew to wait until the year she’s to turn eighteen.”
“The poor child. To miss so much gaiety… I am sure that seeing her cousins having such a grand time will make her envious,” observed Lady Disley. “Perhaps that will draw her out of her melancholy and lead to Fitzwilliam allowing her to debut early.”
Lord Disley sighed. “My dear, why don’t you concentrate on your own children, and leave Georgiana to her brother.”
“Oh, if you insist I should, I will. For now,” the countess agreed. “But I still mean to see to it that both of our sons and our nephew are married by the end of the Season. I’ll not settle for anything less.”
Once again, the earl lowered his newspaper, and in noting the determined set of her features, began to wonder if she might just succeed in marrying off her sons at last.
What an opening! Looks like Lady Catherine is not the only determined aunt in Darcy’s family. Do you think the countess will be successful in getting her sons and nephew married? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
Three Brides for Three Cousins is available in ebook from Amazon! Paperback and hardcover coming soon.
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 hope I find you all well and enjoying this lovely season. I adore the colours of fall and I imagine them on the book that I am happy to show you todays: The Last House in Lambton by Grace Gibson.
There is a lot to read today, so I will start sharing the blurb.
Does it ever stop raining in Lambton?
Darcy and Bingley depart Netherfield Park, leaving Elizabeth Bennet acutely aware of the monotony of her life. Seeking a reprieve, she volunteers to serve as temporary companion to Mrs. Gardiner’s elderly aunt who lives in Lambton. Nothing turns out as Elizabeth expects, and she is forced to dig deep into her reserves of common sense, humor, and stubborn persistence to prove herself equal to the dreary circumstances.
Initially unaware that Pemberley is only five miles away, Elizabeth crosses paths with Darcy annoyingly often. When the gentleman rescues her from a shocking situation, Elizabeth faces some hard choices, at the same time struggling against the smoldering attraction that can neither be repressed nor fulfilled.
Mr. Darcy, meanwhile, in whose heart a fire has also been lit, is shocked by the lady’s stubborn refusal to accept his help. Alternating between alarm and begrudging admiration, he stands helplessly on the sidelines while she struggles to retain her independence. He, too, must make some hard choices in the end. Will he let her go?
Yes, the situation from where he rescues her it is pretty schocking but I think Elizabeth tries to manage it quite well…
Anyone is surprised that she is stubborn? 😀
Look at the mosaics on Grace´s picture!
In addition to mosaic art, which she creates at Studio Luminaria (her home-based glass shop in El Paso, Texas), Grace enjoys writing Regency romance and Pride and Prejudice variations.
It is lovely to visit My Vices and Weaknesses today, Ana. Thank you so much for having me!
We all adore Mr. Darcy, otherwise we would not be here today talking about him! But don’t you also enjoy seeing his confidence shaken for once? Perhaps, as I do, you also chuckle with satisfaction when his perfect manners slip, his storied composure breaks, and he is made more than a little uncomfortable by a pert young lady with a rather sharp tongue.
Here is an excerpt told from Mr. Darcy’s point of view in which just this sort of humbling takes place:
“What do you hear from Mr. Bingley, sir?” she asked.
Bingley! I did not want to talk about Bingley. I mumbled a vague reply that I had left him in London, to which she mused aloud that she had thought he might have since left town. To my horror, she then related to me in the most knowing manner that her sister had been in London, had tried to reestablish a connection with that family, and had been rebuffed!
I formulated a pathetic explanation that I thought he might indeed have left for Scarborough, only to be exposed by my artless sister who blurted out unhelpfully, “But I saw Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst very lately, and they made no mention of leaving London.”
As my face flushed at having been caught out, I was then treated to a verbal mauling the likes of which took my breath away.
Oh lord. Elizabeth is about to unleash her wit on poor Mr. Darcy! If you would like to find out just what she said to him on this and many other occasions in this retelling, sign up to win a free copy of The Last House in Lambton. I hope you will discover that an imperfect Darcy is more loveable than ever.
I have really enjoyed having both Elizabeth and Darcy´s point of view. I always like how Darcy reacts with Elizabeth, and example that you can find on the excerpt that Grace Gibson has shared with us.
