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I’m delighted that Anniina Sjöblom is my guest today to celebrate the release of her new Pride and Prejudice variation, Thaw. She has come bearing gifts: an excerpt and a giveaway! Please give her a warm welcome.

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Thank you, Anna, for inviting me to post an excerpt from Thaw at the Diary of an Eccentric as a part of the blog tour! The following is a part of a letter Elizabeth writes to her sister Jane when, shortly after her unexpected marriage to Mr. Darcy, a most seriously displeased surprise guest arrives to Pemberley.

Excerpt

Dear Jane. Since writing the above, something most unexpected has happened. It is late at night, but I am too restless to sleep. If my eyesight is ruined due to writing in the fading light of the candle, we have Lady Catherine de Bourgh to thank for it.

I am sure you remember that our dearest cousin Mr Collins was quite upset at my union with Mr Darcy. Shortly before he stormed out of Longbourn in November, he declared to me that his esteemed patroness—and now, to the infinite delight of both myself and said lady, my aunt—Lady Catherine de Bourgh would be quite displeased with my marrying her nephew.

As I did not hear a word from her ladyship before the wedding despite our cousin’s ominous threats, I did not spare the matter much thought. This afternoon, however, has taught me that making idle threats is not something we can count among our dear cousin’s many faults. Lady Catherine is, indeed, most seriously displeased with my marriage—or as she prefers to call it, that patched-up business with her poor nephew—and has now taken the trouble of disrupting her visit with Lord and Lady Fitzgerald at Ashbourne to come here and personally inform me of her displeasure.

Oh Jane, I confess I am so vexed that even Mama would be proud of me. On the matter of our marriage being a patched-up business, I am inclined to agree with her ladyship. As for the rest of what she had to express, not so much. I shall not repeat all of the things she had to say of my person; suffice it to say that I have never been so thoroughly insulted. While quite adept at slandering me, I am sure even Lettice Thompson would find that there is still a great deal more she could learn from Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

According to my new aunt, not only have I ensnared my husband to marry me with my feminine arts and allurements (I was tempted to laugh at this—if the man did not find me handsome enough to tempt him in a ballroom, I daresay finding me soaking wet and covered in mud did little to improve his opinion!), I have also ruined forever the hopes of another young woman: Miss Anne de Bourgh. I had already learned from Mr Wickham that such a union had been planned, but now I am told it was nothing less than the very fondest wish of both Lady Catherine and my husband’s mother that Mr Darcy marry Miss de Bourgh. I wonder if it was his fondest wish, as well. Perhaps that would explain his sour mood of late.

Alas, while he might have a tendre for his cousin, it seems that there is little love lost between my husband and his aunt. He and the colonel arrived from their tour of the estate just in time to hear some of the more memorable things she had to say to me—and I confess, I never imagined I could be as pleased to see my husband as I was at that moment.

To the utter dismay of Lady Catherine—and my unexpected delight—it turns out that the only person my husband allows to decry my connexions is himself. I know that he is as little pleased to be married to me as I am to be married to him, and he has made his thoughts of my family abundantly clear. Yet, to his aunt he showed nothing of it. Instead he declared that I was a gentleman’s daughter and that, if he did not object to my connexions, they could be nothing to his aunt. It was truly quite impressive. As disagreeable as my husband can be, he does have his gentlemanlike moments.

At present, the recalcitrant aunt rests in one of the more distant guest rooms, to be sent back to Ashbourne in the morning. The colonel tells me that I have himself and my husband to thank that I did not receive a visit such as this before the wedding. It seems her ladyship had every intention to pay a call at Longbourn, but the gentlemen prevented her. Do tell Papa—I am sure he will be sorely disappointed to hear that he has so narrowly missed the chance of meeting our cousin’s noble patroness.

I am at a loss as to why she has come now. If there were some way to undo all that has happened, I would do it—even at the risk of pleasing Lady Catherine. But I am married. There is nothing to be done for it. Like the rest of us, she will simply have to live with it.

