I am glad to introduce you to a new author in My Vices and Weaknesses: KC Kahler. Although she is not a new author for me, as I have read some years ago, her first modern JAFF novel: Boots and Backpacks. A novel I found very interesting, not only because of the characters but also because of the descriptions and setting.
KC Kahler lives in northeastern Pennsylvania and works in online education, after having dabbled in sandwich making, bug collecting, and web development. She discovered Jane Austen fan fiction in 2008 and soon began dabbling in writing her own.
KC blogs about Austen and other pop culture topics. In 2015 and 2017, her popular Austen + The Onion Headlines meme was featured in The Atlantic, Flavorwire, and AV Club. In 2017, she made the requisite pilgrimage to Jane Austen country, where she took the waters in Bath, walked the lanes of Steventon, didn’t fall off the cobb in Lyme Regis, and stood awestruck in Chawton.
KC’s first novel, Boots & Backpacks, was published in 2014. Her second, A Case of Some Delicacy, released in 2019.
If you are interested in following her, you can find her on so many different media:
What about knowing a bit about this novel? Here you have the blurb, a 150 words blurb that I hope intrigues you.
The heir of Longbourn offers his olive branch earlier…
Rumors of Jane Bennet’s impending betrothal to her cousin Mr. Collins are already spreading at the Meryton Assembly. But Elizabeth vows to prevent her dearest sister’s happiness from being sacrificed in marriage to the ridiculous parson, no matter how much Mrs. Bennet encourages the match.
A secret partnership formed…
After Mr. Darcy overhears an argument between Elizabeth and her father, he offers to help in her quest. She is desperate enough to accept assistance from the man who insulted her. They begin meeting secretly to strategize and, in the process, come to know and understand each other.
Eavesdropping abounds, cricket balls go astray, and romance blooms despite Mrs. Bennet’s poor matchmaking. All the Bennet sisters play roles in the altered events, some in surprising ways. Join the characters you already love on a fun romp in your favorite Hertfordshire neighborhood.
Cricket, that sport that I barely knew anything about until seven years ago. I still do not know much, although I kind of understand the 4s and the 6s but not much. Cricket, that sport that Mr Darcy plays as a pro! but also is played by Elizabeth Bennet, and Mr Bingley, and the Lucases, and Lydia Bennet too. What can a cricket game do to get one of our favourite couples together? It can do a lot of harm, mainly if a ball goes astray!
Let’s start with the idea that “apparently” Mr Darcy abhors any kind of disguise… false! or at least, he should define “disguise” because he is pretty cheeky and a bit naughty in order to help Lizzie to help Jane. Let’s face it: Lizzie is quite oblivious to what she is getting into when she accepts Mr Darcy’s help, she seems a bit naive and he is far too keen to help. She thinks that this will be just something for him to entertain himself as he is not among the ton and the best society.
Things evolve easily, I really like how quick Darcy is and how he “organises” his help. Mr Collins is so obliged to him that he follows almost any advice that Darcy gives him, even if it includes being less time with his dear Cousin Jane.
A few things for you to know: cricket can be dangerous, going upstairs and downstairs with a twisted ankle can be entertaining, having Lydia looking up for a husband may be even beneficial, Anne de Bourgh can be really nice and understanding, Caroline Bingley is, as usual, annoying and Mr Bennet needs a good telling off.
Jealousy is a powerful tool, a very powerful one, it does not matter what way it goes. Misunderstandings are always going to be there for this couple and KC Kahler knows how to write them.
Really nice tour of A Case of Some Delicacy. Visit the other posts to get more opportunities on the giveaway but above all, to get to know much more about the book.
You can win a $50 Amazon gift card from Quills & Quartos Publishing! The contest ends on October 18. To be eligible, just comment on any of the blog tour stops. You need not visit all the stops (one point per stop and comment), however, it does increase your chances of winning by earning more entries.
I am very pleased for hosting Don Jacobson once more, and to reintroduce him to all of you. Don is a great author who has such an amazing mind that I cannot even imagine how all his ideas go around his brain and imagination without spilling out every five seconds. Don is back with his latest book on the The Bennet Wardrobe Series and I cannot be more excited. If you do not know what this series is about, let me try to describe it a bit: characters of our beloved Pride and Prejudice plus great new characters, time-travelling, strong family link, love and love and more love!
Do you understand what I mean? 😉 I am leaving you now with the blurb of The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion:
“My life has been very much like an unfinished painting. The artist comes to the portrait day-after-day to splash daubs of color onto bare canvas, filling in the blanks of my story. Thus grows the likeness, imperfect as it may be, which you see today.” Lydia Fitzwilliam, Countess of Matlock, letter to her sister Elizabeth Bennet Darcy, March 14, 1831.
Does it matter how a man fills out his regimentals? Miss Austen never considered that query. Yet, this question marks the beginning of an education…and the longest life…in the Bennet Wardrobe saga.
Lydia Bennet, Longbourn’s most wayward daughter, embarks on her quest in The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion. This biography reveals how the Wardrobe helps young Mrs. Wickham learn that honor and bravery grow not from the color of the uniform—or the gender of its wearer—but rather from the contents of the heart.
In the process, she realizes that she must be broken and repaired, as if by a kintsugi master potter, to become the most useful player in the Bennet Wardrobe’s great drama.
The Pilgrim explores questions of love, loss, pain, worry, and perseverance. All of these are brought to bear as one of the silliest girls in England grows into the Dowager Countess.
This 151,000-word novel is the seventh, and next-to-last, volume in the Bennet Wardrobe Series. Each book along the way has revealed more about how the mysterious Wardrobe has led Miss Austen’s Bennets to learn that which they need in order to take part in its ultimate mission.
Lydia is pretty changed here, don’t you think? The fault is Don’s!
Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years. His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio. His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards. He has previously published five books, all non-fiction. In 2016, he began publishing The Bennet Wardrobe Series —
Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations. As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing.
He is a member of JASNA. Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authorscollective.
He lives in the Las Vegas, Nevada area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Ms. Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty pound cat, Bear. Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the JAFF world, Don also enjoys cooking; dining out, fine wine and well-aged scotch whiskey.
