While I read, and usually enjoy, books by many authors, there are just a handful of authors whose new books I truly look forward to reading. One of those authors is Gianna Thomas. Ever since devouring her The Four Lords Saga in record time, I’ve been hooked.
After reading Gianna’s Darcy Chooses, I waited rather impatiently for her newest book, and could not have been happier when Elizabeth’s Choice was published recently. Again, I devoured it quickly, and now I’m ready to tell you all about it!
Gianna has kindly stopped by to add an excerpt, brief guest post, and a giveaway. But first …
Blurbing the Book
Elizabeth’s Choice is the long-awaited sequel to Darcy Chooses – The Complete Novel. An excerpt from ‘Darcy vs Bingley’ is also included.
Finally, Darcy has made Elizabeth his own as she has become his wife, much to the delight of both. Finding joy with her and true happiness that he hasn’t had in years, his life is complete. And his wife is more than pleased to be Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy with the one she admires above all men.
Embarking on their honeymoon to Ireland, the two will draw ever closer as they find more in common as tourists in a country with a history and heritage as rich as that of England. Darcy strengthens the bond with old friends as Elizabeth makes new friends that will enrich her life as Mrs. Darcy while learning more about those who inhabit the Emerald Isle. But all is not sweetness and delight as an old enemy appears and threatens the safety and even the lives of the lovebirds. Will they survive the encounter or will it leave a memory that will forever scar the heart?
Guest post by Gianna Thomas
I asked Gianna what inspired her to write this story, and this is what she told me:
First, I needed a sequel to Darcy Chooses, and I liked the idea of them honeymooning in Ireland. I also wanted to show the close relationship that Darcy and Elizabeth were developing. Both were innocents going into the marriage, and they’ve discovered that whether mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually, they are well matched by being similar or by completing the other. So, I concentrated more on that relationship than anything else.
There is a fair amount of Ireland’s history included and some angst as well. I think I did more research for this book than all my others put together: from clipper ships to Blarney Castle.
Me again: If you’ve been following Gianna on Facebook, you’ve seen numerous lovely photos and videos, and heard the delightful music — all sourced from Ireland — that she has shared with her readers in the past few months.
Don’t worry if you missed any or all of these offerings — I’ve provided links below so you can follow Gianna to your heart’s content!
Now that you know why she wrote it, here’s a sample of the story itself.
A tantalizing excerpt from Elizabeth’s Choice
“Are you ready, my dear?”
“Yes, and I look forward to meeting your friends. So far, your friends have been very
interesting people,” she said with a smile. And because she couldn’t resist, she gave him another kiss and melted in his arms. “Mmm, I love to be kissed by you.”
“Surely, there is no one else.”
“Never, William. You will always be the only one for me.”
Holding Elizabeth close for another minute or so, he finally let her go with a sigh. “We do
need to get started. Jonathan is expecting us before luncheon.”
Before leaving the hotel, Darcy took a moment to look out the main window to see if he
could spot Wickham. He hoped he was wrong and that the man had given up. But he knew his childhood friend and how tenacious he could be when pursuing an objective, generally one that would serve him ill. If he had only applied that tenacity to pursuing something worthwhile.
Soon they were on their way and had been traveling but little over a quarter hour when
the coach lurched, and they were nearly thrown to the floor.
“Elizabeth, are you well?”
“Yes, what’s happening?”
Shots were fired, and Darcy shoved his wife to the floor, grateful he had left the bottom
of the coach empty on impulse. Afraid the coach would wreck, especially if the driver was shot, Darcy stretched out over Elizabeth to give her as much protection as he was able.
For several minutes gunfire rang out until suddenly the coach was brought to a halt and
silence descended. Waiting a moment, then cautiously raising his head, Darcy was shocked speechless at the bullet hole where his beloved wife’s head would have been if he hadn’t acted quickly. Saying a quick prayer of thanksgiving, he called out. “Is everyone well?”
Clambering from the coach after ascertaining Elizabeth was in no danger, he promised to return as soon as he determined the damage.
Six of the outriders appeared, and the leader apprised Darcy of what had transpired.
“Mr. Darcy, sir, the blackguards are either dead, dying, or captured. One of my men is
injured and needs attention as well as one of the prisoners. Shall I send for the magistrate?”
“Yes, please, and have him bring someone to tend to the injured also.”
“Mr. Darcy, Holmes is seriously injured too.”
“Have you been able to stop the bleeding?”
“Yes, sir, for the moment. Had no idea he would be shot instead of drivin’ this day.
Darcy was glad Elizabeth was doing well and he could concentrate on the men. Having
three men, one outrider, a prisoner, and the spare coachman injured made a beautiful day ugly instead. He would be glad when he and Elizabeth would finally arrive at Blarney House and put this behind them.
And now for my review
Several authors have created stories about Darcy and Elizabeth after they married, but few have done it as well. Gianna has drawn them as a happy, loving couple wrapped up in the joy of new discoveries about each other and about themselves. And even one enchanting secret about Elizabeth that the perceptive Mr. Darcy deduces even before Elizabeth is aware of it herself!