As you have read in the blurb, Elizabeth is pretty empty and bored, however, perhaps she was to hasty to help her aunt´s relative. It is not even closed to what she had in mind, she actually has to work (gasp!). Although it is Elizabeth and we know she is strong and all but she is up for a scare at the beginning. Hopefully, she also gets Mrs. Reynolds’ help even before she sees Darcy. I will not tell you about their meeting at Mrs. Reynolds’ office but I can say I find it funny and a bit endearing (and it won´t be the last time Elizabeth has to ask for her help).
Elizabeth has to learn so much about managing a household that she realises how deficient her education in that aspect it. However, without knowing it, this will be very useful to help her with her relationship with her mother and will aslo be useful for her sisters.
When Elizabeth starts seeing that Darcy is actually caring, she is quite stubborn to accept help, as it can be read on the blurb, however, she knows she has to accept the offer from Darcy to protect also her “aunty”, but this may be seen as something that it is not. Yes, you are reading it well, it could be mistaken. Fortunately, Georgiana is there and Elizabeth is able to rest because she is not the only one helping her aunty.
There is a point when Elizabeth returns home that I do not like. She is the one making the decision for others, or another, when she used to dislike Darcy doing that.
Anyway, I have really enjoyed this book and I highly recommend you. It is a nice read, it is not angsty per se but many things happen around this couple.
Moreover, you will then meet the neighbour in the second to last house in Lambton ;D
Follow the blog tour, you will get so much more from this book!
Meryton Press is giving away an ebook copy of The Last House in Lambton to one person commenting on this post. Let me know what you think of the book so far, or my review. The contest is open until 23:59 (CEST) on the 17th of November 2022. Good luck!
Can the course of a life be altered by the stroke of a pen?
Widowed at a young age, Fitzwilliam Darcy has no reason to think he’ll ever find the love his first marriage lacked. Instead, he dedicates himself to his roles as father and co-guardian, determined to excel at both. But when love finally finds him, will he be too mired by the strife of the past to recognize it?
Elizabeth Bennet does not care for the newest addition to Meryton society, no matter how handsome and wealthy Mr. Darcy might be. She is, however, rather fond of his children and his sister. If only Mr. Darcy needn’t be so certain of his own worth, she would tolerate him on their behalf, but that change in him seems very unlikely.
Once Upon a Time in Pemberley is a sweet, Regency era Pride & Prejudice Variation of approximately 92,000 words. While this is Summer Hanford’s first variation without co-author Renata McMann, it will not be her last. Plus, you can look for more joint Renata McMann & Summer Hanford variations to come.
What do you think of this blurb? Short but sweet, right? Darcy is a papa but he is as “proud” as usual, isn’t it? I like it!
I am very happy to show you today Summer Hunford’s Once Upon a Time in Pemberley. I do not know about you, but I also really like the title.
Summer Hanford is an author of sweet, adventure-filled Historical Romance, Pride and Prejudice retellings (often in conjunction with Renata McMann), Children’s Picture Books, and Epic Fantasy. She lives in the Finger Lakes Region of New York with her husband and compulsory, deliberately spoiled, cats. The newest addition to their household, an energetic setter-shepherd mix, is (still) not yet appreciated by the cats but is well loved by the humans. For more about Summer, visit www.summerhanford.com.
Sumer writes so many genres and ery different from each other. On another post soon, I will tell you a bit more about her Children’s Picture Books after we enjoy much more from her and Once Upon a Time in Pemberley.
However, let´s get to know Summer more!
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
What inspires you to write?
Very simply, the joy of it. I love writing. Given my choice, it’s what I would spend nearly all my time doing. Pride and Prejudice variations, in particular, can be very fun to write. We all know the characters, which means that getting them into various situations has an extra level of delight because so much of what goes on is almost an inside joke between the author and the reader.
What are you working on now?
Editing the ‘Space JAFF.’ It’s a great book but it’s long, so I’ve been editing it for a while, and Renata is waiting and waiting. She literally knit me a hat and a scarf, along with hats and scarves for a bunch of other people, while waiting for me to finish a pass on this book.
What is your favorite part of Once Upon a Time in Pemberley?