His other passion is cycling. Most days from April through October will find him “putting in the miles” around the Seattle area (yes there are hills). He has ridden several “centuries” (100 mile days). Don is especially proud that he successfully completed the AIDS Ride—Midwest (500 miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-A-Wish Miracle Ride (300 miles from Traverse City, MI to Brooklyn, MI).
The Darcys and Lydia have repaired to Selkirk to attend the Matlock Harvest Ball some two weeks hence. As the guests arrive, they gather in the Great Parlor. Lydia has entered late, hoping to remain inconspicuous. There is, however, one guest, of great significance, who desires to make her acquaintance.
The Countess took Lydia’s arm and led her toward the gathering at the room’s center, the crowds parting like the sea beneath Moses’ staff. At the end of the void rested a pair of chairs. In one sat Richard’s father, the Earl. In the other, though, reposed a man who, even sans regalia was clearly one of the leading men in the entire realm.
As the two ladies approached, he fixed Lydia with a hard stare and planted his cane vertically between his feet before clasping his hands atop its head to lever himself up to a standing position.
Lady Fitzwilliam at his nod initiated the British tradition, “My Lord, may I present to you Mrs. Lydia Wickham of Longbourn and Pemberley. Mrs. Wickham, may I present to you the Marquess of Anglesey, Lord Henry Paget. You may know of him, by his ancient title, as the Earl of Uxbridge.[i]
“My Lord, Mrs. Wickham is the widow of Captain George Wickham of the 33rd.”
Anglesey nodded, “My condolences on your loss, madam. As the Duke said, Wickham saved us all.”
Lydia felt Richard arrive by her side. His presence comforted her, although she was quite taken with the handsome, if older, aristocrat standing before her.
Then the Master of Uxbridge snapped, genially, but ordered, none-the-less, “I fear that I am still uncomfortable on my feet for too long.
“Matlock, get yourself off. I would speak with Mrs. Wickham, but I need to sit. As yours is the only other seat up for bids, I declare the auction closed! Mrs. Wickham will join me. Only those of us who have marched to the drum need be here right now for a bit of private conversation. General…you may stay.
“The rest of you: begone.
“Maybe Miss Darcy might turn her mind to some lighter Scottish airs.”
Lydia smiled her thanks at the Earl of Matlock who grinned back at her as if he was in possession of some great secret.
The Marquess adjusted his seat, grimacing as he was forced to reach down to slide his right boot into alignment with his missing knee. Four years after that June afternoon and his stump was still bothering him. Lingering pain aside, he was proud of his fully-articulated prosthetic limb. With the knee joint unlocked and pantaloons—the modern styles were much to his taste—draped outside of his boot uppers, he could sit in company without anyone being forced to notice his amputation.
Three pairs of eyes were riveted by his bluff yet comfortable demeanor, awaiting whatever pronouncement he would make.
“You know, Mrs. Wickham,” the great man intoned, “I have made it a study of mine to explore what makes men behave bravely. Those musings also, I am convinced, allow me to comprehend what turns their bowels to water.
“You have offered up an interesting conundrum. You see, men would have it that they are the sole repositories of courage, ignoring, of course, Queens Judith and Boadicea. All too often, these self-same deep thinkers seek to ascribe the success of our greatest monarch, Elizabeth, to Drake or Exeter or Salisbury rather than to her political genius and ability to make the people believe in her cause.
“You, my good woman, have reminded me, no all of us, through your selfless act of saving General Fitzwilliam that resolve is neither defined by the color of the uniform nor whether a uniform is worn at all.
“Brave acts may be committed by the young or the very old. Here you are, a lady of but three-and-twenty, yet you acted without fear.
“You have also shown that one can do one’s duty without reference to the body within which the bravest of hearts resides.
“You have destroyed the myth that only men can commit daring acts and reverse the flow of history.”
By this point, Lydia was blushing fiercely, and she averted her eyes as Paget’s praise flowed deeply around her.
She made to demur, saying, “My Lord, I would wish that you would temper your compliments. They are undeserved by me. I acted without thinking, not heroically, like you who sat in the line of fire [that June] afternoon. I honestly can remember little of what happened on St. Peter’s Field this past August.”
The Marquess stopped her by grasping her right hand.
“Enough of that, Mrs. Wickham.
“I am no hero. Oh, perhaps an argument can be made that I behaved like one because I did not flee the moment the Tyrant’s le brutal fired. But, remember that young Fitzwilliam along with the Duke was equally exposed. Both stayed in their place.
“However, I repeat…I am no hero because I sat on my horse and watched my cavalry troopers get ground up between the lines. That image of all those beautiful men vanishing into the smoke and never returning will haunt me to the end of my life.
“I am no hero. I sat and watched…watched men like your husband…long may his name rest upon the lips of Britons far and wide…put down that French dog once and for all.
“T’was hot work at Hougoumont, madam, and George Wickham did his duty without flinching, knowing that t’was his portion to hold that end of the line.
“Me? At Waterloo, I was unmoving, atop my beast, when the ball took my leg.
“You, in Manchester, showed that you were a queen defending her realm: regnant and glorious, shaped by Lord knows what forces.
“You say you acted without thinking. The greatest of champions act without thinking and, in those unconscious moments, show the depths of their character.
“But, whether reasoned or not, your actions saved my comrade-in-arms, my dearest warrior friend and brother, Richard Fitzwilliam.
“Your modesty does you credit, but do not debase your achievement. Like your sister, Mrs. Benton, you bear scars honorably earned.
“Just as King Harry said before Agincourt…
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day:[ii]
“And you, Mrs. Wickham will quietly bear up under the scrutiny of those who have no idea what it means to feel the ground tremble beneath the hooves of heavy cavalry. Yet, every year on the anniversary of Peterloo, you will nod to Mrs. Benton and then take a moment to reflect on all that you gained, not lost, on that August day in your youth.”
Scanning the chamber, Lord Anglesey pronounced what was the equivalent of a Red Judge’s decision,“I would have it known that I heartily approve of Mrs. Wickham. Her late husband saved the nation. His widow saved one of our greatest paladins.”
The Marquess stood, leaning heavily upon his Malacca cane. After bending to lock his knee, he extended his left hand to Lydia to help her gain her feet gracefully. Paget, still one of the most handsome men in the kingdom, rapped his wooden leg with his stick, the drum-like sound echoing across the parlor.
