Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Today is a special day, dear readers! Jennifer Joy is here to reveal the cover of the fifth and final book in The Merton Mystery Series: The Remarkable Miss Darcy.

Before we get to the blurb and the cover, Jennifer has a treat to celebrate the completion of the series. The Honorable Mr. Darcy (book 1) will be free in all Amazon stores from March 20-24, and The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth (book 2) will be 99 cents from March 19-26. So if you haven’t started the series yet, it will be a great time to do so!

Now, back to The Remarkable Miss Darcy. First, here is the blurb:

Darcy sees a little girl. Tanner sees a princess. He sees a remarkable woman.

Georgiana Darcy has grown up — and she has two older brothers who take her protection so seriously, she fears she is doomed for a life of dull solitude. However, one chance encounter with a young man from her past could set her on a path of adventure and romance … if only her dear family would let her.

Michael Nelson is everything Georgiana remembers him to be: hard-working, honest, and handsome. He fills his days chasing after criminals and uniting divided families. Anything to avoid feeling the void of loneliness and his lack of family.

When Georgiana’s dearest friend is kidnapped at a crowded ball, Michael and Georgiana become partners in the search to find her and restore peace to Darcy House. But before calm, there comes a storm, and their discoveries do not go unnoticed by their unknown enemy…

The Darcys face the greatest test to their family bond yet in this fifth and final book in The Meryton Mystery Series, a sweet romance-suspense variation of Jane Austen’s timeless classic, Pride and Prejudice.

Doesn’t that sound exciting? I love stories where Georgiana comes into her own, and throw in a mystery, and I’m doubly excited!

Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for:

What a gorgeous cover! I think it depicts Georgiana perfectly, innocent but a little adventurous, too. What do you think?

The Remarkable Miss Darcy will be up for pre-order soon and will go live on March 21, so you won’t have to wait long!

In the meantime, Jennifer is generously offering 4 ebook copies of The Remarkable Miss Darcy to my readers. To enter to win a copy, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Friday, March 22. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

And thank you, Jennifer, for being my guest today! It’s an honor to be invited to share the cover and jump-start the release celebration. Congratulations!

Source: Review copy from author

Maria Grace’s latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Inspiration, is told from the point of view of Fitzwilliam Darcy, gentleman painter. When the novella opens, Mr. Darcy has been unable to put brush to canvas, and Mr. Bingley hopes that he can find some inspiration at Netherfield. From here, the plot of Pride and Prejudice unfolds, but what is different is this inner view of Darcy and his passion as an artist.

Darcy is very observant; everything he sees is dissected into shapes and lines, colors and shadows, and filed away for later use in a painting. The minute he sees Elizabeth Bennet at the Meryton Assembly, he is captivated. She is his muse, the nymph who fills many a canvas when Darcy’s inspiration rushes back. This explains his interest in Elizabeth, his intense stares, and his near obsession makes him all too ready to depart Hertfordshire after the Netherfield ball. He tries to convince himself that Elizabeth merely sparked his creativity, and his duty means it could never go further than that anyway. Meanwhile, his muse has strong feelings for him, but little does he know, they are the complete opposite of his own.

Inspiration is a beautifully written story that explores a different path for Darcy, one driven by creativity and passion, and Grace makes it fit his character perfectly. Grace incorporates snippets of Pride and Prejudice throughout her novella while giving readers a glimpse into Darcy’s head during those familiar scenes. I enjoyed the descriptions of Darcy’s creative process, the observations he makes with an artist’s eye, and how that is both positive and negative in his dealings with people. Overall, I liked watching the events unfold from Darcy’s point of view, from the evolution of his feelings for Elizabeth to the important and painful lessons he must learn. Grace’s Pride and Prejudice variations never disappoint, and I’m already looking forward to what she dreams up next!

**Maria Grace visited my blog yesterday, with an excerpt and giveaway. You can check it out here.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Inspiration from the author for review.

It’s my pleasure to welcome Maria Grace back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation novella, Inspiration, which imagines Mr. Darcy as a gentleman painter in search of his muse. Please give her a warm welcome as she talks about how she was a bit like the uninspired Darcy at the beginning of the novella and shares an excerpt from Inspiration.

****

Good Morning Anna! It’s wonderful to get to spend a little time with you.

I’m excited to share my newest project with you, a novella called Inspiration. It’s a bit of an irony all around because the whole thing came about from a complete and utter lack of inspiration.

Some how it just figures that the thing that left me uninspired was the theme of ‘inspiration’. Of course it was—I hear you mutter in the background there—but really, it’s true. I was supposed to write something about how I get inspired to write and absolutely nothing was rattling about in my head. A total blank—you could hear the crickets in the background.

Then I got thinking about how utterly uninspired I was and how crazy-making it felt. Hmm, well, driving characters crazy is a good thing—exactly what writers are supposed to do in fact. What if one of them was driven crazy the way I feel right now? Who could I do that to? Darcy would be a good candidate…

And with that, my muse took off. At first, I thought it would just be a scene for a blog post. Then, it was a short story. But my muse was not yet finished with me. The short story became a novella and at last I was allowed to rest.

So I present to you a snippet from Inspiration to give you a sense of how crazy both Darcy (and I) can be driven by our respective muses! I hope you enjoy.

****

The ensuing fortnight sent Darcy—or rather his muse, into a frenzy. In the midst of it all, he assured himself he was in fact in control of the entire process, but intentionally chose to give into his creative instincts.