The couple have decided to honeymoon in Ireland, and after making their preparations they embark on a journey that is by turns romantic, educational, and alarming. A hair-raising brush with ruffians in Dublin is countered by a wonderful evening of music, dance, food, drink, and new friends at an Irish pub. Then a most excellent journey through Irish history gives way to a terrifying ordeal aboard ship. The balance of delight and dismay keeps the story fresh and captivating.
Of course everything ends happily — like you, I cannot bear to read a Pride & Prejudice variation or sequel that does not have a happy-ever-after, no matter when “ever” begins!
What I liked most
The realistic playfulness between the characters, just what you’d expect of two young, in-love newlyweds.
An attack by a gang led by none other than Mr. Wickham. I confess that I do prefer a truly evil Wickham over a “mere” rogue!
Learning about Irish history, from clipper ships to Blarney castle, to Irish music and step-dancing.
What I liked least
There wasn’t much, altho’ as I said I do like a story featuring an evil Wickham, and would have been happy for the episode to have continued somewhat longer. Actually I would have liked the entire story to have gone on longer. True, when we’re enjoying a story we want it to go on forever, but this seemed more like a novella than a novel.
A well-written and well-edited story that captured my imagination and held my attention, and left me wanting more! I give Elizabeth’s Choice an enthusiastic 4.9 Darcys.
Now for the giveaway, which is open worldwide
Gianna is offering two lucky readers a chance to win one of two e-copies of Elizabeth’s Choice. Winners will be chosen at the end of this week.
Some months ago I read an excerpt from a JAFF story that transferred Pride & Prejudice into post-Civil War Texas. I thought the excerpt was terrific and placed the story on my ever-growing Must-Read list. About a month ago I won a paperback copy of the book from another blog – and as there is nothing better than a new book except a new book won as a prize, I was delighted and started digging in.
Now that I’ve read Pemberley Ranch twice within a month (no, once was not enough!), I’m ready to share my thoughts about it with the JAFF/Regency community.
Blurbing the book
When the smoke has cleared from the battlefields and the civil war has finally ended, fervent Union supporter Beth Bennet reluctantly moves with her family from their home in Meryton, Ohio, to the windswept plains of Rosings, Texas. Handsome, haughty Will Darcy, a Confederate officer back from the war, owns half the land around Rosings, and his even haughtier cousin, Cate Burroughs, owns the other half.
In a town as small as Rosings, Beth and Will inevitably cross paths. But as Will becomes enchanted with the fiery Yankee, Beth won’t allow herself to warm to the man who represents the one thing she hates most: the army that killed her only brother.
But when carpetbagger George Whitehead arrives in Rosings, all that Beth thought to be true is turned on its head, and the only man who can save her home is the one she swore she’d never trust…
“It’s Pride and Prejudice meets Gone with the Wind-with that kind of romance and excitement.”
-Sharon Lathan, bestselling author of In the Arms of Mr. Darcy
About the author
Jack Caldwell is an author, amateur historian, professional economic developer, playwright, and like many Cajuns, a darn good cook. Born and raised in the Bayou Country of Louisiana, Jack and his wife, Barbara, are Hurricane Katrina victims who now make Florida their home. His nickname — The Cajun Cheesehead — came from his devotion to his two favorite NFL teams: the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers.
Always a history buff, Jack found and fell in love with Jane Austen in his twenties, struck by her innate understanding of the human condition.
When not writing or traveling with Barbara, Jack attempts to play golf. A devout convert to Roman Catholicism, Jack is married with three grown sons.
Nearly – but clearly not quite – all of JAFF is written by, and read by, women who love Jane Austen’s writings. There is, however, a small group of male authors, and I would presume readers, in the JAFF community, and in my not so humble opinion they all must be very comfortable in their manhood to venture into JAFF territory! I asked Jack some rather impertinent questions about this and he was gracious enough to share his responses with me and ESCD.
What was your inspiration for writing this story?
About ten years ago, my wife and I were watching the TV news, and on it was a report about the Protestant Orange Order in Northern Ireland conducting their annual march celebrating Prince William the Orange’s victory over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Over three hundred years after the event, and the Protestants and Catholics are still bitter about it.
It then occurred to my wife and me that America is different from Europe. If we were like them, I, a son of Louisiana whose ancestors fought for the Confederacy, would never marry a lady whose parents grew up in Wisconsin, whose troops occupied and committed atrocities in Louisiana during the Civil War. That the vast majority of Americans would find the idea of a Southerner rejecting a Northerner (or vice versa) over what happened 140 years ago silly shows that we are not the prisoners of our past like our friends in Europe.
That got me thinking. How did we get here? Why did we not fall into that trap?
