Hello to all and welcome back! Today I am visited by a retuning author, MJ Stratton and her new book, “From Another Perspective” which is a P&P variation! I have graciously been allowed to present an excerpt and a blurb and, of course, a giveaway! I am quite intrigued with the idea of this book, of seeing P&P from another perspective, like say Mrs. Hill? Or Anne de Bourgh? Or even Mrs. Younge, or some of the lesser known characters. But for now, I will leave you in the hands of my visiting authoress.
The events of Pride and Prejudice are well known by those familiar with Jane Austen’s work, but what would we see if the minor characters told the story? What were Mrs. Hill’s thoughts on the heir to Longbourn? How did Anne de Bourgh feel about her cousin’s fascination with the guests at the parsonage? Did Mrs. Younge willingly help Mr. Darcy find Wickham? From Another Perspective follows the events of Pride and Prejudice as seen through the eyes of some of the lesser players found in the novel, along with some others of the author’s own creation.
Mr. Phillips walked a few steps behind Mr. Wright and Mr. Bingley. The former was a middle aged man with a serious expression and gray forming at his temples. The latter was a gregarious and happy man of some twenty-five years, with red-gold hair and a fine figure. His clothing was costly and it was obvious he employed a talented tailor.
Though the two conversed in quiet tones, Mr. Phillips could read the satisfaction on Mr. Bingley’s face readily enough. Mr. Wright, though harder to read, likewise seemed pleased with the property. Occasionally during the tour, Mr. Phillips was called upon to answer questions, which he did with alacrity.
The housekeeper, Mrs. Nichols also accompanied the party. She proved to be an excellent source of information and had managed the upkeep of the empty property remarkably well. Having been employed by Netherfield’s owner over ten years previous, she had shown her worth many times through the years.
At the conclusion of the tour, Mr. Phillips and his guests repaired to the steward’s offices on the estate. There they set about discussing the particulars of finalizing the lease.
“The lease is for a year minimum, with the option to extend when the year concludes,” explained Mr. Phillips. “There are no special conditions attached to the lease, just the expectation that the property be maintained and the tenants well looked after. The permanent staff are also to remain with the property and are not at liberty to be removed under any circumstances without the express permission from Netherfield’s owner.”
“Capital!” enthused Mr. Bingley. “I am eager to venture into the realm of property management. Would it be possible to finalize the particulars so I might take possession by Michaelmas?”
“I see no reason why they would not be,” said Mr. Phillips. “The house will need to be aired out and the covers removed from the furniture, but Mrs. Nichols will have that in hand without delay.”
“That is wonderful,” Mr. Bingley said.
“Have you any other questions at this time?” Phillips inquired.
“I have only one,” said Mr. Bingley. “Is the owner of the park against any redecorating of the house? My younger sister shall accompany me to act as hostess and will be eager to add her own touches to the rooms.”
“General repairs to the property are encouraged, but any major renovations to the rooms must be approved prior to the undertaking, I am afraid. Should your sister wish to purchase a new rug or chair, the ones belonging to the estate may be stored in the attic during the lease and replaced when you give up the estate,” was the reply.
“Those are reasonable stipulations,” Mr. Wright said.
“Indeed,” stated Mr. Bingley. “My sister will have to be content with them, as I am very pleased with Netherfield and will brook no argument in my taking the property.”
Mr. Phillips smiled at the man’s enthusiasm. “Then let us begin organizing the final details, gentlemen,” he said. And so the legal work commenced.
That night as he settled into his bed, Mr. Phillips smiled to himself. A new resident in the area, and a wealthy, single gentleman at that. He could almost hear his wife’s voice in his head, berating him for keeping this news to himself. Best he prepare his defense now. Michaelmas was only three weeks away and she was sure to hear the news within the next fortnight at the most.
Almost two weeks to the day from that night, his wife burst into his office with enough force that the door hit the wall with a thud. Mr. Phillips winced at the noise and turned his attention to his lady.
“My dear Mrs. Phillips!” he said. “What a pleasure to see you this fine afternoon. How may I assist you?”
“You can begin by apologizing for your infamous treatment of me, sir!” she exclaimed. “You have used me abominably ill, you know!”
How very like her sister, Mrs. Bennet, his wife seemed at the moment. “To what do you refer, my dear?” he said innocently, the twinkle in his eye giving him away.
“Netherfield Park is let at last!” she said shrilly. “I have just had it from the butcher, who heard it from Lucy Jones, who works as a chambermaid for Netherfield. The butcher has received a large order for next week to make ready for the new master, a young man they say is worth at least five thousand a year! And you, sir, have likely had this immense news for some time since you are the solicitor that handles the estate!”
His wife finished her diatribe and huffed. Martha Phillips was a good woman, a bit silly, but kind, and a veritable gossip. That her husband knew that Netherfield was to be let and had not told her must rankle fiercely.
“Martha,” Mr. Phillips said patiently. “You know I was not at liberty to say anything. It is the nature of my work.”
“Well,” she huffed again. “You might have told me.”
Mr. Phillips sighed. Had he told his wife, the entire shire would have known that Netherfield was let before the end of the next day. Wisely, he did not mention this to his lady.
“Now, now, my dear,” he said. “I shall soon make it up to you. Did the butcher tell you anything else about Netherfield’s new tenant?”
“No,” she said testily. “No one seems to know anything other than what Lucy Jones has related.”
“Then I may be able to assuage some of your curiosity, my dear,” he said. “Mr. Bingley is from the north and is young and amiable. His father amassed a fortune in trade and he is leasing Netherfield in an attempt to learn estate management.”
“Is that all? Nothing of his looks or manner of dress?”
“I can tell you that his looks are as favorable as his manners,” Mr. Phillips replied playfully. “It is not in my nature to assess the outward appearance of those I deal with in business. It is their inner nature that most concerns me.”
“I suppose I shall have to be happy with your assessment, then,” said Mrs. Phillips. “I shall see you for tea shortly, Mr. Phillips. After that, I must visit my sister and apprise her of this momentous news.”
With that, his wife turned on her heel and exited the room. Mr. Phillips smiled to himself. His brother Bennet would be inundated with requests from his wife to visit their new neighbor. Phillips had no doubt that Bennet would use this opportunity to toy with Mrs. Bennet and the rest of the ladies of the house.
Mr. Phillips noted the time before turning back to his work. Mrs. Phillips would expect him for tea and it would not do to lose track of time and leave her waiting, not after so recently returning to her good graces.
He chuckled quietly and picked up a quill. Yes, the next few weeks would prove to be very diverting indeed. Perhaps the new resident of Netherfield would take a shine to one of the local ladies and become a more permanent resident. But speculation on such topics was the domain of his wife, and his work was waiting. Mr. Phillips turned his mind to the documents in front of him and promptly forgot about Mr. Bingley and Netherfield Park amidst his other concerns.
Please all, here is the link for the giveaway, so good luck and I hope you win a copy of this unusual copy of a P&P variation.
MJ Stratton is a teacher turned writer. She lives in rural Utah with her husband and three children. MJ has written for years and finally published her first book last September. Her love from Jane Austen began at a young age when she read Pride and Prejudice. Lost in Austen was the first Austenesque fiction she encountered and has been in love ever since. Along with writing, MJ loves to sew, cook, grow her garden, and tend her chickens.
Dear all, that’s it for now, I fear, but I will return shortly with a much loved and much beleaguered authoress, namely Joana Starnes and a review of her new book, “Snowbound.”
Hello and welcome back to everyone! This is the first blog of 2023! Imagine that! I feel like the year just turned to 2022, and now we are already in 2023! Happy New Year!
Today I am proud to welcome a new authoress, namely; Amanda Kai, who has a new book on the market. The new book is part I of a new series, so do not worry, more books will come. Amanda has also written “Marriage and Ministry”, “Unconventional” and others within the historical genre.
Mr. Darcy is not in want of a wife. At least, not one that only loves him for his money. Ever since he came of age, Darcy’s been an object of prey to fortune hunters– greedy ladies and their scheming mamas who would do anything to get their hands on his ten-thousand a year and his luxurious estate. Tired of being the most eligible man in any room he walks into, Darcy decides the only way to stave off the fortune hunters is to make himself unavailable to them.
Elizabeth Bennet is convinced that only the deepest love could persuade her into matrimony, and since that has yet to appear, she would do anything rather than marry without affection. Unfortunately, all her mother’s thoughts are bent on finding rich husbands for her and her sisters. With the arrival of Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy causing a stir among all the mothers of Meryton, Elizabeth knows it is only a matter of time before her own mother pushes her to try to capture one of these rich gentlemen for herself at all costs.
Seeing themselves in virtually the same predicament, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth come up with a convenient arrangement: they will pretend to court while Mr. Darcy is staying at Netherfield. Mr. Darcy will get a reprieve from the relentless husband hunters, and Elizabeth can satisfy her mother with the notion that she has landed a suitor.
But when the time comes for their partnership to end, the feelings that were merely an act have started to become a reality. Will Darcy and Elizabeth find a way to express the feelings that are in their hearts, or will they part ways for good?