Bingley argued that Darcy was hardly in control of anything.

None of it mattered in the fervor of creative productivity. Every moment of daylight, Darcy painted. In the candlelight of evening, he sketched references to stay him against the inevitable removal from Miss Elizabeth’s presence. Nearly every aspect of her person, her eyes, her ears, her fingers, even her elbow were all added to that to valuable compendium.

Miss Bingley had seen it once. She thought it rather dear how artists like he and Bingley were forever scratching away in their books, sketching this and that but never really finishing much. Worse yet, in her vanity, she was complimented to think that it might be herself figuring in those sketches. He did not bother to correct her.

***

Darcy stood before his mirror. His valet had left moments ago, having tied Darcy’s finely starched cravat in an intricate knot. There was a certain art to getting those things just right. One could get obsessed about it if he allowed himself.

On more than one occasion, Darcy had been told that he cut a dashing figure and ought to paint a likeness of himself. Afterall, he despised all the attempts made by artists his father had hired. The notion was flattering, but it would never happen.

Hours spent staring at himself in a mirror—what an utterly depressing thought. He was no artists’ model. His features were too irregular—or at least they were to his practiced eye. His expressions were decidedly dour, no matter how he tried to school them otherwise. No, he would rather paint beauty.

He would rather paint Miss Elizabeth.

And shortly he would see her. Tonight, at the ball.

Although he put on the expected show of disliking the social convention for Miss Bingley’s sake, and mostly to prevent unnecessary conversation, the truth was wildly different. His soul leapt at the opportunity to be with her again, to study her features, her expressions. In a ballroom, eye contact was accepted if not expected. He could stare at his partner, and at the dancers in general as much as he liked without raising an inquisitive eyebrow. Had he only taken the opportunity at the Meryton Assembly, tonight’s event might not feel like air to a drowning man. But he did not know then what he knew now: his muse had taken the form of that particular young woman. Tonight, he would not waste the opportunity.

By the time he made it downstairs, guests had already begun to arrive. Since he was not part of the family, he could avoid the greeting line and discreetly watch arrivals. Each one told a story: each figure painted a tale in his mind. Though none were as interesting as Miss Elizabeth, he strove to capture each one for future reference.

Sir William Lucas trundled in, his wife in tow. His suit was new, his wife’s dress not—the sort of thing a woman wore when all her resources were being utilized on daughters on the marriage mart. That he wore a new garment spoke something of his character—and it was hardly complimentary. Still though, the way people greeted him suggested he was well thought of in his local company. He did not appear at ease though, clearly a bit bewildered as to exactly how to behave in a place where his knighthood was eclipsed by substantial wealth.

A family called Goulding arrived with several young people all eager to show off their accomplishments to a crowd that might include better company than they were accustomed to. The eager, wistful light in the girls’ eyes was worth capturing in a sketch later. So long as that look did not get turned on him. Perhaps he ought to avoid close observation of that family lest he seem to invite their attention.

Someone said the name Bennet, and his focus was immediately fixed on the entryway. Yes, there she was. In white muslin, of course, her family could not have afforded silk. Her figure would be astonishing draped in white silk. Perhaps it was best it was not. The gauzy white muslin was quite enough to negate the possibility of tearing his eyes away from her.

She glanced in his direction. While his heart pinched at her look of annoyance, his muse seized upon the exquisite turn of her lips, the spark in her eyes, the angle at which she held her head. Oh, to be able to commit that to paper just now. He stared harder and longer to make sure he would never forget.

Impatience demanded he ask her for the first two dances. But, unfortunately, discretion won out. To ask so soon would suggest something that might be all too true, something he did not dare admit to, much less allow. No, he would dance with her yet, but not at the start. Besides, it seemed she was already claimed for those sets by Mr. Collins.

That man was an enigma to be sure. He was tall and well-made. Dressed appropriately to his station, not unpleasant to look at. That he was a vicar suggested he had some learning and might have some sense about him. Most university men were set apart that way.

But the impression did not survive first meeting. One might easily surmise that his time at university had been ill-spent, learning only how to cater to those above him in hopes of acquiring a position. The kind of boot-licking sort of man who turned his stomach and made Darcy look for the nearest exit.

In some sense, the tendency might have served Collins well as it did secure Aunt Catherine’s favor and the living she had to bestow. But outside of having obtained that living, there was little—or perhaps nothing—to be said in favor of the man and a great deal to be held against him.

The first item on that particular list of complaints was that the man could not dance. Fumble-footed did not begin to describe the ordeal poor Miss Elizabeth endured. Darcy would have felt her suffrage of Mr. Collins’ ineptitude far more had it not afforded him a far greater range of expressions to admire than he had ever seen in her before. The look of determined self-control chiseled on her face was worth the whole uncomfortable episode. She might never agree, but sadly he probably would never have the opportunity to learn if she would if the matter were explained. Her expression of ecstasy at her release from Collins was awe inspiring as well, but deeply uncomfortable.

Would that he experienced such an expression offered toward himself.

No, such thoughts were not at all helpful! Worse yet, they made watching her next dances with some nameless Meryton native exceedingly uneasy, even a mite wistful.

Thankfully, she did not dance the set after, but stood off to the side, speaking with her friend—Miss Lucas was it? What confidences did she share with her friend? There was something in her stance that suggested her words were deeply felt.