PEMBERLY RANCH is the story of Reconstruction in post-Civil War Texas. (The Deep South has been done—it’s called GONE WITH THE WIND.) I saw that the conflict between Jane Austen’s Elizabeth and Darcy in Regency England could fit such a story. Of course, to fit the time period, I amped up the tale a bit by killing off Beth Bennet’s only brother. I also pointed out there were heroes and villains on both sides of the war. Plus, I make Darcy a cowboy. It’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE on steroids.
At the risk of being arrested for gender insensitivity, what inspired you to write in this genre given that it is a largely female domain of authors and readers?
Several reasons. I really enjoy Jane Austen. She gave us wonderful, relatable, timeless characters. We have all met Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Collins, and Lady Catherine. Why not use her characters? It’s fun.
Another reason is that the plot of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is timeless as well, and can easily be adapted to different periods in history.
One can’t forget that the majority of the readers are female. Write something that is relatable and enjoyable to them and they’ll read it.
I like being different. A lot of people in JAFF know I’m that crazy Cajun guy that writes Jane Austen-flavored historical romances. It gets me noticed.
And lastly, I like women. My favorite is my wife!
Well bless your soul, Jack!
And now for my review
Most JAFF I read is set in the same era as Jane Austen wrote the original stories. A handful of authors have relocated the story and the characters to different time periods with varying success. Pemberley Ranch is one of the most successful time-shifting JAFFs I’ve yet enjoyed.
The main characters are mostly true to their original counterparts, altho’ there are a few secondary characters who have been improved, and several who are far worse than Jane ever drew them.
This version of our story has Elizabeth Bennet as a die-hard Yankee supporter while William Darcy is a former Confederate army officer. Needless to say this creates some difficulties between them. All the important elements of the original have, however, been transferred successfully to this version: the Hunsford proposal, Lydia’s escapades with Wickham, Darcy’s heroic retrieval of the wayward sister, Jane finding love with Bingley, and an angsty relationship full of misunderstandings between the two main characters which ends, of course, with their happy ever after.
This fast-paced story is full of cowboys, very good guys, really bad guys, very good ladies, really bad ladies. And the author weaves the real history of the American War Between the States into the narrative too. This war was not about slavery. Jack has Darcy explain exactly what it was about without being preachy or pedantic.
What I liked most
A truly evil Wickham (altho’ in this version his name is Whitehead). I admit to preferring evil Wickham to “merely” scoundrel Wickham.
An expanded, heroic, and very swoon-worthy role for Fitzwilliam. Hot dam, is there anything that man can not do? He also finds love in an engaging and endearing secondary story line.
As I mentioned above, the clear and non-pedantic outline of the real reasons why this awful war was fought.
The clever populating of the story with characters from Jane’s other stories – and even a nod to Gone with the Wind.
What I liked least
Elizabeth being called Beth. It’s not that I dislike the name, it’s just that Beth Bennet doesn’t flow as well as Elizabeth or Lizzy. (Yes, you’re right: that is really picky!)
The author’s apparent preference for Winchesters over Henrys. Ha!
This is a tight, well-constructed story – and well-edited, with the few typos barely noticeable. And, of course, everyone ends up getting more or less what they deserve, for better or worse.
I’m delighted to give Pemberley Ranch 4.9 out of 5 Darcys (hey, I had to take off something in defense of Henry).
As this is not a new publication – it was Jack’s first foray into JAFF, believe it or not – there’s no giveaway this time. I do hope you enjoyed meeting Pemberley Ranch. It’s available “wherever books are sold.” Here’s the link to the listing at amazon, where you can find it in Kindle, Kindle unlimited, and as a new or used paperback. Please note that this is not an affiliate link.
Your comments are most 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!
Some months ago I had the pleasure of reading and posting a review of Anngela Shroeder’s first foray into JAFF, A Lie Universally Hidden. Today I have the pleasure of participating in the current blog tour for Anngela’s new book.
Blurbing the book
“This will not do,” said Elizabeth. “You never will be able to make both of them good…Take your choice, but you must be satisfied with only one. There is but such a quantity of merit between them; just enough to make one good sort of man…” -Pride and Prejudice
From her youngest days, Elizabeth Bennet’s ability to accurately judge the character of others has been recognized and noted by those around her in such a consistent manner as to lead her to believe it herself. The misfortune of meeting Mr. Darcy, a wealthy landowner from the north, only solidifies this belief.
The memory of his disapproval of her family, proves his character is lacking and sadly unlike his childhood friend’s, the charming and affable Mr. Wickham, who is esteemed by all he meets. Although her opinion once lost is not lost forever, the effort to regain her favor is great.
With Elizabeth’s youngest sister fortunate to be in company with Mr. Wickham in Brighton since the spring, and her own travels to Kent cancelled, she must await the pleasures of a summer holiday to the North with her aunt and uncle Gardiner. However, it is there that she is once again thrust into Mr. Darcy’s presence and must determine if he is truly the architect of the many wrongs she has laid at his door.