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About Thaw

It is a truth universally acknowledged that one false step can involve a lady in endless ruin. On a rainy November day in 1811, Miss Elizabeth Bennet finds herself wondering why no one ever bothered to tell her about this.

A few blithe steps on a morning walk, taken after a succession of rain, lead to unexpected events that irrevocably change the course of Elizabeth’s life, placing her fate in the hands of the haughty and conceited Mr. Darcy – the last man in the world she had ever thought to marry.

As long winter days slowly pass, she writes letters to her loved ones, trying to come to terms with her new role as a wife and the Mistress of Pemberley. But can she ever learn to love her husband? Will he overcome his arrogant notions of rank and circumstance?

And most importantly – will the shades of Pemberley ever recover from being thus polluted?

Buy on Amazon

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About the Author

Anniina Sjöblom

Anniina Sjöblom lives in the beautiful but cold Finland and works in university administration. She has an MA in History and enjoys a long-standing love affair with the works of Jane Austen.

Her previous works include titles such as Thirteen Days, Fix You and When He Comes Back, published in various online Austenesque forums under the pen name boogima. The new novella Thaw, expanded from the original version of the story first published online in 2011, is her first commercially published work.

When not writing, Anniina spends her time hanging out with friends, binge-watching TV dramas and re-reading her favourite books while the stack of new ones still waiting to be read piles higher on her nightstand. She can ride a unicycle, and once, after losing an unfortunate bet, ate a bowl of ice cream with green dish soap as dressing. She does not recommend attempting it to anyone.

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Giveaway

Quills & Quartos Publishing is giving away one ebook of THAW per blog tour stop. All you need to do to enter the giveaway is comment on this blog post, and Quills & Quartos will randomly choose winners for the entire blog tour on January 22. So, make sure you join in the conversation!

Thank you, Anniina, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new release!

Source: Review copy from the authors

In The Unexpected Past of Miss Jane Austen, book 2 in the Austen Adventures series, Ada Bright and Cass Grafton pick up right where they left off in the first book, The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen. Rose Wallace has just helped Jane Austen make it back to the Regency era with the help of a time-traveling charm and realized her crush, the archeologist Dr. Aiden Trevellyan, feels the same way about her when Jane returns to the present and insists that they travel with her back to Chawton in 1813.

This time it is Rose who is taken out of her comfort zone, and she soon learns that living in the time of her favorite author is not as delightful as it seems in Jane’s books. Rose and Aiden are welcomed by Jane’s sister, Cassandra, and her brothers, Edward and Charles, and while Aiden is thrilled to see the village as it was during Austen’s time, Rose is more preoccupied with the reason behind their speedy departure from 21st century Bath — especially as it pertains to her own past.

I adored The Unexpected Past of Miss Jane Austen as much as I did the first book. The time travel aspect was fun, especially to see the modern-day transports adjust to the clothing (or lack thereof), shoes, and even food and drink of Austen’s time, not to mention the lack of hygiene and modern medicine. There is plenty of humor to balance out the more emotional scenes, and even as the reason for Rose’s travel back into time (and what it might mean for her future) is revealed, Bright and Grafton keep the tone light and hopeful — and there is always Jane or Charles to provide some levity.

It is clear that Bright and Grafton took time to research what Chawton was like in the early 1800s to show readers how much had changed by Rose’s time, and their affection and respect for Austen and her family really shine through. Their Jane felt authentic to me, in her words and her actions, and that made me love the book all the more. I enjoyed following Rose and Jane through time, watching Rose navigate her ties to both the past and the present, and seeing Rose and Aiden’s relationship strengthen in such a short time under such weighty circumstances. The world that Bright and Grafton have created is fascinating, their characters endearing, and I didn’t want the book to end. I sure hope there will be a third book in the series, as I’m not ready to let go of Rose and Jane, their friendship, or their adventures just yet.

