Welcome! It’s nice to be back at Every Savage Can Dance after a winter hiatus!
I do occasional beta-reading for one of my Facebook acquaintances, and amongst my favourite reads was this delightful book by new JAFF/Regency author Lela Bay. It actually comprises two stories in one. You may have noticed that I often crab about how disappointed I am when authors publish short stories as stand-alones, and how I wish they’d put two or more together when they publish them. (When you encounter a single engaging short story it’s kinda like you’re just starting a yummy meal only to see it yanked off the table before you’ve finished enjoying it.) So I was most gratified by Ruined Reputations, which comprises two delightfully engaging short romances. Enough to keep you occupied and happy through one cup of tea or a potful!
Blurbing the book
–The Unusual Manners of Mr. Aarons–
Rumors of Mr. Aarons’ unconventional ways are confirmed when he nearly yanks the bonnet off Emmaline’s cousin’s head. Drawn by his charm and good looks, Emmaline finds herself assisting him in his mysterious mission.
His obscure search appears to lead to her cousin, beautiful Catherine Connersfield. Catherine is the more sensible choice, but will she have him? More to the point, will Emmaline let her?
Experience has taught Eleanor it’s better to be practical than passionate.
When she discovers Bitsy eloping with her French tutor, scandal threatens to ruin the girl.
To keep her reputation intact, Eleanor reluctantly chaperones the rebellious heiress.
Eleanor’s spotless character protects Bitsy, but behaving respectably proves difficult when Eleanor is tempted by the dangerously attractive Mr. Stinson.
If she fails it will end with … Ruined Reputations.
About the author
Lela lives in a modest house with her husband, children, and pets. Despite living in the far north, she requires a certain amount of sunshine each day or she gets grumpy. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys strolling, gardening, reading, and tea time with friends.
She enjoys stories with intimacy and humor.
Follow Lela on twitter @bay_lela.
Guest Post by Lela Bay
When a young, impressionable girl is led astray in a period drama, don’t you wish someone with sense would see it happening and step in? Where are all the disapproving matrons who should be fretting and tutting?
Examples of young misses led astray abound in literature. In Pride & Prejudice alone, Georgiana, Mr. Darcy’s younger sister, was barely rescued after meeting secretly with George Wickham and planning to elope. Similarly, just think what trouble it would have saved Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet if careless Lydia had been hauled home to pout instead of succeeding in escaping her chaperones in Brighton for Wickham.
As Elizabeth tells Mr. Darcy, “I have just had a letter from Jane, with such dreadful news. It cannot be concealed from any one. My youngest sister has left all her friends—has eloped;—has thrown herself into the power of—of Mr. Wickham. They are gone off together from Brighton. You know him too well to doubt the rest. She has no money, no connections, nothing that can tempt him to—she is lost for ever.”
In Ruined Reputations, the heroine of Virtue’s Temptation, Eleanor, discovers impetuous Bitsy running off with someone unsuitable. Rather than allow the girl to destroy her future, proper Eleanor takes responsibility for her.
Of course, saving someone from their own bad behavior is more demanding—and entertaining—than anyone with good sense could expect. Bitsy resists Eleanor’s help, and Eleanor is relieved when Mr. Stinson appears in pursuit. Eleanor and Mr. Stinson join forces to get Bitsy home before her reputation is irreparably ruined.
Eleanor must behave with propriety, since Bitsy’s reputation rests on hers as chaperone, but traveling with Mr. Stinson makes that more and more difficult. He came chasing after Bitsy, but is he noble hero or thwarted suitor? And what if it is Eleanor who wishes to be pursued?
I love the tension in Regency romances between propriety and longing. Eleanor is proper but in many ways envies Bitsy’s impetuous youth.
Virtue’s Temptation and The Unusual Manners of Mr. Aarons form my first romance novella Ruined Reputations.
And now for my review
Two romantic Regency-era stories in one volume? Yes, I like it very well.
To start, I liked wondering if Mr. Aarons was a gentleman or if he was a rogue or a rake. And I liked rooting for “the underdog” to capture his heart (altho’ it took a bit to discover whether or not he in fact had a heart!). Then I liked wondering what dangers a woman traveling alone and sticking her nose into somebody else’s business might encounter, particularly given that these stories are set during the English Regency era, when women did not have quite so much latitude in society as we do nowadays.
The scenes and characters played out believably in both stories, with good attention to period detail as well as to human (and canine) nature. Both stories moved along at a good pace, engaging the reader fully. When I get to the end of a story and think “I wish I knew what happened next” — as I did twice with this book — the author has made a definite connection.
Please note that while there are several steamy encounters between some of the characters, this is a clean read. But the mind can wander, can’t it? 😉
What I liked most
Well, aside from the “two-fer” aspect of the book that I appreciate, I liked how well the characters were drawn. If I ever encounter any of them I’ll know them in a moment!
What I liked least
I would have liked a rather more definite conclusion regarding Eleanor and Mr. Stinson. Given that life doesn’t always work that way, however, I’m willing to wait and see if the characters compel Lela to bring them back for an encore.
A fun read (times two) and a well-done book. Nicely written and tightly edited, which is the way I like my books. Oh, and the cover is beautiful too. I give Ruined Reputations a well-deserved five Darcys.
I look forward to more good things from this author. Thank you for visiting me today, Lela!