Fitzwilliam Darcy cannot exorcise Elizabeth Bennet from his thoughts. A chance meeting at the estate of his friend reignites all the flames he has attempted to suppress since their last meeting. Believing in her partiality, he is stunned to overhear her true estimation of him and is determined to change her opinion.
Battling with memories and secrets from his past, Darcy must fight against his natural reserve to win the heart of the woman he loves.
Will the unexpected appearance of a stranger encourage Elizabeth’s change of heart? Might an episode from Mr. Darcy’s past force Elizabeth to see the man within? Can one man have all the goodness and the other only the appearance of it?
A sweet “Pride and Prejudice” reimagining, suitable for ages teen and up.
About the author
I have a degree in English with a concentration in British Literature and a Masters in Education. I love to travel, bake, and watch college football with my husband of 16 years and 3 rambunctious sons. My goal in life is to make not only my children, but also my students feel that they are loved, and to bring magic into everyone’s world. My weaknesses are yellow cake with chocolate frosting, French bread with real butter, and grape leaves and falafel. I live in California where I dream of Disney adventures and trips across the pond.
With all the JAFFs being written — there must be hundreds of books that have come out even since my own discovery of this genre a mere two years ago — it becomes more and more of a challenge to develop a fresh perspective that tells a tale and holds the reader’s interest. Not to mention finding new ways to make readers fall in love with Mr. Darcy all over again — which, of course, is why so many of us adore this genre. The author succeeds on all these counts.
While many pundits have posited that “good guys finish last,” this story contradicts that “ladies love outlaws” meme. We find a number of good men — including, of course, Darcy — who are adored by those who know them. Maybe not at first, but after getting to know them. Yes, there is the requisite angst of misunderstanding and the eventual revelation of true character. What would a JAFF story be without them?
Like many of my favourite JAFF stories, this one portrays Mr. Wickham as full-fledged evil. Darcy has been carrying around a heartbreakingly sad memory involving Wickham for most of his life — a secret that has defined much of Darcy’s devotion to honour and decency. You will never be able to think of Wickham as “merely” a scoundrel again.
Several new characters help point up Wickham’s malevolence while displaying their own integrity. I enjoyed meeting them and hope they make appearances in the author’s future work.
What I liked most
The sweetness of the scene when Elizabeth announces to Darcy that she is with child.
Wickham’s comeuppance. It took me a bit by surprise; I admit I was starting to get annoyed that one of the characters allowed Wickham to get away with his actions. In the end, however, I was smiling at the perfect resolution. Nicely done, Anngela!
As I noted previously, I very much liked the new characters introduced here.
What I liked least
I was a little disappointed that two characters who I was sure would come together did not. Oh well, they both found happy endings elsewhere.
A compelling story that hits all the buttons for good JAFF — and a good story period: believable and (mostly) likeable characters, a truly nasty villain, and a happily ever after for our dear couple.
In my new ratings system, I gladly give The Goodness of Men five Darcys:
Anngela is giving away two ebook copies, which includes international readers, and one autographed paperback copy to readers with a U.S. mailing address. You are invited to enter by clicking on the Rafflecopter link below. Entry must be received no later than Saturday, October 15, 2017:
Full disclosure: I enjoy the JAFF stories produced by many authors, altho’ I have two favourite authors. One of them is Regina Jeffers. When I pick up one of her books I know it will be a well-written and well-thought-out story, properly edited, and well-researched. I always look forward to learning at least one, if not several, new points of Regency or British history from each of her books. Not to mention that they are always fun to read.
And so it is with Mr Darcy’s Brides.
Blurbing the book:
I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent man to the thoughtless approval of the masses.
ELIZABETH BENNET is determined that she will put a stop to her mother’s plans to marry off the eldest Bennet daughter to Mr. Collins, the Longbourn heir, but a man that Mr. Bennet considers an annoying dimwit. Hence, Elizabeth disguises herself as Jane and repeats her vows to the supercilious rector as if she is her sister, thereby voiding the nuptials and saving Jane from a life of drudgery. Yet, even the “best laid plans” can often go awry.
FITZWILLIAM DARCY is desperate to find a woman who will assist him in leading his sister back to Society after Georgiana’s failed elopement with Darcy’s old enemy George Wickham. He is so desperate that he agrees to Lady Catherine De Bourgh’s suggestion that Darcy marry her ladyship’s “sickly” daughter Anne. Unfortunately, as he waits for his bride to join him at the altar, he realizes he has made a terrible error in judgement, but there is no means to right the wrong without ruining his cousin’s reputation. Yet, even as he weighs his options, the touch of “Anne’s” hand upon his sends an unusual “zing” of awareness shooting up Darcy’s arm. It is only when he realizes the “zing” has arrived at the hand of a stranger, who has disrupted his nuptials, that he breathes both a sigh of relief and a groan of frustration, for the question remains: Is Darcy’s marriage to the woman legal?
What if Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet met under different circumstances than those we know from Jane Austen’s classic tale: Circumstances that did not include the voices of vanity and pride and prejudice and doubt that we find in the original story? Their road to happily ever after may not, even then, be an easy one, but with the expectations of others removed from their relationship, can they learn to trust each other long enough to carve out a path to true happiness?