That’s difficult to say. There is so much of the book that I love, and I like all of it, and I don’t want to give any spoilers. I’m fond of Mr. Collins’ proposal. The timing of it. I did that to be deliberately mean to our heroine. There are also some very sweet interactions between Darcy and his children, and let’s not forget Bingley carrying Jane in the rain… there’s a lot to be said for that, brief as the moment was.
I’m not sure if I want to read a book with children.
That’s definitely a consideration. If you don’t like to read books with children, I honestly wouldn’t recommend Once Upon a Time at Pemberley. I wish I could say it’s a book for everyone, but that’s simply not true. It is not intensely romantic. It’s much more about various types of familial love. And the children are in the book, not simply mentioned and then tucked away. They are active characters with personalities and roles to play in the plot.
Why did you title it Once Upon a Time in Pemberley when it happens in Netherfield?
I know. I simply couldn’t help it. Elizabeth said the line, ‘Once upon a time in Pemberley,’ and I thought, what a lovely title. I often pull a title from a line in a book. Perhaps I should have called it ‘Once Upon a Time in Netherfield Park,’ but it simply doesn’t have the same ring to it. I guess I sort of hoped everyone would forgive me, and I think most people have?
Will you write another variation alone?
I do hope to. As with other genres in which I write, I have lists of ideas and folders full of outlines. I will never get to write them all so it’s always an agony to select which to write next. My favorite idea plays it a bit loose with strict Regency protocol, as did Once Upon a Time in Pemberley, but it’s my opinion, having read various firsthand reports from those times (journals, letters, etc.), that the people who lived then were not so well behaved or proper as many people prefer to think.
For example, in 1810 in Edinburgh, women in fine gowns walked the streets in bare feet. That is a literal fact taken from a journal written by an Englishman traveling there, and Edinburgh is Scottish, yes, but a city, not a small town. Yet I can imagine the reaction if I wrote about Elizabeth wandering about even a small town barefoot, in public. Once all those men glimpse her pinky toes, she’ll never be fit to marry.
My point is, we’ve done a lot of idolizing. That said, I do try to stick to what people like to think of as proper Regency behavior, but humans were just as human then as they are now, and I find it difficult to pretend otherwise. They will do foolish things, brave things, irreverent things, and selfish things, just as they do now, whether socially acceptable to the wider world or not.
But that is a whole different topic, delving into the pitfalls of writing about historical times. The question of how much research is too much or too little. How much accuracy is wanted or required. What sort of language to use. If an author should cater more to reality or to reader expectations that have grown up around a genre. I don’t know the answers to any of those questions. I simply try to be consistent in my writing choices so that fans of my work can enjoy it, and I can enjoy writing it.
Is there anything else you wanted to tell us?
Only that I love Once Upon a Time in Pemberley and I thank you all so much for giving it consideration, and for the overall warmness of the book’s reception. It was stressful to put out a work without Renata, so I really appreciate the support the book has received.
And thank you so much to Ana for hosting me here on My Vices and Weaknesses. I’ve never done a blog tour before this book and I really appreciate the patience and support you’ve given.
Lastly, keep an eye out for the Once Upon a Time in Pemberley audiobook, narrated by the wonderful Catherine Bilson, which should be out any day now (it’s going through sound checks as we speak).
Thank you all for reading and for being readers.
Have a great day!
What? I understand that you have written it, but liking Mr. Collins’ proposal is beyond the pale 😉
Walking barefoot? Too cold for my taste, but I do not find it so different from nowadays when you leave the club and you have to take your heels off (not exactly the same though… I know)
I think you are here for a treat. I love these kids!!
Elizabeth’s mother and three younger sisters streamed from the carriage the moment the conveyance halted outside Netherfield Park’s three story, box-like manor house, the sandy-colored stone building altogether too austere for Elizabeth’s tastes. At least the home boasted no giant gargoyles or plethora of decorative merlons to jut upward like teeth against the blue autumn sky, and the grounds about the manor house were exceptionally beautiful.
“Do you think Mr. Bingley will be at home?” Jane asked, making no move to disembark yet. Looking past Elizabeth to the house, Jane absently smoothed her already unwrinkled skirt.
