Hello to all, and welcome back to my desk, this time around, I am lucky enough to host a good friend and a returning authoress, namely Christine Combe. I am so glad to be able to reveal the wonderful cover to Christine’s new book! Another P&P variation, which promises to be yet another lovely book. For now, I leave you all in the creative hands of Christine Combe.
Hello everyone! I am so very excited to be returning to Interests of a Jane Austen Girl to talk about my latest Austen variation, Why I Kissed You! This is the fastest turnaround I’ve had going from one book to another—I just released Three Brides for Three Cousins on December 11th, which was only ten weeks ago. I began writing this new book a week after Three Brides was released, and I had it finished in the first week of February!
I have never written a book so fast before, but the words just kept flowing. I had a few struggles, but when I would write, I was getting out a chapter or more per day, which is incredible! Why I Kissed You is also the shortest novel I’ve written at just over 80,000 words (I typically go over 100K!). I suppose I could have written a few more chapters, but honestly… it just felt right to end it where I did.
And now onto the cover reveal!
Isn’t it lovely? The portrait is of Caroline Bonaparte Murat Macdonald, Napoleon Bonaparte’s youngest sister. She went from being an Imperial princess of France to Queen of Naples after she married her first husband, Joachim Murat, who became King of Naples in 1808. In my research into this stunning piece of artwork, I could not find the name of the artist, but I did discover that she is the great-great-great-grandmother of the late actor René Auberjonois (known for his roles in TV shows like Benson, Boston Legal, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).
Now to tell you a little something about Why I Kissed You:
Although she vehemently refuses the marriage proposal of Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet soon learns that an unexplainable moment of passion that occurred between them has led a furious Lady Catherine de Bourgh to demand she be thrown out of Mr. Collins’ house!
Fitzwilliam Darcy, although his pride was wounded by Elizabeth’s rejection, finds he cannot allow her to be harmed by his aunt’s fanciful ambition for a marriage between him and her daughter. Fearing further action may be taken to damage Elizabeth’s reputation, he knows that marriage is the only form of protection he can offer her.
Elizabeth and Darcy travel to London to begin the arrangements for a wedding that for all intents and purposes shouldn’t be taking place. In the midst of shopping for wedding clothes, sharing the news with family, and meeting Darcy’s noble relatives, Elizabeth is coming to learn more about who Darcy really is than she ever knew before. At the same time, Darcy is navigating the intricacies of realizing how wrong it is to interfere in the lives of others and how to deserve forgiveness from a friend.
Though they act quickly to begin a new life together where one person is in love and the other now unsure of their feelings, Elizabeth and Darcy can’t stop one final attempt to keep them apart forever. But faith and love—and a little bit of luck—will play their part in determining whether there is a chance to pursue the happily ever after that both of them desperately want.
I do hope that blurb intrigues you! Now to further reel you in, here is the first part of chapter one:
Thursday, 16 April 1812
Who would have thought that an offer of marriage, followed by an unexpectedly vehement refusal, would lead to a kiss?
Certainly not Fitzwilliam Darcy, a gentleman who had long prided himself on his irreproachable character and excellent self-control.
But it did. He had asked Elizabeth Bennet to marry him, and she had rejected him. They’d argued over why. And then—when he intended only to bid her as polite a farewell as he could muster—the two found themselves suddenly and inexplicably locked in a passionate embrace, kissing each other with equal fervor. He could not have said then who had moved first, only that they were staring angrily into each other’s eyes one moment and pressing their lips together the next.
Their mutual passion lasted until a noise somewhere in the house startled them back to their senses. Elizabeth jumped back, her bosom heaving with the same shallow, breathless gasping as Darcy’s chest. In her eyes was now a different emotion, one he could not quite read, but beneath it all he knew there was attraction. Her response to the kiss at least proved one thing: that she was not as indifferent to him as she’d professed herself to be.
“Why did you do that?” she demanded. “I did not think the perfect Mr. Darcy capable of taking such liberties!”
“Why did I?” Darcy countered. “You kissed me, Miss Bennet!”