Source: Review copy from William Morrow

The Clergyman’s Wife is a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that follows Pride and Prejudice‘s Charlotte Lucas as she builds her life in Kent after marrying Mr. Collins. Molly Greeley tells Charlotte’s story from the first person point of view, so readers really get to know her and understand why she was willing to marry a laughingstock of a man who had been rejected by her best friend. Charlotte has given up any foolish notions of romance and love in exchange for security, but she finds happiness with her infant daughter, Louisa.

Greeley describes the early days of their marriage and how Charlotte settled into her life as the clergyman’s wife. She cares for Louisa, suffers through William’s sermons with the rest of the congregation, calms his anxieties and redirects his attentions whenever possible, endures visits to Rosings and the high handedness of Lady Catherine, and worries that she is not up to the task of caring for the families of the parish. When Charlotte befriends Mr. Travis, a tenant farmer of Lady Catherine’s, she is thrown off kilter, not used to being truly seen and heard.

Greeley’s Charlotte is a complicated character, one who understands the obstacles life has thrown in her path and takes practical steps to overcome them — and who also understands that her choices cannot be undone. It was easy to get lost in Charlotte’s story because she felt real. She knew her options were limited and followed her mind, not her heart, in choosing her path. She knew her husband was ridiculous but made the best of a difficult situation, holding onto moments of tenderness that seemed few and far between. Greeley’s Mr. Collins isn’t cruel; he seems self-centered, obsequious where Lady Catherine is concerned, and careless with his words. It’s easier to understand Charlotte’s reasoning for marrying him than it is to understand how she is going to put up with him until death do they part — especially after watching her friendship with Mr. Travis evolve.

The Clergyman’s Wife gives Charlotte a chance to tell her story, and a chance to see what she might have had. The Darcys and the Bennets make appearances, but this is truly Charlotte’s story, an emotional battle of sorts between the desire for love and the reality of her life as Mrs. Collins. It gave me a new appreciation for Charlotte and is definitely one of the best Pride and Prejudice-inspired novels I’ve ever read, staying true to Jane Austen’s character while breathing new life into her.

Melanie Rachel is back today to celebrate the release of the third book in the Headstrong trilogy, Overcome, a modern romance inspired by Pride and Prejudice. I love modern takes on P&P, so these books are definitely on my wish list. Melanie is here to introduce the book and share an excerpt. Please give her a warm welcome!

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I know that modern P&P variations can sometimes be a tough sell. So I’ll begin with a few reviews from readers.

On Austen Authors, Trudy Osborn wrote:

“I have to say that I am not a big fan of modern, but I had seen these (the Headstrong books) really praised here Austen Readers. The first one of the series sat on my Kindle for a few weeks while I read other books that I thought would be more to my taste. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down and read through the next two the same day.”

 

On Amazon, Sandra Fillmer wrote:

“I am a historical reader and don’t usually like moderns. Melanie Rachel has convinced me that there are great modern P&P’s out there. The Headstrong trilogy was fantastic.”

 

Also from Amazon (plucked from a longer review) Elin wrote:

“A thrilling, entertaining and compelling read with laugh out loud, hilarious moments.”

 

The following is an excerpt from Headstrong: Overcome (Book Three). In it, Will and Richard are waiting for word of Elizabeth’s return from an overseas job—one that they suspect is related to ending a hostage situation in Syria. As a Marine, she has written letters for her loved ones to be opened in case she does not return from a mission, and she’s done the same for Will Darcy.

I hope you enjoy!

–MR

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Eight hours. It had been eight hours since Oscar had called with the news that Elizabeth was missing and presumed . . . his sources said that the handlers hadn’t been able to confirm the location of any of the team members. It was possible they were all in transit, ready to convene at another site, but Elizabeth would have wanted to come home. He was sure of it. She should have been on the plane to Seattle.

“I want the letter, Richard,” he said flatly. “I know she must have left one. You may not think I can handle it, but I know you wrote one, too. I’ve known for a long time.”

Richard wouldn’t meet his eyes. “It’s a little early for that, Will,” he said softly.

“Do you have it?” Will asked.

