It’s always a treat to have Victoria Kincaid as a guest on Diary of an Eccentric, and today I welcome her here to spotlight her newest Pride and Prejudice variation, Darcy’s Honor. I had the pleasure of editing this delightful novel, which has the perfect balance of drama, humor, and romance. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!
First, here’s the book blurb to grab your attention:
Elizabeth Bennet is relieved when the difficult Mr. Darcy leaves the area after the Netherfield Ball. But she soon runs afoul of Lord Henry, a Viscount who thinks to force her into marrying him by slandering her name and ruining her reputation. An outcast in Meryton, and even within her own family, Elizabeth has nobody to turn to and nowhere to go.
Darcy successfully resisted Elizabeth’s charms during his visit to Hertfordshire, but when he learns of her imminent ruin, he decides he must propose to save her from disaster. However, Elizabeth is reluctant to tarnish Darcy’s name by association…and the viscount still wants her…
Can Darcy save his honor while also marrying the woman he loves?
Now, please give a warm welcome to Victoria Kincaid, who is here to discuss the importance of reputation in Jane Austen’s time:
The issue of reputation drives much of the plot of Pride and Prejudice (and many other Austen novels). Darcy’s need to protect Georgiana’s reputation compels him to keep the incident at Ramsgate (and Wickham’s perfidy) quiet. Elizabeth’s aspersions on Darcy’s character cause him to write her a letter, but then his concern about her reputation (because it would be improper for her to receive a message from an unmarried man) prompts him to give it to her in person rather than sending it with a servant. And, of course, Lydia’s careless behavior with Wickham affects not only her reputation, but her whole family’s.
Austen was well aware that the burden of maintaining a pristine reputation fell more on the shoulders of women than men. In P&P, Mary observes: “Unhappy as the event must be for Lydia, we may draw from it this useful lesson; that loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable—that one false step involves her in endless ruin—that her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful.” While Mary may be annoyingly pedantic, she is not wrong. Wickham can get away with all manner of dastardly behavior that is covered up or shrugged off. But Lydia’s one misstep is treated like a capital crime. Collins even says she’d have been better off dead.
This inequity strikes me every time I read an Austen novel, and it occurred to me to make it part of a plot for a P&P variation. What if Elizabeth lost her reputation—through no fault of her own? Not that she actually did anything wrong, but that everyone assumed that she had. How would Darcy react? How would Elizabeth behave? I was unsure of the answer to all of these questions as I set out to write Darcy’s Honor, so writing it was a process of discovery for me. Some of the results surprised me. And I hope that readers will find the book surprising and entertaining as well.
An excerpt from Darcy’s Honor, courtesy of Victoria Kincaid:
Miss Bingley was still speaking with a rhythm that was almost hypnotic. Darcy’s attention began to wander as his head dipped lower and lower until it nearly rested on his chest.
“…Meryton…” Darcy was pulled out of somnolence with an abrupt jerk. Was Miss Bingley discussing Hertfordshire? “….A letter from Anna Hopkins,” Miss Bingley said to her sister. “You remember her?”
Mrs. Hurst tittered. “Does she still maintain a correspondence with you? Apparently she remains under the delusion that she will obtain an invitation to Bingley House.”
Miss Bingley flicked open her fan with a snap, only to employ the object rather lazily. “Heaven knows. I certainly do nothing to encourage the acquaintance,” she sneered. “However, the missive did include one item of note.” Her glance flickered toward Darcy as if to ensure he was paying proper attention. “About the Bennets. You remember them, Louisa?”
Such a disingenuous act! Darcy ground his teeth together. No one from the Netherfield party was likely to forget the family that Bingley had nearly married himself into. Even Georgiana watched with wide eyes, having heard stories about the Bennets of Hertfordshire.
“What about them?” Bingley asked, hastily setting down his teacup.
His sister took a languid sip of tea, making a great show of indifference. “Charles, you will be very pleased we are gone from that neighborhood and have no more acquaintance with that family. It is an absolute disgrace!”
A chill raced down Darcy’s spine. What had happened to the Bennets?
“What is?” Bingley asked impatiently.
“Miss Elizabeth Bennet.” Miss Bingley avoided glancing at Darcy as she spoke, yet he had no doubt her words were intended to wound him. He clenched his fists to forestall any impulse to cry out at her.
Instead, he waited while Bingley demanded, “What about Miss Elizabeth?”
His sister shook her head sadly. “Such a disgrace. I do not know how the family will ever recover.”
Darcy could hold out no longer. “What has happened?” he finally growled.
The triumphant smile on Miss Bingley’s face hardly registered. “Eliza Bennet was caught with that oily viscount—”
“Henry Carson, Viscount Billington,” Darcy supplied automatically.
“Yes, that was the name. They were found in a”—she coughed delicately —“compromising position during a ball at Lucas Lodge.”
A tight hand seemed to squeeze Darcy’s heart.
“Oh dear!” Miss James’s exclamation was half distressed and half amused.
Mrs. Hurst tsked. “I confess I cannot be surprised. The whole family had no sense of decorum. The way her younger sisters carried on with the officers! And her mother’s behavior. Quite shocking.”
“Indeed.” Miss Bingley nodded her agreement. “I would not be surprised if her mother arranged the situation to entrap the viscount.”
The fist around Darcy’s heart closed even more tightly and painfully.
“Naturally,” Miss Bingley continued, “Lord Henry did the proper thing and made her an offer.”
No, Darcy wanted to cry out, but he had no breath. Mrs. Bennet might be capable of such a maneuver, but Elizabeth would never consent to be part of such a plot.
Mrs. Hurst pursed her lips disapprovingly. “So they are now betrothed?”
Oh, my! I bet you can’t wait to find out what happens next!
Victoria is generously offering a copy of Darcy’s Honor in a reader’s choice (print or ebook) giveaway, open internationally! To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will close on Sunday, April 23, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!