Regina was good enough to write up a guest post on a most fascinating topic, Criminal Conversation, for Every Savage Can Dance readers:
Several years back, I did a series for my blog, Every Woman Dreams, entitled “Eccentrics of the Regency.” One of the pieces I wrote was on Edward Hughes Ball Hughes. In it, I wrote: “Hughes’ older sister Catherine Ball was a socialite, journalist, and novelist who eventually styled herself the “Baroness de Calabrella” after acquiring property in Italy. She married an older man, Rev. Francis Lee, at the age of 16 in 1804, without her mother’s permission, and was separated from him in 1810 on charges of adultery; her lover, Captain George de Blaquiere, was successfully sued by Reverend Lee for criminal conversation.” When I read this, I wondered whether “criminal conversation” was anything like “alienation of affection.” So, I was determined to find out.
Criminal conversation is commonly known as crim. con. It is a tort arising from adultery. For those of you who do not understand “legal speak,” tort law involves a situation where a person’s actions unfairly causes another to suffer harm or loss. The case is not based around an “illegal” action, but rather one of not thinking of the other person and causing some sort of harm. The law allows the harmed individual to recover his loss, generally by awarding monetary compensation. To prevail (win) in a tort law case the plaintiff (person suing) must show the actions or lack of action was the most likely cause of the harm.
Criminal Conversation is similar to breach of promise, a former tort involving a broken engagement against the betrothed, or alienation of affections, a tort action brought by a deserted spouse against a third party.
In 18th– and 19th-century England, criminal conversation cases were common. It was not unheard of for the plaintiff to be awarded sums as high as £20,000. These cases were seen at the Court of King’s Bench in Westminster Hall. Not only did the plaintiff make money on the proceedings, but so did publishers such as Edmund Curll, whose name became synonymous, through the attacks on him by Alexander Pope, with unscrupulous publication and publicity.
Although neither the plaintiff, the defendant, nor the wife accused of the adultery were permitted to take the stand, evidence of the adulterous behavior was presented by servants or observers. Awards of damages were based upon compensation for the husband’s loss of property rights in his wife, the wife being regarded as his chattel. Historically a wife could not sue her husband for adultery, as he could not be her chattel if she was already his. The criminal conversation tort was abolished in England in 1857, and the Republic of Ireland in 1976. It still exists in parts of the United States, although the application has changed. At least 29 states have abolished the tort by statute and another 4 have abolished it by common law.
A number of very sensational cases were heard in the second half of the 18th century, including Grosvenor v. Cumberland in 1769, where Lord Grosvenor sued the King’s brother, the Duke of Cumberland, for crim con with his wife, being awarded damages of £10,000; and Worsley v. Bisset in 1782, where Sir Richard Worsley lost his case against George Bisset, after it had been found that Sir Richard had colluded in his own dishonour by showing his friend his wife Seymour Dorothy Fleming naked in a bath house. In 1796, the Earl of Westmeath was awarded £10,000 against his wife’s lover, Augustus Bradshaw.
The tort has seen particular use in North Carolina (my current home state). Criminal Conversation is one of the “Heart-Balm” Laws, which include breach of promise, wrongful seduction, and alienation of affection.” ‘Criminal conversation,’ in turn, was a civil cause of action that dated back at least to the seventeenth century in England. The name is oddly inappropriate, since there was nothing criminal about the claim, and it certainly was not about conversation. Rather, “Crim. Con.” allowed a man to bring suit against another man who had sex with his wife. It was a remedy for loss of the wife’s “consortium” (that is, of the companionship and sex she had provided before being seduced by another). Proof of a valid marriage and extramarital sex were all that was required for the husband to make out a successful claim against the interloper.” [Find Law citation] Our most famous Crim Con case in North Carolina in many years was when the late Elizabeth Edwards sued her husband, John Edwards’s, former Presidential candidate, “mistress,” Rielle Hunter.
Enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 5 of MR. DARCY’S BRIDEs in which Elizabeth first learns of Lady Catherine’s idea of having Anne sue Elizabeth for drawing off Darcy’s attentions.
“I am pleased to find you from your bed,” he said politely while eyeing her with interest.
Elizabeth did not address his attempt at consideration. Instead, she asked, “Could you explain to me, sir, how you thought it acceptable to remove my person from your home to your yacht without my permission?” She watched as a muscle along his jaw line twitched, but otherwise, his expression of indifference remained in place.
“It was necessary for you to depart Darcy House, and as you were in no condition to make that decision, I made it for you. As part of my wedding plans, I was set to sail on the day of our departure; therefore, I took advantage of the ship’s preparedness.”
“And why was it necessary for me to leave Darcy House? Could you not have sailed alone? I would have been up and moving about in a day or two, and then I could be gone from your society. No one would have known the difference.”