Will could see that Richard was considering lying to him, but in the end, he just said, “Yes.”

I still have hope,” Will said quietly. “But I need something, something, to feel close to her.” He swallowed. “Please.”

A few minutes later, Richard handed him the letter and a whiskey.

“She’s coming back,” Will said aloud. Richard nodded silently. He held the letter for a moment, then tossed it on his desk.

They waited in silence for another hour, Will slowly turning the whiskey glass and staring at the envelope. “Mr. Will Darcy” was written in cursive across the front.

Richard’s phone buzzed. He stared at the screen, his lips pursed.

“What is it?” Will asked.

Richard hesitated, glanced up. He shook his head. “Nothing.”

Will stood. “Richard,” he said unsteadily, “give me the phone.”

“Just let me verify these first. It’s not anything you need to see unless we know for sure.” Richard bent his head over the phone and was typing out a message when Will grabbed it right out of his hand. Richard reached to take it back, but Will just turned his back and walked to the desk. Richard didn’t try to follow him.

On the screen were several photos of a bombed-out apartment building . . . somewhere. The building had collapsed into the earth, into what was probably a basement. Had been a basement. He swiped to the next photo. There was a punctured soccer ball in the foreground, deflated and peeling.

It meant nothing. Millions of people across the globe had soccer balls like that. Just because Elizabeth liked to juggle one when she worked . . . He swiped again and nearly dropped the phone. A few feet from the remains of the soccer ball was part of a whiteboard, with a few letters still visible. It looked like . . . He enlarged the photo. There was just a fragment, really. A line straight up and a word, or part of one: drey. He checked his name on the envelope, small, even letters, a tight loop on the ‘y’. Then he looked again at the photo.

The word was Audrey, he realized in a flash. They’d been playing hangman. It was Elizabeth’s writing. He was sure of it. He looked up.

“It’s her,” he told Richard. His cousin leaned forward in his seat and lowered his head to his hands.

Will set the phone down on his desk and picked up the letter. He ran his hand over the envelope, then slid a sharp opener along the top and plucked out a single sheet of paper.

Dear Will, it began.

If you’re reading this, I didn’t make it home. I can’t begin to tell you how sorry I am about that. Will fumbled a bit and took a drink of the whiskey. He couldn’t feel his fingers holding the glass and nearly dropped it.

I worry that you’ll shut yourself off from everyone and try to find some way to blame yourself for this. But I chose this with my eyes wide open. You didn’t choose it—I did. So get over yourself.

He smiled, but it hurt.

I am not afraid to die for what’s right, Will. I came to terms with that a long time ago. It’s just hard to think about all the people who will grieve when I go—you most of all. Please know I tried my best to make it back to you, and that when you’ve had some time to recover, I expect you to find someone else you can love.

He shook his head. Impossible.

Have a good life, Will. That’s an order.

A strangled sound escaped his throat.

I’m sorry this is so short—I don’t have a lot of time. Please know that I love you wildly, with all of my heart, with everything I have. I love your integrity, your intelligence, your strength, and your heart. You have been the best part of my life.

God bless you, Will Darcy.

Elizabeth

“Will?” Richard asked quietly.

Will was holding his letter in one hand, just staring at it. “I shouldn’t have read it,” Will said, his eyes stinging. “If she finds out when she gets home, she’ll be angry at me.” He lightly traced one of the lines on the paper with a fingertip.

Richard nodded. “It’s been less than a day. Elizabeth could still pop up on our radar, Will.”

She could, Will thought. He’d feel better if they could confirm that the other members of the team were stateside, but even Oscar evidently didn’t have that kind of information. And the sad fact was that the longer they went without hearing anything, the higher the odds that they wouldn’t ever hear anything at all.

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About Headstrong: Overcome

Elizabeth Bennet has never been one to dwell on the past, but now her past is coming after her with a vengeance.

It’s been a stressful Christmas for Elizabeth. She’s working thousands of miles from home and is out of contact with everyone she loves. She’s trying to keep her mind on her work—lives depend upon her ability to concentrate—but she can’t stop thinking about Will Darcy.