Darcy could hardly hear his friend’s comment over the din in the Meryton Assembly Hall. The floor was crowded with couples, grinning and clapping, their feet stamping to the rhythm of the sprightly country dance coming from the string quartet in the gallery above.
“What’s that, you say, Bingley?” Darcy asked his friend over the roar of conversation and laughter adding to the noise of the dancing and the music.
“I said, I have never seen so many beautiful women in all my life!” The cheerful, ruddy-faced man exclaimed, coming closer to Darcy.
Darcy held back a smile. It was the same thing Bingley said wherever they went. He always found the women to be exceedingly beautiful, and Darcy knew it would not be long before Bingley found one in particular that would charm him completely.
“Come Darcy, I must have you dance,” his friend urged. “I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this stupid manner.”
“There is not a girl in the room with whom it would not be a punishment to stand up with,” he said bitterly.
Darcy hated these sorts of events. They were all the same. As soon as word got around that Mr-Ten-Thousand-A-Year-Darcy had graced them with his presence, the young ladies and their eager mamas began circling like vultures. Shortly after their arrival, the master of ceremonies had tried his best to persuade Darcy to be introduced to several of them, but Darcy had adamantly refused. Nevertheless, a number of them had flocked around him for several minutes, batting their eyes coyly, flirtatious smiles on their faces, each hoping to be asked by him to dance, until one by one they had been claimed by other partners.
Bingley laughed. “Upon my word! I would not be so fastidious for a kingdom! They are all extremely pleasant, and several of them uncommonly pretty.”
“You are dancing with the only pretty girl in the room. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles. You are wasting your time with me.”
Bingley laughed, and went back to the pretty blonde he had been dancing with.
Darcy continued to watch from a distance. What was the girl’s name again? Miss Beckett? No, Bennet, he corrected himself. The one with all the sisters.
Just after the first set, Bingley had asked the master of ceremonies for an introduction. Apparently, Bingley had seen Miss Bennet during the first dance while he was paired with Miss Lucas and had been quite taken with her. Miss Jane Bennet. Yes, that’s her name, Darcy recalled. He had been standing beside Bingley when they were introduced to her and her family. She had four sisters, but Darcy could not seem to recall their names. He looked around the room for them. The two youngest girls, both of whom were nearly the spitting image of their mother, albeit younger and thinner, were dancing gleefully with a pair of fellows. Darcy imagined that Mrs. Bennet might have once been pretty herself at their age. Another sister had taken out a book from her reticule and sat down on a bench, where, despite her mother’s urging that she put it away at once lest she make herself appear unavailable to any men who might ask her to dance, continued on reading, deaf to her mother’s anxious pleas. Darcy’s eyes searched the room for the last sister. He finally spotted her hiding in the back of the room on the side opposite him. She appeared to be avoiding anyone asking her to dance, having deliberately positioned herself where it was unlikely that she would be sought out. What a strange family, Darcy thought. He studied the girl’s expression as she watched the dancing and clapped along in time for amusement. There was a brightness to her deep, dark eyes that made the corner of Darcy’s mouth turn up. She is tolerable enough, I suppose, Darcy thought to himself, but not handsome enough to tempt me.
“Hiding away in the corner already, are we?” A voice whispered in his ear. Darcy bristled. It was Bingley’s youngest sister, Caroline. “Are you not going to dance tonight, Mr. Darcy? I thought you had promised to at least dance with me.”
“I do not recall making such a promise.”
“I thought you had said as much during dinner. And anyhow, it would be such a shame if you did not! We are friends after all, are we not?”
Darcy could not claim such. He saw her as nothing more than the sister of his good friend. But ever since they had been introduced a few years past, she had set her cap towards him. She was a prime example of the type of girl he wished most to avoid; a girl who never cared to know him personally, but always had her eye on his fortune. Still, he knew it would be bad manners to deny her, and that she would persist until she had her way. Best to get it over with, Darcy decided.
Wordlessly, he offered her his hand and led her to join the dance. Caroline’s look of glee made Darcy instantly regret that he had capitulated so easily. Luckily, the second half of the set was already under way, so it would not be more than ten minutes and his obligation to her would be over. He would not, under any circumstances, give her the satisfaction of a second dance. Doing so would only encourage her obsession with him.
As they promenaded down the polished wooden floor of the assembly hall, Caroline attempted to make conversation with Darcy. But he hardly listened. His eyes kept being drawn, not to the matchmaking mamas or their bloodsucker daughters, all of whom were eyeing them with envy, but to that pair of dark eyes, watching him from the back of the crowd. That second-oldest Bennet girl. Elizabeth, was it? Why was she not among the girls vying for his attention?
As soon as that set had ended, Darcy broke free from Caroline and tried to make his way towards Miss Elizabeth. He was pressed in on all sides by a group of young ladies, no doubt pressured by their mothers to make themselves readily available in hopes they would be graced next. Caroline attempted to follow him, but was cut off by the other ladies and could not get close.
Darcy knew that the moment he set foot in the county, that every mother with a single daughter between the ages of sixteen and thirty would be desperate to marry her off to him. It was the same everywhere he went. A person’s fortune was all that anybody seemed to care about. Darcy shuddered, still remembering a time a few years back when an overzealous mother tried to trap him into marrying her daughter. And then there was the incident over the summer with his dear sister and that blackguard. No, I will not submit my thoughts to that horror any longer, Darcy told himself. Georgiana is safe now. If only I could say the same for myself.
Darcy looked at the eager faces around him and began to panic. Some were prettier than others, but none worthy of any notice. He glanced around for help. Bingley had apparently asked Jane Bennet to dance a second set. He was already lining up with her on the dance floor, looking like an adoring puppy dog. There would be no help from his quarter.
“Why Mr. Darcy, have you not chosen a dance partner for this set yet?” Caroline Bingley had caught up with him. “I am still available, as you can see.”
Now Darcy was trapped between her and the gaggle of giggling geese surrounding him.
He realized it had been a mistake to dance with Caroline. Now that he had been seen dancing, he would be expected to dance the rest of the evening. There would be no escaping it. Failure to do so would put him in social jeopardy, ostracize him in the eyes of the neighborhood. But he could not bring himself to ask Caroline a second time, nor to give any other greedy mothers their satisfaction. What could he do?
Through the crowds, Darcy spied Caroline and Charles Bingley’s elder sister Mrs. Hurst. Early on, she had secured a seat near the punchbowl, where she intended to remain the whole night unless asked to dance by one of the men in her party. Her husband had already disappeared to the card room and would likely not reappear until it was time to leave or until his pockets ran empty. There was a small gap between the giggling group of women, and he took it.
“Louisa,” Darcy said, startling Mrs. Hurst and causing her to drip punch down her dress. “Dance with me,” he insisted, grabbing her arm before she could say no.
“Well, I suppose,” she slurred.
They found their places just as the music began again. Louisa staggered through the steps. Twice, Darcy had to take her arm to ensure she did not crash into another dancer.
His eyes returned to that dark beauty who had kept him so entranced. He detected a smile on her face as she watched the dancing. Was she amused by him? He tried to keep his composure, but it was difficult, since he had to steer a drunken Louisa Hurst around the room.
He caught Caroline’s eye as they went down the set. She looked visibly disappointed with her current partner, a gangly buck-toothed fellow with two left feet.
There was a break after that set so the musicians could take a rest. Some of the dancers left to see what was happening in the card room. Others mingled near the punchbowl or went to the tea room for a hot beverage and something to eat.
Mrs. Hurst staggered off to the card room to chastise her husband for leaving her alone all evening, slurping from her punch glass the whole way. Darcy saw Caroline looking for him again. He ducked into the crowd that was headed for the tea room, hoping she did not see him.
The tea room was smaller and therefore even more crowded than the assembly room had been, since now most of the throng was gathered there.
Darcy selected a savory bacon-wrapped oyster off of the tray and took a cup of tea from a servant that offered it to him. Finding his way to the corner of the room, he hoped Caroline could not find him. He inched his way backwards to the wall until he came upon something soft and squishy.
“Careful there!” a voice cried.
The voice came from none other than the dark-haired Bennet girl, who had herself sequestered in that very corner, trying to enjoy some tea and a few nibbles.
“Miss Elizabeth, please excuse me,” Darcy apologized, hoping he had her name right.
“You have the right idea,” she said, “trying to hide out in the corner. It’s dreadfully crowded this evening, isn’t it?” A beguiling smile spread across her face and made Darcy’s heart thump. “Don’t worry, I won’t give away your position if I see her.”
“The one you’re hiding from. Mr. Bingley’s sister. Miss Bingley, I should say. Not the older one,” she clarified.
“You saw that, then?”
“Oh yes. It was quite amusing, really.” Miss Elizabeth took a sip of her tea, a twinkle in her eyes.
Darcy seized the chance to ask her the question that had been burning in his mind all evening. “I noticed you have not danced at all this whole evening.”
“An astute observation.” Elizabeth cocked her head to one side.
“And you have positioned yourself so as to be unapproachable by any young men who might be inclined to ask you to dance.”
She nodded. “Also correct.”