“That is absurd!” Elizabeth cried. “Why should I want to kiss the man whose proposal of marriage I have just refused?”
“And why should I want to kiss the woman who has just thoroughly refused me?” he rejoined. “Perhaps you kissed me because in your heart you wish you had accepted me.”
Elizabeth scoffed and turned away from him. Darcy pressed on. “You cannot be unaware of the immeasurable advantages that would be yours if you were my wife, of the increase in importance and connexions our marriage would be giving to your family.”
“Oh yes, the family which you had no scruple in disparaging only moments ago, reminding me even as you claimed to love me that we are beneath you,” Elizabeth retorted angrily. She crossed her arms and pointedly kept her gaze turned away from him. “I think it is best you leave, Mr. Darcy—or are you incapable of taking ‘no’ for an answer?”
Her words brought him up short. They were equally guilty of crossing the line of propriety, but she was refusing to admit her complicity. Very well. Darcy sighed in aggravation and did as he’d originally planned. He bowed, bid her a terse “Good day,” and after taking up his hat and gloves he departed in haste.
It was best, he thought morosely as he stalked away from the Hunsford parsonage, that he gather up Fitzwilliam and take his leave of Kent. He could not have Elizabeth—she had rejected him. Despite the enormity of his wealth, the additional consequence of having noble relations she could claim to be her own, and the honour of simply having been noticed by a man so superior to herself.
Darcy paused in midstride, suddenly struck immobile by one of Elizabeth’s angry speeches: “…your manners impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others…”
He supposed it was rather arrogant of him to have had no expectation of refusal and conceited to dwell upon how great his superiority was. But even after having his love spurned, he could not understand her rejection. He had everything to recommend him—wealth, property, connexions in the peerage, status in the first circle of society. Marriage to him could only be an advantage to a young woman like Elizabeth, whose father might well be a gentleman—
That must be part of it, he thought as his feet began to move again. Mr. Bennet was a gentleman every bit as much as Darcy was, having inherited a long-held family property. That made them equals, and Elizabeth was—by association as a gentleman’s daughter—also his equal. The only material difference was money. If Mr. Bennet’s income had been substantial enough to provide respectable dowries for his daughters, even the lack of connexions could have been overlooked.
But Darcy had not treated Elizabeth as an equal. He had spoken to her as though she ought to be groveling at his feet with gratitude that he had even deigned to speak to her. He slowly came to the realization that, in fact, her feelings hadn’t much entered into his mind at all—he’d assumed she liked him as much as any other young lady of his acquaintance without having taken pains to find out for certain, that she would indeed be grateful he’d taken notice of her, and that she would glory in her triumph over women ten times her consequence. He’d been more concerned with gratifying his desire of having the object of his fancy finally become his than he was with how he worded his proposal.
He paused again as he reached the top of the portico steps at Rosings and drew his hand over his face. Good God—had he really just told the woman he loved that members of her family were embarrassing, that their condition in life was decidedly beneath his own, and that marrying her would be a degradation? That he had fallen in love with her against his will, his reason, and even his character? No matter how natural and just these sentiments were, nor how right he was to have struggled against his inclination, was it possible that he had erred in the timing of his confession of those scruples?
Darcy had only wished to be entirely honest, to prove to Elizabeth that the obstacles which would undoubtedly arise at the announcement of their union were of little matter to him—that his love for her was such that having her for his wife was more important to him than any objection.
“…had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner.”
When had he not been a gentleman? Darcy wondered as he entered his aunt’s house. As he climbed the stairs and made for his rooms, he reflected on the whole of his acquaintance with Elizabeth—from the first moment of their meeting to the disastrous encounter at the parsonage…and he dropped heavily into the chair before the fireplace as he began to understand just what she had meant.
A gentleman would not have kissed a woman who had refused his offer of marriage even if she was an equal participant. Her weakness did not excuse his own, and ashamed hardly described how he began to feel about himself for taking such a liberty.