Back in the States, Will’s company, FORGE, has barely averted disaster. As he works to manage the recovery, he’s left to wonder when Elizabeth will return and whether she’ll still be his when she does. Worse yet, he is haunted by the possibility that she’s in harm’s way—and that it’s his fault.

Elizabeth’s work has always been dangerous, but this time, going home might pose the greater risk. Can she and Will work together to overcome all the obstacles they’re about to face?

JOIN ELIZABETH AND WILL FOR THE EXCITING FINAL BOOK IN THE HEADSTRONG SERIES!

Buy on Amazon

All three books are now available on Amazon for purchase and in Kindle Unlimited.

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Giveaway

Melanie is generously offering one lucky reader a choice of one of the books in the trilogy — Improvise (Book One), Adapt (Book Two), or Overcome (Book Three). The reader will have their choice of an ebook (international) or paperback (U.S. only). To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Tuesday, January 14, 2020. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Melanie, for being my guest today and congratulations on your new release!

Dear readers, you are in for a real treat today! Elizabeth Adams has just released a new contemporary romance novel, Ship to Shore, and I’m thrilled to be sharing an excerpt from the book with you. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! But first, the book blurb:

Dodging and weaving her mother’s attempts to get her married off and producing grandbabies as soon as possible, Maggie focuses on teaching and doing fun projects with her students—like sending a box of cards to anonymous soldiers for the holidays. She’s more than a little surprised when the receiving naval officer writes a proper thank-you letter.

The magic ensues when Maggie writes back. She sees her new pen pal as an innocent diversion—until he isn’t.

Lt. Commander F. Hawkins thinks he’s writing to a sweet little old woman. Little does he know that the woman sending him baked goods is going to capture his heart.

In a culture of online dating and hook-ups, Maggie and Hawkins find themselves transported through the old-fashioned act of letter-writing. His steadfast earnestness can’t help but appeal. Her charm and vivacity can’t fail to captivate.

They never stood a chance.

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An excerpt from Ship to Shore, courtesy of Elizabeth Adams:

Curious about what had happened but knowing she shouldn’t ask, and he wouldn’t tell her even if she did, she started a batch of cookies and sat at the kitchen table to write while they baked.

“Whatcha doin’, little sister?”

Maggie smiled at the sound of her sister’s voice. Sarah was five when Maggie was born and she’d had a bit of a misunderstanding about the new baby’s name. Everyone had constantly asked her how she liked her new little sister, and Sarah had thought that was what they were calling the baby until Margaret’s first birthday when Sarah read the cake and innocently asked who Margaret was.

It had taken her years to live it down, but she still used the nickname occasionally.

“Hey! I’m baking cookies. You can take some to the office tomorrow if you want.”

“Thank you. I brought a chicken. We can make a quick salad to go with it.” She unpacked her grocery sack on the counter and glanced at her sister. “Grading papers?”

“No, writing a letter actually.”

“Oh? To whom?”

“To this guy in the Navy. He’s the one who got the box I mailed.”

“One guy got an entire box of cards?”

“No! He is the leader of some group or something. Anyhow, his men, or sailors or whatever you call them, got the cards. He distributed them I think? Anyway, he sent me a thank you card, and we’ve decided to start writing each other.”

“Some random guy in the Navy is your pen pal?” asked Sarah incredulously.

“Don’t say it like that! It’s not like he’s in prison.” She made a face that her sister ignored. “And I asked him to pass along a correspondent for the kids. He asked this guy Davis—he’s a lieutenant—to send them a letter and the kids loved it. So I sent a letter back thanking him and asking if he’d like to correspond with me.”

“Correspond?”

“Pen pals are for children. What should I call it?” asked Maggie defensively.

“You don’t think this is a little weird?”

“They’re just letters, Sarah. Really. He’s thousands of miles away. It’s not like he’s going to show up on the doorstep and ask for a loan or something.”