Other than a slight lift of his eyebrow, he displayed no reaction to her tight-lipped accusations. “My aunt learned of your presence under my roof. She planned to send a magistrate to my home to arrest you. I thought it best if we were removed from England until this matter can be settled.”
“Arrest me?” Elizabeth demanded. “Upon what charges? Certainly what I did was unconventional, but it was not a crime. It was a mistake. I have no desire to remain with you, and you, sir, should be glad to observe my exit. I have caused you nothing but grief and inconvenience. Needless to say, Miss De Bourgh would still accept a man of your consequence. Marry your cousin. Lady Catherine will be mollified, and I will return to my life in the country. All will be forgiven.”
“If you think my aunt will forgive or forget your perceived insult, you are sadly mistaken. Lady Catherine will make your life and the lives of your loved ones miserable. Only with my protection will you remain safe,” he argued.
Elizabeth swallowed hard against the trepidation filling her chest. “I shall…I shall assume my chances, sir. Surely a woman of Lady Catherine’s stature will extend her forgiveness once I explain the situation.” She lifted her chin in defiance.
“More likely she will force Anne to sue you for criminal conversation. I know my aunt, she will not be happy until she leaves you and your family in penury. Not only did you forestall her aspirations of having Anne at Pemberley, but you treated her cleric as if he were insignificant. She sees Mr. Collins’s character as a reflection of her condescension.”
Elizabeth fought the anxiety rising in her stomach. “Nevertheless, I insist that you set me down in the next port and provide me enough coins to claim passage home. I will have Mr. Bennet reimburse you as quickly as I make my way to Hertfordshire.”
“That might be difficult,” he said with a wry twist of his lips, “for you to make your way to Mr. Bennet’s estate in what you are wearing.”
Despite her best efforts, despair pooled in her eyes. “So you mean to keep me a prisoner by refusing me proper dress?” she accused. “I demand the return of the dress I wore for the wedding!”
He shrugged in indifference. “On the morning of our departure, Mrs. Guthrie and a maid dressed in your gown made a great show of leaving Darcy House. I am certain my neighbors will have taken notice of your exodus. My servants have been instructed that if anyone asks after me to tell them that I was so upset after the wedding that I departed for my estate. The servants will also inform those who wish to be apprised of my comings and goings that the poor soul I saw into my house was a distant relation who had been injured at the wedding, and that I instructed my staff to tend the young lady in my absence. When the magistrate calls upon Darcy House he will learn of your leave-taking from more than Mrs. Guthrie, who is to explain that you fell into the street before Lord Haverton’s coach and was treated by Doctor Nott. Both my housekeeper and the good physician will confirm the story of your departure. They will tell the official that you asked to be returned to your home in Bath, and before I left Town upon personal business, I made the necessary arrangements.”
“No one will believe such a convoluted tale,” she argued.
“On the contrary, my dear. The ton is quite gullible. They will believe any tale that smacks of gossip, and they will add their own tidbits to it to make it more outrageous.”
“Then what am I to wear?” she insisted, although she wished her voice had not cracked upon the word “wear.” She suddenly felt like Mr. Darcy’s mistress, for she was dressed for the role.
His expression softened, as if he could read her thoughts. “We had little time to prepare, but Hannah, the maid you met earlier, has altered several of my sister’s gowns. Miss Darcy has sprouted up in the last year, but some of her former gowns will do nicely until we can have something specifically designed for you. Mrs. Guthrie suggests those items ordered as part of Anne’s trousseau, but I rejected the idea, for my Aunt Catherine could then label you a thief. It is best to do over some of my sister’s gowns, rather than to provide her ladyship with a reason to see you behind bars.”
Elizabeth wished to acknowledge his sensible actions, but it was her life in which he dabbled, and all of his decisions were simply too personal. She gritted out the words, “As I am at your disposal, how are we to proceed?”
“If you are agreeable, I thought we might have supper. I tire of eating alone.”
Got you hooked, right? It only gets more complicated, and exciting, from here!
And now for my review:
In this variation we see Elizabeth and Jane hatching a desperate hare-brained scheme to foil Mr. Collins’, and Mrs. Bennet’s, plans for him to marry Jane. Mr. Bennet has recently been injured and is barely clinging to life, so his wife determines that one of their daughters must marry Mr. Collins – Mr. Bennet’s heir – to prevent their eviction from Longbourn on Mr. Bennet’s passing.
Altho’ the Bennets have never met Mr. Collins, Mr. Bennet’s opinion of the man renders the thought of marriage to him absolutely abhorrent to his daughters. Undeterred, Mrs. Bennet offers up their most beautiful and compliant daughter so he will not refuse the match. Jane, being Jane, agrees to comply with her mother’s wishes. When second thoughts plague Jane and she wishes to be released from her acceptance, Elizabeth comes up with her scheme, which she and Jane believe will void the nascent marriage.