Lela is offering an ebook copy of Ruined Reputations to two (2) lucky winners. To enter the Giveaway, please leave a comment on this review post. (You can also comment even if you don’t want to enter the Giveaway; your comments are always welcome.)
And … if you haven’t already got your copy of Desperate Hearts, you can order a kindle copy here. Also available on kindleUnlimited.
It’s always a delight to “meet” a new-to-me JAFF author. Recently I met April Floyd, who was kind enough to send me a copy of her new book Clever Compromises. Without any further ado, let’s get started!
Blurbing the book
Elizabeth Bennet is pleased her dearest sister Jane will marry Mr. Bingley after a whirlwind courtship which began the night of the Meryton Assembly. But when her cousin Mr. Collins arrives from Kent, he informs the Bennet family that he seeks a wife from amongst the Bennet sisters to soften the existence of an entail that hangs over Longbourn. Knowing her family has no need of such an alliance with Jane’s future secure, Elizabeth is surprised when Mr. Bennet approves of the parson’s plan. Surely her father will not allow the man to ask for her hand? When Mr. Collins sees that Mr. Darcy, the nephew of his distinguished patroness Lady Catherine de Bourgh, has designs on his cousin he knows he must propose to Elizabeth though his heart has been won by her sister Mary. To allow Mr. Darcy to propose to Elizabeth would bring down the wrath of Lady Catherine de Bourgh and destroy his living at Hunsford.
This is a sweet, angst-free read!
About the author
April Floyd lives in Alaska with her husband and youngest son. She loves happy endings, nice people, and reading great stories. Once upon a time, she was an Army wife and a phlebotomist and recently ran a successful ebook deals site for four years. Historical fiction, Jane Austen, and fantasy/dystopia are her favorite genres.
This is my favourite part of any review I post — I love to ask authors what compelled them to write a book that I very much enjoyed. So I will turn you over now to April:
I would like to thank Janis for having me on her lovely blog today so that I might give insight into the inspiration behind Clever Compromises and also give everyone the opportunity to enter to win e-book and print copies of the book!
Jane Austen’s characters are unsurpassed in literature, in my humble opinion, and lend themselves well to interpretation by the various and talented JAFF authors we all adore. We see Darcy and Elizabeth’s influence in romance titles today and across the decades since Jane wrote them in what was initially titled First Impressions. It is a delight to find bits of them in other books, their mark as true and pure as ever.
As a writer of JAFF and lover of Pride and Prejudice, inspiration can come from the simplest plot bunny to the most outlandish tales I’ve read that inspire me to think What If Darcy and Elizabeth were cast into such a situation?
For Clever Compromises, it was the idea of the compromise and how it could be quite comical with the right treatment. I wanted the idea of Jane and Bingley promised to one another to be clearly established so that Elizabeth would not be bound to consider Mr. Collins.
Mr. Collins spoke to me of more than his normal self. His foolishness and obedience/allegiance to Lady Catherine, his penchant for being a bit more impressed with himself than he ought, all the attributes that make us know he and Elizabeth are most certainly NOT a match made in heaven were all present without fail. But somewhere in the outlining process, and in talks with my dear author friend Beverly Farr who writes as Jane/Cass Grix, his character whispered of confusion, and the heart of a man in need of romantic love beating in his too-proud breast emerged before I could say no to him.
And so the story grew from the idea of a compromise that sprung into his head upon seeing the connection between Darcy and Elizabeth to another compromise that would give him a chance at felicity in marriage just when he’d completely ruined his own chances at future happiness.
But the story doesn’t leave out Elizabeth and Darcy. Their romance plays out sweetly and without the angst we see in Pride and Prejudice. That’s a bit of a departure for my readers who know how I love drama and my penchant to go in a soap opera-ish direction or deliver the Perils of Pauline via Elizabeth’s struggles.
On that note, I am currently working on a Beauty and the Beast inspired variation for Elizabeth and Darcy. To reign in my flair for the dramatic, it will not be paranormal nor strictly following the Beauty and the Beast story line. The characters are there from B&B but in a different manner and there will be nods to the beloved fairy tale since it is an all-time favorite for yours truly. And in 2018, I have a lovely Perils of Pauline type of series for Elizabeth and Darcy that will occur after they are wed. I’m not sure whether it will be a series of novellas or novels, we’ll see as the story unwinds, but it is time for me to do a series for ODC. (Hear hear! – J)
Getting back to Clever Compromises, as I said it is a bit different for me to write a completely silly, happy, angst-free Pride and Prejudice variation. But this summer was chock-full of difficult situations involving everything from an elderly family member declining with dementia to family caught up in Harvey’s wrath and friends caught up in the other hurricanes that ripped through so many communities. My youngest child has had many challenges as well and as a super-involved mother hen, my heart has been cracked a little while trying to do the best thing for him. So as you might imagine, I was in need of some seriously light-hearted fun in my writing life and the story line of Clever Compromises provided that escape.
It is my sincere hope that if you choose to read it, you find a similar escape. Again, I am so grateful to Janis, and all of you who take a moment in your day to read about my inspiration, for without you the stories would not be nearly half as fun to write!
Yes, it has been a difficult year for so many people, and diversions like this are so welcome.