Elizabeth smiled at how opposite Jane’s desires were from hers. “It’s possible, but gentlemen generally enjoy riding at this time of day.” As she fervently hoped Mr. Darcy did. “And we must assume that he rented Netherfield Park to take in the countryside.”
Jane nodded and schooled her features into her usual look of bland pleasantness. “I’m certain a visit with Miss Bingley, Mrs. Hurst and Miss Darcy will be very enjoyable indeed.”
Having observed Mr. Bingley’s sisters at the assembly the evening before, their noses so high in the air they might have been sniffing the ceiling for fresh plaster, Elizabeth doubted that. “Let us go in and see?”
Jane climbed out, accepting a footman’s hand even though her every movement held so much grace, it seemed impossible she could require assistance. Elizabeth endeavored to emulate her sister as she followed but knew that, as always, she fell somewhat short. If Jane weren’t her very dearest friend and confidant, and the most pleasant person Elizabeth knew, she would be endlessly jealous of her.
They followed the path that their mother and younger three sisters had taken up the mansion’s steps to where a smartly dressed butler admitted them. That upper servant accepted a cloak, hat and gloves from each Bennet woman, handing them off to a line of waiting footmen. Elizabeth, last in line, toyed with the idea of handing her outerwear to the final footman directly, bypassing the austere butler, but she didn’t wish to give the man a fit.
“The ladies are receiving guests in the cream drawing room,” the butler informed them once he’d handed off Elizabeth’s cloak. “Sarah will show you the way.”
He gestured to a maid, who stepped forward and curtsied. Wordless, she pivoted and set off down a wide, stark hallway, the unadorned corridor almost tunnel-like. Elizabeth supposed that, should someone reside in Netherfield Park with any permanence, the cavernous feeling would be easily alleviated by small tables, flowers and paintings. As it was, only evenly spaced sconces broke the monotony of dark wood paneling that stood below deep blue papered walls and above a predominantly cobalt runner. Trailing her mother and sisters down the hallway, Elizabeth hoped that the cream drawing room would prove less dreary.
Mrs. Bennet lengthened her stride to come abreast of the maid. “Are we not the first callers, then?”
“No, Missus. The Lucases have called and the Gouldings.”
Mrs. Bennet cast a frown over her shoulder. “I told you not to take so long with your hair, Kitty.”
“But Mama, I need to look my best for Mr. Bingley.”
Lydia huffed. “Mr. Bingley wouldn’t pick you over me if you covered your curls with diamonds.”
“You can’t know that,” Kitty replied and promptly started coughing, a light, rickety sound that would undoubtedly be cured by a bit of sun on the southern coast, if either parent cared enough to press for the expense.
“Mr. Bingley will marry Jane,” Mrs. Bennet said confidently. “You can only hope to win Mr. Darcy.”
Elizabeth had a hope of her own, and that was a fervent one that the cream drawing room stood far to the back of the house out of hearing and that Sarah, the maid, proved suddenly deaf.
“Mr. Darcy?” Elizabeth could practically hear Lydia roll her eyes as she spoke. “No one would want to marry him. He’s horrible.” She pulled her shoulders back and angled her chin into the air. “I’m Mr. Darcy. I’m too grand to dance with anyone unless Sir William makes me.”
“He danced with those of his party without encouragement,” Jane corrected softly.
“That’s only worse,” Lydia replied.
Elizabeth agreed, though she wouldn’t admit as much. Not when they might be within hearing of their hosts at any moment. Instead, hoping to nudge the conversation away from directly insulting a man who might possibly be in the drawing room they approached, she said, “Will we call on the Lucases next, Mama?”
“If Lady Lucas wishes to speak with me after calling here before we did, she may visit Longbourn.”
“It is unlikely Lady Lucas knew when we would call,” Mary supplied, speaking for the first time since they’d entered Mr. Bingley’s leased residence and adding, “He hath made everything in his time.”
“God didn’t make Lady Lucas visit before we could,” Lydia said with a giggle. “Kitty’s hair did.”
“Girls,” Mrs. Bennet intervened, much to Elizabeth’s relief. If uncurtailed, Lydia would badger Mary into endless biblical quotes of increasingly less relevance.