Sarah rolled her eyes and smiled ruefully. “He’d better not.” She pointed her finger at Maggie and started making a salad.

Maggie just smiled. Sarah was generally a very kind person, but the one thing that could always raise her hackles was sensing danger to her younger siblings. She would say it was the typical response for the eldest female in a large family. Maggie thought it was just Sarah. After all, Harrison was the eldest male and eldest child, and he certainly didn’t seem to have any protective instincts.

February 5, 20__

Dear Hawkins,

I’m sorry you had a hard day, but I am happy my letter cheered you up. Be careful with the fudge—it sticks to your bones.

I survived my weekend with my parents unscathed, but I can’t say the same for my old room. It turns out the craft room wasn’t the only one on the chopping block. My room has been turned into a guest room. It isn’t that big of a change I suppose, but it makes it feel that much less like home to me.

I should look at the bright side. My brother’s room was turned into a home gym. I hope mom stops there and doesn’t continue to redo rooms. I have a feeling she is dealing with her empty-nest syndrome by arranging her home the way she used to arrange her children’s lives. (I can be snarky—I’m warning you now.)

To answer your question about siblings, yes, I have them—and then some. I am one of six children. I know it sounds like a lot, but five and six were surprise twins, so it’s not like they did it on purpose. First is Harrison, then Sarah, Mark, me, Rob and Annaleigh. I would tell you more, but I just saw most of my family this weekend and I’m a little family-ed out.

Since you weren’t sure what to write about, why don’t you tell me a little about yourself? What’s your favorite color? How long have you been in the Navy? Why did you join in the first place? Did you go to college? If so, where did you go and what did you major in? Do you come from a big or small family? Do you have any children? Where are you from? Dogs or cats? Bagels or English muffins?

Now that should give you plenty of material for your next letter. And you still haven’t told me your first name. Is it something horrid? Is that why you only use the F? Shall I guess? Is it… Fergus? Franklin and you don’t want people to call you Frankie? (You definitely don’t seem like a Frankie.) How about Fletcher? Am I getting warmer?

Keep a smile on—you’ll be on dry land soon.

Sincerely,

Maggie

Hawkins sat on his bed and opened the package that came with his letter. He couldn’t keep the smile off his face as he read the note attached to a gallon-sized bag filled with cookies.

Here are some oatmeal walnut cranberry cookies. They’re healthier than the fudge. I won’t be accused of single-handedly fattening up the Navy!

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A big thank you to Elizabeth for sharing that fantastic excerpt. Doesn’t that make you want to grab a copy of Ship to Shore and read it right now? (If you feel so inclined, you can buy it here.)

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About the Author

Elizabeth Adams

Elizabeth Adams is a book-loving, tango-dancing, Austen enthusiast. She loves old houses and thinks birthdays should be celebrated with trips—as should most occasions. She can often be found by a sunny window with a cup of hot tea and a book in her hand.

She writes romantic comedy and comedic tragedy in both historic and modern settings.

You can find more information, short stories, and outtakes at EAdamsWrites.com.

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Giveaway

Elizabeth is generously offering one lucky reader an ebook copy of Ship to Shore AND another ebook from her catalog (reader’s choice). To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Monday, January 13, 2020. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Happy New Year! I hope 2020 has wonderful things in store for you all.

I’m spending time with my family today and enjoying having my daughter home from college until late January. But I wanted to take some time to share with you my favorites of the 25 books I read last year.

In 2020, I hope to read more, and more widely. I’ve been missing WWII historical fiction, and I also want to make my way through the pile of Jill Mansell and Karen White books on my shelf. I also hope to finish the first draft of my novel; I’m at around 25,000 words so far.

Have you made any plans for the coming year? I’d also love to know what your favorite books from last year were or what’s on your 2020 reading list.

I also want to thank you all for visiting my blog. I love sharing my love of reading with my fellow bookaholics, and I hope you know how much you all mean to me. I wish you all a fantastic 2020!