A gentleman would not have stated every reason he had for not marrying a lady during the proposal in which he asked for her hand. However justified his reservations, it was suddenly, mortifyingly clear that pointing out her family’s failings had not so much wounded Elizabeth’s vanity as it had deeply hurt her feelings. If she had spoken so of his relations to him—even the supercilious Lady Catherine—Darcy would have been equally offended.
A gentleman would not have said that a lady was only tolerable and not handsome enough to dance with—at least, not aloud. Darcy had been in a very ill humor that evening and had only wanted Bingley to stop pestering him about dancing; he’d been of no mind to appreciate the beauty of any of the ladies around him, let alone one of the local squire’s five daughters. He’d known Elizabeth was sitting nearby—Bingley had pointed her out when he’d suggested having his partner introduce them—but he had not thought her so near as to overhear his conversation with his friend. He began to suspect that she had heard him and could now understand why she had afterward seemed so determined to argue with him whenever they conversed.
If so, the proposal was not the first time he’d wounded her. That insult at the Meryton assembly had “formed that groundwork of disapprobation, on which succeeding events”—no doubt including his disinclination to socialize with Bingley’s neighbours—“have built so immovable a dislike” that even one as intelligent as herself had been vulnerable to Wickham’s poison.
Wickham. He could hardly think the name without wishing to throttle the man. Darcy’s behaviour—his uneasiness in the company of strangers, which even he recognized made him more likely to offend than recommend himself—had already alienated Elizabeth against him, but he felt almost certain that her dislike might have been overcome had Wickham’s lies and half-truths not given her further reason to think ill of him.
In that, at least, I might defend myself, Darcy thought, and he surged from the chair to cross over to the writing desk. There he took out several sheets of paper, ink, and a pen, and he sat down to write Elizabeth a letter. He would explain everything—his motivation for separating Bingley and Jane, the whole history of his relationship with Wickham—and though he knew he could have no chance now of making her his wife, he would be contented if Providence allowed the letter to aid her in one day thinking better of him.
Well now, what do you think of that—was it a good teaser? I certainly hope so! Thank you so much for stopping by, and thanks to Sophia for having me.
Why I Kissed You will be available from Amazon in eBook, paperback, and hardcover editions on Friday, March 3rd. Leave a comment on today’s blog for a chance to win your very own Kindle copy—and follow along on the blog tour for a chance to win a signed paperback! If for any reason you cannot comment on a blog, notify me (Christine) by email and I will be sure to add you to the drawing for the paperback.
Christine, like many a JAFF author before her, is a long-time admirer of Jane Austen‘s work, and she hopes that her alternate versions are as enjoyable as the originals. She has plans to one day visit England and take a tour of all the grand country estates which have featured in film adaptations, and often dreams of owning one. Christine lives in Ohio and is already at work on her next book.
Blog: All That They Desire
Facebook: Christine Combe
9 thoughts on “Why I kissed You by Christine Combe”
I’m definitely loving the kiss! I wonder who did start it? Well it seems that they were seen thus forcing the marriage anyway! Yesssss! Love it! I’m definitely looking forward to reading this and I do like that beautiful cover.
Hello, Glynis! I love how I can count on you to follow along when I am on a tour. So lovely to see you again. Thank you for the kind comments. And yes, that kiss was something, was it not? I think you will like where this story goes.
So lovely to see you again, Glynis! I’m glad you like the cover and the excerpt. I do think you’ll enjoy this story very much.
I liked the history of the cover, thank you for sharing it. For the excerpt I really enjoyed that Darcy quickly realized what a mess he made of his proposal and looks like he is quickly taking her rebuff to heart. Can’t wait to see how the rest of the story goes.
It was a great teaser. Thanks for sharing!
I will definitely be reading it! Sounds very good!
Thank you for sharing an amazing introduction to your new novel, Christine. And heartiest congratulations that your hard work did pay off. I have not been reading P&P stories for some time and now that I have read the excerpt, I’ll be sure to want to finish it.
I too see all the advantages you get by being Mr Darcy’s wife, but he isaslways surprised by Lizzie’s reaction 😀