He continued, “Just as you ignore my leg, I would have you look at the whole woman standing beside me. She should be held up as an example to your daughters…and your sons…for she has shown that the willingness to sacrifice is not limited to one sex.
“Here is a promise made before all of you assembled here.
“Pon my honor, Mrs. Lydia Wickham will be welcome at any Paget home anywhere in the realm. Our bed and board shall be her bed and board. If she were not already honored by His Royal Highness with a widow’s annuity, I would enhance her dowry.
“If Mrs. Wickham so wishes it, and if the Countess of Matlock and Mesdames Bingley and Darcy countenance this next, my wife, the Marchioness, will sponsor her when she makes her curtsey before the Queen.
“In all of this, I will not be gainsaid.
“Oh, and Mrs. Wickham,” at this he speared Fitzwilliam with an icy stare that bespoke of get on with this, man, “our hospitality is not contingent upon the presence of any slow-witted, addlepated man in your party.”
Richard looked astonished at the Marquess’ outspoken declaration.
Lydia blushed again.
[i]Henry William Paget (1768-1854) was Earl of Uxbridge when a bounding French cannon ball struck his right leg near the end of the Battle of Waterloo. He had been in command of Wellington’s cavalry, much as Major General Richard Fitzwilliam was leading the Allies’ massed infantry squares. Uxbridge was elevated to Marquess of Anglesey (1st) upon his survival and served a long career in the Army (ultimately as Field Marshal) and the Government. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Paget,_1st_Marquess_of_Anglesey
I am very intrigued to know much more about this book. Not only what comes next, because we already know what is the next name of Mrs Wickham but also I am very intrigued of her brave character and what she has done. I think Don may have redeemed Lydia of any youth folly she committed.
Blog Tour Schedule
I am closing the tour but do not miss great posts, reviews and much more.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 🙂
Although the tour has just begun, do not miss the premier of the blog tour and check what is coming 🙂
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.
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.
I believe that the title in itself it is very appealing, what do you think? Let’s see it this way: you know it is JAFF, specifically Pride and Prejudice, and then the most interesting man is portrayed. Yes, that man in none other than Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley.
What else do you need to know? Much more, trust me. however, we will start with the blurb of the book.
What has gotten into Fitzwilliam Darcy lately? Charles Bingley, a jolly fellow who relies on his great friend’s impeccable judgment in all things, is determined to find out. What could explain Darcy’s ill humour and distraction? Or his uncharacteristic blunder of speaking Greek to a horse who only understands Latin? Not to mention that shocking book accident! Certainly, it has nothing to do with Elizabeth Bennet, the sister of Bingley’s own angel, Jane. Bingley is certain of it. What was really going on behind the scenes at Netherfield, Pemberley, and Darcy House, and just what did those men talk about over billiards and brandy? In this novella, Bingley sheds a little light on keeping company with the most interesting man in the world, and shares his own musings on puppies, his dreadful sisters, and the search for true love. Prepare to be shocked, delighted, and confused by a Charles Bingley the likes of whom you’ve never met before.
Charles Bingley telling us about his loyal friend, Darcy. Sounds interesting, like the book 😉
Would you like to read a bit more? Let me just introduce you to the two ladies who have written this book and are sharing a great excerpt with us today. Please welcome: Justine Rivard and JL Ashton.
Justine Rivard is a very serious college professor who has no time for frivolity or poppycock of any kind. She strenuously objects to the silliness found in this story and urges you to put the book down at once before it gives you ideas. You are invited instead to join her in the study for a lecture about her extensive collection of whimsical 18th-century animal husbandry manuals.
J.L. Ashton, on the other hand, is a very unserious writer of Jane Austen variations you might have read (A Searing Acquaintance and Mendacity & Mourning) and collector of recipes she will never attempt. She encourages a general lack of decorum and has a great appreciation for cleft chins, vulnerably brooding men, and Instagram accounts featuring animals. Especially cats. Also foxes.
Without further ado, let the authors introduce this great excerpt that they are sharing with us.
Ana, thank you so much for hosting us here at My Vices and Weaknesses, and letting us share an excerpt from our somewhat nonsensical look at the bromance and conversations between Darcy and Bingley. In this excerpt, the two men, one of them considered by the other as The Most Interesting Man in the World, talk about love, food and the elusive Elizabeth Bennet.