And now for my review
The semi-comical and insipid Mr Collins takes centre stage in this amusing story. With no reason to connect themselves to the man who will inherit Longbourn, the Bennet family should be free of his importuning, much less his presence. But it is not so. One Bennet sister, however — one who seems to be getting more and more attention in the JAFF world — would be very happy to be his wife. Unfortunately, this is not Mr Collins’ intention.
Instead, he seems intent on stirring up trouble in his unending quest to toady to Lady Catherine. The story should perhaps have been titled Clever and not-so-clever compromises, as poor Mr Collins trundles along in his unsuccessful efforts to separate Lady Catherine’s troublesome nephew from Elizabeth Bennet while denying his own heart. Eventually Darcy wins his sweet Elizabeth of course, but not for Mr Collins’ lack of trying to keep them apart. Even Anne de Bourgh gets into the spirit of employing compromises to get her way. The story ends with a pair of very endearing compromises, so that more than one sister has her happily ever after.
What I liked most
Jane’s original depiction of Anne de Bourgh was as almost a non-entity. Much of JAFF pushes her in the opposite direction from her mother. Here, however, Anne de Bourgh shows her true colours as the heir to her mother’s malicious ways. I confess that I rather liked it – it makes for a most entertaining story!
What I liked least
A bit of a quibble with the author’s use of home and house almost interchangeably. These two words are not necessarily synonyms, altho’ many authors and writers use them as if they were, and I confess that it tends to annoy me a bit. Definitely not enough, tho’, to give up on the story.
Clever Compromises falls into my category of Fun Reads: enjoyable, amusing stories that make you smile, or maybe laugh, as you close your book or e-reader.
I am happy to give Clever Compromises a warm 4-3/4 Darcy rating! (With apologies to Sir Laurence.)
April has generously offered FOUR copies of her book: two e-book copies (available worldwide) and two print copies (available in USA only). Enter by commenting on this blog post; please include your location in your comment. Good luck!!
And, as promised: a Freebie!
April’s recently-published Mr Darcy’s Debt is now free for e-readers. But hurry and claim your copy – this offer is available for the next few days only!
Sometime last year when I was seriously getting into published JAFF (as opposed to fan fiction sites) I won a contest and received paperback copies of the first FOUR of Brenda Webb’s books. I was hooked! They were unlike most of the other JAFF I had been reading: Aside from being much lengthier and better-constructed than many JAFFs, they were non-canon and took our dear characters into exciting and formerly uncharted directions. They all share certain characteristics: Darcy is invariably portrayed as even more honourable, protective, and courageous when it comes to his loved ones, especially Elizabeth, so the reader ends up falling in love with him all over again. Brenda’s villains – including Wickham – are not just bad news but nefariously and fiendishly evil. I don’t know how she keeps coming up with these scenarios, but I certainly hope she continues to do so. Her stories are also appealing in that they allot plenty of face time to my favourite secondary JA character, the redoubtable Colonel Fitzwilliam, who I also end up loving even more by each book’s end.
Not to mention that there is always a happy ending for Darcy and Elizabeth, whilst the other characters get their happy endings or just deserts as they are merited.
Passages does not fail on any of these counts, and I’m delighted that Brenda was kind enough to provide an intriguing excerpt, and is also offering two (2) e-book copies to two lucky Every Savage Can Dance readers!
Blurbing the book:
Passages – A Pemberley Tale is a Pride and Prejudice variation. Not a simple retelling, it is an intriguing new story that does not follow canon.
Years after her ruin at the hands of George Wickham, Georgiana Darcy is a virtual prisoner at Pemberley as a result of her brother’s good intentions. Drastic changes have taken their toll, leaving brother and sister adrift from polite society.
Faithful to his vow to prevent further harm to his sister, Fitzwilliam Darcy has retreated from the few friends and acquaintances who still acknowledge him. Lonelier than ever, Darcy’s life is swallowed up by darkness until the day a young woman is discovered close to death on the estate grounds.
Unaware of her identity, Elizabeth Bennet finds herself the recipient of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s benevolence whilst she recovers from her own encounter with Wickham. Elizabeth’s presence breathes life back into Pemberley and its occupants, until Wickham returns with a nefarious plan to regain control of both Elizabeth and Georgiana.
Will Elizabeth fulfil her destiny and rescue Darcy from a desolate life or will the mystery of her parentage take her in another direction, leaving him alone once more?
After the last of the guests had departed, Richard walked his stoic cousin to the portico to await his carriage. Knowing her brother was leaving for Pemberley the next day, Georgiana had already said her goodbyes and returned to her bedroom, allowing Richard and William some privacy. All too soon, the carriage pulled to a stop at the bottom of the steps, and they walked towards the pavement.
“I apologise for leaving you with the vultures circling. Mother and Georgiana insisted I meet Mrs. Forrester’s son, who recently enlisted in the army. I would never have left you, however, had you not been surrounded by your university cronies.”
“I have to admit it was good to see Sanderson, Goddard and Marshall once more. Marshall and I were never close friends, but he wanted me to know he supported me, which was extremely kind.”
“So you had a pleasant evening, in spite of the . . . how shall I put it . . . the adoration of the ladies?”
The corners of William’s mouth lifted. “With your help, most of the evening was tolerable.”