Enough lingering and watching! He must go forth and take action now, lest the opportunity be utterly lost.

He tugged his jacket straight and strode toward Miss Elizabeth, guests parting in a wake before him.

Perhaps he had been abrupt; he spoke to her only long enough to obtain her hand for the next set, then walked away. He might have stayed; he should have stayed. He would have stayed had he felt any less. But in this moment of heady success, he could not dare reveal too much.

At the start of the next set, he sought her hand, his muse rendering him all but mute. To speak would distract from the minute observations which might be made in what could be a once in a life time opportunity. He led her to the dance floor, enjoying the exquisite grace of her movements from the corner of his eye. She took her place across from him and waited rather expectantly.

What did she want?

“It is your turn to say something now, Mr. Darcy.”  Oh, the look of anticipation on her face! “I talked about the dance, and you ought to make some kind of remark on the size of the room, or the number of couples.”

Of course, it was appropriate to make small talk at such a time as this. But what to say? On the canvas, he could communicate anything he desired, but words, particularly the spoken ones, were well beyond his skills. He swallowed hard. “Whatever you wish me to say should indeed be said.”

“Very well. That reply will do for the present. Perhaps, by and by, I may observe that private balls are much pleasanter than public ones. But for now we may be silent.” She turned her face aside toward the other dancers.

She did not mean to ignore him, did she? Such punishment for merely being tongue-tied? No, absolutely not, it would not do. “Do you talk by rule then, while you are dancing?”

“Sometimes. One must speak a little, you know. It would look odd to be entirely silent for half an hour together. Yet for the advantage of some, conversation ought to be so arranged as that they may have the trouble of saying as little as possible.” Her eyebrow arched just so—was she teasing him?

“Are you consulting your own feelings in the present case, or do you imagine that you are gratifying mine?” Blast and botheration, that sounded far sharper than he intended.

“Both, for I have always seen a great similarity in the turn of our minds. We are each of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the éclat of a proverb.”

“This is no very striking resemblance of your own character, I am sure. How near it may be to mine, I cannot pretend to say. You think it a faithful portrait undoubtedly.” Did she really think those things of him, or was she teasing as she had seen her do often enough?Why did she demand of him a skill he would never possess?

Suddenly, it was their turn to join the dance, and all opportunity to speak ceased. How gracefully she moved with effortless vitality. To be entirely fair, she was hardly the best partner he had ever enjoyed, but there was something so fresh and lively in her steps—befitting the nymph of his paintings.

Finally, they reached the end of the line to wait out their turn. “Do you and your sisters often walk to Mertyon?” That should be suitable conversation.

“Yes, we do. When you met us there the other day, we had just been forming a new acquaintance.” Her brows arched, as if to say far more than she spoke.

Yes, that day he had been to see Meryton’s colorman. Who had she been with—Wickham! His gut knotted, and all warmth drained from his face. If only she knew of the very great harm Wickham had done the Darcy family. But could such an innocent spirit as hers actually understand that level of intentional wickedness?  How was he to make a response—one that her eyes clearly demanded? “Mr. Wickham is blessed with such happy manners as may ensure his making friends; whether he may be equally capable of retaining them, is less certain.”

“He has been so unlucky as to lose your friendship, and in a manner which he is likely to suffer from all his life.” Her countenance declared she believed what she said.

She was so innocent, and so easily and completely deceived. He clenched his jaw, best not to speak when all his words dripped venom.

Sir William Lucas suddenly appeared from the crowd. “I have been most highly gratified indeed, my dear sir. Such very superior dancing is not often seen. It is evident that you belong to the first circles. Allow me to say, however, that your fair partner does not disgrace you, and that I must hope to have this pleasure often repeated, especially when a certain desirable event, my dear Miss Eliza,” he glanced at Miss Bennet and Bingley, “shall take place. What congratulations will then flow in! But let me not interrupt you, Sir. You will not thank me for detaining you from the bewitching converse of that young lady, whose bright eyes are also upbraiding me.”

He was right, Miss Elizabeth looked utterly and entirely mortified. Not that she was without good reason; Sir William was crass—it seemed a common trait in this town. Even so, it pained him to see her so discomfited.

He glanced at the dancefloor. Bingley was utterly entranced of his partner and Miss Bennet seemed to bear it well. She was a beauty to be sure, but far less interesting than her sister—whom he had now been ignoring whilst he stared at his friend. “Sir William’s interruption has made me forget what we were talking of.”

“I do not think we were speaking at all. Sir William could not have interrupted any two people in the room who had less to say for themselves. We have tried two or three subjects already without success, and what we are to talk of next I cannot imagine.” Her eyes glinted with the absurdity she suggested.

“What think you of books?”  Surely, she could not fault that question.

“Books Oh no! I am sure we never read the same, or not with the same feelings.”

“I am sorry you think so; but if that be the case, there can at least be no want of subject. We may compare our different opinions.”

“No.” Her laugh was truly musical. “I cannot talk of books in a ballroom; my head is always full of something else.”

“The present always occupies you in such scenes, does it?” Might she about to reveal something telling about her deepest self?

“Yes, always.”  She looked away, clearly lost in some other musings.  She turned back to him abruptly, eyes just a mite narrowed. “I remember hearing you once say, Mr. Darcy, that you hardly ever forgave, that your resentment once created was unappeasable. You are very cautious, I suppose, as to its being created.”

She would remember that conversation just now. “I am.”