Darcy cleared his throat and spoke with what seemed to Bingley to be feigned nonchalance. “Bingley, I hesitate to bring this up for reasons that will become evident, but the most peculiar thing happened this afternoon. I am sure you will never guess who was here when I arrived.” Bingley tried to think of the least likely person Darcy might have encountered upon his arrival at Pemberley. “Napoleon Bonaparte? Beau Brummell? Um…Cicero?” Knowing Darcy, this had to involve Latin and some damn Roman. “Do not be absurd, Bingley. You know very well that Cicero is dead. Still, you truly will never guess, so I shall have to tell you: Miss Elizabeth Bennet and her aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner.” Darcy bit his bottom lip and nodded. “The ones from Cheapside.” Bingley was stunned. How many times since the twenty-sixth of November had he thought of Miss Jane Bennet? At first, he had tried to deny that he ever had any real feelings for her, and he had let his admiration for Darcy and his desire to be more like his friend overrule his own good sense. Not that he really had good sense about anything. He was far more likely to trust the judgment of others than to rely on his own poor powers of discernment. But still, he had been right to listen to Darcy with regard to dear Jane. There was no doubt about it, none at all. Nevertheless, thinking about her always left him feeling full of melancholy and regret—a most unusual and uncomfortable sensation as he was used to happily gliding through life. For the most part, he had been untouched by the dramas, tragedies, and tensions that made up other people’s lives. It made Caroline angry. She always had such purpose in her words and in her stride, yet she had to depend on him—the man of the family—to lead their way in the world. It had hardened her eyes. But why was he thinking about Caroline when Darcy was talking about the Bennets? Here was a chance to hear more about dear Jane from her sister. Suddenly, he was so eager that he could hardly bear it. “Miss Elizabeth Bennet is here?” Oh, it felt so wonderful to say “Bennet” out loud instead of just mouthing the word (with Jane’s name appended to it) in front of the mirror. “Not here. Not here now. She was here earlier, visiting the park.” Oh. Bingley was crestfallen. Here and gone and without her sister. Why had she been here? Had she left word for him, for the dolt who did not understand love or recognise her sister’s worth or grasp how to parry and thrust? Verbally, anyway? “But why here?” Darcy’s face turned a deep crimson. “They were on holiday, um, are on holiday and touring the area. Miss Elizabeth’s aunt is from Lambton. You know, the village just outside Pemberley. They are here for a visit.” Bingley stared at his friend, astonished at the wealth of information he had gleaned. “You spent some time with them?” “No, no, no,” Darcy replied quickly, shaking his head. “Well, yes. Some. Bingley, excuse me. You have come all this way, you are still in your travelling clothes, and I have yet to offer you a drink. Please, sit down.” He gestured to one of the leather wing chairs he favoured. All his homes were littered with them. “May I order you some tea or perhaps some—?” “Brandy. I would like a brandy.” “Brandy?” Darcy enquired, his brow furrowed. “Surely, you must have something to eat first. Would brandy agree with you after that long ride in the hot sun?” Ah, Darcy was worried about his boots or his rugs or his billiard table. Fair enough, though Bingley wished to protest that he had always been able to hold his liquor—unlike some men he could name. Still, he would indeed like some brandy, especially considering how concerned he was that Darcy might at any time ask where Georgiana was. What on earth would he say? He needed a quick excuse! Maybe he could distract his friend by talking about something else. What was it that Darcy had told him? Oh, yes! How could he have forgotten? Miss Elizabeth! “Yes, Darcy, brandy. It has been a long day, and you have a story to tell. I must know everything about Miss Elizabeth’s visit. I should like to have seen her.” Darcy handed his friend a glass of brandy and picked up his cup of tea. “Shall I have some food sent in?” “Oh yes, please. What do you have on hand? Do you suppose the kitchen has a duck pasty or two? Perhaps some sausages or a partridge? Oh, or Cook’s lovely creamed potatoes… And what about some of those delicious sticky buns or her famous berry tarts?” Bingley realised that this might be a bit too much to ask, but he was ravenously hungry. Well acquainted with Bingley’s enormous appetite, Darcy merely nodded and rang for Mrs. Reynolds. “Yes, excellent idea.” “Oh, that reminds me, what is the damage to your billiards table?” Bingley flushed, thinking about the table he had left in ruins earlier in the spring. He cleared his throat. “Well, I know what the damage was. What I mean is: How much do I owe you for its repair?” “Nonsense. You owe me nothing. We had quite a bit to drink that evening, and if you had not done the honours, then Archie or I would have done so sooner or later. Damn soldiers’ drinking games.” Bingley shook his head in disbelief. He could not imagine his talented friend eviscerating a billiards table. Not unintentionally anyway. “No, never. Please let me take care of it, old chap.” “No, no. Truly, never mind. All in a good night’s fun.” That had been an interesting evening, Bingley reflected with some wistfulness. Not that he remembered it too clearly. He recalled something about the colonel…um, Archie flying around on a magic carpet. That could not really have happened, of course. Could it? No, no, that must have been the brandy talking. Something about a hot air balloon as well, and that seemed a bit more likely, although it still seemed improbable that they had actually taken flight in Darcy’s town house. Also something about an ostrich… In any case, the material point was that something had happened after the hot air balloon episode, and that something was the conversation he vaguely remembered overhearing between Darcy and the colonel. Archie. Perhaps he had dreamed it along with the colonel’s magic carpet, but he thought not. It seemed to have been a weighty and important conversation, but Bingley could not quite recall the subject. Something Darcy was not telling him? Something to do with a woman? Darcy had never explained what had happened with his cousin Anne in Kent. And, come to think of it, he had never confirmed that it actually had been Anne at all. Perhaps it was some other lady who had turned Darcy down. Imagine that! If only he could reach through that evening’s brandy-induced haze to retrieve the memory of exactly what the two cousins had been talking about. Bingley’s train of thought was interrupted by Mrs. Reynolds’s entrance into the study. After a proper greeting was exchanged, Bingley enquired about the availability of his dreamed-for meal and was delighted to discover that nearly all of it was already waiting in the kitchen. He was Mrs. R’s favourite bon vivant, and she was well acquainted with his culinary tastes. She clucked and fussed a bit because the berry tarts would not be ready till the next day—when she had expected him to arrive. Bingley suddenly realised that Mrs. R might be curious about Georgiana’s whereabouts, and he was sorely relieved when she bustled out of the room without enquiring after the girl. After her departure, the friends settled into their chairs by the window. Darcy’s knee was bouncing up and down, Bingley noted with surprise. How annoying. No wonder his sisters, his aunts, and Darcy himself constantly chastised Bingley about his own free-spirited limbs. Limbs. He remembered Darcy’s limbs, his legs in particular, stretched high up on the wall that evening, the evening of the billiards contest for the ages. He had looked so relaxed then, even elegant in his drunken melancholy, whilst he was agitated now. Rather as he had been back on that long, cold night in January when they had discussed his verbal parries with Miss Elizabeth. What had that been about, anyway? “Darcy, tell me about Miss