The maid turned into a doorway. “Mrs. Bennet and the Miss Bennets,” she said and dipped another curtsy.
“Show them in,” cultured tones that Elizabeth identified as Miss Bingley’s replied. “And bring tea.”
The maid bobbed again, turned to them to offer a nod, and started back down the hallway.
Elizabeth followed her mother and sisters in to find that both of Mr. Bingley’s sisters and Miss Darcy awaited them. Relieved as the gentlemen’s absence made her, she felt a touch of sorrow for Jane, whose smile wavered as hope of seeing Mr. Bingley left her. Elizabeth doubted anyone else noticed Jane’s momentary lapse in the flurry of greetings that commenced.
Finally, greetings exchanged, they all sat. Mrs. Hurst cleared her throat and said, “What lovely weather one finds in Hertfordshire at this time of year.”
Mrs. Bennet nodded. “Yes. You could not have chosen a better time for a visit to the countryside and my daughters are great walkers. They will be happy to show the beauties of Hertfordshire to you.”
“Walkers?” Miss Bingley repeated, her voice holding a mixture of incredulousness and disgust.
Forcing a bland tone, Elizabeth nodded and said, “Yes. It is an affliction of those who reside in the country.”
The faintest giggle sounded, somewhere behind Elizabeth and to the right.
“On affliction, I can agree with you,” Miss Bingley replied.
“I walk a great deal when at Pemberley,” Miss Darcy said, her smile so forcedly fixed as to be a grimace. “Walking is pleasant.”
Mrs. Hurst turned to her. “Yes, I’m certain it is when you do so, Miss Darcy.”
“Not when Lizzy does so,” Lydia said with a laugh. “She walks for hours, in all sorts of weather.”
“I don’t know how she doesn’t become ill,” Kitty muttered.
“Do you now, Miss Elizabeth?” Miss Bingley studied Elizabeth with cold eyes.
“Do I what?” Elizabeth asked with feigned confusion.
“Walk in any weather and never suffer from doing so.”
“Oh yes. I daresay it’s my hearty countrified constitution. Perhaps if you walked more, you could do so without becoming ill as well, Miss Bingley.”
Another giggle. Elizabeth looked about, certain none of the ladies before her had issued the faint sound.
“Caroline is quite hardy,” Mrs. Hurst said with mild alarm, as if word of frailty might get around if not immediately squashed. “She would be a wonderful walking companion for you at Pemberley, Miss Darcy.”
Miss Darcy nodded, then set to studying her hands, folded in her lap.
“Yes, well, we’ve wonderful weather of late,” Mrs. Bennet said, too loud.
Conversation about the weather waxed on around her but Elizabeth stopped truly attending, looking about the room instead. Finally, she noted a pair of small pink slippers poking out from beneath one of the thick cream curtains. Once she saw them, it didn’t take her long to note a second set, heels this time, the hidden child apparently looking out, rather than facing the room. To her surprise, turning to study the curtains that hedged a second window, she found the crossed knees of britches above a child-sized pair of shoes.
Why, the room was rife with hidden children and one of them, if Elizabeth’s ears didn’t deceive her, sang very softly.
Elizabeth turned back to Mrs. Hurst, Miss Bingley and Miss Darcy, wondering if they knew. At the next lull, she said, “I imagine you’ve received many guests in this room already today?”
That earned her confused looks but Mrs. Hurst politely replied, “We were receiving in the rose parlor but were informed of your impending arrival and deemed a larger room required for your brood.”
Mrs. Bennet bristled. “Brood?”
“Our Bennet Brood?” Elizabeth said with a laugh. “I do believe Mrs. Hurst looks on us as a flock of chicks, Mama.”
More giggles, and louder. Miss Darcy must have heard as well, and Jane, for both looked about with slight frowns. Miss Darcy seemed to catch sight of the pink slipper clad toes. Her gaze narrowed.
“We are not chickens,” Mrs. Bennet said severely.
“No,” Mary agreed. “You would be a hen, Mama.”
“We are fowl of no sort,” Mrs. Bennet cried, swiveling to face her middle child. “Mary, perhaps you should ask our hostesses if there is a pianoforte of which you might avail yourself while the rest of us visit. You’re in dire need of practice.”