“And never allow yourself to be blinded by prejudice?”

“I hope not.” He swallowed hard against his suddenly too-tight cravat.

“It is particularly incumbent on those who never change their opinion, to be secure of judging properly at first.” She met his gaze with an intense one of her own.

“May I ask to what these questions tend?”

“Merely to the illustration of your character. I am trying to make it out.” Her eyebrows flashed up as her shoulders lifted.

His cheeks grew hot. “And what is your success?”

“I do not get on at all. I hear such different accounts of you as puzzle me exceedingly.” She shook her head.

“I can readily believe the report of my character may vary greatly with respect to me. I could wish, Miss Bennet, that you were not to sketch my character at the present moment, as there is reason to fear that the performance would reflect no credit on either.” Was it too much to hope she would understand?

“But if I do not take your likeness now, I may never have another opportunity.”

“I would by no means suspend any pleasure of yours.” Perhaps it was a mercy that the dance had come to an end. It would no do for her to try and take his likeness when every artist who had tried failed.

He escorted her from the dance floor and left her in the company of Miss Bingley.

Though a relief, the parting also brought with it a poignant soul ache, nearly physical in its intensity.

No, this was not good at all. The powerful feelings toward this woman were a very bad sign indeed. One did not feel this way toward a muse. It was sure to be more of a hinderance than a help. As were the very negative sensations he felt toward one Mr. Wickham. Perhaps, just perhaps his muse would be satisfied now, and he could rest—somewhere well away from Hertfordshire.

****

I hope you enjoyed this peek. If you’d like more, you can find Inspiration at all major e-book sellers. If you’d like to catch up on the short stories I mentioned, you can find them at RandomBitsofFascination.com.

Thanks!

****

About Inspiration

 

His muse desires her; she detests him. How will his soul survive?

Gentleman artist Fitzwilliam Darcy had never been able to express himself in words, but with his brushes and paints, he expressed what few men ever could. When his flighty muse abandons him, though, he finds himself staring at blank canvases in a world that has turned bland and cold and grey.

Worried for his friend, Charles Bingley invites Darcy to join him in Hertfordshire, in hopes the picturesque countryside might tempt Darcy’s muse to return. The scheme works only too well. His muse returns, with a vengeance, fixated upon the one young woman in the county who utterly detests him.

Will his selfish distain for the feelings of others drive her and his muse away or can he find a way to please this woman with the power to bring color and feeling back into his world?

Buy Links

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07N7X4KPV

All other sellers: http://books2read.com/inspirationMariaGrace

****

About the Author

Maria Grace

Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16-year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development and counseling. None of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences.

She has one husband and one grandson, earned two graduate degrees and two black belts, raised three sons, danced English Country dance for four years, is aunt to five nieces, is designing a sixth Regency costume, blogged seven years on Random Bits of Fascination, has outlines for eight novels waiting to be written, attended nine English country dance balls, and shared her life with ten cats.

Her books, fiction and nonfiction, are available at all major online booksellers.

She can be contacted at: author.MariaGrace@gmail.com | Facebook: | Twitter | Random Bits of Fascination | Austen Variations | English Historical Fiction Authors | Pinterest

****

Giveaway

Maria Grace is generously offering an ebook copy of Inspiration (open internationally) to one lucky reader. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Friday, March 15, 2019. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Maria Grace, for being my guest today! And, dear readers, I hope you stop by again tomorrow for my review of Inspiration.

Hello, dear readers! You’re in for a special treat, as Victoria Kincaid is back twice in the same week with more Mr. Darcy and audiobook goodness! Today, she is here to celebrate the recent audiobook release of The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy. Please give her a warm welcome!

****

Hi Anna!  Thank you for welcoming me back to your blog!  Recently I released the audiobook version of The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy which was narrated by Stevie Zimmerman.  Stevie also, coincidentally enough, narrated The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth—my other Pride and Prejudice variation that is set in France.  She does a lovely job with The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy.  You can listen to an audio sample here, and please enjoy the excerpt below.

****

His attention wandering, Darcy’s eye was caught by a bookcase opposite his chair. There were several volumes of poetry, plays of Shakespeare’s, and books about English history.  The doctor and his wife were well read.

The doctor’s eye followed Darcy’s.  “You read English?” he asked.  Only then did Darcy realize that every title on the bookshelf was in English.  He flinched.  I am a truly terrible spy.

Martin chuckled softly.  “Do not worry, my friend.  Many of us have studied English, even if it is not fashionable these days.”

Darcy covered his confusion with a sip of coffee.  What could he possibly say in response?  A simple laborer like Guillaume D’Arcy should not be able to read English.  Many men of that class would not read at all.  Richard would laugh at Darcy’s ineptitude.

“My mother was English,” he mumbled.  That was true enough.

“I say, do you speak English?” Martin’s eyes widened.

Nothing to do but continue the charade.  “Yes,” he admitted.

“I have a patient who speaks only English, and I cannot understand her.  I read English well, but my conversation leaves much to be desired.”

Darcy hesitated.  Revealing anything more about himself was dangerous, and he should return to Dreyfus’s house, but the doctor had been very hospitable.  Darcy could spare a few minutes to repay the man’s kindness.

“I would be glad to be of assistance.” Only belatedly did the request strike him as odd.  “How did you acquire a patient who speaks only English?”

“She is a bit of a mystery. She washed up on the beach some time ago, half drowned.  She has been quite ill, and we have been unable to communicate with her. We do not even have her name.”