Elizabeth’s visit. Did you know she would be at Pemberley? Was it a surprise or a planned rendezvous?” He waggled his eyebrows to emphasise his clever joke. “For God’s sake, Bingley. What do you imply? Miss Elizabeth and I are merely acquaintances in a tenuous sort of manner. She is travelling with her aunt and uncle, they stopped here and walked the gardens, and they encountered me only because I arrived a day earlier than expected. In fact, they believed that none of the family were here.” Darcy glared at Bingley, his face flushed and eyes bright. He clanked his teacup down on the saucer with no little discomposure and poured a bit of brandy into a nearby glass. He eyed it then took a deep swallow. “In what manner did you encounter her? Them?” “Oh. I rode in, felt a bit overheated in the sun, and stopped by the pond. Aeschylus needed a drink.” The Greek steed. That fine piece of horseflesh had a sweet disposition and a white heart-shaped dot on the tip of his nose, and Darcy had named him after a poet instead of something truly memorable such as Avenger, Sport, or Thunder. The man was hopeless. “Did your horse push you into the pond? Is that why you are still a bit damp?” Darcy froze. “Good God, Darcy! Did Miss Elizabeth see you this way, soaked and dishevelled?” “Of course not. I had changed my clothing.” Darcy abruptly stood and walked across the room to an ornate mirror. He grimaced at his reflection and began smoothing back his hair. He straightened his coat and turned around. “In any case, Miss Elizabeth and her family are still in Lambton.” Upon hearing this, Bingley heaved a great sigh of relief and then tried to cover it up by rubbing his stomach in a gesture of exaggerated hunger. He would still have a chance to hear news of Jane! Darcy continued, “I have made arrangements to see them tomorrow morning at the inn where they are staying. After Georgiana arrives, that is. Would you like to join us?” Georgiana? Why did Darcy wish to introduce Georgiana to Miss Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle? She was so shy that it surely would be torture for her. In any case, Bingley did not wish to talk about Georgiana, in particular why and how he had left her at the mercy of his awful sisters. Never mind that. The important question was: Did he want to visit Miss Elizabeth tomorrow? By Jove, yes, he did! “Oh, yes, indeed!” he blurted before continuing on with barely suppressed eagerness. “I mean, that sounds capital. It will be delightful to see her again after all this time. I hope her family is well.” Her family—especially Jane. Oh, it really was tragic that she had never shared his feelings: the warmth and love and admiration. “Yes, she said that they are well,” Darcy replied with a slight smile. “A number of times.” She said who was what? Lost in his daydream about Jane, Bingley could not remember, but he supposed it did not matter over much. “I say, old man, I look forward to observing the two of you spar and joust!” he exclaimed with great jocularity. “You and Miss Elizabeth have a great talent for spirited conversation. Perhaps I can learn from you, and it can help me capture the right lady’s heart.” He still had some doubts about whether that was really what he was looking for in a lady. But he supposed he should jolly Darcy along since it seemed to be what his friend was seeking in a mate. “Honestly, Bingley, you make it sound as though I have some sort of interest in Miss Elizabeth. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am appalled that you would even joke about such a thing.” Oh dear. Perhaps he had gone too far. Darcy had always made it abundantly clear just exactly what he thought of Miss Elizabeth. So what exactly was the man looking for in a lady besides all those things he had listed back in January? Love, connection, sparring, destiny, and so on and so forth, ad nauseam. Oho! At last, he had used a Latin phrase correctly! Or had he? Perhaps this was the one that meant “beware of dog.” Where was that blasted food?
What do you think? It is pretty amusing. Reading Bingley’s thoughts is like his letter in the novel. I think this will be a very enjoyable book to read. Participate below in the giveaway but do not miss the other posts on this blog tour.
Would you like to buy this book? Here you have some sites where you can find it:
Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and dailycommenting 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.
What can be more romantic than Jane Austen? Yes, I know, a lot of different things can be very romantic but let’s be honest: if you love JAFF, Jane Austen is pretty high up on your list of romance, right?
Today I have the pleasure to present a compilation of lovely stories with our favourite characters created by Miss Austen.
A Very Austen Valentine: Book 2 is a compilation of six different stories by six different authors who love writing JAFF and who want to make our lives a bit better with a lot of love in their stories ❤
I was sent different things to share with you but I was told that I could choose the ones I wanted. It has been pretty difficult to choose, so… I am sharing all of them! I am already warning you that this is going to be a very long post but, as you may remember, I use different colours for different parts, so you could read everything or choose what you feel like reading.
First of all, let me introduce you to the authors although some of them are not new to My Vices and Weaknesses, I have the pleasure to introduce new authors.
Robin Helm’s books reflect her love of music, as well as her fascination with the paranormal and science fiction. Previously published works include The Guardian Trilogy: Guardian, SoulFire, and Legacy (a guardian angel protects a supernaturally gifted girl), the Yours by Design series: Accidentally Yours, Sincerely Yours, and Forever Yours (Fitzwilliam Darcy switches places in time with his descendant, Will Darcy), and Understanding Elizabeth (Regency romance).
She contributed to A Very Austen Christmas: Austen Anthologies, Book 1, an anthology featuring like-minded authors, in 2017. A Very Austen Valentine: Austen Anthologies, Book 2was released on December 29, 2018. A Very Austen Romance: Austen Anthologies, Book 3is planned for December 2019.
She lives in sunny South Carolina and adores her one husband, two married daughters, and three grandchildren.
Readers are loving Laura Hile’s joyous Regency novels. Her signature style—with intertwined plots, cliffhangers, laugh-out-loud humor, and romance—keeps them coming back for more.
The comedy Laura comes by as a teacher. There’s never a dull moment with teen students! Laura lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a collection of antique clocks. Her fiction is for everyone, even teens.
Wendi Sotis lives on Long Island, NY, with her husband and triplets. While searching for Pride and Prejudicefrom Darcy’s point of view, she became thoroughly enamored with Jane Austen Fan Fiction or JAFF. In early 2010, she dreamed of an idea for a story and hasn’t stopped writing since: Promises, Dreams and Expectations; All Hallows Eve; The Keys for Love; Safekeeping(with just a dash of Austen); The Gypsy Blessing; Foundation of Love(The Gypsy Blessing 2); and A Lesson Hard Learned.
The Marriage Pact, and some of Wendi’s works-in-progress, have branched away from JAFF to Regency Romance (the Loving an Aldridge Series) and Contemporary Romantic Mysteries (the Implicated series). Wendi will also continue bringing Darcy and Elizabeth together again and again in an unusual manner.
Barbara Cornthwaite lives in the middle of Ireland with her husband and children. She taught college English before “retiring” to do something she loves far more; her days are now filled with homeschooling her six children, trying to keep the house tidy (a losing battle), and trying to stay warm in the damp Irish climate (also a losing battle). She is surrounded by medieval castles, picturesque flocks of sheep, and ancient stone monuments. These things are unappreciated by her children, who are more impressed by traffic jams, skyscrapers, and hot weather.
