I am happy to introduce you to Jayne Bamber and her newest publication Unexpected Friends and Relations. I would like to apologise to Jayne Bamber once more as I did not publish this post on time. Both of us had a hectic month of April and basically, life happened. However, there was an easy solution and here you have a post about a very interesting book.
I have not read many mash-ups with the character of Jane Austen. However, some that I have read are among my favourites, for instance Joana Starnes’ The Subsequent Proposal where Pride and Prejudice joins Persuasion. Therefore, I am convinced that I would love to read this book, the second one of the Friends and Relations series.
Let me introduce you to the author:
Jayne Bamber is a life-long Austen fan, and a total sucker for costume dramas. Jayne read her first Austen variation as a teenager and has spent more than a decade devouring as many of them as she can. This of course has led her to the ultimate conclusion of her addiction, writing one herself.
Jayne’s favorite Austen work is Sense and Sensibility, though Sanditon is a strong second. Despite her love for Pride and Prejudice, Jayne realizes that she is no Lizzy Bennet, and is in fact growing up to be Mrs. Bennet more and more each day.
After years of dating Wickhams, Collinses, and the occasional Tilney-that-got-away, Jayne married her very own Darcy (tinged with just the right amount of Mr. Palmer) and the two live together in Texas with a pair of badly behaved rat terriers, and a desire to expand their menagerie of fur babies.
Here you have the blurb of Unexpected Friends and Relations:
Following their marriage and a cozy Christmas at Pemberley, Elizabeth & Fitzwilliam Darcy return to London with their family. As new dilemmas arise, the story shifts its focus to three of Austen’s beloved secondary characters, one of her less exalted heroines, a familiar villainess, and the fan-favorite original character Lady Rebecca.
Georgiana Darcy continues to suffer the consequences of her folly at Ramsgate, as well as the peril of following some well-intended but ill-advised counsel that jeopardizes her chance at true love.
Caroline Bingley, now unhappily married and desperate to salvage her position in society, takes on the arduous task of reforming her wild and willful young ward, though it’s anybody’s guess which of the two of them is in greater need of transformation.
Lady Rebecca Fitzwilliam travels to Surrey on a mission of mercy, but she and her cousin Emma embroil one another, and many familiar faces in the area, in a web of romantic entanglements from which not everyone will escape unscathed.
Mary Bennet struggles with matters of morality and self-discovery, attempting to find good in the world, as well as her own place in it, but must do so on her own terms, always tip-toeing around the dramas and difficulties of those she loves.
Amidst the complex maneuverings of a diverse and demanding family, an unexpected heiress emerges, and with her rise in station come all the glittering delights of the fashionable world, as well as the challenge of navigating the uncharted territories of high society, extended family, and even her own heart.
After attaining a Happily Ever After, the Darcys retreat into the background as their friends and relations pursue destinies of their own. Equal measures of mishap and miracle result in several alternately paired couples, while some stories are left to be resolved in Book Three, and a wide array of Austen characters will make an appearance in this tale of six unlikely heroines.
Let’s read what Jayne wants us to discover:
Hi! I’d like to introduce my new release, Unexpected Friends & Relations, which is the second of a three-book series in which the characters from all of Jane Austen’s novels live in the same world. Their lives are intertwined through the bonds of family and friendship, and this results in some alternative romantic pairings that did not take place in the originals.
The first volume of the series, Happier in Her Friends Than Relations, is definitely a must-read before embarking on Book Two. Happier focuses primarily on the love story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, with romances for Colonel Fitzwilliam (now a viscount) and a widowed Marianne Brandon, and a shocking secret in the Darcy family.
The story opens with a surprise villain and sets off a chain reaction that ripples across the story, which spans a full year. Elizabeth meets Mr. Bingley in London, where she isn’t the only one having difficulty with a sister, and she meets a couple of new faces – original characters – who change her life.
Darcy has more than one secret when he first meets Elizabeth, adding to challenges to their relationship that are only exacerbated by more than one death of a familiar character. The story takes Elizabeth from London to Kent, to Pemberley and Somserset before she and Darcy reach their HEA.
The second volume of the series, Unexpected Friends & Relationsopens four months after the close of Book 1, and shows our beloved characters in London for Georgiana’s season, which is nearly ruined by whispers of the Darcy secret. Another scandalous secret is uncovered, bringing a new heroine into the midst of the extended Bennet-Darcy-Fitzwilliam clan.
Not all goes according to plan, and the characters break off into groups, with many traveling to Rosings Park in Kent, while others go to Highbury in Surrey and unleash havoc in the life of Emma Woodhouse. While Emma’s world is embroiled in romantic entanglements, the same is happening at Rosings, and the stakes are high for Georgiana, Caroline, Lydia, and many others.
Volume 3 will be released this fall, shifting the action to Sanditon, at the behest of Sidney Parker. More familiar faces from the world of Austen will make an appearance, in the seaside village shrouded in mystery!
I will be doing more blog posts over the next few weeks, sharing details about Unexpected as well as excerpts, and will be drawing winners May 20thfor an e-book giveaway! For more info, follow me on Facebook!
For now, I’d like to leave you with an excerpt revealing one of the family secrets that will play a major role in Unexpected….