Darcy froze.  Was it possible the doctor had found the Black Cobra?  No, surely the spy would be a native French speaker—and male. “She could not even tell you her name?” Perhaps the woman was touched in some way.

“When one of the fishermen found her on the beach, she had suffered a blow to the head and nearly drowned.  She wavered in and out of consciousness for many days; I feared for her life.  Then, just as she seemed to improve, she contracted a lung fever. Her moments of consciousness have been brief, and she does not seem to understand where she is.”

“Understandable,” Darcy murmured.  Poor woman.  Now Darcy wanted to lend assistance for her sake as well as the doctor’s.

“Indeed,” the doctor said.  “She is often feverish and incoherent.  But perhaps she will say enough that you may ascertain her identity.”

Darcy stood.  “Take me to her.”  He would not allow his mission to stand in the way of assisting someone so unfortunate.

The doctor led Darcy up the polished staircase and down a corridor to a room at the back of the house.  Mrs. Martin met them at the door.

“How does she fare?” the doctor asked.

His wife’s expression was grave. “Feverish again.  Sleeping or unconscious, I do not know which.”

Darcy felt a pang of regret.  If he could not speak with the woman, he could not be of much help to her.  “Perhaps I should return another time,” he said.

Martin considered.  “At least come into the room for a minute.  Sometimes she speaks in her delirium.”  He opened the door.

The room was dim, illuminated only by the sunshine peeking around the edges of the heavy curtains. Closed up as it was, the chamber was airless and quite warm.

On the bed, the woman lay very still, her hair a dark tangle over her face.  Even from a distance Darcy could discern that her complexion was not good—pale and waxy.  The covers were pulled up to her chin so that only her face was visible.

She moaned and shifted slightly as they entered, but her eyes remained closed.  “Come closer.” The doctor gestured to the bedside.  “Perhaps she will say something.”

Darcy joined the doctor reluctantly.  It was the height of impropriety to be in any woman’s bedchamber, particularly that of a stranger.  Of course, Darcy had no intention of taking advantage of the situation, and nobody need ever hear about it.

This close, Darcy could see that the woman was quite young; her skin was smooth and unmarked.

She moaned again, turning her head toward Darcy. A shaft of midday light struck her face, and he instinctively reached out to brush the hair from her cheek.

Darcy froze, unable to do anything but stare.

Briefly he catalogued what he could see of the woman.  Her hair was a jumble of dark brown curls, and her skin was slightly tanned under the pallor.  The nose…the sprinkling of freckles on her cheeks…was achingly familiar.  If she opened her eyes, he knew they would be a bright forest green.

Elizabeth was lying in the bed.

****
About The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy

Mr. Darcy arrives at Longbourn, intending to correct the mistakes he made during his disastrous proposal in Hunsford.  To his horror, he learns that Elizabeth Bennet was killed in a ship’s explosion off the coast of France—in an apparent act of sabotage.  Deep in despair, he travels in disguise to wartime France to seek out the spy responsible for her death.

But a surprise awaits Darcy in the French town of Saint-Malo: Elizabeth is alive!

Recovering from a blow to the head, Elizabeth has no memory of her previous life, and a series of mistakes lead her to believe that Darcy is her husband.  However, they have even bigger problems.  As they travel through a hostile country, the saboteur mobilizes Napoleon’s network of spies to capture them and prevent them from returning home.  Elizabeth slowly regains her memories, but they often leave her more confused.

Darcy will do anything to help Elizabeth reach England safely, but what will she think of him when she learns the truth of their relationship?

****

Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering an audiobook copy of The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy to one lucky reader. The code is good for the U.S. or U.K. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Friday, March 8, 2019. The winner will be announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Source: Review copy from Meryton Press

The Most Interesting Man in the World is a most interesting Pride and Prejudice variation told from the point of view of Mr. Bingley. It follows the course of the original novel, beginning with Bingley’s leasing Netherfield Park. J.L. Ashton and Justine Rivard do a fantastic job getting into Bingley’s head and making his disjointed thoughts and his ramblings thoroughly entertaining. Bingley’s excessive admiration of his best friend, Mr. Darcy, was hilarious on its own, but reading his attempts at intelligent conversation with Darcy, his inability to understand Latin phrases (and the consequences of one such mistake), and his drunken conversations and imaginings made me laugh out loud more than once.

Bingley proves to be observant about Darcy’s admiration of Elizabeth Bennet and his downtrodden state following his trip to Kent, even if he doesn’t assume the facts quite right. The interactions between Bingley, Darcy, and the colonel (known as Archie in this variation, which suited him quite well) — especially after copious amounts of brandy — were delightful, as was seeing Bingley’s personal growth as he realized that he may be more knowledgeable than Darcy when it comes to certain things.

I was concerned at first that Bingley’s ramblings would grow tiresome after a while, but that was never the case. Ashton and Rivard ramp up the humor, and even insert a few scenes from Darcy’s point of view, to keep readers turning the pages. It was fun to know the details behind the scenes to which Bingley was unaware, and it was nice that all of those details weren’t rehashed here. Furthermore, I liked that even though Bingley seemed a bit flighty and exuberant, he was more complex than I had expected. Overall, The Most Interesting Man in the World is a fresh take on Pride and Prejudice from the point of view of a most interesting man, indeed!