Love,

Anna

I’m delighted to welcome Jayne Bamber back today to celebrate the release of her latest novel, Strong Objections to the Lady. She’s here with another interesting discussion about Charles Bingley, and to share an excerpt and giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!

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Sorry, Charlie….

 

 

It’s great to be back at Diary of an Eccentric! I am here to share an excerpt from my new release, Strong Objections to the Lady, but first, I think I owe Charles Bingley a big apology!

 

 

When I was here back in January on the blog tour for my first novel, I boldly decreed that Charles Bingley is a Hot Idiot, and while I can’t entirely retract that, I gotta say, I still think he’s a good guy. He has a role to play in my new release, and this time I was really excited about giving him a time to shine.

 

 

Though I just take a sharp turn from canon (as usual!) in Strong Objections to the Lady, things work at well for Charles Bingley just as soon as he, like our other beloved characters, begins to deserve his HEA. He is just as easily led by his sister as ever, but I gave him just a little nudge in the right direction, toward growing up, with some help from a very unusual ally.

 

 

Of course, there’s always been lots to love about Mr. Bingley. Jane Austen tells us of his myriad charms, and it is no surprise that Jane Bennet was instantly smitten. Aside from being rich and handsome, which a gentleman ought to be if he possibly can, Mr. Bingley really does try to put his best foot forward in the neighborhood. You know, before he gets duped into ditching them to go back to London.

 

 

From the moment he arrives in the neighborhood, Mr. Bingley is an ideal neighbor. He’s delighted by everyone in the neighborhood, even making a point to commend Charlotte Lucas, who doesn’t have the greatest luck with gentlemen. He dines with the officers and invites them all to his ball, and when a local lady takes ill at his house, he allows her and her sister to stay with him for as long as they need.

 

 

In addition to all this gentlemanly affability, he really does try with poor Darcy. He’s having a ball, making new friends, and poor Bingley really does wish Darcy would lighten up and have some fun! Of course, we find out later why Darcy doesn’t enjoy himself as much as Bingley, but we can only imagine that in all the years of their friendship, Bingley has usually had more success in lightening Darcy’s mood.

 

 

Bingley gets a lot right, before he is steered so wrong by Darcy and his sister, but even then – well, we are all fools in love, right?

 

 

In Strong Objections to the Lady, Mr. Bingley begins foolishly in love, and Darcy has his hands too full with family drama and a Bennet sister of his own to help Bingley undo the damage he’s done by abandoning Jane. Left to his own devices, he fumbles at first, but learns all the right lessons along the way.

 

 

The excerpt I want to share today is one of Mr. Bingley’s first appearances in the tale, although we learn that he has had an “off-screen” encounter with Jane while she was staying with the Gardiners in London….

 

 

Darcy had no opportunity to speak privately with Bingley, as much as he wished it, until they had set out on horseback for Humphrey Hall. The ladies set out in their carriages, while Henry and Arthur rode together at some remove – likely scheming amongst themselves.

Darcy knew there was something missing from his understanding of the situation, for he had expected Bingley’s presence to please Elizabeth for her sister’s sake, and that Elizabeth had reacted with such discomfort led Darcy to suppose that Miss Bennet may not look fondly on Bingley’s arrival. It was possible that Bingley had seen Miss Bennet in the two days that had elapsed in London between Darcy’s visit with Bingley, and Miss Bennet’s sudden arrival in Kent. Richard seemed to suspect it, and after some gentle prodding, Bingley himself confessed it.

“Of course I went to her straight away,” Bingley owned. “You told me she cared for me, which I knew all along, of course. I was mighty angry with you, and Caroline too, but not without hope that Jane would forgive me.”

Darcy glanced over at Bingley from the side of his eyes and gave a slight shake of his head. “I would not have known you were displeased with your sister, as you have brought her with you,” he said cautiously.

“Well, I did not know we would be making such an excellent house party of it, or I might have left her in London,” Bingley said with an affable laugh. “I thought I would need a hostess in order for Jane to visit me, and Caroline was wishing to be a part of the merriment, you know.”