Susan Kaye discovered Jane Austen and writing at about the same time. She leads a quiet life with her husband and dog, Harley. “I don’t know a lot, but I do know I’ve probably spent more time with Frederick Wentworth and Anne Elliot than just about anybody else.”
Mandy Cook was an RN for over ten years, half of which she served in the Navy, living in far-flung places, enjoying experiencing the world while following her calling. Just before she and her handsome Marine were both deployed to different places, they married. They now have three children, ages four and younger.
She previously published The Gifted, using her nursing experience to lend accuracy to her story about an ER nurse who is handed a gift that changes her life forever. Adversity, and a long history of secrets, constantly battle against her natural instinct for truth and justice, but will the truth be worth the dare?
Hello again! A lot of biography information but, don’t you think it is quite interesting to know a bit about the authors that we read? I did not know that Mandy was a nurse until I got the information, although I new Laura’s signature style. Barbara lives in lovely Ireland and most of them have big families.
I should start giving you some insight on the stories that you can read in this anthology. Please enjoy the blurbs below! There is sooooo much interesting stuff to read and so many characters involved that I do not know how I could have chosen to share one or the other….
I Dream of You by Robin Helm
Newly-married Elizabeth Darcy has a plan: to charm her too-busy husband into desiring her company as much as he did when he was courting her. A series of romantic dreams gives her just the push she needs to put that plan into action.
Sir Walter Takes a Wife by Laura Hile
Faced with a lonely future and finding himself strapped for cash, Persuasion’s Sir Walter Elliot manfully decides to marry again. But his careful plans go sadly awry! A lighthearted Valentine mash-up featuring two of Jane Austen’s worst snobs.
My Forever Valentine by Wendi Sotis
Jane and Charles Bingley have married, even though Miss Elizabeth Bennet remains certain Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy gave his best effort to keep them apart. After Mr. Darcy refused to stand up with Bingley and did not attend the wedding, she despises the gentleman more than ever and finds his company intolerable. How will she endure her visit to Kent if Mr. Darcy turns up everywhere she goes?
Pretence and Prejudice by Barbara Cornthwaite
A chance encounter with a handsome stranger forces Elizabeth to resort to subterfuge in order to discover his true intentions.
My Valentine by Mandy H. Cook
Little Charlotte was always determined and independent, traits which served her well as she battled a serious childhood illness and later as she took on Polite Society. Will those traits now deprive her of true love? Or would her lifelong Valentine win her heart?
The Lovers’ Ruse by Susan Kaye
In this Persuasion alteration, Anne is so altered by Wentworth’s love in the summer of 1806, she refuses to give him up when both her godmother and father try to persuade her. The Lovers’ Ruse follows Frederick and Anne through their whirlwind courtship and their secret engagement. When Wentworth returns for his Annie girl, the cat comes out of the bag.
Anne Elliot rebelling? Elizabeth having to entice Mr Darcy? Charlotte’s true love? OMG! How good this sounds to you?
Let’s welcome Laura Hile and her colleagues. She has some words for us about this lovely anthology.
Love and Friendship for Valentine’s Day
Ah, romantic love! It is what Valentine’s Day is all about. But there is also friendship love. And friendship is the foundation for our A Very Austen anthologies. These books came to be because the authors are friends.
Even though most of us have not met in person—Barbara lives in Ireland!—we are brought together by our love for Jane Austen, the Regency world of her novels, and our shared Christian faith.
What you will find in A Very Austen Valentineare stories with Jane’s characters. I find it remarkable that there is so much diversity. Robin’s is pure romance, as adorable Elizabeth Darcy seeks to recapture her too-busy husband’s interest. Mandy’s is a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, combined with characters from Sense and Sensibility. Wendi and Barbara take our beloved Darcy and Elizabeth through “but-what-if” angst and adventure. Susan turns back the clock for Persuasion’s Anne and Captain Wentworth and gives them another chance. And my novella? I bring two of Jane Austen’s worst snobs together in a comical Valentine mash-up.
I should add that the A Very Austen anthologies can be enjoyed by most readers, from teens to grandmas.
Now then. Just for you, I’ve written an extra scene from Sir Walter Takes a Wife. But wait, there’s more. We have excerpts! One is from Barbara Cornwaithe’s Pretense and Prejudice and another is from Sir Walter Takes a Wife.
Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you enjoy this taste of our Valentine anthology.
Without further ado, let’s read the vignette and excerpts to make you even more interested in A Very Austen Valentine.
Excerpt from Sir Walter Takes a Wife by Laura Hile
As luck would have it—or was it destiny?—the entire company was asked to dinner. “Since the Collinses are to dine with us,” said Lady Catherine, “you might as well come too.”
Not, perhaps, the most elegantly-worded invitation, but Sir Walter was not about to quibble. Dinner at Rosings after only two days! Destiny was certainly efficient.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s dining room was exceedingly handsome, with a small army of servants on hand to attend. At its threshold Sir Walter paused to sigh. Glittering articles of plate, an enormous silver epergne, and candelabrums with crystal prisms graced the table. Magnificent! He was seated to the right of his hostess, an honour that was not lost on him. Mr. Darcy sat to her left.
As the meal progressed, Lady Catherine took admirable care to ensure that her guests were conversing amicably. “What is that you are saying, Fitzwilliam?”
Sir Walter now knew that she meant Darcy, not her military nephew—who was looking very smart in his regimentals.
“What is it you are talking of?” Lady Catherine went on. “What are you telling Miss Bennet? Let me hear what it is.”
“We are speaking of music, madam,” said he.
“Of music! It is, of all subjects, my delight. I must have my share in the conversation, if you are speaking of music.”
She turned to Sir Walter. “There are few people in England, I suppose, who have more true enjoyment of music than myself, or a better natural taste.”
“I know precisely what you mean,” agreed Sir Walter. “Do you know, if I had ever learned to play I should have been a great proficient.”
Lady Catherine opened her eyes at him.
“It has been left to my daughter, Anna, to be the musician. And let me tell you, Lady Catherine, you and I have invested our time in more worthy pursuits. Think of the countless hours spent learning a musical skill—and then practicing to keep it up—when the same enjoyment can be had simply by hiring musicians. They play while we dance.”
“The last time I danced,” said Lady Catherine dryly, “was at Almack’s years ago.”