****

About The Most Interesting Man in the World

 

What has gotten into Fitzwilliam Darcy lately?

Charles Bingley, a jolly fellow who relies on his great friend’s impeccable judgment in all things, is determined to find out. What could explain Darcy’s ill humour and distraction? Or his uncharacteristic blunder of speaking Greek to a horse who only understands Latin? Not to mention that shocking book accident! Certainly, it has nothing to do with Elizabeth Bennet, the sister of Bingley’s own angel, Jane. Bingley is certain of it.

What was really going on behind the scenes at Netherfield, Pemberley, and Darcy House, and just what did those men talk about over billiards and brandy? In this novella, Bingley sheds a little light on keeping company with the most interesting man in the world, and shares his own musings on puppies, his dreadful sisters, and the search for true love. Prepare to be shocked, delighted, and confused by a Charles Bingley the likes of whom you’ve never met before.

Buy on Amazon

****

About the Authors

Justine Rivard

Justine Rivard is a very serious college professor who has no time for frivolity or poppycock of any kind. She strenuously objects to the silliness found in this story and urges you to put the book down at once before it gives you ideas. You are invited instead to join her in the study for a lecture about her extensive collection of whimsical 18th-century animal husbandry manuals.

J.L. Ashton

J.L. Ashton, on the other hand, is a very unserious writer of Jane Austen variations you might have read (A Searing Acquaintance and Mendacity & Mourning) and collector of recipes she will never attempt. She encourages a general lack of decorum and has a great appreciation for cleft chins, vulnerably brooding men, and Instagram accounts featuring animals. Especially cats. Also foxes.

Connect with Justine Rivard on Twitter

Connect with J.L. Ashton on Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram: jancat95 | Blog

****

Giveaway

Meryton Press is offering eight eBooks copies of The Most Interesting Man in the World. The giveaway runs until midnight, March 1, 2019. You MUST enter through the Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified.

One winner per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

****

February 11 / Austenesque Reviews / Character Interview

February 12 / A Covent Garden Madame Gilflurt’s Guide to Life / Guest Post

February 14 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review

February 16 / Just Jane 1813 / Meet the Authors

February 18 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Guest Post

February 22 / From Pemberley to Milton / Character Interview

February 24 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review

February 26 / My Vices and Weaknesses  / Book Excerpt

February 28 / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post

Disclosure: I received a review copy of The Most Interesting Man in the World from Meryton Press.

Hello, dear readers! Victoria Kincaid is back to Diary of an Eccentric today with a special treat to celebrate the audiobook release of her first modern Pride and Prejudice variation, President Darcy. I had a blast editing this book, and I’m thrilled to see it released in audio. Please give Victoria a warm welcome!

****

Hi Anna. It’s lovely to be back visiting your blog again!  The audiobook of President Darcy was released at the end of 2018 but kind of got lost in the end-of-the-year hustle and bustle as I released another new book.  But this audiobook deserves to be noticed.  President Darcy has proven to be one of my most popular books, and narrator Lucy Emerson does a terrific job with the characters.  You can listen to an audiobook sample here and enjoy an excerpt below.

****

Hilliard scanned his iPad.  “How about one of the Bennet girls you just met?  Elizabeth Bennet? Her father donated to your campaign.  She’s pretty, and you seemed taken with her when you shook her hand.”

Elizabeth froze in horror while Lydia and Maria shot her amazed looks.  Would he tell Hilliard about the broom closet?

President Darcy snorted.  “Ha!  I don’t think so.  You didn’t have to speak with her.  I don’t think there’s anything going on upstairs.”  He tapped the side of his head.  “Intellectual lightweight.  And she’s not that pretty.”

Elizabeth stumbled further into the alcove until she couldn’t see the men anymore.  Lydia convulsed in silent laughter, her hand stuffed in her mouth to muffle the sounds, while Maria gaped at Elizabeth, wide-eyed.  Elizabeth reviewed the words in her head, but they remained the same.  Yes, the president—the president!—thought she was ugly and stupid and had voiced the sentiment out loud.

She heard President Darcy blow out an exasperated breath.  “Bob, I know you have my best interests at heart, but would a few dances with some wallflower from a nouveau riche family make much of a difference to your average voter?”

Elizabeth peeked around the corner again in time to see Hilliard sigh and tuck the iPad under his arm.  “Will you at least dance with someone?  Pretend you’re having a good time for a few minutes?”

“Fine,” the other man muttered.  “I’ll dance with Caroline again, okay?”

“Caroline is not an ordinary Amer—”

“Enough, Bob.” The president’s voice brooked no disagreement. The conversation was over. He straightened his jacket.  “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some governing to do.”  As the president started to walk, the whole group of men moved en masse down the hallway.  Soon they were gone.

Elizabeth remained frozen in the alcove, plastered against the wall.  She probably should have bolted for the exit, but her muscles felt loose and unattached as though she might fall to pieces if she tried to move.

Finally, Lydia grabbed her arm, pulled her through the ladies’ room door, and pushed her up toward the sinks.  “OMG!  You just got dissed by the president!” she laughed.

Maria viewed Elizabeth with a kind of awe.  “Presidential dissing.  Executive dissing.  Wow.”

Elizabeth fell onto the padded bench and drew her knees up to her chest despite the tightness of her dress.  “Can’t we just forget it—?”

Eyes glued to her smartphone screen, Lydia interrupted.  “Nah. It’s too good.  I already texted Amy about this. She’ll scream.”