Recalling of the number of ladies introduced to Darcy after he returned to the ball, Richard’s thoughts flew to his mother. She had tried; he would give her that. Single-handedly, she had introduced Darcy to a dozen women, some quite lovely, though none had succeeded in getting more than a few words from him.
“Please stay in Town a while longer,” he said at last.
“I . . . I cannot. Pemberley calls.”
“I do not think it a good idea for you to go there now. With Georgiana and Belle here, you are sure to be even lonelier than before.”
William stopped staring into the night sky and turned to grasp his cousin’s shoulder. “I appreciate your concern, Richard. You are a true friend and brother, but I have matters to attend at home. All will be well, and I will write often. If you are in the area, you can always stop in to cheer me.”
Richard locked eyes with William. “You cannot fool me, Cousin. You miss her terribly.”
Gazing into the distance as if seeing his future, William replied, “I cannot lay it down, Richard. No matter where I am, she is with me. Still, I have no alternative. I cannot sit around wishing for things to change, and I am no longer certain that Elizabeth will return.”
A heavy sigh brought Richard’s arm around his shoulder. “She will come back to you, Darcy; of that I am certain. Wait for her here.”
“I cannot,” William said softly. Climbing into his carriage, he closed the door and leaned out the open window. “I will be well. Please try not to worry.”
Unable to shake the feeling of helplessness that engulfed him, Richard watched until the carriage disappeared into the darkness.
But I shall always worry about you, Darcy.
And now for my review:
In order to protect his sister, and himself, from further harm at the hands of “society,” Mr Darcy and his sister live a half-life hidden away at Pemberley. Then one rainy night, Darcy is out riding on his estate and comes across a severely injured young woman. As she is unable to remember who she is or why she is at Pemberley much less in such a state, Darcy does not expect her to completely change his life and Georgiana’s. Yet little by little she does just that, as well as changing the direction of her own future.
Elizabeth Bennet has been living a miserable life of her own at the hands of her mother, who is not merely ridiculous but a hateful harridan who has been taking out all of her frustrations and resentments on Elizabeth since she was a child … resentments related to the question of who is Elizabeth’s real father.
As Darcy and Elizabeth slowly fall in love with each other, each must overcome their own issues, shed their previous misery, and accept that they are worthy of love and happiness, in order to freely give and accept that love … and to build a future together. In doing so, they also lead family members to find and accept their own happy futures.
The path to happily ever after is not easy, and is beset with villainy of the most horrendous kind. And a good helping of admirable characters. This book, like Brenda’s other stories, is a gripping and magnificent ride that takes the reader from the depths of appalling criminality to the uncertainty of hope to the joys of true and tender love.
Be advised that there are some scenes of marital intimacy altho’ nothing explicit or pornographic.
What I liked most:
Darcy’s tenderness towards the unknown young woman he rescues.
Elizabeth’s courage rising as she faces a pair of fiends to learn the truth of her parentage.
Darcy’s skill at the pianoforte. Who knew?
How frighteningly well the villains are drawn.
How delightfully Georgiana, and the Colonel, eventually find their own paths to joy.
Darcy and Elizabeth’s wedding. Unique in JAFF as far as I know!
What I liked least:
I’ve known this point in the review was coming up and I’ve been racking my brain to find something I didn’t care for, but all I could come up with is: The book ended. I could have read on for another couple hundred pages!
Unless you’re a canon purist, you’ll love this book. If you enjoy a well-written, well-edited and exciting story featuring characters we all know and love, you’ll love this book.
I give it
Comment on this blog post by clicking Comments above. Two winners will be chosen at random this Friday, May 19th at 12noon. Giveaway is open internationally. Good luck!
Your comments, as always, are most welcome. (Even if you don’t want to enter the giveaway.)
And … if you haven’t already got your copy of Desperate Hearts, you can order a kindle copy here.
I’m so pleased to be reviewing Regina’s latest book, and am also delighted that she is offering readers of ESCD not only an excerpt but also a very generous giveaway!
Blurbing the book:
The reason fairy tales end with a wedding is no one wishes to view what happens next.
Five years earlier, Darcy had raced to Hertfordshire to soothe Elizabeth Bennet’s qualms after Lady Catherine’s venomous attack, but a devastating carriage accident left him near death for months and cost him his chance at happiness with the lady. Now, they meet again upon the Scottish side of the border, but can they forgive all that has transpired in those years? They are widow and widower; however, that does not mean they can take up where they left off. They are damaged people, and healing is not an easy path. To know happiness they must fall in love with the same person all over again.
A Dance with Mr. Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary
“IT IS SHE,” HE MURMURED as his gaze settled upon her back. Even without viewing her countenance, Darcy’s body recognized the woman some thirty feet removed. If it were not for the biting wind stinging his cheeks, he might think himself asleep, for not a night had passed since he was last in her company—and all the previous nights of their acquaintance—that he did not dream of her; yet, she was not a dream, but rather flesh and blood. His breathing hitched higher.
During the daylight hours, he had prided himself upon not permitting his mind to conjure up her memory more than a half dozen times per day, but he always welcomed her into slumber’s embrace each night. Even during the fourteen months he had claimed Miss Amelia Davenport to wife, it had been Elizabeth Bennet in his arms. Often, Darcy had felt guilty for closing his eyes and pretending that his sweet, docile Amelia was the enticing maid from Hertfordshire who had stolen his heart long before Lady Matlock had arranged a joining between him and her niece.