Mary looked down, cheeks pinking.
It was on Elizabeth’s lips to suggest that Mrs. Hurst may have in fact meant they were goslings, more in an effort to elicit more giggles than to torment their hostesses or her mother, but Netherfield’s maids selected that moment to arrive with the tea service.
Once the maids deposited their burdens and left, Miss Bingley looked around with a fixed smile. “Tea?”
“I want tea,” a voice whispered. “How long must we hide, Bee?”
“Shh, Fitz,” one of the curtains hissed.
This time, everyone heard and began looking about.
Where she sat on a sofa she shared with Kitty and Lydia, Miss Darcy swiveled to look behind her. “Bee? Laurel? Fitz? Are you hiding in the curtains?”
“It’s Beatrice,” the shushing curtain snapped.
“Oh dear,” Miss Bingley said with a grimace. “Children, come out at once. What are you doing, spying on us?”
A round, petulant face topped with curls and possessed of perhaps ten years poked out from behind the curtain that hung above the forward-facing pink slippers. “We are not spying.”
Miss Darcy shook her head. “It very much seems as if you’re hiding, Bee.”
“It’s Beatrice,” the little girl, apparently named Beatrice, cried as she stepped free of her hiding place. “We were here first. You all came in.”
“We didn’t see you,” Miss Bingley stated and then looked down the length of her nose at them, lips pursed.
“Children, it is very impolite to spy,” Mrs. Hurst added.
“We are not spying.” Beatrice added a stamp of a pink slipper to her assertion.
Another curtain pulled aside to reveal a blond boy perhaps half his sister’s age, presumably the afore shushed Fitz. “We’re playing hide and seek, not spy.”
“Then why are you all hiding here, spying?” Mrs. Bennet demanded, sounding every bit as affronted as Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley.
The girl, Beatrice, tipped her chin up in a withering look that put Miss Bingley’s to shame. “I’m afraid we have not been introduced, Madam.”
Lydia giggled and pressed her hands over her mouth.
“Laurel is meant to be seeking,” the boy, Fitz, said, coming to his feet. “She probably forgot.”
Realizing the faint singing continued, Elizabeth glanced to where the heels of a second set of slippers could be seen below another curtain.
“Laurel,” Beatrice called, then repeated, much louder, “Laurel.”
The singing stopped. An ethereal looking little girl, aged somewhere between her older sister and younger brother, stepped free of one of the curtains. She blinked, looking about at all the faces, the adults all at an angle as they peered over the backs of chairs and sofas. She pushed long, white-blonde and uncurled hair over her shoulder. “Yes?”
“You were meant to find me and Fitz,” Beatrice said with severity.
Laurel looked down. “I was watching the trees.”
Beatrice released an exasperated huff.
“Come be introduced to our guests, the Bennets,” Miss Darcy said. “We met them yesterday at the dance.”
Laurel’s face, more angular and sharper than her siblings, lit with a smile. “Did you dance with Papa? Does he dance well? Did you wear ball gowns? When I am old enough, Papa says I may have a ball gown and attend a dance.”
“If your Papa is Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth danced with him, as did Miss Lucas, Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley,” Jane said, gesturing to Elizabeth.
The three children turned to Jane. Elizabeth watched their features take on the same look of adoration that her older sister inspired in adults.
“Not you?” Laurel asked.
“She danced with Mr. Bingley,” Lydia said. “Twice.” She covered her mouth and giggled again, then leaned to whisper to Kitty.
“Come be introduced, children,” Miss Bingley reiterated with a frown of condemnation for Elizabeth’s youngest two sisters. “Young Fitz, Miss Beatrice, Miss Laurel, these are the Bennets.” Nodding to each of them as she spoke, Miss Bingley continued, “Mrs. Bennet, Miss Jane Bennet, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, Miss Mary Bennet, Miss Kitty Bennet and Miss Lydia Bennet.”
Mr. Darcy’s children came forward as Miss Bingley spoke and when she finished, both girls curtsied with fair precision, Fitz offering a bow.