On the first of March, Harriet was conveyed to London to meet her parents. The journey from Highbury was a short one, though the two hours felt like an eternity. She was grateful to her friend Miss Woodhouse, who had contrived for Mr. Knightley and Mrs. Weston to accompany her to Town; without their supportive presence, she was sure she would have fallen to pieces with anxiety.
What would her parents be like? Though she had naturally wondered about them many times over the years, when faced now with the prospect of actually meeting them, she began to feel that she had not given it nearly enough thought. Certainly they must be very grand indeed, and she began to fear that they must be so high above her that she would inevitably be found wanting.
Her companions were all patience and benevolence during the drive into Town. “You have nothing to fear,” Mrs. Weston assured her. “I am sure all of your family is very eager to have you amongst them at long last. Though we know none of the particulars as to why they should seek you out now, I am sure it will all be made clear in time. Your mother’s letter said they are a large family, and you shall have brothers and sisters and cousins very near in age to yourself. That shall be a blessing indeed for you!”
“And you have a shared acquaintance with your friend Miss Woodhouse,” Mr. Knightley reminded her. “Lady Rebecca Fitzwilliam is both your cousin as well as Emma’s. Certainly you shall discover some common ground with her. I believe Mr. Darcy’s younger sister is just coming out into society, as well, and I daresay you will find a friend in her.”
“Quite so,” Mrs. Weston agreed. “I daresay you shall find my company quite unnecessary within a few days, once you have settled in. You shall see how they cherish you, and then we shall laugh about all this fuss over nothing.”
Harriet doubted very much that this would be the case, for her apprehension only increased as they arrived at her parents’ stately townhouse in Mayfair.
Mr. Knightley planned on staying near his brother’s house in Brunswick Square, and dropped Harriet and Mrs. Weston at the door of the grandest house Harriet had ever seen. They were greeted by the butler and housekeeper, both called Banks. Mr. Banks saw to their luggage while Mrs. Banks led them up to their guestrooms. Adjoining rooms had been arranged for Harriet and Mrs. Weston, and Mrs. Weston declared it very thoughtful of Harriet’s parents to have taken such a detail into consideration. “I am sure they must have thought of everything you may require for your comfort, Harriet,” she said as they were led upstairs.
“Begging your pardon, ma’am, but her ladyship is most adamant that you shall want for nothing, Miss Sutton,” the housekeeper replied.
Realizing that Miss Sutton was now how she was to be addressed, Harriet nodded and murmured some words of gratitude. Assuring them that their trunks would be brought up directly, the housekeeper took her leave, as Harriet took in her new bedroom in unreserved awe.
It was like living in a palace! She stood in shock for several minutes, soaking in every detail of the very feminine bedchamber that was to be hers. All of this is for me? The room was nearly four times the size of her room at Mrs. Goddard’s, which she had never thought was wanting. This – this was beyond anything. A large canopied bed dominated the center of the room, with elegant linens in shades of pink and ivory – a princess might sleep comfortably there!
There was a very stately vanity table with a large mirror on one side of the room beside a wide window with elegant damask drapes, offering a view of a quaint little garden beneath. On the other side of the room was a gilded wardrobe so capacious that she could not even begin to imagine ever filling it, though she supposed such things must be normal for ladies of her mother’s station. Altogether, the bedchamber looked as if it belonged to someone Harriet was not sure she could ever be.
Mrs. Weston came through the adjoining door a moment later, smiling serenely. “What do you think?”
“It is far too grand,” Harriet breathed. “Oh dear, do you think I shall ever grow accustomed to such finery?”
“I am certain you shall, and sooner than you think. No one ever minds having what is too good for them, though I am of the opinion that there is nothing too good for a sweet girl such as yourself. It is a testament, I think, to how highly your parents must esteem you.”
“Oh my, yes,” Harriet replied. “They must indeed, to go through so much trouble. But what if they think I am a very fine lady, and are disappointed to discover that I am not?”
“Let us have no more of that talk,” Mrs. Weston said. “Your father is brother to Mrs. Goddard, to whom he entrusted your care, and therefore they must have perfectly realistic expectations for you. If they wish to raise your station, you must learn to accept their generosity.”
“I suppose you are right,” Harriet admitted. Still, she was expecting every minute to wake up from nothing more than a very pleasant dream.
A moment later came a knock at the door, and Harriet suddenly tensed up, fearing it would be her parents. It was only another servant, who introduced herself as Sally – she was to be Harriet’s own lady’s maid.
“I’ve come to attend you. Your mother wishes to know if you require some time to freshen up before joining her in the drawing room.” Turning to address Mrs. Weston, she added, “I believe my sister Sarah will be coming to attend you, ma’am.”
“Thank you, Sally,” Mrs. Weston replied, returning to her own room. A footman entered a moment later, bearing the trunk that contained all of Harriet’s worldly possessions. He set it down beside the wardrobe and left her alone with Sally, and Harriet regarded the little trunk fretfully; how small it looked, just as out of place in such a grand house as she herself must be.
What do you think? Harriet’s family is known at last! She is related to Mr. Darcy too! Very very interesting 🙂
Jayne Bamber is giving away an ebook of Unexpected Friends and Relations. To participate click the link below and follow instructions. Good luck!
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.