“What is Elizabeth doing some twenty miles northwest of the Scottish border?” he whispered as he watched her checking the shutters of the small, but tidy-looking, inn in preparation for the storm. “And where is her husband?”
The word “husband” left a bitter taste in Darcy’s mouth. It was some six months after her marriage before he learned of Elizabeth’s joining, and by then there was little he could do but to continue with his life, such as it was at the time. It was only the realization that her marriage was forever that permitted him to accept his Aunt Matlock’s matchmaking schemes.
“Should I ask within if the innkeeper has accommodations available, Mr. Darcy?” His footman waited several feet off Darcy’s shoulder.
“No, that is not necessary, Jasper. Even if we must sleep upon the floor, we can travel no further with the coach having a broken crank neck.” He glanced again across the busy inn yard. If he were a sane man, he would continue to the next village, which was reportedly fewer than three miles removed, according to his coachman. Walking would not be the best choice, considering the condition of his left ankle and the knowledge of the approaching storm; however, he had long ago accepted his obsession with the woman shaking out her skirts and admiring her work. Sanity and Elizabeth Bennet were in opposition. “I will speak to the lady; you speak to the ostler in preparation for Mr. Farrin and my coach’s arrival.”
Darcy paused before making his way across the inn yard. What type of welcome would he receive? They had so often been at odds, but he assumed they had reached a better understanding when they had been together at Pemberley. Yet, the debacle with her youngest sister’s elopement had proven nearly more than he could manage. Nevertheless, he thought he had carved a path to a happy joining between him and Elizabeth, but G0d had a way of laughing in a man’s face when said man attempted to take control of another’s future.
“Might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb,” he chastised and began picking his way across the yard. The cane he had always carried for fashion and for protection from footpads now assisted in supporting his weight. “Could not dance at the Meryton assembly now,” he repeated in ironic tones. “No matter how tolerable I might find the lady.”
He did not step up to the wooden walkway; instead, Darcy remained in the inn yard where he might enjoy the hitch of her skirt to expose a trim ankle as she stepped upon a low stool to reach the upper shutter. He cleared his throat before saying, “Good afternoon, Miss Elizabeth.”
Her shoulders stiffened, and he noted that her fingers clutched at the wooden shutter for support. After a long pause, she stepped down and slowly turned to face him. If he thought he might receive a warm greeting, he was sadly mistaken. “Good afternoon, Mr. Darcy. However, I must insist that you no longer refer to me as ‘Miss Elizabeth.’ I have been Mrs. McCaffney for nearly four years.”
“I fear I never knew the gentleman’s name,” Darcy said in apology.
She pulled her shawl tighter about her as if to ward off his words as much as to brace against the wind that had kicked up. “I assure you Mr. McCaffney could never be accused of being a gentleman. All he owned was this fine establishment.” She gestured wildly, which was quite uncharacteristic of the lady he knew. Elizabeth Bennet always displaed confidence, even when she had erred miserably.
“Nevertheless, I would know pleasure in having Mr. McCaffney’s acquaintance,” he said in strained politeness. He thought he would go mad when he had learned of her marriage. Bingley had encountered Sir William Lucas in Town, and Sir William had shared the news of the marriages of both Miss Bennet and of Miss Elizabeth. While Bingley had ranted and raved against the injustice, all Darcy could do was to bite hard upon his tongue and swallow the cry of anguish ripping through him. The torment had been worse than any pain he had ever suffered, including the one that never disappeared from his left leg.
“Mr. McCaffney met his end one summer night some two years back when he thought to take a boat out to meet a group of smugglers off the Scottish coast,” she stated without emotions in her expression or in her voice.
“Then who is the inn’s proprietor?” Darcy demanded in incredulity.
She spoke in clipped tones. “I own McCaffney’s Coaching House.” She nodded to his coach as it limped into the yard. “I see you require assistance. I suppose you desire accommodations also.”
There was something in her tone that stifled any hope he might have experienced with the news of her husband’s death. “If it would not be an imposition,” he replied in contrition.
“I am accustomed to those who practice impositions.” Gathering her skirts about her, she turned on her heels to lead the way. “I fear with the approaching storm, I am already quite full. I have but one small room at the back of the third story passageway. It is nothing of the nature of which you are accustomed, but it is clean and dry.”
He expelled a long sigh of exhaustion. The walk had claimed more from him than he had expected. And now he was to revisit his emotional connection to the woman entering the inn door without a glance in his direction to see if he followed. Perhaps G0d meant for him to confront his ghosts, so he might carve out a fresh path and perhaps come to know a bit of peace, at last. Darcy had long ago given up on the possibility of happiness. With a soft grunt signaling the stiffness in his step, he lurched forward to enter the darkened common room. She waited for him behind a high-legged table about three feet long and covered with a white linen cloth.
“What brings you to Scotland, Mr. Darcy?” she asked as she handed him a sharpened pen to sign the register. Meanwhile, she retrieved a ring of keys from a locked box and selected the one he would require.
“I inherited a small property some five and twenty miles north of here,” he said cautiously. “It is near the larger Fitzwilliam estate. I planned to stay at Lord Matlock’s manor house while inspecting the inherited land.”
“Most would do so in the spring, rather than in January,” she remarked without looking upon him.