“Now, children,” Miss Bingley said at the same time as Beatrice asked Jane, “Are you accomplished? You look as though you must be accomplished.”
“Jane is very accomplished,” Mrs. Bennet stated. “She is too pretty to be anything but.”
Beatrice nodded as if that made sense. “Do you speak French and Italian, Miss Bennet?”
Jane shook her head. “I do not.”
“Do you play the pianoforte and sing?”
Another head shake. “Mary plays and Elizabeth sings.”
Mary pursed her lips, likely because she sang as well and felt she did so pleasantly…though she was alone in that feeling.
Beatrice scrunched her features. “In what are you accomplished, then?”
“Jane draws beautifully,” Mrs. Bennet asserted. “And sews and embroiders and is a wonderful hostess. She would be a perfect wife for any gentleman.”
“May we have tea now?” Fitz asked, his gaze locked on the assortment of miniature cakes and pastries on the table before them.
“No,” Miss Bingley said firmly. “What you may do is return to the playroom I allotted to you and the care of the staff I appointed to look after you.”
“Who will hear of this,” Mrs. Hurst added.
“Laurel and Fitz should go,” Beatrice said, standing as tall as her stature permitted. “I am old enough to stay for tea.”
“A fool spurns a parent’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence,” Mary stated, to looks of confusion.
“It’s boring in the playroom,” Fitz said plaintively. “There are no toys.”
Seeing an escape from tea with Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley, Elizabeth said, “What if we went to try out the pianoforte?” She turned to Miss Bingley and asked, though she knew it would annoy, “There is a pianoforte, is there not?”
“Certainly,” Miss Bingley said even more stiffly than Elizabeth had expected.
Miss Darcy popped to her feet. “I can show you where.”
“Will you come with us, Miss Bennet?” Beatrice asked Jane.
“I would be pleased to.”
“You see?” Mrs. Bennet said to the room at large. “Jane is so good with children, and is like to have a great many of them. All strong sons, to be certain.”
Lydia whispered to Kitty again and they both dissolved into giggling.
Before anyone could reorder the matter, Elizabeth ushered her sister, Miss Darcy and the three children out of the drawing room, leaving Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley to have tea with Mrs. Bennet, Mary, Kitty and Lydia. Elizabeth knew escaping was ill-mannered of her, and worried as well what sort of impression her mother and younger three sisters would leave with Mr. Bingley’s sisters, especially without her there to curtail them, but she couldn’t resist seeking her freedom. All in all, the prospect of a pianoforte, Jane, the amiable seeming Miss Darcy and three children seemed far better than tea with Mr. Bingley’s relations, and her own.
“It’s this way,” Miss Darcy said, leading them away from the drawing room, Fitz at her side. “Do either of you play?”
“Elizabeth does,” Jane replied.
Beatrice walked beside Jane, slanting looks up at her.
“In truth, Mary plays far better than I,” Elizabeth admitted from where she and Laurel trailed the others. “She is much more diligent. I do not put in the practice I should.”
“But you sing beautifully,” Jane said, ever the staunch supporter.
Elizabeth, with no use for false modesty, acknowledged that with a nod. “Only due to natural talent, not diligence.”
“Aunt Georgie plays very well,” Laurel said, looking up at Elizabeth as they walked. “I like to sing.”
“Yes. I could hear you.” Elizabeth smiled. “But not well enough to recognize the song.”
“She made it up.” Beatrice’s tone expressed exasperation rather than pride. “Laurel is forever making up silly songs.”
Laurel dropped her face to study the blue runner.
“What were you singing about?” Elizabeth asked.
“It was a song for the trees, because it’s autumn and they’re going to sleep.”
“You were meant to be counting,” Beatrice said with severity.
Not the most supportive of sisters, Elizabeth decided.
“Here we are,” Miss Darcy said brightly and led the way into a large drawing room, a pianoforte off to one side. “I will play and we can all sing.”
Elizabeth smiled. That sounded much more pleasant than tea with Mrs. Hurst, Miss Bingley and her mama, even if she were being ill mannered and would without a doubt endure a reprimand later.
What do you think? How funny it is? I could imagine the three kids at the beginning when they are found behind the curtains with their cute little outfits and their smiles.