“If it is not too bold, might I ask why? On a night like this, why would a young lady such as yourself not want to dance?”
Elizabeth glanced up at him. “I am doing the very same thing you are doing, Mr. Darcy.” The amusement on her lips drove him to distraction.
“And what is that, pray tell?”
“Trying to avoid being maneuvered into the matchmaking frenzy by an overzealous mother.”
The surprise on Darcy’s face made her laugh, so she continued. “I have watched you, this evening. You are not eager to be set upon by any of the eligible ladies here. And I, as you might have seen,” she gestured to Mrs. Bennet on the other side of the room, who was chatting up Mr. Bingley with a blushing Jane standing beside, “I have an overzealous mama who will do anything to make a good match for her daughters. It has been some time since any wealthy men passed through Meryton. My mother has behaved like a starved vulture from the moment she learned that Mr. Bingley was to lease Netherfield Park. You were not in the room for five minutes before it became known that your fortune is double that of your friend’s. I have no doubt that my mother is only biding her time before she throws me at you.”
“Yes, I am sure my ten-thousand a year holds no draw for you,” Darcy chuckled.
“Were I the mercenary sort, I am certain it would!” Elizabeth joined his laugh. “Do not mistake me, Mr. Darcy. I am sure you are a good sort of person who will make your wife very happy one day. But I would never marry a rich man whom I didn’t love, and I shall not make a fool of myself by allowing my mother to push me into such a match for her sake. Only the deepest love could persuade me into matrimony. Which is why I shall probably end up an old maid.” There was a twinkle in her eyes as she said this.
“Surely you don’t mean that,” Darcy let out a small chuckle.
“Oh, I do.”
“I mean, there will come a time when someone or other will capture your heart.”
“Well, best of luck to any man who wishes to try!” Elizabeth smiled, raising a small cheer with her tea cup. “But what of you, Mr. Darcy? Have you no wish to settle down and find a suitable wife to make mistress of your grand estate?”
Darcy shook his head. “So far, the only women I have met are interested in nothing more than my sizable estate. Until I can find a woman who loves me for me, and not my wealth, I would rather remain a carefree bachelor. So I suppose you and I are alike in some ways, Miss Bennet.”
“Indeed we are.”
Darcy found Miss Elizabeth to be singular. Certainly, she differed from the women who usually associated with him, who all made it clear they desired his money more than getting to know who he was as a person. Caroline was a model in that respect, a prime example of the sort of woman who looked at Darcy and saw a fortune, a prestigious family line, and a vast estate, rather than a man.
An idea flew into Darcy’s brain. A crazy thought, if he ever had one. And why not? What had he to lose?
“I have a proposition for you, Miss Elizabeth.”
“A proposition? How shocking!” she teased, her eyebrows raising in mirth.
Darcy felt his cheeks pink. “Nothing of that sort, I assure you. Everything will be entirely proper. What I am suggesting is, you and I be each other’s cover. A way to throw off all the matchmaking mamas, including your own.”
Elizabeth’s eyebrow went up and a grin spread across her pink lips. “I am intrigued.”
“We shall pretend to court,” Darcy said. “If I am paying exclusive attention to you, then all the other mothers in the village and thereabouts will have no choice but to desist in throwing their daughters at me.”
“And my own mama will be satisfied with the notion that I have captured a rich man!” Elizabeth laughed in glee. Then she stopped short. “But what about as time goes on? If you pay me too much attention, you will be honor-bound to make me an offer. My father would see to it, I am sure, as would my mother. I would not have you trapped so, sir.”
Pleased to hear her say such a thing, Darcy pondered a moment. He snapped his fingers. “When things begin to get too heated, I shall simply leave town, go to another place. It happens all the time, you know, when a young man is seen paying too much attention to a woman he does not plan to marry. He goes away from that area, and after a while, the talk dies down and nobody expects him to come back and propose. And that puts an end to it all.”
Elizabeth thought for a moment. “Hmm. The idea does have merit. When would this proposed departure take place?”
“I do not know. At the moment, I have no pressing business concerns. I am Bingley’s guest, and I am here to help him establish his own household at Netherfield. I always supposed I would stay until the Season, but there is nothing that would prevent me from going to London early, especially as I will likely be making short journeys there from time to time to attend to my business.”
Elizabeth nodded. “It is but a half-day’s ride.”
“Indeed,” Darcy agreed. Their plan seemed to be shaping up nicely. But Elizabeth had a few questions.
“How will we arrange our meetings? It is too risky to send a message.”
“No,” Darcy agreed. “But I am sure we shall meet often enough. No doubt your mother will issue us an invitation soon, if she is anything like you have described. And I can certainly persuade Bingley to invite your family over to Netherfield for a visit. He has even talked of giving a ball this autumn.”
“And there are sure to be other engagements with our mutual acquaintances in the neighborhood during which we may meet,” Elizabeth added.
“All I need to do is ensure that at every opportunity, I single you out when we are together in company,” Darcy said. “If people see us talking together, dancing together, then they will naturally make assumptions about us. It is quite simple, really!”
“Well then! To that point, why not begin this evening?” Elizabeth linked her arm in his. “I hear the musicians tuning their instruments for the next set.”
Darcy smiled. “May I have this dance, then, Miss Elizabeth?”
“You may!” She beamed.
The crowd followed the faint strains of violin, viola, and cello back into the assembly room. To the astonishment of everyone in the room, and the envy of nearly every woman there, Mr. Darcy took his place beside Elizabeth at the front of the line. The scowl on Caroline’s face nearly matched the green of her dress, and Darcy thought he saw one poor girl weeping into her mother’s shoulder. Mrs. Bennet, however, was full of glee. Seeing her next- eldest daughter dancing with the richest man in the room– and in all of Derbyshire– was enough to make her forget her displeasure at the fact that Mr. Bingley had asked Mary King to dance with him on this set.
“Our plan seems to be working,” Elizabeth whispered as the Polonaise began.
“Quite so.” A grin like a Cheshire cat spread across Mr. Darcy’s face.
Dear readers, we are so lucky that Amanda have gracefully offered 1 ebook of her new book, “Not in want of a wife” as a giveaway! So leave a comment and we will get in touch about the winner.
Amanda Kai’s love of period dramas and classic literature inspires her historical romances and other romances. She is the author of several stories inspired by Jane Austen, including Not In Want of a Wife, Elizabeth’s Secret Admirer, and Marriage and Ministry. Prior to becoming an author, Amanda enjoyed a successful career as a professional harpist, and danced ballet for twenty years. When she’s not diving into the realm of her imagination, Amanda lives out her own happily ever after in Texas with her husband and three children.
For now dear readers, I will leave you to your comments, and wish all good luck in the giveaway. Again, happy new year and I hope we will see you here again, soon.
Hello to all and very nearly merry Christmas! So this will likely be the last blog before the new year, amazing that we are almost at 2023 already! I have been following Christine and her books for a while now, and this newest and upcoming book is definitely a keeper!
But for now, I will leave you in Christine’s capable hands.
Hello everyone! I am so very excited to be returning to Interests of a Jane Austen Girl to talk about my latest Austen variation, Three Brides for Three Cousins!
Fitzwilliam Darcy’s twin cousins are ready for their debut in society, and one might think that would keep their mother—the Countess of Disley—well occupied. But even preparing her daughters for presentation to the Queen and their debut ball has not stopped Lady Disley’s plans to marry off her two sons and her nephew at last.
Elizabeth Bennet and her elder sister Jane are in London with their aunt and uncle at Gracechurch Street to enjoy some of the delights of the Season. They do not expect that meeting Mrs. Gardiner’s cousin from Derbyshire and the young lady to whom she is companion will lead to a reunion with the young man who wrote Jane some verses of poetry when she was 15 … or that he will be revealed to be a viscount.
Although sure this means the end of their new acquaintance with the shy Miss Darcy, Elizabeth and Jane are surprised when her brother lets the friendship continue. More than that, Lord Rowarth is forced to confess that his feelings for Jane remain strong, and his determination to defy convention and pursue a match with her unintentionally draws Elizabeth and Darcy to each other. Amidst supporting his brother’s attachment to one Bennet sister and encouraging his cousin Darcy’s growing feelings for the other, Colonel Theodore Fitzwilliam is enlisted by a duke’s daughter to help prevent her family’s ruination from scandal.
Family drama, misunderstandings, and the expectations of society are difficult waters to navigate. Can these three cousins get through it all to win the hearts of their chosen ladies and secure their own happiness?
CHAPTER 1, second part;
I do hope that blurb intrigues you! Now to further reel you in, here is the second part of Chapter One:
Fitzwilliam Darcy watched as Mrs. Annesley touched the arm of his sister and gave a very subtle incline of her head toward the tea set that had just been delivered by the housekeeper. Georgiana colored, put her needlework aside, and stood to serve.
“H-how do you take your tea, Lord Rowarth?” she asked their eldest cousin hesitantly.
Philip offered her a smile. “Georgiana, you really needn’t address me so formally. Cousin Philip, or just Philip, will do.”