“Which is exactly why I chose this time of year. No one will have made preparations or renovations to impress me. I mean to know whether the property can sustain the livings that depend upon it.”
She turned to lead the way up the stairs. “Follow me.”
Since his accident, stairs were his least favorite architectural element of any structure, but he could customarily manage; however, on this particular day, his leg was slow to respond to more exercise. Nonetheless, he gritted his teeth to persevere, for he did not wish for the woman slowly climbing the stairs ahead of him to view him to be as weak as he sometimes felt.
She glanced over her shoulder at him. “Is the Fitzwilliam estate of which you speak the colonel’s family? How fares your cousin?”
Darcy slowed to keep his balance upon the narrow stairs. “Fitzwilliam is more than my cousin. He is my brother, for he is Georgiana’s husband.”
An ironic smile turned up the corners of her lips. “Then the colonel claimed his heiress. It gladdens me to hear it.”
“I assure you, convenience was not the reason for their joining,” he snapped.
Her chin rose in predictable defiance. “I never thought a marriage between Miss Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam would be anything but a happy occasion for your family. My brief acquaintance with your sister said she would never settle for less than a comfortable marriage. I simply recalled something the colonel shared while we were all at Rosings Park.”
A familiar pain of regret caught Darcy’s good sense. “I imagine you would have accepted Fitzwilliam’s proposal if my cousin had been in a position to utter one.”
“I thought I knew something of the colonel’s character,” she said in defensive tones.
“And nothing of mine,” he charged.
Before she could respond, a familiar countenance appeared at the foot of the stairs. “Lizzy,” she called, but halted when she spotted him on the stairs. “Well, look who the cat—“
Elizabeth interrupted in impatient tones, “What is amiss, Lydia?”
The chit smiled knowingly at him before she answered her sister. “Mr. Simpson and the mail coach have arrived with three passengers. He says the roads are quickly becoming impassable. He means to stay the night and perhaps longer. I told him we were full, but he insists.”
Darcy noted the girl’s “we,” and he wondered if he were also to encounter his long-time foe, Mr. Wickham.
“Tell Simpson we can put him and the others on mattresses in the private room. If more arrive, we may need to ask some of our regulars to share rooms. We always manage somehow, do we not, Lyddie?”
Her sister chuckled with a sly look. “We do very well, Lizzy.” Mrs. Wickham gave him a long look. “Will Mr. Darcy be required to share a room?”
“As Mr. Darcy has the small corner room, I doubt sharing will be necessary or even possible,” Elizabeth explained.
“I would expect nothing less,” the girl said with a lift of her shoulders in indifference before she returned to the noisy entrance.
“I fear you must forego a private room for supper, sir,” Elizabeth said as she turned back to the task at hand.
He released a long sigh. Nothing had changed: They were still from step. Following her slow progress, he said, “If it would not be an imposition, please send a tray to my room. I am a bit weary.” He spoke the truth: His ankle throbbed from the nearly two-miles’ walk to reach the inn. He needed to remove his boot and rest his ankle and calf muscle. “If you are too busy, Jasper can carry it up.” He knew the footman would call at his room to act as Darcy’s valet for the evening. “I did not ask, but I assumed there would be rooms for Jasper and Mr. Farrin.”
“Above the stables, there are several small rooms created by low partitions. All have cots and mattresses. The animals keep the area warm with their heat.”
What more was there to say between them? She was obviously not happy to see him upon her threshold. “Then our business is settled,” Darcy announced as she handed him the room key and stepped aside.
“It is as it always was, Mr. Darcy,” she said with a snit. “Your wishes are absolutes.” She turned to shove her way past him while he was left wondering why she despised him so. Mayhap Mr. Wickham had created new lies to fill her mind. Needless to say, with Mrs. Wickham under her roof, it would be easy for Darcy’s former friend to do so. It was as if she had learned to loathe him again. “And here I thought after our time at Pemberley that we could, at least, claim a friendship,” he murmured as he closed the room door on her retreating form.
And now for my review:
All JAFF/Regency readers, I suppose, have their favourite authors. Regina Jeffers is one of mine because I know her stories will always be not only well-written and very much respectful of the original, but both make me smile and tug at my heartstrings, and I’ll learn one or two things about (Regency) history to boot. A Dance with Mr Darcy does not disappoint, and also encompasses one of my basic requirements for JAFF: I must fall even more in love with Mr Darcy by book’s end. Check, check, check, check, and double-check.
From the very first sentence I was hooked, as I am sure you were too when you read the excerpt. You can feel Darcy’s heartbreak and yearning in just these three words.
Elizabeth and Darcy have both been married and widowed. Her husband was a brutal SOB and she of course has regrets about marrying him, while he regrets taking a wife who could never be her. They come together again from some rather dark places; as Elizabeth observes, these are not the carefree young man and woman who once shared hopes that were cruelly dashed.
Both of them have had to learn to be stronger people: Darcy to accept the physical weaknesses resulting from his injuries, and Elizabeth to simply survive (and as she does so, to thrive) first the cruelty of her husband and then his death. Seeing each other again reignites the love, the passions, and the hopes for the future that they once shared. I will not say that their meeting was a coincidence because I do not believe in coincidences: everything happens for a reason. And I cannot say that their reacquaintance reignites their dreams, because they have in fact kept their dreams of each other very much alive.