“I see,” Darcy said. “And when you saw Miss Bennet in London, did she, as you say, forgive you?”

Bingley frowned; it was an uncharacteristic expression for him, but did not last long before he broke into a persistently cheerful smile. “Not exactly. Jane was angry with me for not coming sooner, though of course I had no notion of her being in Town all that time. It was not the amorous reunion I had anticipated, but of course she had just heard of her cousin’s death, and was quite distressed already – poor timing, that is all.”

Bingley was determined to be nonchalant about it, but Darcy wished to impart some caution to his friend, for everyone’s sake. “Yes, Miss Bennet has taken her new responsibilities as heiress to Longbourn very seriously.”

“Well, it is not as though I am some fortune hunter with questionable motives,” Bingley laughed. “I was madly in love with her before her prospects improved – she must know she has nothing to fear.”

“You were not aware of her feelings at the time – it may be possible that she had no assurance of your feelings, either.”

“Come now, Darcy, of course she did! You said that Miss Elizabeth told you Jane was merely being shy and modest in concealing her affection for me. Nobody could ever accuse me of being shy or modest!”

“Well, that is true, but your leaving Hertfordshire so suddenly….”

“Which was your idea,” Bingley interjected.

“Yes, I agreed with your sisters that it was prudent at the time. However, you must endeavor to show her that your renewed interest is not the work of a mere moment, as your departure was.”

“Of course I shall, Darcy. Really, there is no need to trouble yourself, my old friend. Your advice is valuable to me on a great many things, to be sure, but I should hardly put wooing ladies on that list! No indeed, I think I shall do better to follow my own instincts this time.”

Darcy could not argue with that – it was likely that without his interference, Bingley and Jane Bennet would already be wed. However, Bingley’s optimism was still troubling. Elizabeth had made it clear when she refused him that Jane’s discomfort was an insuperable obstacle in their relationship, and Darcy could not like that his own chances at happiness hinged on Bingley’s unpredictable finesse.

“Besides,” Bingley continued as Darcy brooded silently, “I have other resources.” He gave a jolly waggle of his eyebrows.

Darcy groaned. He had seen Anne and Bingley conversing many times over the last few days, thick as thieves, and he could not like it. Anne was still so new to society, and her enthusiasm for everything may yet prove another source of collateral damage in such a delicate situation. “You mean my cousin?”

“Yes, and her lady grandmother as well. I was flattered beyond anything that Lady Augusta should take an interest in my problems, but then I suppose she is not too old to appreciate the romance of it all.”

Darcy grimaced. “I cannot think it wise for you to look to outside assistance, Bingley, when it proved such an evil last autumn. My interference was misguided, and I am not sure that more interference will be the cure. Anne, in particular, may not be the most reliable conspirator.”

“Conspirator! You are very severe upon your cousin, Darcy! Indeed, I think it must be a habit of yours, for in all the years of acquaintance, you have never even given a truly accurate description of her! She is far livelier than I expected, and so very amiable. She seems to dote on the Bennet sisters.”

“That is the material point,” Darcy countered. “It has been many years since Anne has had such pleasure in female companionship, and I should hate for her new friendship to be jeopardized by her involvement in this matter.”

Bingley laughed, but Darcy could see that he had wounded his friend. “Come now, Darce, I hate to hear you speak as though you think I shall fail,” he said evenly. “I am no fool – and I believe it will come out well.”

Darcy could not agree with these last two statements, but neither could he judge his friend too harshly. He could infer that Bingley had been rebuffed by Miss Bennet when he visited her in London, but Darcy, too, was a man in love, and desperate for a second chance; this was hardly the time for hypocrisy.

 

 

Strong Objections to the Lady is available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited now, with a paperback soon to follow. Til then, I hope you enjoyed this excerpt! I will be sharing more excerpts throughout my blog tour, and there is an e-book giveaway you can enter by clicking here. You can also follow me on Facebook for more updates!

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Thank you, Jayne, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new book!