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Lona Manning has kindly offered to share an excerpt from her upcoming novel, A Marriage of Attachment, which is the sequel to A Contrary Wind, a variation of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. To celebrate the release of A Marriage of Attachment (click to pre-order), the ebook of A Contrary Wind is on sale this week for 99 cents (be sure you’re logged in to your Amazon account to see the sale price). First, I’ll share with you the book blurbs, and stay tuned for a giveaway at the end of the post!

A Contrary Wind: Fanny Price, an intelligent but timid girl from a poor family, lives at Mansfield Park with her wealthy cousins. But the cruelty of her Aunt Norris, together with a broken heart, compel Fanny to run away and take a job as a governess. Far away from everything she ever knew and the man she secretly loves, will Fanny grow in strength and confidence? Will a new suitor help her to forget her past? Or will a reckless decision ruin her life and the lives of those she holds most dear?

This variation of Jane Austen’s novel includes all the familiar characters from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, and some new acquaintances as well. There are some mature scenes and situations not suitable for all readers.

A Marriage of Attachment: A Marriage of Attachment continues the story of Fanny Price as she struggles to build her own life after leaving her rich uncle’s home. Fanny teaches sewing to poor working-class girls in London, while trying to forget her first love, Edmund Bertram, who is trapped in a disastrous marriage with Mary Crawford. Together with her brother John and her friend, the writer William Gibson, she discovers a plot that threatens someone at the highest levels of government. Meanwhile, Fanny’s brother William fights slavery on the high seas while longing for the girl he loves.

Filled with romance, suspense and even danger, A Marriage of Attachment takes the familiar characters from Mansfield Park on a new journey.

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An excerpt from A Marriage of Attachment, courtesy of Lona Manning

In A Marriage of Attachment, Edmund has heard from his estranged wife Mary Crawford Bertram, after a long silence. His sister Julia lives with him at the parsonage at Thornton Lacey, and she is yearning for handsome, gallant, Lieutenant William Price.

JULIA BERTRAM AROSE early to work in her garden on the morning after her return to Thornton Lacey from town.

Her mother used to sit in the shade, playing with her pug dog, as the gardeners at Mansfield Park dug and trimmed, and her Aunt Norris flitted about, directing and admonishing. But as there was no army of servants at her command at Edmund’s house, Julia taught herself to weed and plant, and found she rather enjoyed it, for the activity soothed her restless spirit.

Her flower garden was on a sunny slope behind the house, her own private retreat. She was exceedingly proud of her new hedge. At present her yew trees barely reached her waist, but with the mind and eye of a gardener, she saw the day when an imposing green avenue would trace the path of a gravel walkway, leading to the winding stream at the foot of the garden.

As she examined the promising new growth on her rose trellis, Julia indulged in recollections of a warm autumn day two years ago when her cousins William and Susan Price were visiting at Mansfield Park. The three of them went to pick rose hips in the hedgerows. It was the day she knew she was in love with William Price.

Julia closed her eyes and lifted her face to the sun, summoning up the moment when young Susan, enjoying the freedom of the outdoors, went running on ahead, looking for a better patch of rose bushes, and she was left alone with William. She saw William’s face; the look in his eyes when he took her hand and asked her if she could wait for him. She had whispered ‘yes,’ and his face lit up with joy, and he embraced her. His radiant smile, the feel of his strong arms around her—this was her most precious memory, the most exciting and wonderful moment of her young life.

His pledge of love, and her acceptance, was a promise jointly given and taken with a sweet, lingering kiss. Neither one said another word. There was no need to. They stepped apart before William’s sister Susan returned, and if she suspected, she gave no sign. A few days later, William was gone to resume his duties as a lieutenant with His Majesty’s navy. Julia gave him all the dried rose hips to take with him to Africa.

As far as good intentions spoke for her future conduct, Julia believed she would only marry with her parents’ consent. In the meantime, she lived on the memory of one moment, one kiss. While her father respected William for his talents and industry, she feared he would not be pleased to welcome his nephew as a son-in-law. The Prices were poor and undistinguished. William’s father was a disabled lieutenant of marines, and their large family struggled in poverty in Portsmouth.

During her visits to London, Julia had met many highly born, prosperous, eligible young men, and perhaps with a little more enterprise on her part, a greater willingness to please and be pleased, she might have attached one of them. But the lieutenant had conquered her heart.

Julia waited at Thornton Lacey while William sought promotion, prizes, and distinction in the West African Squadron. The lovers agreed to keep their understanding a secret until the day he could step forward as an eligible claimant for Julia’s hand. William would not even correspond with her directly. Instead, he wrote long letters to her brother Edmund, recounting the success of his crew in apprehending slave ships along the African coast. With every ship captured and every slave freed, he was promised his share of prize monies. And the subject of rose hip tea often figured in his correspondence.

“Julia, are you out here?” Her brother’s voice pulled Julia out of her reverie.

“Yes, here I am, Edmund. I was just going to water my peonies.”

Edmund strolled down the path and picked up his sister’s heavy clay garden pot for her. “How well your daffodil cuttings are growing, Julia!”

“Bulbs are grown by division, not cuttings, Edmund.” Julia corrected him, proud of her acquired gardening knowledge.

“Well, at any rate, I remember these daffodils from our old garden. Could you accompany me to Mansfield this Wednesday? Lord Delingpole has sent us a note from Castle Ashby. He asks if we are at leisure to show him around Mansfield Park. I suppose he would rather talk to me than the steward. Could you attend on Lady Delingpole, or would you find it too painful?”

“I’m afraid I might weep, just a little, when I see our familiar old rooms silent and empty. But after all, I am a woman, we sometimes cry for pleasure. Otherwise, we would not speak of ‘having a good cry.’ I will go with you on Wednesday, Edmund.”

If so amiable a young lady as Julia Bertram might be said to have a fault, it was that she tended to think only of herself and her own concerns. But, as she watched her brother absently-mindedly drowning a peony bush with the full contents of the watering jug, she thought to ask: “Edmund? Will you give Lady Delingpole a reply for Mary?”

“Yes, of course, but… I cannot help wondering, Julia, why is Mary writing to me now? Why now? What does she want?”

“What else but to come back to you, Edmund dear?”

“But, shall I take this purely as a compliment to me,” Edmund said grimly, “or is there something else? What has occurred, or what has changed, to impel her to break her silence? Mary always has a motive for her actions.

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Giveaway

Lona is generously offering an ebook giveaway of both books! To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. We’d love to hear what you think of the excerpt. This giveaway will be open through Monday, July 9, 2018. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Lona, for sharing an excerpt from A Marriage of Attachment, and congrats on your latest release!

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