This is a story about second chances, about the strength it often takes to let go of the comfort zone we have built for ourselves and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable again, and to accept that second chance. And, of course, the joy it can ultimately bring when we do.
What I liked most: Darcy and Elizabeth telling each other about their personal fears. This was for me the most heart-rending yet hopeful scene in the book.
Plenty of misunderstandings to be overcome. This is after all Darcy and Elizabeth!
The new characters. I particularly liked Sir Robert.
The “old” characters. I am very partial to stories that give plenty of face time to Colonel Fitzwilliam.
Learning new stuff: I had never heard of St Agnes Eve before. Or dumb cake (really?). And who knew what a footpad was?!
What I liked least: That the end of the story sort of snuck up on me! Usually I check to see how many more pages are left in a book, and altho’ I did check periodically, and while the ending was very satisfying, I was just so disappointed that it came about sooner than I expected.
In short: Another don’t-miss five-star story by Regina Jeffers. BTW, if you are fascinated by history and love learning about arcane words and expressions, I highly recommend that you follow her blog.
And now for the giveaway. I have two eBook copies of A Dance with Mr. Darcy available to those who comment on this post. The giveaway will end at midnight EDST on April 3, 2017. Good luck all!
And … if you haven’t already got your copy of Desperate Hearts, you can order a kindle copy here.
It’s said that love makes the world go ’round. I have, however, observed that it’s reviews that make the book world go around.
When you shop online for a book, do you check out how many stars the book has received from reviewers? Do you browse the reviews? If you have to choose between two books, do the stars and the review text influence your decision?
You’re not alone; most people look at reviews on amazon, GoodReads, Facebook, blogs, and anywhere else they’re posted — and these reviews influence buying decisions. So it really means the world to authors when their work receives reader reviews.
If you enjoyed a particular book, the nicest thing you can do to let the author know that his/her work pleased you is to write an online review. You don’t need a blog, and you needn’t write a voluminous review; a few words will suffice. Some suggestions: “I liked the author’s integration of characters from another favourite book into this story.” Or “Detailed descriptions of places made you feel as if you are actually there.” Or maybe “Could not find even one error of spelling or word usage” or “I liked the flow of the story.”
You do not need to be an author yourself to write a review! Just think about what you would tell a friend if you were recommending the book to them, and write it down. Review done!
How about if you did not like the book? If there is a reason other than “I didn’t like the story,” then explain it simply and courteously. “It was too long and the story meandered.” “It was too short to really get into the characters and events.” “Spelling was poor” or “Too many incorrect homophones.” “One of the story lines was never resolved.”
Some reviewers who don’t like a book seem to be almost vindictive in their reviews, as if they want to punish the author for not writing a book they liked. Revealing and describing salient plot points — i.e., spoilers — is very unkind. If you did not like the book, you can always return it; you don’t need to damage the author’s credibility or ruin the story for future readers just because it wasn’t your own cup of tea.
Remember what all of our moms told us: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!
And here are some books recently featured at Every Savage Can Dance to start you off. If you’ve read them, and especially if you’ve enjoyed them, please take a few minutes to leave a review. If you have not yet read them, follow the link to buy a copy, and then leave a review after you’ve read it.
Believe me, an author will thank you when you do! (Speaking of which, Many Thanks to Claudine Pepe at Just Jane 1813 for her lovely review of Desperate Hearts. If you have not yet read this book, do stop by to read her review and enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of the e-book)
Please take a moment to let me know what you think: Click the Leave a Comment link at the top left-hand corner of this post. Thank you!
I’m so excited — this is my first time participating in a book blog tour! I have a guest post by the author, a book excerpt, and a giveaway for you from the Meryton Press Blog Tour.
The Best Part of Love author Amy D’Orazio has kindly stopped by to write a guest post for Every Savage Can Dance’s readers.
Blurbing the book:
Avoiding the truth does not change the truth
When Fitzwilliam Darcy meets Miss Elizabeth Bennet he has no idea that she — that indeed, the entire town of Meryton — harbors a secret. Miss Elizabeth, a simply country girl from a humble estate, manages to capture first his fascination and then his heart without him ever knowing the truth of her past.
When she meets Darcy, Elizabeth had spent the two years prior hiding from the men who killed her beloved first husband. Feeling herself destroyed by love, Elizabeth has no intention of loving again, certainly not with the haughty man who could do nothing but offend her in Hertfordshire.
In London, Elizabeth surprises herself by finding in Darcy a friend; even greater is her surprise to find herself gradually coming to love him and even accepting an offer of marriage from him. Newly married, they are just beginning to settle into their happily ever after when a condemned man on his way to the gallows divulges a shattering truth, a secret that contradicts everything Elizabeth thought she knew about the tragic circumstances of her first marriage. Against the advice of everyone who loves her, including Darcy, Elizabeth begins to ask questions. But will what they learn destroy them both?
And a word about the author:
Amy D’Orazio is a former breast cancer researcher and current stay-at-home mom who is addicted to Jane Austen and Starbucks in about equal measures. While she adores Mr. Darcy, she is married to Mr. Bingley and their Pemberley is in Pittsburgh PA.