Georgiana blushed again, her eyes darting between Darcy and Mrs. Annesley. “But… but we are taught in school that a viscount—”
Philip waived off her words. “Any other viscount, yes—be as formal as you were taught. But we are family, dearest. Others may differ, of course, but when not in company you are more than welcome to address me by my Christian name, as I do you.”
He sat forward and smiled at her again. “And I take my tea with a wedge of lemon and two sugars.”
With a hand that only shook a little, Georgiana poured a cup of tea, adding the lemon and sugar as he requested, and handed it to him. Philip smiled and nodded and sat back with ease. Georgiana flicked a glance toward Darcy again and he also offered a nod and a smile. When serving Philip’s younger brother, Theodore, she was a little less reserved, and with Darcy even less, but even with him she kept her eyes cast down. After pouring for Mrs. Annesley and then herself, Georgiana sat down again.
Darcy sighed softly but was gratified by Mrs. Annesley’s presence; the widowed lady had been working very diligently with his sister to draw out the smiles and cheerfulness she’d always had at the ready before Ramsgate. Before Wickham. Georgiana had withdrawn so far into herself after learning the truth about that scoundrel that she rarely spoke more than two words together. She often had to be reminded to do her duty as hostess when they had guests, as she was now so painfully shy.
Grinding his teeth together, Darcy forced thoughts of his nemesis from his mind. It would not do to have either of his cousins or his sister take notice of a darkened mood, for the former would only needle him with questions, and his sister would only be discomfited by the answers.
Viscount Rowarth and Colonel Fitzwilliam were at Pemberley with him and Georgiana because they were avoiding their mother. Of late she seemed to have renewed her mission to see her sons married, despite being kept busy with plans for their sisters’ debut in the coming Season. But Philip was over thirty and Theodore would soon reach that age, and in the countess’s mind, they should have both of them already made her a grandmother. Darcy could well sympathize with his cousins, as his aunt had also taken it upon herself—in the absence of his own late, honored mother—to begin pressing him to at last give Pemberley a new mistress.
And he would…when he was good and ready.
Ralston, his butler, entered the parlor then, carrying a letter on a tray. He stopped by Darcy’s chair, and when he had taken the folded paper, the older man bowed and departed as quietly as he had entered.
“Who’s it from, Will?” asked Theodore.
Darcy examined the handwriting on the front and tried not to frown. “Your mother,” he replied, then turned the note over and broke the seal. He was not altogether surprised by the message within and stifled another sigh as he finished reading and folded it again.
“What did my mother have to say, Will?” asked Philip. “Does she fear we will not make our required appearance at the twins’ come-out ball? It’s not for another four weeks, for goodness’ sake!”
Darcy scoffed. “Not precisely. Though it is mentioned that you and Theodore will be there, my aunt’s letter is a strong request for my presence also.”
The brothers looked to one another, with Philip grinning as Theodore laughed. “You mean you’ve been summoned to appear!” the latter cried.
“So it would seem,” said Darcy sourly.
“Come, Theo—you know that Mamma’s been as much on Darcy to marry as she has the two of us of late. You’d think she had a third son, the way she’s been after him,” Philip mused.
“So, you will go to London for the winter, brother?” Georgiana asked softly.
Darcy looked to her. “We will go,” said he with a smile. “I’ll not leave you and Mrs. Annesley here alone.”
Mrs. Annesley’s serene expression brightened. “Oh, that would be delightful, sir! I have family in London I’ve not seen in some years that I will be able to renew my acquaintance with.”
A genial smile lifted the corners of Darcy’s mouth, and he inclined his head. “You are welcome, ma’am.”
Though the debut of his female cousins was still four weeks hence, Darcy began making plans for an extended stay in London that evening—it was always his preference to plan ahead when he could. There were many matters to be settled about the estate and in the villages over which he was patron before he could pack himself and his sister off to a city neither of them truly enjoyed for however long his aunt demanded he play her game. Like Philip and Theodore, he wished to make rather a different sort of match than so many of their friends’ parents—the three all desired to marry for love in a society where making an advantageous match to preserve or increase property and wealth was the main goal of marriage. The viscount and his brother had long said that was why they had waited to marry.
Darcy, of course, had a much different reason for putting off marriage. The death of his father near five years before had thrust upon him the mantle of “master of Pemberley” long before he’d expected it. He had known something of how to manage the estate and tenants, of course, but losing his father in such a tragic way as he had and taking on the guardianship of his much younger sister had been almost more than he could bear. It had taken time to get used to his new role, to ensure that the staff in the house and the tenants without not only respected but also trusted him.
Though he had always been somewhat fastidious, the change in the dynamic of his household—where already one parent had been years gone—had led to his becoming more so. Thus, Darcy had put contingencies in place should anything happen to him. If he died tomorrow, every person who depended on him would be well-looked after.
Although the ball presenting his cousins Cecilia and Olivia to society was still a month in future, his design was that he, Georgiana, and her companion would arrive just after the new year. Darcy would have time to take pleasure in his club and visits with friends before the family’s first grand display of the Season, and his own unwilling immersion in the marriage mart.
At least Philip and Theodore would be suffering along with him.
Now back to Christine
Well now, what do you think of that—was it a good teaser? I certainly hope so! Thanks for stopping by, and thanks to Sophia for having me.
*Sophia*; Christine, I am as always pleased to host you and your books! And boy oh boy does this book sound amazing!! I am definitely already looking at buying this book!
“Three Brides for Three Cousins” is available in eBook from Amazon. Paperback and hardcover editions coming soon!
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.
Hello all and welcome back! This time around, I am pleased to host Grace Gibson, another returning authoress to my blog. We are to read and see what kind of Pride and Prejudice variation, she has written this time around. I will promise, drama, heartache, stubbornness and a HEA by the end of it. I will also admit to some surprises along the way, so come along and see what happens.
Does it ever stop raining in Lambton?
Darcy and Bingley depart Netherfield Park, leaving Elizabeth Bennet acutely aware of the monotony of her life. Seeking a reprieve, she volunteers to serve as temporary companion to Mrs. Gardiner’s elderly aunt who lives in Lambton. Nothing turns out as Elizabeth expects, and she is forced to dig deep into her reserves of common sense, humor, and stubborn persistence to prove herself equal to the dreary circumstances.
Initially unaware that Pemberley is only five miles away, Elizabeth crosses paths with Darcy annoyingly often. When the gentleman rescues her from a shocking situation, Elizabeth faces some hard choices, at the same time struggling against the smoldering attraction that can neither be repressed nor fulfilled.
Mr. Darcy, meanwhile, in whose heart a fire has also been lit, is shocked by the lady’s stubborn refusal to accept his help. Alternating between alarm and begrudging admiration, he stands helplessly on the sidelines while she struggles to retain her independence. He, too, must make some hard choices in the end. Will he let her go?
The last house in Lambton By Grace Gibson
This book takes it beginning with the Netherfield Party has left Meryton and the whole town is upset about it. It was quite informative to read Elizabeth’s thoughts on the party and Collins.
As always a pleasure to read a known author, though I will admit I was quite surprised by Grace this time around, a book written in first person narrative, not something which is seen often, but surprisingly it worked well, as we follow along on Elizabeth Bennet and her adventures in Lambton.
As Elizabeth and Jane visits their aunt and uncle in London, Mrs Gardiner receives a letter from her aunt in Lambton, an elder woman, who simply can’t do without company while her housekeeper is away. But as Mrs Gardiner is busy with her children and life in London, Elizabeth suggests that she goes. Before she left Longbourn, Mrs Bennet had declared that Elizabeth would end her days as a drudge to Mrs Collins, and I will admit that insult stung me almost as badly as it did Elizabeth. But the words would come back to haunt Elizabeth.
As soon as Elizabeth arrives in Lambton, she is bombarded with information about her great-aunt, and not a maid to help her to change or settle in. Soon she discovers that her great aunt is quite elderly and quite without her wits, which we today would call dementia. I felt so bad for the woman, and felt even worse for Elizabeth as she ends up having to take control of the house, as both caretaker and housekeeper, a role she is little prepared for.
Soon she needs help, and seeks out the housekeeper at Pemberley. Here she once again encounters Darcy, who thinks Elizabeth is seeking him out but mistakes her interest which she has for Mrs Reynolds’ knowledge for interest in him. Oh gosh, it felt embarrassing!
I will admit to wanting to kick Elizabeth several times throughout the book, but I grew to love her and her great aunt as characters. Soon the drama reaches a high point, and Darcy comes to the rescue, – damsel in distress and all that. Not a role we are used to see Elizabeth in. This drama leads Elizabeth and her great aunt to move to Pemberley. Here Georgiana Darcy makes another appearance alongside of sweet kittens and an adorable little dog.
Soon feelings are developing between Darcy and Elizabeth – and then the story takes another turn as Mr Gardiner arrives.
But I do promise a HEA and a wonderful proposal, which made me sigh in contentment!
GUEST POST; Grace Gibson
For now I will leave you in Grace’s hands for a bit while she tells about some plot details, including a certain very cute dog!
Thank you so much for having me today, Sophia. I appreciate the opportunity to share news of my new release on your beautiful blog.