A misunderstanding sends Elizabeth to the wrong church, where she speaks her vows and ends up married to another man, who just moments before had realized the mistake he was making in marrying a woman he did not love and even praying for a way out of taking his vows with her. After a madcap chase scene, Elizabeth and Darcy end up married to each other. Maybe. The legality of the marriage must be investigated, and the vindictiveness of Lady Catherine must be dispelled. Because Darcy, you see, has determined that Elizabeth would make him the perfect wife …
So are they or aren’t they? The answer, it seems, is no, yes, and maybe. The story, and our dear couple, must decide whether an accidental, or rather fateful, encounter should determine their futures.
What I liked most:
Seeing how their relationship played out. The tale follows canon to a certain extent in that Darcy is high-handed and haughty, and completely besotted with Elizabeth, while Elizabeth needs some convincing before she can return his affections. The situations, however, are quite different from those in canon. Of course it all works out in the end, but as they say getting there is half the fun. Or in this case, even more than half! I found myself smiling often as I read this story.
And the epilogue. Yes, it’s an idea that’s been done before, but never with the poignancy of this version.
What I liked least:
Well, I guess I have to come up with something. How about this: Regina likes to use the word mayhap, a word that makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck! Sorry, it was the best I could do.
A fun read that will keep you guessing from beginning to end. I give it
And now a terrific GIVEAWAY!
Regina has two (2) ebook copies of MR. DARCY’S BRIDEs available to those who comment on this post. The giveaway will end at midnight EDST on Saturday, August 19.
Your comments, as always, are most welcome. (Yes, 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.
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.
As I’ve mentioned previously in various forums, I arrived late at the JAFF party and am still playing catch-up. When I enjoy an author’s newest release, I seek out their previous works. As I did in this case: after reading and enjoying Letter from Ramsgate, I searched for previous books by Suzan Lauder. And found Alias Thomas Bennet. And I’m very glad I did.
The premise is, as far as I know, unique amongst JAFFs: it’s almost like stepping through the looking glass. The Bennet family is no longer dysfunctional, but is headed by a very engaged father who cares for his wife and daughters as well as being a successful estate manager. Mrs Bennet, recipient of the love and respect of her husband, is still concerned about getting her daughters married, but not dementedly so, and she provides loving care as well as an excellent role model for her daughters to become ladies, wives, and mothers. The eldest two Bennet sisters are essentially unchanged (well, except for reaping the benefits of a surprise familial relationship), while the other three sisters retain their original personalities altho’ tempered into more positive and productive actions and activities. Not canon by any means, but thoroughly enjoyable.
Mr Bennet and Mr Darcy form a close friendship, and slowly tho’ ultimately Darcy and Lizzy grow into their own loving relationship. Lauder’s version of Lizzy here retains all the traits with which Austen endowed her, amplified by a greater strength and confidence. The author has created her character to reflect the modern view of an accomplished lady.
There are numerous flashbacks in the telling of the story, and to own the truth I did have a little trouble keeping the story line straight at first. Then two things happened: First, I was reading a used paperback copy of the book, and apparently whoever read the book before me was having similar difficulties and had actually drawn an interconnected timeline of events which I discovered tucked away in the pages! And then the author herself brings the story together in a series of well-crafted scenes that left me with a feeling of understanding calm; what one would call a lightbulb moment. These both occurred not too far into the story, so for most of the time I had a very clear grasp of what was going on.
As with Letter from Ramsgate, Lizzy and Darcy display rather more physical passion than their original counterparts ever did – or at least that we *saw* them do, altho’ I suspect most of us had our suspicions about them! This story gives them more leeway, and definitely has some spice to it.
The author has asked me to be sure to repeat the warning she has posted on the book’s back cover: “This book contains one brief scene of non‑explicit sexual violence that may be concerning to sensitive readers. The sexual violence does not involve Elizabeth Bennet.” Altho’ I viewed the scene dispassionately, I did find the events a bit shocking. It is, however, integral to the plot. There are several very vague references to these events at various points in the story, so if you want to skip the scene, you won’t be left out in the cold; you’ll still get the gist of the story. (And you’re welcome to contact me and I’ll tell you the pages you might want to avoid, and the one(s) that clarify the story, in the event that you do want to avoid this trigger.)
A definite five-star rating for Alias Thomas Bennet!
Suzan Lauder kindly agreed to provide a guest post to accompany this review. When she asked me to suggest a topic, I in turn asked her what her inspiration was for this story. Here is her response:
I’m a regular contributor on the Jane Austen websiteA Happy Assembly. In some discussions and in AHA chat, it became evident that some readers loved Mr. Bennet for his acerbic wit and humorous evaluation of other peoples’ characters while others disliked him for his obvious lackadaisical attitude towards parenting and financial responsibilities. It showed that Mr. Bennet’s personality was a fairly important element in the direction of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Given that circumstance, I began to think to myself what the novel would be like if his flaws were erased or minimized. I began to think of the plot of P&P and what essential scenes would change.