She has two daughters who are devoted to sports which require long practices, and began writing her own stories as a way to pass the time she spent sitting in the lobbies of various gyms and studios. She is a firm believer that all stories should have long looks, stolen kisses, and happily ever afters. Like her favorite heroine, she dearly loves a laugh and considers herself an excellent walker.
Now let’s pass the quill to you, Amy!
It is such a pleasure to meet all of you at Every Savage Can Dance. I am really excited about the publication of The Best Part of Love. This is my first published work although I have been writing and posting Austenesque stories for about five years now. To me there is nothing more enjoyable than exploring new paths to a happy-ever-after with Darcy, Elizabeth and many other characters given to us by Jane Austen.
Like many authors, I first began my JAFF journey as an insatiable reader. I started with what I could find on amazon which, at the time, wasn’t a lot. Then I found the forums and really got hooked into it — it was a pretty happy day when I discovered just how much was out there.
For as much fun as reading is though, once I started writing, I really got addicted. Reading about Darcy and Elizabeth is great, but I found writing allowed me to really immerse myself in their world and their story. Of course it’s a danger too — I tend to be in the middle of the grocery store or driving somewhere when the exact right thing I need to make Darcy say hits me and then my mind is gone and I wonder how it is I came home without the shampoo I desperately needed!
The Best Part of Love was the fourth or fifth novel-length story I wrote and posted at A Happy Assembly, although parts of it were written before anything else. What I really loved was the idea of Darcy being in Hertfordshire and looking down on Elizabeth and not realizing that she is, in fact, both wealthy and titled. It took me a while to figure out how that scenario would come about and it certainly took me into story lines and plots that I could not have envisioned back then — but it was definitely a fun ride! I hope you will have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.
Elizabeth seized upon the warmer weather of Kent gratefully, departing on an early walk the first morning she was in residence at Rosings. Elizabeth chose a lane at random, delighting in the burgeoning verdure before her. She inhaled deeply, drawing the fresh spring air into her lungs and feeling the bounce return to her step. She soon came upon Mr. Darcy.
“May I join you?” he requested. “It is a lovely morning, is it not?”
“It is splendid, and yes, you may join me.” They began to walk, and Elizabeth asked, “Do you always rise early, or did the sounds of the country awaken you?”
“I am an early riser. Are you?”
“I am,” she admitted. “Not the mode, I know! I much prefer a walk at dawn to a promenade during the fashionable hour.”
“As do I.”
They walked on, sometimes silent and other times voluble. Elizabeth had many questions about the grounds, the house, and the parish that Darcy was happy to answer.
From that morning on, their rambles together became a regularity. At first, Elizabeth counselled herself to be kindly to him, honouring her promise to Lady Matlock, but she was soon surprised to realise she anticipated his company.
Their conversations soon revealed a side to him she would not have suspected: a good intentioned man with an honourable character and true heart and with similar frailties and problems to anyone else. It was endearing. When she had sketched his character in Hertfordshire, she had seen only a small portion of his true self.
“May I enquire as to your thoughts, my lady?”
“Forgive me.” She blushed lightly. “You have caught me in recollection.”
“I was thinking of my initial impression of you. My opinion has improved markedly now that I know you better.”
He looked down, the brim of his hat putting his face into shadow. “How far improved is that opinion?”
She glanced at him quickly, her heart skipping a beat.
He stopped then, turning to her and looking into her eyes. Her hand, which had been on his arm, dropped and somehow found a place within his grasp. “You must know my feelings and wishes are unchanged. You may have me; nay, you already have me. On your word, we shall be husband and wife.”
Dismayed, Elizabeth spoke quietly and as gently as she could. “Forgive me if I have led you to think my feelings have changed. I treasure the time we spend together, but I cannot marry you.”
There was a bench nearby and he led her to it. “You do not doubt the sincerity of my love for you?”
“No, not that.” She looked down at her lap.
“Then what? Do you not think we would be as happy in marriage as we are in friendship?”
“No, I confess, I do not. We would argue and fight; you would grow resentful over what I could offer you, and I would grow weary of trying to love you well enough to satisfy you. I already know the pain of losing love, and I could not dare begin with a love that burns hot and see it grow cold. I could not bear it.”
She looked up; pain smote her chest in seeing the sadness in his eyes. She caressed his arm. “I am sorry. I have pained you.”
“I am only pained with my understanding of your sorrow. I should not be surprised. To have lost all you did and endure all you have, that you should be care-worn is expected. You do such an excellent job of appearing content and in good spirits, it deceives me into believing you truly are well.”
He removed her glove and brought her hand to his lips for a gentle kiss. “I am happy to wait for the day when you again have the courage to be loved as I intend to love you.”
Wow! Doesn’t that make you want to drop everything you’re doing and read the story from beginning to end? It does me! Fortunately The Best Part of Love has been released and is available here. Ebook version only at this time; paperback version should be available in two to three weeks.
Eight (8) lucky readers will win a copy of The Best Part of Love!
Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants should provide the name of the blog where they commented (which will be verified).
Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.
Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter. Paperback or ebook format will be randomly selected for each winner as well.
NOTE: Paperback copies are available for continental US winners! Ebook copies are available for all winners, including international winners! If more international winners are randomly chosen than the 4 allotted ebooks, then that will decrease the number of paperbacks. 8 books will be given away to 8 different winners.
Comment at Every Savage Can Dance by clicking the Comments link in the upper-left corner beneath this post’s title.