For those of you who enjoyed Bandit in Old Boots, I assure you that there is also a dog—Queenie— in The Last House in Lambton. She also plays a critical role in the stirring events that take place.
But for the sake of inclusion for the cat lovers out there, there is also a litter of kittens owned by Georgiana Darcy. Here is an excerpt, told from Darcy’s point of view, in which a handful of playful kittens help to set the scene:
Waking was painful as I am unused to brawling, and I ached from head to toe. And though I longed to stay in bed and indulge my pains, I could not do so without fueling speculation about where I had been all night. Besides, I had left Georgiana abruptly in the midst of a pleasant evening, and I wished to gloss over any appearance of irregularity.
Summoning the required stoicism, I managed to look a reasonable semblance of myself and went in search of my sister. She sat over a half-eaten late breakfast with two kittens in her lap and a third wreaking havoc on her braids from the perch of her shoulder.
“What a charming picture,” I said, as I sat down with my plate, noticing with a tinge of relief that my knuckles were only slightly reddened and unlikely to give me away. The cut on my lip was small enough that I hoped it, too, would escape notice, but I was prepared to blame Carsten for too close a shave if needs must.
Georgiana smiled wistfully, put her tormentors in the basket at her feet, and said, “You are hungry this morning.”
“Starving, in fact. What are your plans today?” I asked.
Rather than answer me, my sister spoke to her companion. “Mrs. Annesley, would you mind very much taking the kittens to Marie in the kitchen? I am sure that is where Buttons can be found, and she should be mothering her brood instead of helping with the cream buckets.”
She continued to pick at her breakfast, and I continued to devour mine, but I could not help but notice that the air in the room had changed—that my sister was oddly preoccupied. No sooner had the footman left the room with the tray of cleared dishes, than she confirmed my suspicion.
With uncharacteristic directness, she asked, “What happened last night?”
Uh-oh! Darcy brawling? Let us presume that Elizabeth Bennet had something to do with that cut on his lip, because—well, she is Elizabeth and he cannot help himself. If you are curious what could possibly make Darcy roll up his sleeves and break a nose or two, then enter the giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Last House in Lambton.
In addition to mosaic art, which she creates at Studio Luminaria (her home-based glass shop in El Paso, Texas), Grace enjoys writing Regency romance and Pride and Prejudice variations.
Giveaway Meryton Press will be giving away one eBook for each stop on the Blog Tour, for a total of six eBooks. So leave a comment, and I will pick a winner on November 15th, and inform Grace about the winner, who will receive an E-book of “The Last House in Lambton” in either mobi or E-pub version.
For now, I will leave you all to your reading, and say, “I’ll be seeing you soon again.” Cheers and good luck!
Welcome back everyone, old and new readers! Today I am hosting a returning authoress, namely Kelly Miller and her new book, “A dutiful son”, its a Pride and Prejudice variation, and a very good one at that. But for now, I will leave you in Kelly’s hands.
What will Fitzwilliam Darcy do when his beloved father stands between him and happiness?
Darcy has always emulated his wise and honourable father, George Darcy. But following a sinister act of betrayal by a former family friend, his father rejects his most benevolent principles.
When Georgiana forms a friendship with Miss Elizabeth Bennet, Darcy convinces his father to allow the association to continue. However, Elizabeth soon presents a thorny problem: she entices Darcy as no other lady has before, and with his father’s current outlook, he would not approve of her as a daughter-in-law.
Still, Darcy’s problem may resolve in time: his father, after getting to know Elizabeth, is certain to recognise her many admirable qualities and change his mind. But what if he does not?
In this Pride & Prejudice Regency variation, Fitzwilliam Darcy is caught between the influences of love and duty. Which of these will wield the greatest power?
Thank you so much for hosting me today, Sophia! I have an excerpt today from Chapter 2 of “A Dutiful Son.” This scene, written in Elizabeth Bennet’s point of view, takes place the morning after Jane has taken ill and spent the night at Netherfield Hall. While on her way to the estate, Elizabeth encounters Georgiana and Fitzwilliam Darcy, who are both on horseback.
She exchanged greetings with Mr. and Miss Darcy. “I am going to Netherfield Park to see my sister. Can you tell me how she fares?”
Crinkles formed around Mr. Darcy’s dark eyes. “The apothecary, Mr. Jones, saw her last night. I understand she suffered from a fever at the time. He gave her a draught and will return to see her today.”
“Oh dear.” Miss Darcy’s forehead constricted. “A large section of the path we just crossed is completely covered in mud this morning. I do not recommend you take it on foot.”
“I suspected that might be the case. Our carriage was unavailable, so I had no alternative. But I have wended my way through mud before. I shall manage.”
“You need not do so on this occasion.” With a glance at Mr. Darcy, Miss Darcy leaned forward in the saddle. “I could ride back to the house with my brother upon Regal and you could ride Pansy.”
He nodded. “Yes, that is a good notion.”
“I thank you, but I am not dressed for riding.”
“Oh yes, I ought to have thought of that.” Miss Darcy’s smile faded.
“I see. Your skirt is too narrow.” Mr. Darcy rubbed a hand over his mouth. “You could sit sideways upon Regal and ride with me.”
She gaped at him. “I could not do that; it would not be proper!”
“It would be ill-advised if we were alone, but my sister will accompany us the entire time. The area overspread with deep mud is perhaps ten yards long and too wide for you to go around. Once we have crossed it, you could walk the rest of the way. I should hate for you to soil your dress when it can be avoided.”
Elizabeth pulled her lower lip between her teeth. To arrive with her petticoats covered in mud would provide fodder for the Bingley sisters to disparage her. But the magnificent black stallion made a far more imposing figure than Baxter. “Are you quite certain your horse will not object to carrying both of us?”
“You need not be concerned.” Miss Darcy glimpsed at Mr. Darcy. “Regal is devoted to my brother and trusts him implicitly.”
Mr. Darcy held her in a solemn gaze. “I should not have made the suggestion if I had any doubt for your safety.”
“Very well. I shall ride with you past the muddiest area and walk the rest of the way.”
He dismounted and waved her closer. “Stand here with your back to Regal.”
She followed his instruction and sucked in her breath as his hands closed around her waist. He raised her upon the animal’s back, appearing to expend no more effort than if he had lifted a doll. The celerity of his action prevented her from dwelling on the intimacy involved, yet fire seared her cheeks, and her heart surged to a raging rhythm.
“Hold onto Regal’s mane.”
Elizabeth twisted at the waist and grabbed the coarse black hair with both hands.
He mounted and sat behind her. “Are you ready to proceed?”
Mr. Darcy urged Regal forward. The steed maintained a walk, but without stirrups to steady her, the rocking motion of the gait pushed her back against the gentleman’s chest with each step—until she had the presence of mind to brace herself in a forward position.
She had never before been in such an intimate position with a man unrelated to her. Along with the smells attributable to the horse, another scent surrounded her that must have been Mr. Darcy’s—a pleasing mixture of aromas: pine, citrus, and others too subtle to identify. In her experience, males often had strong body odours that could be offensive. But his scent tantalised her senses, delivering a strange intoxicating effect.
The wisdom of the Darcys’ advice soon became apparent. On foot, she could not have avoided the extensive stretch of viscous mud ahead. Had she trudged through it, she would have been a sorry sight upon her arrival.
The mighty black steed took a faltering step into the worst section of mud. For a frightening second, she stilled. Would she, Mr. Darcy, and the horse all tumble down together?
“All is well.” His euphonious baritone inches from her ear restored her equanimity. The horse made a quick adjustment and continued without incident.
She took shallow breaths until they emerged from the sludge onto firm earth. “I believe I can walk from here.”
“Very well.” Mr. Darcy dismounted. Once again, he gripped her waist and lowered her to the ground in a smooth, easy motion.
Elizabeth’s anticipation of this contact—which lasted no more than a second or two—did nothing to lessen the impact. Mr. Darcy’s maddening touch stole her focus. After he released her, the heightened sensation of warmth at her sides lingered. At least her racing heart now slowed to a normal pace.
Thank you, Kelly for allowing us this view into your new book! It was a pleasure to read it, and of course, since I have read the book, I was quite pleased with it!
The story takes it start stright after the Ramsgate episode. And to my utter surprise George Darcy is still alive at this point, and therefore master of Pemberley, and Fitzwilliam only the heir.
With the Ramsgate incident, George Darcy goes back on his progressive ways and adopt a more traditional view of things; friendships with tradesmen and who to marry and why. This has quite a few good and bad consequences for both Georgiana and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Though the famous romance between Elizabeth and Darcy doesn’t change, much to my relief, – though they have a better start at the assembly in Meryton. This is where the first sparks are lit, and a friendship starts for the two headstrong characters.
During the visit to Meryton, Georgiana is also present, and she and Elizabeth forms a friendship, and Georgiana is also involved with getting Elizabeth back on her horse, quite literally, – she gets Elizabeth to start riding again on a very friendly horse, named Baxter. Elizabeth forms enduring friendships with both Baxter, the horse, Georgiana and Darcy which sets the tone for the book.