“Please don’t!” Elizabeth pleaded.

Lydia regarded her sardonically.  “Yeah, uh, that’s not going to happen.”

Shit.

“She’s not that pretty.” Maria imitated the president’s precise tones perfectly.

Lydia giggled.  “I’ve got to send it to Jordan, too!”

Maria nodded vigorously.  “Ooh, ooh!  And Olga!  It’ll crack her up.”

First the closet, now her father, and then this… Was it possible to induce a heart attack through accumulated mortification? Her chest ached, and she couldn’t catch her breath.  “What did I do to deserve that?” she wondered aloud.

Frantically texting away, Lydia snorted. “Some people get presidential pardons.  You get presidential shade.” Her phone buzzed.  “Ryan thinks you should get a picture with him.  Then we could add speech bubbles and…”

Great.  The group of people in the know included Ryan, whoever he was.  “Maybe we should go back to the East Room.  Dinner will be ready soon,” Elizabeth said.

Perhaps she should slip discreetly out the back door, but that seemed cowardly like she was allowing his rudeness to chase her away.  Instead, I should stay and show the president I’m not vapid and unattractive.  Even if he doesn’t know I overheard him.  As revenges went, it was rather feeble, but it was all she had.

“Ooh!  I wonder who I’m sitting with!” Maria exclaimed in a too-loud voice.  “I bet they’ll think it’s hilarious.”

“By all means, tell everyone you can find,” Elizabeth remarked dryly.

Lydia gave her an ironic salute.  “I’ll do my best.”

As they opened the bathroom door, Elizabeth scanned the corridor, but it was empty. “You don’t really mind if we tell everyone, do you?” Lydia asked breathlessly as they hurried toward the East Room.

Elizabeth’s feelings were moot at this point, so she bit back an angry retort.  Being a good sport would give her family less fodder for future teasing.  “Nah.  It’s kind of funny,” Elizabeth said through gritted teeth.  “It’s not like he knows me.”

“Yeah,” Maria agreed absently as she thumbed another message into her phone.  “I mean, you’re not as pretty as I am, but you wouldn’t make someone lose their lunch or anything.”

“I feel better already,” Elizabeth mumbled.

“I’m glad you’re being so mature about this,” Lydia said in all seriousness as they reached the entrance to the East Room.  “’Cause I already posted it on Twitter, and it’s been retweeted 168 times already.”

“Twitter—!” Elizabeth sputtered.  But Lydia and Maria had already disappeared into the crowd, no doubt in search of a greater audience for the tale of Elizabeth’s humiliation.

Elizabeth ambled around the edges of the room, avoiding eye contact and seeking a dark corner.  It’s not like I ever thought of myself as a great beauty, so that part shouldn’t rankle. He doesn’t know the first thing about my intelligence or conversational abilities. He’s just making assumptions. Most people would get tongue-tied when caught in a White House broom closet. Arrogant jerk. 

Of course, most people wouldn’t get caught in a White House broom closet.  Maybe that did say something about her….

No.  It would be stupid to get upset.

Just stupid.

****

About President Darcy

President William Darcy has it all: wealth, intelligence, and the most powerful job in the country.  Despite what his friends say, he is not lonely in the White House.  He’s not.   And he has vowed not to date while he’s in office.  Nor is he interested in Elizabeth Bennet.   She might be pretty and funny and smart, but her family is nouveau riche and unbearable.  Unfortunately, he encounters her everywhere in Washington, D.C.—making her harder and harder to ignore.  Why can’t he get her out of his mind?

Elizabeth Bennet enjoys her job with the Red Cross and loves her family, despite their tendency to embarrass her.  At a White House state dinner, they cause her to make an unfavorable impression on the president, who labels her unattractive and uninteresting.  Those words are immediately broadcast on Twitter, so the whole world now knows the president insulted her.  Elizabeth just wants to avoid the man—who, let’s admit it, is proud and difficult.  For some reason he acts all friendly when they keep running into each other, but she knows he’s judging her.

Eventually, circumstances force Darcy and Elizabeth to confront their true feelings for each other, with explosive results.  But even if they can find common ground, Mr. Darcy is still the president—with limited privacy and unlimited responsibilities—and his enemies won’t hesitate to use his feelings for Elizabeth against him.

Can President Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet find their way to happily ever after?

****

Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering an audiobook copy of President Darcy to one lucky reader. The code is good for the U.S. or U.K. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, March 3, 2019. The winner will be announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

I’m delighted to help Robin Helm celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, More to Love, which is certainly a different take on Austen’s novel. I hope you all are as excited as I am to read this book, and that the excerpt Robin is sharing today makes you even more excited!

****

Early October, 1811

The second eldest Bennet sister sat alone, trying to smile as she watched the couples dancing gracefully around the floor. Occasionally, she nibbled at the cookie she held, taking comfort in the richness of the sweet almond confection. As Elizabeth was a great favourite of Longbourn’s housekeeper and pastry cook, Mrs. Bailey, she was never without several of the tasty morsels in her reticule. Mrs. Bailey, who had learned the recipes for several types of cookies while a young woman in America, kept Elizabeth well-supplied.

Knowing her mother would disapprove of her eating while she waited for an invitation to dance, Elizabeth practiced her usual ruse. She hid the jumble in her embroidered handkerchief, careful to let no one see it. In any case, she was rarely asked to dance, cookie or not, as there were always more ladies than gentlemen at Meryton’s Assemblies. This night had been no exception. She had danced only one set, and that with Joshua Lucas, a friend since childhood.