Sir Walter was impressed. As the daughter of an earl, Lady Catherine certainly had the necessary connections. Here was more proof that she was just the wife for him.
“Almack’s,” she announced, “is bidding to become a den of depravity. You may well stare, Sir Walter, but I am told that members are requesting that the waltz be allowed. The waltz!”
The others at the table fell silent.
“I should certainly hope so,” said Sir Walter promptly. “It will never do to be behind the times.”
“You approve of this indecent display?”
“I beg to differ, dear lady. The waltz, or rather a milder version of it, la sauteuse, is not as scandalous as you suppose. In fact, if you will allow, I will gladly instruct you.”
“You dareto teach methe waltz?”
Sir Walter’s smile remained undimmed. It now occurred to him that the way to deal with a strong woman was to display confidence. “I shall teach you, your daughter, and everyone else,” he said easily. “The alternative, my dear, is to sit against the wall. The waltz is taking the polite world by storm, and there is nothing you or I or anyone else can do about it. Shall we have a little class tomorrow afternoon?”
“Here? In my house?”
“But of course. You cannot tell me that Rosings does not possess an elegant ballroom.”
“It does, but—”
Sir Walter looked down the table. “And I am sure that the excellentMrs. Jenkinson knows some waltzes and will be delighted to play for us.”
“But—” stammered Lady Catherine. “But—” She looked at the others seated around her at the table. “Well?” she demanded. “Haven’t you anything to say?”
Apparently no one did.
Sir Walter hid a smile, for Mr. Darcy had been gazing at Miss Bennet. He raised his eyes to meet his aunt’s. “As it is only a versionof the waltz, ma’am,” he said slowly, “and as this is not a publicassembly, I can see little harm in—”
“Bah!” cried Lady Catherine. She rounded on Colonel Fitzwilliam, who was grinning. “I know better than to ask for your opinion,” she said wrathfully.
He spread his hands. “We’ve been dancing the waltz at our embassies for several years, ma’am. It’s rather fun.”
“No thanks to the wretched Viennese!” she cried. “Well, Mr. Collins? Have you anything to say? What is your opinion?”
If ever there were a rabbit clothed in human skin, it was Hunsford’s rector. Sir Walter felt rather sorry for him. Mr. Collins’s eyes bulged in fear and he wrinkled up his nose, exposing rabbit-like teeth.
“I—I,” he squeaked, looking from Lady Catherine to Darcy to the grinning Colonel Fitzwilliam. “If it is danced at our embassies…”
“Oh!” cried Lady Catherine. “You are no help at all.”
“Come, dear lady,” said Sir Walter, more gently. “Tomorrow I shall give a demonstration, and you may decide for yourself whether or not you wish to learn.” He lowered his voice. “Wear the rose gown, my dear, and dance…”
Her silence told Sir Walter everything he needed to know.
What do you think? I could not leave this excerpt out, right? The dignified Lady Catherine de Bourgh! I hope you enjoy the following scene, written by Laura just for you. It is quite diverting 😉
A Trifle Disguised, He Said A bonus scene from Sir Walter Takes a Wife by Laura Hile.
In which Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Collins are delighted to participate, as they are not point-of-view characters in the novella and would like to have their say
Elizabeth Bennet set her teacup aside. “A trifle what?” she said, smiling.
Charlotte Collins gave her a look. “Disguised. That is how Mr. Collins phrased it, when I asked about last night. He said he was a trifle disguised.”
“Meaning that he was drunk.”
There was a small silence.
“My husband is many things, Eliza,” said Charlotte tartly. “But a drunkard he is not! I blame that Sir Walter Elliot. Did you notice? All through dinner he scarcely touched his wine. I think he saved it and, once we ladies went out, he forced Mr. Collins to drink it.”
“If so, it was deftly done,” observed Elizabeth. What else could she say?
“Oh, he is a sly one! I saw at once what Sir Walter was after; who could miss it? He wanted information about the estate.”
“I wonder why,” said Elizabeth.
“For nefarious reasons of his own, no doubt. If he is a baronet, which I daresay is a lie.”
Elizabeth had never known Charlotte to be so crabby. She decided to change the subject. “I did not realize that my cousin was so observant. Mr. Collins described each of the rooms in great detail. It was impressive.”
Charlotte sighed again. “Many of those descriptions,” she said, “are cribbed from her ladyship.”
“Cribbed,” repeated Elizabeth.
Charlotte smiled slightly. “It’s a schoolboy’s term; my brother John uses it. I fancy it means copied. Our, er, benefactress is quite particular about the beauties of the mansion. She likes them to be described just so. In fact—”
The dining room door banged open, and Mr. Collins stumbled in. “Oh!” he cried, bringing a hand to cover his eyes. “The light! Draw the draperies! At once, I beg you.”
Elizabeth hurried to comply, while her friend helped Mr. Collins take his seat at the table. “You will be better directly,” said Charlotte kindly.
“You needn’t shout! My head! Oh, there is nothing like it! The room is spinning round and round!”
“A nice breakfast will soon set you to rights. We have both bacon and sausage this morning, with some lovely fried bread and kidneys.”
Mr. Collins gave a perfectly genuine shudder. “Do not speak to me of food, Mrs. Collins,” he said loathingly.
Charlotte resumed her seat and poured out a cup of tea for her husband. “If you are ill, perhaps I ought to send for the apothecary.”
“That will not be necessary,” he snapped. “It was the wine; that is all. A little too much wine.”
Elizabeth spoke up. “But if you are ill, Mr. Collins…”
He opened a baleful eye. “And set my parishioners to talking? A fine thing!”
“You should have thought about thatlast night,” said his dutiful wife. “As it is, you had better chew on willow bark, or swallow raw eggs, or whatever it is gentlemen do when they ingest ‘a little too much wine.’ Because—”
Mr. Collins interrupted. “Have you no pity?” he wailed. “And how do you know about raw eggs? You have never been to university.”
Charlotte shared a look with Elizabeth. Then she glanced at the clock. “You have three hours to pull yourself together, Mr. Collins. At one o’clock, Sir Walter Elliot expects you to conduct a tour of the ornamental gardens.”
“A tour? Me?”
“Yes, a walking tour of the estate. By your express invitation.”