Much to my enjoyment and pleasure, Darcy FINALLY puts Wickham in his place by hitting him! I will admit to cheering, loudly! hehe
There was so many surprises throughout this story. Many of them I enjoyed greatly, some where I was shaking my head in denial, and again a few where I was ready to throw my kindle away, though the last ones where few.
By the end of the visit to Meryton, Georgiana invites Elizabeth to Pemberley for the summer, and then the drama begins. During the visit to Pemberley, Elizabeth is made aware that she has no hope of securing Fitzwilliam Darcy or his cousin, the former Col. Fitzwilliam as potenial husbands, even if Elizabeth has already developed feelings for Darcy. Meanwhile George Darcy makes his wishes clear to his son, that he marries a woman from their own circle, and Darcy tries to be a dutiful son, and follow his father’s wishes, even if his heart rebels.
An unexpected courtship and proposal takes place at Pemberley, while Darcy is trying to follow his father’s wishes and court Miss Talbot, a neighbour to Pemberley. As for the courtship/proposal Elizabeth is subjected to, I will admit that I was ready to throttle Kelly for allowing Elizabeth to be put in such a situation, but thankfully happiness prevails in the end and George Darcy changes his mind and blesses his son’s decision and happiness. The ending was satisfying, and lovely and made me shed a tear or two. A lovely book! Can’t wait for more books by Kelly.
Award-winning author Kelly Miller is a native Californian and Anglophile, who made her first visit to England in 2019. When not pondering a plot point or a turn of phrase, she can be found playing the piano, singing, or walking her dogs. Kelly Miller resides in Silicon Valley with her husband, daughter, and their pets.
Hello to all and welcome back! Today I am again hosting an old friend and a much loved author; Riana Everly! She has written a new book, a modern Persuasion, and it is quite musical, or quite music inclinced. I will leave you in Riana’s capable hands and let her introduce you to her new book.
A heartfelt and absorbing modern interpretation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
Eight years of heartache…
Anne Elliot is a successful composer, a shining light in the world of music. But her heart still aches for the man who left her eight years ago when she was persuaded to put her career above her heart.
Eight years of anger…
Fred Valore has found fame and glory as a brilliant orchestra conductor. He has studied in Europe, travelled the world, but cannot forget how Anne rejected him eight years ago. And now he’s coming home.
Suddenly, Fred and Anne are living in the same city again, and forced to work with each other. Old feelings are hard to ignore, but now Fred is waltzing about town with an attractive musician, and Anne has caught the eye of a handsome businessman.
When a whirlwind of misunderstandings gets in the way of a tentative reconnection, is their long-lost love doomed to remain a thing of the past? Or can they somehow find a path back to each other to make beautiful music once again?
Set in the vibrant and arts-loving city of Toronto, Canada, Preludes is perfect for Austenites and Contemporary Romance lovers alike.
I quite enjoyed seeing Persuasion set in a town, I have visited and could see so clearly as I read the book! Many of the characters was fantastic in their modern setting and the way they felt, some I felt I could gladly have kicked *hides behind my computer* And of course some I loved!
The Importance of Place – Bath and Toronto;
This last summer, I had the great pleasure of spending some time in the lovely city of Bath during a visit to England. We wandered through the picturesque streets and marvelled at the lovely architecture, snapping photographs everywhere. We ate Sally Lunn buns for breakfast, saw the Pump Rooms and the Pulteney Street Bridge, with its row of shops on each side, and gaped at the abbey and Roman baths. It was not difficult to picture the city as it might have looked 200 years ago, with ladies in their elegant frocks and men in breeches and coats swanning about looking Very Elegant.
Sophia, who has welcomed me once more to her lovely blog, has shared some of her experiences and photographs from Bath, and all dressed up so beautifully in Regency fashion as well, from her visits during the Jane Austen Festival. Her pictures, as well as my own trip, really reinforce to me how important location can be in literature. I can’t wander through Bath without thinking, “this is where Catherine Moreland first met Henry Tilney,” or “that is where Anne Elliot ran into Captain Wentworth.”
Sorry to interrupt, Riana, but I can’t help but butt in, with one of my own photos from this years Jane Austen Festival, so our readers can get a little sense of your talk of locations.
(Just to make sure, credit of picture to the left; Sue McDine)
My new novel, Preludes, is a modern interpretation of Persuasion, and while it is not set in Bath, it is equally grounded in the city where it is set, in this case, Toronto, Canada, where I live. I wavered, at first, about how “real” I wanted my locations to be. My characters are involved with a fictional orchestra, but what about other places? What about the park where they walk, or the coffee shop they like, or the parts of town where they live?
In my first draft, I kept these locations very vague. I talked about “a large park near the lake” or “a trendy part of town,” although I’m not quite sure why I had that instinct. Perhaps I was cautious about identifying any one place too precisely, like “the Starbucks at the corner of Queen and John Street.” After all, I made up an orchestra to keep my characters entirely fictional.
But then, when I started on my second draft and edits, I asked myself why. Why be vague? If the story is set in Toronto, make it identifiably Toronto. Put in places that people who know the city can locate. Name that park, that neighbourhood, that building. I still avoided identifying specific existing businesses, but my husband kept calling out, as he read the final draft, “Oh, that’s THAT coffee shop,” or “They’re at our favourite restaurant!” Some of these might be little treats for folks whole love this city, but they are there for everyone to discover if they come for a visit.
Let me talk quickly about two or three of these places, and add an excerpt for each.
THE CN TOWER;
One of Toronto’s iconic pieces of architecture is the CN tower, a massive concrete communications tower with an observation deck near the top. It is probably the image that comes to most people’s minds when they think of the city, and it is the tall pointy thing in the middle of my book’s cover! Once upon a time, it was the tallest free-standing structure in the world, and I made it up exactly once, when I was too young to say NO. Like Anne Elliot in my novel, I do not handle heights well, but Anne is braver than I am, and let her friend Jasmine convince her to go up again.
“You okay?” Jasmine squeezed her hand once, a reassuring pulse.
Anne nodded. “I think so.” Swallow. “I’ve just about convinced myself to have fun. But I might hug the ground when we get down.”
“Don’t worry. We’re not doing the glass floor or the walk around the edge, where they tether you to the building.” Anne felt her face go white. “Next time.” Jasmine giggled and Anne relaxed just a little more.
The ascent took only a minute. “…climbing at 22 kilometres an hour,” she heard the operator say. Soon the lift slowed down and in a moment the doors opened, spilling the travellers out onto the observation floor. Anne glanced down at her feet. The floor looked solid enough, so she stepped forward with what she hoped was confidence. Thank heavens they weren’t on the glass floor right now. Her stomach could not handle that.
Jasmine was right. The day was fine and the vistas glorious. Far below them, tiny toy cars scuttled along grey ribbon roads and highways, while the lake twinkled its deep blue around the islands protecting the city. To the other side of the observation area, the city’s grid of streets spread out in every direction, broken here and there by a river, a park, or some other feature natural or constructed. It was fascinating. Almost exhilarating.
Eventually, Anne relaxed enough to truly enjoy herself as she and Jasmine pointed out landmarks they knew and could identify from this enormous height.
“Look, there’s the University. You can see the music building, just past where the road circles around Queen’s Park. And there’s the concert hall, and there’s the park where we used to hang out.”
“Oh,” Jasmine added, turning a bit. “Can you see that way, past the river? Just by where the road crosses the Don Valley, that’s my old high school. I wonder if I can see my parent’s house.”
And so they went, laughing and reminiscing, until Anne felt quite comfortable despite her initial trepidation.
Toronto likes to call itself A City in a Park, and we do green space rather well, even in the built-up core of the city. One gem we all love is High Park, a 161 hectare (almost 400 acre) public park just west of the city centre, stretching 2 km from near the shores of Lake Ontario to one of the major roads that crosses the city. There are sports facilities, bike paths, an outdoor theatre, a zoo, and yes, the hiking trails where Anne Elliot and William Barnett have their first quasi-date. There is also a gorgeous garden full of cherry trees, where I love to wander in the spring and marvel at the pink blossoms.
They walked slowly, scanning the area for more things to photograph. A patch of moss on a tree branch, interesting shadows coaxed into existence by the setting sun, an unexpected patch of wildflowers complete with dancing butterflies.
“There. That’s the shot.” Anne put her hand on William’s arm. She pointed towards the pond, where the angled light was hitting the wind-ruffled surface, painting golden ripples across the surface of the spangled water. Two mallards floated on the small crests, black silhouettes against this display of light and water. The scene was made complete by a frame of leafy branches and artistically fallen logs.
He nodded and the two set about the task of selecting apertures and angles to capture the image. This might be one to enlarge and frame, if Anne’s expectations matured into reality. As the ducks floated up and down, in and out of the frame, they snapped dozens of shots each, moving this way and that, playing with angles, exposures, and other settings.
It had been a long time since Anne had felt so comfortable with a stranger.
By the time their walk was over, the sun had all but set. It was a beautiful time in the city. “Let’s get a coffee. My treat. Then, if you wish, I can drive you home.”
The idea was most appealing. “Thanks. That sounds lovely.”