Mr. Bennet would go meet Mr. Bingley without having to be browbeaten into it. He would attend the Meryton Assembly, let Jane have the carriage to go to lunch with the Bingley sisters, and try to modulate the behaviour of his wife and younger daughters. But I needed a mechanism to facilitate this changed personality, and that’s how the mystery part of the story fit in.
Side issues that were strong possibilities with a changed Mr. Bennet emerged: it would be fun if he were close friends with Darcy so Elizabeth and Darcy knew each other better prior to Hunsford. Mr. Bennet would be in love with his wife and would calm her when she became agitated. To show where Mrs. Bennet’s nervous personality emerged from her youth, a carriage wreck and a startling assault open the novel.
The timelines for everything that ran parallel in the story were so critical, I even mapped out Jane’s and Elizabeth’s birthdays! That’s how complicated “what if Mr. Bennet were exactly opposite of his personality in canon” becomes!
Alias Thomas Bennet is available in paperback and ebook versions at the usual outlets. And, as I have previously mentioned, as a used book.
Your comments, as always, are welcome.
And … if you haven’t already got your copy of Desperate Hearts, you can order a kindle copy here.
Some weeks ago I posted a piece entitled “Getting into Mr Darcy’s pants,” about the underwear a Regency gentleman would have worn under his fashionable clothing. Rather than re-post the general overview of fashion and undergarments of the day, you might want to take a moment to re-read the original post.
When ladies of the Regency exchanged their previously-fashionable voluminous skirts for a slim, classical Greek-style high-waisted silhouette, their undergarments also altered. Wearing the previously-stylish constructed fashions that essentially re-designed the shape of a woman’s form into something resembling a bell, a lady faced two primary problems. The first was one of real estate: only so many bell-shaped ladies could fit into a given area such as a sidewalk, a shop, a sitting-room sofa, or a carriage. Secondly came the problem of maintaining modesty: one false step, or a less-than cautious entrance into or exit from a carriage, could send the rigidly-constructed frame under one’s dress — and the dress along with it — up into the air in a most revealing position.
The slim lines, and lightweight fabric, of a Regency Empire-style dress presented its own problems. As clothing became lighter and slimmer, ladies began to discard heavy layers of undergarments for the bare minimum required for comfort and modesty. The challenges at this time were also multi-fold: fabric folds would work themselves between a lady’s legs, often aided by a wind or even a light breeze, clingingly revealing a bit more of a lady’s form than was considered proper. Being caught in a light rain that dampened one’s attire could cause a scandalous spectacle! And again, if one was not attentive to how one was moving, or — heaven forfend! — if one tripped or took a fall, the light fabric could easily be blown or otherwise pushed away to expose a lady’s privates. (This, by the way, was the reason why gentlemen preceded ladies when walking up stairs.)
Even after adopting the new fashion styles, the basic lady’s undergarment remained the chemise, a simple, unfitted shift-type garment with a rounded neckline and short sleeves that reached to about the knees. It was generally made of light cotton or linen, although it might be fashioned of flannel at colder times of the year. Over the chemise was worn a corset, or stays. As with their male counterparts, ladies wore these to create a slimmer appearance. An important function of a corset was to draw in the hip area, as the slim style of dress required almost a boyish figure below the waist (much as some modern fashion styles have also demanded).
Corsets might be simple affairs, or they might have supports for the breasts, similar to a modern brassiere. Slim hips did not exclude the preference for a femine bustline! Over this would be a petticoat, either a short petticoat from waist to ankle, which was gathered around the waist with tapes, or a full petticoat with an attached bodice. Again, they were crafted of light fabric except for winter wear. And they were mostly still homemade at this time. Depending on the style of the dress being worn, the petticoat might have a small, light hoop at the bottom to create an A-line shape rather than a straight style.
As to drawers … Ladies “borrowed” men’s drawers some time before 1810. Altho’ they were not in regular use at this time, by the 1810s most ladies, at least of the upper and middle classes, were wearing them. Initially these too were homemade; it wasn’t until the mid-nineteenth century that they become available commercially. Reaching from waist to knees, and fastened with tapes at both points, they were not particularly ornate, as they were not intended to be seen. At least not until Queen Charlotte decided to scandalize society by wearing them somewhat longer and sitting with her legs extended in front of her so glimpses of the embellished bottoms of the drawers could be seen as her skirts lifted slightly. Like the rest of underclothes, these were fashioned of lightweight cotton, linen, silk, stockinette, or sarsenet in summer and flannel in winter. The original ladies’ design comprised two tubes for the legs held together with tapes at the waist; these later evolved into a connected design more like the gentleman’s. Which certainly makes a lot more sense from just about every standpoint.
So perhaps the ladies of the Regency period were not so very different from modern ladies in their fashion choices. I have, however, sometimes wondered about one aspect of the effects of fashion: Was the not-uncommon loss of the mother’s life in childbirth in any way affected by the fashion of mechanically drawing in the hips as tightly as possible? Perhaps I’ll research and report on this aspect in a future posting.
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!