“But—there is nothing to see in the gardens now!” he protested. “The roses are barely in leaf.”
“And it is raining,” supplied Elizabeth.
Mr. Collins could only wail.
“Rain,” said Charlotte, “is what umbrellas are for. You and Sir Walter shall have a lovely walk together in the fresh air—so healthful! And I shall take a nap. I scarcely slept a wink all night.”
“You and me both,” grumbled Mr. Collins.
Charlotte pushed back her chair. “Nonsense. You were snoring loud enough to wake the dead. I’ll just see about your breakfast.”
She went out. “And I thought a wife would be a blessing,” muttered Mr. Collins.
“Oh, but she is,” said Elizabeth cheerfully. “And very much so. As long as one does not become—a trifle disguised.”
Could you have imagined Mr Collins in this state? I am not sure about Sir Elliot, not very nice so far.
Excerpt from Pretence and Prejudice by Barbara Cornthwaite
“Come in,” said Elizabeth, opening the door wider for him to enter. Darcy’s lantern made a cheerful glow in the large, gloomy space.
“Where is Peter?”
Elizabeth pointed to him, curled up on the sacking. Elizabeth’s shawl and coat were covering him, and Darcy could see her shivering.
“Here,” said Darcy, taking off his overcoat and putting it around her shoulders. “I’ve been walking and am quite warm.”
“Thank you,” she said gratefully.
“How long have you been here?”
“I don’t know, but I think it must be about an hour. The fog came up while we were petting the donkeys, and we walked for what seemed like miles trying to get home. I found myself back here at the mill, so I must have got turned around in my journey. I was too tired to keep going, and thought I would rest here for a while and see if the fog would lift.”
“That was wise.”
“I have been afraid the ladies might try to search for us themselves.”
“I think they were contemplating doing so when I came in. I offered to search for you, saying that I was afraid you would be very uncomfortable, and wish to get home.”
“That was very sensible of you, to allay their fears by referring to my comfort rather than my safety. At least you were not panicking as you were searching.”
“You know nothing about it, Miss Bennet. I cannot remember the last time I was so frightened.”
Elizabeth looked at him in surprise, a question in her eyes.
“I was terrified that something had happened to you. Both,” he added belatedly.
Elizabeth heard the ring of truth in his voice and saw the look in his eyes, and her heart began to thump.
Ooh! Mr Darcy was so worried! However, who is Peter? A cousin? A stable boy?
Excerpt from I Dream of You by Robin Helm
Her eyes filled with tears. “Fitzwilliam, you must stop fussing over me. Please, allow me to enjoy our time together. I have finished my meal, and I promise to eat heartily at midday and dinner. You have no idea how much I have anticipated spending a wonderful day with you. Will you not relent? The smell of the bacon puts me off.”
“I am sorry to make you unhappy. You must know I am complaining because I love you.” He took her hand in his. “I shall try to be more pleasant, or you may regret agreeing to be with me all day.”
“I know you love me, and that is the reason you pay such attention to whatever I do. I have heard other wives complain that their husbands ignore them, and I am very pleased to have married such an attentive man.” She squeezed his hand.
“As you are dressed in your habit, I assume you have plans to ride. May I come with you?”
His teasing tone fully restored her good humour.
“Of course,” she answered. “How can you teach me the finer points of horsemanship if we do not ride together? I have waited a month for this lesson with you, as Mr. Anderson assures me daily that I have much to learn, and you are the best one to teach me.”
“I may have to raise the man’s pay,” Darcy murmured, standing to hold his hand out to her.
Sims and Jenny awaited them at the front door, coats and hats at the ready. Once they were warmly dressed, he held the door for her, then escorted her to the stables. Mr. Anderson stood at the gate of the horse barn, holding Patience’s reins. Her saddle was slung over the adjoining fence.
Darcy looked at his stablemaster and raised a questioning brow.
“The mistress said you’d teach her to saddle the beast,” said the stablemaster, laughing under his breath. “I tried to tell ‘er ’twas too heavy. Wasted my breath, I did.”
The gentleman rolled his eyes a bit. “And now I shall waste mine.”
Elizabeth cleared her throat, placing her hands on her hips. “I can hear both of you, you know. Are you men saying I am stubborn?”
“Neither of us said that, my love. I think you are rather – ambitious,” he replied with a strained smile. “The saddle is heavy, and you are small. How shall you lift it so high? Also, the mare is too tall for you to throw it over her back. You barely reach my shoulder. You must have noticed that my chin rests easily atop your lovely head.”
“I am aware that it will difficult, husband, but I wish for us to find a way for me to do it. What if I need to saddle Patience, but all you men are busy? What if I am alone? You could be hurt, and I might have to ride to get help for you.”
He gently cupped her face with his hands. “So, you worry for me, too?”
“Of course, I do,” she answered, dropping her hands to her sides. “Especially when you are gone all day. I imagine all sorts of terrible things, for accidents happen quite often on farms. I saw far too much tragedy growing up at Longbourn.”
“Is that why you learned to ride?”
She nodded. “One of the reasons. I also wanted to be able to ride with you, to join you in something you enjoy doing.”
“May I make a suggestion?” he asked softly. “I know this morning is your time, and I agreed to do what you want. If you wish to spend the entire time learning to saddle Patience, we will do so; however, I fear you may be too tired at the end of the exercise to do anything else.”
Elizabeth lifted her eyes up to his. “You know more about this than I do. What do you suggest?”
“It cannot be done this morning, so you must be patient. As soon as is possible, I shall have some steps made for you, tall enough that you can saddle Patience and mount her without assistance. Do you agree?”
She thought for a moment. “I think your plan is a good one. Will you agree to teach me?”
He kissed her forehead, then lowered his hands. “Of course. Even though ’tis my intention that you never be alone with assistance unavailable, I do recognize that sometimes things happen which are out of my control.”
She turned her head to Mr. Anderson, giving him a sweet smile. “Please, saddle Patience. My husband and I are going riding.”
Stubborn and impatient Elizabeth, it is nice and entertaining, at least for me!
How much have you enjoyed all these presents from the authors of A Very Austen Valentine? I hope you are liking it. If you feel like buying the book, here you have some ways of doing it.