They were soon settled on uncomfortable chairs in a noisy coffee shop, each with a cup of tea steaming in front of them. They discussed photo editing software, what sorts of adjustments and processing they liked, and then talked about setting up a Flickr account to share their finished images. William pulled out his phone and looked up apologetically.
“Do you mind? Normally I would never do this in company, and especially not such charming company, but…” he shrugged, the playful little boy appearing again. “I’m already on Flickr, to share photos with my brother, so this will just take a moment.”
“Of course. Don’t worry about it.”
This man could be very charming. He was attentive, considerate. So many people put their phones ahead of their in-person company and thought little of checking email and texting with others while supposedly out with a friend.
In a minute, he put the phone down and smiled. “There. That was easy. I’ve emailed you the link. Since we took photos of the same things, it will be interesting to see what sorts of differences there are in our pictures.”
“Here’s to photography.” She raised her mug in a toast.
“And to new friends,” he replied.
Okay, this isn’t IN the city of Toronto, but a short drive away is one of the loveliest parts of the world, the Niagara Peninsula. Everybody has heard of Niagara Falls, but there is so much more. Niagara hosts several world-class wineries and beautiful countryside, and you can bike (or drive) around the area past orchards and vineyards, tasting as you go. Afterwards, you can have lunch in the beautiful Georgian-era town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, or enjoy a picnic along the Niagara Parkway, which Winston Churchill called “the prettiest Sunday drive in the world.” In my novel, Anne and Fred go on such a bike adventure with their friends the Crofts.
The years and his time on a bicycle had added welcome bulk to Fred’s physique. He had always been attractive, but he was broader now, more solid, and his lanky arms and legs had become toned and nicely muscled. Not too much. Just enough. His legs, long and lean and beautifully shaped, pumped up and down on the pedals, and his calf muscles flexed and released in perfect rhythm, a magnet to Anne’s eyes.
She wrenched her attention back to the road and to the surrounding countryside. This was wine country. Field after field of vineyards surrounded them, the long straight vines sporting bright leaves and clusters of young grapes, broken up by orchards of tender fruit or tracts of hay and other farmland. There was something soothing and reassuring in the even spacing of the vines, like the regular harmonic progression of a Bach cantata, a walking bass line, predictable and comfortable, leading inexorably from tonic through a musical path back to the tonic.
But the leaves greening on their stems were something different again. Lush. Unpredictable. Growing where they wanted, a riot of life upon the carefully manicured vines. The exotic, free-flowing melody that crested and swept along, anchored by the harmony but not bound to it, moving where it would, twisting here and there, but always returning to its roots.
Yes. This was beautiful country indeed. Perhaps she should have brought her camera after all. Her phone would suffice but it was a poor substitute.
“Stop for a drink?” Jeremy called out from his bike.
The four pulled to the side of the road and dismounted for a moment. Anne pulled her helmet from her head to allow the breeze to cool her damp hair, and then took a gulp from her water bottle. Although the weather was pleasant, the sun was hot on her back and she was unaccustomed to this sort of activity. Fred looked cool and comfortable. Of course. After biking through hot Italy, this must be nothing to him. A mere bagatelle of amusement for an afternoon.
As if picking up on her thoughts, Jeremy turned to Fred and said, “You never did tell us why you’re back so soon. We’re thrilled you’re here, but we didn’t expect to see you till the end of the month.”
Fred rummaged in his backpack for his own water bottle. “It’s nothing, really. I did my final concert and was just packing up my flat. But I don’t have so much stuff. I was a student for a while, and then when I started getting engagements, it was a week here and two weeks there, and my flat in Rome was really just a place to sleep between gigs. It was like living out of page twenty seven of the IKEA catalogue. It’s not like I had anything—or anyone—to come home to.”
Now he sent a cruel glance towards Anne. He might as well have slapped her, and she looked down at her feet. White legs. Blue socks. Black running shoes. He must be congratulating himself for having avoided this ‘prize.’ She stepped backwards.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little glimpse into some of the places my characters visit in my new novel Preludes. Letting them move about and interact with places that I know and that are real, where you can go yourself, keeps them real, like people you might meet while going for a walk or in line at the supermarket. If you read the novel, you can let me know your thoughts. And if you ever come to visit Toronto, let me know and I’ll give you the full travel itinerary!
Riana, thank you for visiting my blog, it was wonderful to read and see the locations from Toronto again, it was a lovely idea to set Persuasion in Toronto. I can’t wait to read further works from your hands! But for now, I leave you in Riana’s hands for the last and more practical informations; giveaways, buy links and so on. But for now, its Sophia signing off.
Award-winning author Riana Everly was born in South Africa but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.
Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!
Preludes is available for purchase at Amazon, and is free to read on Kindle Unlimited. It is available as an eBook and as a paperback.
I am offering a gift copy of the eBook of Preludes, selected randomly from people who comment on this post within five days of it going live. For Oct 17, then, I’ll take posts up to midnight EST (North America) on October 21.
If you wish to participate, please make sure I have a way to contact you if you win.
I will give away one copy at each blog I visit until October 21, but I do not have all my blog tour dates yet. Keep an eye out on my Facebook page for where I’m stopping next!
That’s it, folks! Check back on the 24th, when I am visited by yet another author and another book. Cheers.
Hello to all, and welcome back to my desk! This time around, in this autumnal october month, I am glad to welcome back a much read and admired authoress, Heather Moll. This time around she has written a P&P variation, where our beloved couple of Elizabeth and Darcy needs to solve a mystery, not only of their feelings, but a mystery to save Pemberley. Heather is normally known for her unique plots, and definitely for her historical details, which always makes her reads a true pleasure.
CAN A DERBYSHIRE MEETING LEAD TO LOVE OR WILL PEMBERLEY BE PLUNGED INTO MYSTERY? In the rainy summer of 1812, Mr Darcy returns to Pemberley with a large party in the hopes that coming home will help him recover from the disappointment of his failed proposal. He lost Elizabeth Bennet’s good opinion, but Darcy did all he could to rectify his errors. Meanwhile, Elizabeth hopes that travelling with her newlywed sister and Bingley will raise her spirits and distract her from thoughts of Darcy. When a misunderstanding causes the Bingley party and Darcy’s to spend a fortnight together at Pemberley, both Elizabeth and Darcy wonder if the other could love them. When the season’s wet and cold weather causes flooding throughout Derbyshire, Darcy’s attention reluctantly shifts from his guests–and Elizabeth–to managing the tragedy. But when someone drowns and Darcy refuses to believe their death was an accident from the storm, he and Elizabeth must work together to uncover the truth before his houseguests leave, and before anyone else gets hurt.
When I opened the book, I knew I was in for a surprise, and I was right. And to be honest, I had completely forgotten about this book and the fact that I had to read it. *hides* But the story starts during the summer after the proposal in Kent, which we all know. Bingley and Lizzie are on their way to Scarborough to visit Bingley’s family and friends. On the way to Scarborough, they have a stop at one of Bingley’ friend’s houses on the way. I am admitting to knowing where they were going and could only enjoy Elizabeth’s cringing as Pemberley appeared to be their destination. As Bingley and his company stay at Pemberley, a few new characters are introduced.
The party is not long at Pemberley before the drama starts to unfold. The weather turns nasty, even for Derbyshire, and the nearby lakes and streams go over their banks and bring Pemberley under threat, while the villages sink underwater and people lose their lives in the flood.
During the visit to Pemberley, Elizabeth and Darcy’s feelings start to deepen for each other. I will admit to being shocked that Elizabeth is allowed to stay at Pemberley alone, though under the companionship of one of Darcy’s friend’s sisters. The two women slowly but surely establish a friendship.
And then Miss Darcy’s maid is found murdered at the bank of the river!! Is a killer lose at Pemberley? I was more or less biting my nails at this point! It almost sounded like a mystery for Agatha Christie or Hercules Poirot! At the same time, things from Pemberley go missing, and slowly, the readers start to put 1+1 together and suspect just who the thief is.
The events surrounding Darcy and Elizabeth were quite surprising. I hadn’t seen that coming at all!
But our beloved couple comes together, and then the plot concludes on a high note of drama!! The epilogue was both lovely and romantic! Heather’s way of writing is both engaging and lively, and she keeps the characters seem real. She made me feel like I knew the characters personally like I was at Pemberley during these events. Finally, the romance between Darcy and Elizabeth is touching and deeply heartfelt. I can only recommend this book highly!
Heather Moll is an avid reader of mysteries and biographies with a masters in information science. She found Jane Austen later than she should have and made up for lost time by devouring her letters and unpublished works, joining JASNA, and spending too much time researching the Regency era. She is the author of An Appearance of Goodness, An Affectionate Heart, Nine Ladies, Two More Days at Netherfield, and His Choice of a Wife. She lives with her husband and son and struggles to balance all of the important things, like whether or not to buy groceries or stay home and write.
You can as always contact Heather on social media;
The giveaway is open from 10/03/2022 through 10/12/2022. Giveaway is open worldwide. The winner will be announced on social media and my blog on October 13, 2022 Leave a comment on the blog or subscribe to my newsletter to enter.