Her sister Jane’s amiable partner for an earlier dance, Mr. Bingley, stood fairly close to Elizabeth, chatting with a handsome, austere man. Mr. Bingley’s voice carried over the music and gaiety, impossible to ignore.

“Darcy! Why are you standing here with your arms folded when there are so many uncommonly pretty girls lacking dance partners? You should not keep yourself apart from the company in such a stupid manner when lovely young women are seated and gentlemen are scarce. ’Tis rudeness itself. I must have you dance.”

“I certainly shall not,” answered the gentleman, drawing himself up to his full, intimidating height, looking down his nose at his friend. “You have been dancing with the only handsome girl in the room, and your sisters are engaged at present.”

Bingley’s voice softened. “She is an angel, is she not? The most beautiful creature I ever beheld.” He sighed. “However, there are plenty of suitable young ladies who are available.”

Elizabeth smiled upon hearing his praise of her sister. Mr. Bingley’s pleasant manner and good sense caused him to rise several notches in her estimation.

The young man continued, “Look! There is her sister, and she has a very pretty face, too. I daresay she is most agreeable. You must ask her to dance. Allow me to ask my partner to introduce you.”

The young lady felt the weight of the gentleman’s disapproving stare and glanced away, but she could not avoid hearing his reply.

“She is tolerable, I suppose, but there is rather too much of her to tempt me. Return to Miss Bennet and bask in her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.”

Elizabeth’s eyes filled with unshed tears as she crushed the cookie hidden in her handkerchief. While she had never been obsessed with her looks in the way her younger sisters were, she always took pride in her appearance. Her father had often complimented her beautiful skin and her lustrous, thick hair, while her mother made certain her bonnets and dresses were stylish.

Even so, she grudgingly acknowledged to herself that she had been avoiding mirrors for at least two years now, and lately, her gowns had become uncomfortably snug.

True or not, his comments wounded her deeply. Though she was well-known for her intelligence and quick wit, she yearned to be told she was altogether lovely. She had many friends, but she feared that being bright and cheerful with a pretty face described a governess or a lady’s companion, and she did not aspire to either of those vocations.

Secretly, Elizabeth wished to be the wife of a gentleman who adored her, as well as a mother to children she would love with all her considerable depth of heart, regardless of their outward features. She prided herself on valuing the characters of her friends and relatives rather than their physical attributes.

To be judged so harshly by a person she had never met was disconcerting. Her view of the world and her place in it was shaken.

In the moment the haughty gentleman had declared her to be “too much,” she had become, to herself, “not enough.” Not good enough. Not pretty enough. Not tempting enough.

Mr. Bingley, sweet man, would not agree with his friend. “How can you say that, Darcy? She has a perfect complexion, beautiful eyes, and dainty hands which are lovely. Her entire face is alight when she smiles, and I have also observed how graceful she is when she walks. Surely you have noticed that.”

Darcy snorted. “I have. Who could miss it? She approaches the refreshment table every half hour, and she is sorely mistaken if she thinks her handkerchief hides what she is constantly eating. Bingley, I am not in humour to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men, especially when that slighting is so obviously justified in this case by the lady’s lack of discipline.”

His companion rather testily replied, “I would not be as fastidious as you for a kingdom. You are determined to be disagreeable, so I will leave you to it. Furthermore, I shall dare your disapproval and ask her myself.”

Elizabeth hardly ever allowed herself to dislike people to whom she had never been introduced, but she was willing to make an exception for tall, dark, brooding Mr. Darcy. Upon further reflection, she was somewhat surprised to realize she truly despised him, despite his arresting beauty and aristocratic profile. She had never formally met the gentleman, yet she could barely stand the sight of him. Odd, for she was generally accepting of everyone.

Seeing Mr. Bingley approaching her, she stuffed the handkerchief into her reticule and placed it under her chair. Her determined attempt at a pleasant countenance was successful.

A moment later, Mr. Bingley appeared before her, bowed, and extended his hand with a smile and a request.

Elizabeth stood and placed her hand in his, determined not to disgrace herself. She held her head high and fixed a smile upon her face, allowing her brilliant, green eyes to sparkle with mischief as he escorted her past Mr. Darcy onto the dance floor.

As she and Mr. Bingley moved through the steps, she glimpsed Mr. Darcy watching them several times, his dark eyes fixed upon her, an inscrutable expression on his striking face.

Assuming that he looked at her only to find fault, her active mind formed a scheme, and she could hardly wait to set it in motion.

****

About More to Love

“She is tolerable, I suppose, but there is rather too much of her to tempt me.”

Overhearing Mr. Darcy’s rude dismissal of her shocks and mortifies Elizabeth Bennet to the core.

She is living her worst fear, and it galvanizes her into action.
oon, the gentleman cannot keep his eyes from her, but can she forgive his thoughtless judgment of her appearance and character?

Especially since he faces a worthy competitor for her attention?

Who will win the lady’s hand, along with the right to love her through thick or thin?

Check out More to Love on Amazon

****

Giveaway

If that excerpt grabbed your attention, then you’ll be thrilled that Robin is generously giving away an ebook copy of More to Love to one lucky reader. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveway will be open through Thursday, February 28, 2019. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Robin, for treating us to a peek of More to Love. Congratulations on your new release!