Hello to all, and welcome back! The summer ended, sadly but what a summer it has been! I can only recommend a late summer holiday away from home. But today I am hosting MJ Stratton, and her upcoming book, “The Redemption of Lydia Wickham” I am intrigued, it is not often, Lydia is redeemed within variations. But I am intrigued and hopeful. I wish MJ Stratton luck with her new book. I will leave you in MJ’s hands and allow you to read about this book.
BLURB FOR THE REDEMPTION OF LYDIA WICKHAM:
I may not be the most book-learned girl in the country, but I would like to think that I am wiser than I was, and much less silly.
Lydia Wickham used to think herself rather clever, having caught a handsome man and being the first to marry of her sisters. Soon, however, she finds herself trapped in a marriage to a man who is not what she thought him to be. Her pride keeps her from revealing her plight to her sisters and family, suffering in silence for years.
Unexpectedly, Lydia is freed from her marriage and begins life away from her misery in Newcastle. The changes in her are apparent to most, but there are those that resist seeing her for who she is and not who she was. As Lydia seeks to reconcile the girl she was with the woman she has become, she reunites with her loved ones and makes many friends along the way. But will Lydia get what she always wanted? Will she have what her sisters have, that which she craves desperately? Will Lydia Wickham find love of her own?
The Redemption of Lydia Wickham is a full length novel centered on the idea that even a foolish 16 year old girl can grow up and become wiser.
Warning: this book contains brief, non-graphic mentions of spousal abuse and assault
I am definitely intrigued and can’t wait to have time to further read this book! Lydia sounds like she has potenial for a future, without Wickham.
MJ Stratton grew up in a small town in rural Utah, moving back in 2021 after being away for ten years. Her love of Jane Austen was born at a young age when she read Pride and Prejudice for the first time. Her first ever exposure to JAFF was watching Lost in Austen as a teen. MJ recently left her teaching job to be at home with her four children, and hopefully pursue her passion for writing more fully. After feeding her love of books by editing and beta reading for years, she hopes to commit more fully to penning her own stories. MJ loves food, growing things, and the quiet of the countryside. You can find MJ on Facebook and Amazon.
19 year old George Wickham was rather enjoying his time at Viscount Northmore’s estate. The summer weather was beautiful, the sport marvelous, and, best of all, he was having the time of his life on someone else’s coin. George had met the viscount at Cambridge at the beginning of his first term at Cambridge. After being tormented for years at Eton, even with Darcy’s protection, it was a nice change for a peer to be paying him some attention. Darcy had been his only friend through their years in school up until last term. Now George had been invited to spend the summer at Northmore with the viscount and several other friends. Yes, things were truly looking up.
The door to the salon opened and a footman entered. “For you, sir,” said the stiff-lipped servant, as he handed the envelope in his hand to George.
Immediately, George’s curiosity piqued. This was an express. No one he knew would send him such a missive…He tore it open, reading rapidly before collapsing in the chair.
Your father fell ill 3 weeks ago with a spring cold. He has been unable to recover and it has moved to his chest. We do not expect him to last through the summer. Enclosed are some funds to see you home to Pemberley,
George reread the missive in his hands many times, barely daring to breathe. His father? No. The man was a tower of strength. He had fallen from a ladder and broken his leg 5 years ago. The doctors had all claimed he would never walk again, yet 6 months later the man had been about his business as the Darcy’s steward as if nothing had happened. Surely Mr. Darcy was mistaken.
Not that it mattered. He would be on the next post coach home, if at all possible. George refused to risk the chance that he would not be present if his father passed.
He gathered his thoughts, and strode out to find the viscount. There were voices coming from the library, and George assumed that was where the rest of the gentlemen in the party were. As he approached the door, he happened to hear his name. He stopped outside, interested to hear what was being said.
“Come now, Northmore!” Lord James Rutherford said loudly. “What do you see in Wickham? He’s the son of a steward! Hardly a gentleman and definitely not worth your time!”
“I concede that point, James,” Northmore said. “Wickham is a useful fellow. He is passingly good at cards and willing to do just about anything to keep my patronage.”
“So he is a lapdog?” said Marcus Hawthorn, heir to a baronetage.
“Very much so,” Northmore said. “Obviously he will not be in our circles once university is complete, but for now, I do not mind having him around. Besides, it is a connection to the Darcys, tenuous though it is.”
“Ha!” guffawed James. “In that you are correct. We know old Darcy favors him. Young Fitzy is too much of a stuck up prig to get close to. I hardly know anyone else in our set that is at Cambridge to actually learn.”
The three laughed uproariously at their humor. George stood just outside the doorway, equal parts angry and dismayed. He had thought he was accepted in the group based on his own merits; that besides his lack of fortune and breeding, those of the first circles had seen his value and sought to cultivate his friendship because of that. To find out he had been acquired due to his connections to the Darcys was appalling. For a brief moment, he wondered if this was what Darcy felt like all the time.
George retreated a few feet and then made a show of entering the room loudly, stopping the conversation. “Gentlemen,” he said in greeting. “Northmore, I have received an express and am required at home immediately,” he said.
Northmore’s apparent concern would have seemed genuine if George had not just heard their discussion. “Nothing terribly wrong, I hope?” he said.
George swallowed tightly. “My father is ill,” he said mildly, trying his hardest to hide his distress.
Northmore’s response was lukewarm. “Oh, well,” he said, “I do hope that all is resolved shortly. ‘Tis a pity that your holiday has been cut short.”
Nothing about being sad he was going. No distress at his news. George felt as if the world had been laid bare before him. He was not wanted here. And so, he bowed succinctly at that comment and excused himself to pack. He was on the next post coach back to Pemberley, determined to forego all comforts until he was at his father’s side.
Hello all and welcome back to my desk, this time around I have Lari and her new book, “Mr. Darcy’s Phoenix” on the docket. It was a magical and fantastical story, full of magic and magical creatures within the beloved story of Pride and Prejudice.
A phoenix brings them together. Will a curse keep them apart?
When the hauntingly beautiful song of a phoenix lures Elizabeth Bennet to the Netherfield gardens, she has a vision of an unknown gentleman. He whispers her name with such tenderness that she wonders if this man is her match. Unfortunately, her gift of prophecy has never been exactly reliable.
Mr. Darcy is a celebrated fire mage, the master of Pemberley, and the man from her vision. But he is not tender; he is haughty, proud, and high-handed. His insult of her during the Summer Solstice celebration makes her determined to dislike him in spite of her love for Dante, his phoenix familiar.
After Mr. Darcy is called away by his duties, Elizabeth’s magic runs wild, and it is only their reunion at Rosings that offers her any hope of controlling it. They are drawn together by their love of magical creatures and their affinity for fire. But Elizabeth soon has another vision about Mr. Darcy, one that may portend a grave danger to his life.
Can Darcy and Elizabeth overcome misunderstandings, curses, and even fate itself?
A P&P fantasy variation- a fairy tale – a drama.
All the best elements of P&P was incorporated, though our beloved characters have affinities for elements of magic like nature, fire, water and so on. It was a pleasure to read, and the tempo was good, and you couldn’t put the book down! It only took me twenty four hours reading this variation. It had the vibe of Harry Potter, Outlander and Twitches and I loved every moment of it!
The first time we meet Elizabeth Bennet is when she encounters Dante, the Phoenix belonging to the Darcy family, where we see the first glimpse of a possible HEA.
The Bennet family is different from other variations I have read, which means Lydia, Kitty and Mary have very little to do with the plot, as they are learning their abilities at a magic academy in London.
At the summer solstice assembly, we are introduced to the Bingleys, Hursts and Darcy. As always Darcy trips over his tongue and ends up insulting Elizabeth. But we also learn he possess the fire element in his magic and has to be in control constantly.
Throughout the story, we are introduced to the wonders of magical creatures, – from unicorns to minotaur, nymphs and elves with many more.
During the plot, which includes lots and lots of drama, we see potions, curses, cursed apples, enchantments and a magical sword in which our beloved characters have to use to battle evil. In the plot, Collins also appears and what a lot of laughter his visit prompted within me as I read.
The ending had the vibe of a fairy tale, and reminded me a bit about Sleeping Beauty and a bit of Hercules from Disney’s versions. But what an amazing book! It was fantastic and so good! I can only recommend this magical journey within the pages and imagination of Lari.
Lari Ann O’Dell first discovered her love of Pride & Prejudice when she was eighteen. After reading a Pride & Prejudice variation she found in a closing sale at a bookstore, she said, “This is what I want to do.” She published her first novel, Mr. Darcy’s Kiss, two years later.
Born and raised in Colorado, she attended the University of Colorado in Boulder and earned a bachelor’s degree in History and Creative Writing. After graduating college, she wrote and published her second novel, Mr. Darcy’s Ship. Her third novel, Mr. Darcy’s Clan, is her first supernatural variation, and she is working on two more fantasy variations. She is now back at school and pursuing a degree in Nursing. She adores her three beautiful nephews, Hudson, Dean, and Calvin. She enjoys reading, singing, and writes whenever she can.