Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘a quest for mr. darcy’

I’m delighted to welcome Cassandra Grafton back to Diary of an Eccentric. Today she will be sharing an excerpt from A Quest for Mr. Darcy, which will be released tomorrow, and a very generous giveaway that fans of Jane Austen and Mr. Darcy will not want to miss!

First, here’s the blurb for A Quest for Mr. Darcy:

Fitzwilliam Darcy is on a quest. Convinced he is over his foolish infatuation with Elizabeth Bennet, he returns from a year of travelling with a plan, both to protect the estate of which he is guardian and to ensure his sister’s happiness: he intends to do his duty and secure a wife at the earliest opportunity.

Duty; a path from which Darcy knows he should never have been diverted. Duty was safe and nothing would persuade him from it a second time.

Soon restored to his home in Derbyshire, Darcy puts his quest in motion, preparing to welcome guests from Town, one of whom is the suitably eligible young lady he has earmarked as his future wife.

But what of the Bennets of Longbourn? What befell them in Darcy’s absence from England? And what of the new tenants on his estate named Bennet? Is his path fated to cross with Elizabeth’s once more?

With the addition of his friend, Bingley’s, mischievous twin younger sisters, letters from a stranger and a shadowy figure lurking in the grounds of Pemberley, Darcy’s life is about to be turned upside down

Can he remain steady to his purpose, or will his carefully laid plans soon be in tatters as the rigid protection he has placed around his heart begins to falter?

Check out A Quest for Mr. Darcy on Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo

****

Please enjoy this excerpt from A Quest for Mr. Darcy, courtesy of Cassandra Grafton

‘As you can see from the story blurb, Darcy has been travelling for a year and is now back in London set upon his quest to find a wife. This excerpt is from Chapter Three.’ ~ Cassandra

Chapter Three

Once he had broken his fast the following morning, Darcy repaired to his study where he found it difficult to settle, eyeing the small pile of still unopened post on his blotter unenthusiastically. His gaze drifted to the silver salver beside it. He had been back little more than four and twenty hours before calling cards were being handed in by those anxious to reinstate their connection with him. Lifting the card on the top, he studied the embossed name thoughtfully, then turned it over to read the few words penned on the reverse.

Latimer was keen to see him, and Darcy suspected the purpose behind his prompt presentation of his card: his daughter must remain unshackled. But then, what did it signify? Was this not precisely what he sought?

Fitzwilliam had the right of it. He was a single man in want of a wife. Miss Latimer would suffice as well as any other – was she not well educated, of impeccable lineage and with nothing but the common civilities to say for herself? Yes; she would suit him very well.

Darcy dropped Latimer’s card onto the desk and began sifting through the post to determine if any might warrant his attention, but just then a quick rap came on the door as Bingley’s head peered around it, and Darcy happily tossed the letter aside and got to his feet.

‘Good morning, Darcy! I cannot tell you how splendid it is to see you behind your desk once more.’ Bingley came to shake the proffered hand, beaming widely. ‘Pagett will berate me, for in my eagerness to see you I dodged around his stately progress!’

Darcy laughed, waving his friend into a seat. ‘You look in fine spirits. Are you well?’

Bingley leaned back in his seat, crossing his legs at the ankles. ‘I shall not complain; though I would berate the length of your absence. You were missed beyond measure, and it is not only I who delights in your return. It was merely a spark of ingenuity which permitted my escape from Hurst’s house without Caroline attached to my coat tails.’

So Miss Bingley remained at home. Darcy almost shrugged. Though he had forsaken love, he was not quite so desperate!

‘We have much to catch up on, Bingley. Will you join us, take up your usual rooms?’

There was silence for a moment and then, to Darcy’s surprise, his friend leapt from his seat and walked over to the window.

Darcy frowned. ‘There is no obligation – do not feel under duress.’

Bingley swung around. ‘No – no, it is nothing of the sort. I am merely—‘ he ran a hand through his unruly hair.

‘You wished to speak to me – you are troubled?’

Bingley’s air was unusually serious. ‘I have long reflected in your absence on the correct direction to follow – yet always I desired your counsel, and thus my deliberations have come to nothing.’ He waved a hand at the painting of Pemberley above the mantel as he walked back across the room. ‘I have been considering my estate. I am a poor tenant of it. Should I give it up?’

‘And what then? You were determined to purchase and not leave it to the next generation.’

‘Indeed, I was.’ Bingley sank back into his chair. ‘I did like Netherfield, very much. But I do wonder if its attraction was enhanced by the local populace.’

Darcy shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He had long owned responsibility for separating his friend from Elizabeth’s sister, though he had kept it to himself. ‘Then, perhaps,’ he hesitated, unsure of his motive. ‘Should you not relinquish the lease, seek an establishment elsewhere?’

‘Well, there is the rub of it.’ Bingley ran a hand through his hair again. ‘I must now consider my sisters’ needs; all of my sisters’ needs. I have deliberated long and hard, yet I fail to reach a conclusion which delivers satisfaction for all.’

Darcy leaned back in his seat, eyeing his friend’s conflicted countenance. ‘Tell me.’

Bingley sighed. ‘Well, here it is: the twins have completed their formal education under their governess and are presently awaiting entrance into the same seminary Louisa and Caroline attended in London, where they will duly receive the finishing touches to their accomplishments.’ He laughed ruefully. ‘Though I believe they will present a greater challenge to their tutors than my other sisters!’

Darcy smiled. He had heard sufficient tales from Bingley of the twins’ exploits to understand he made no exaggeration.

‘So,’ his friend continued, ‘they will be here in Town whilst being tutored and thus residing in Grosvenor Street during the holidays. The former is what feeds my disquiet; the latter does likewise to my sisters.’

‘How so?’

Bingley released a slow breath. ‘I am reluctant to place Olivia and Viola in an establishment renowned for turning young girls into what my other sisters have become. I cannot bear to think of their merry natures being crushed or their joy of life constrained into oppressive formality, though I suppose it is almost inevitable.’

With Bingley’s countenance expressive of his concern, Darcy knew not what to say by way of comfort.

‘But can you imagine, Darcy, how the thought of having the twins in their home for any duration is being received by the Hursts and Caroline, let alone my younger sisters themselves?’

‘And Netherfield? Should you return and take up residence, it is conveniently situated for Town and the perfect home for the girls when not being prepared for the demands of formal society. But what of Julia? She is full young yet, is she not?’

‘Indeed.’ Bingley nodded. ‘She will return to Scarborough to complete her formal education at home, by which time I am certain Cousin Margaret will be well once more. As for Netherfield, though it would serve the twins well when they are not under tuition, Caroline would, as a consequence, have to return to run the household. I am certain you can imagine how they all feel on such a matter!’

Darcy comprehended his friend’s difficulty. Though he had rarely been in company with the twins, Miss Bingley had made no secret of her dislike for her younger half-sisters when they had made a brief appearance at Netherfield, and she frequently complained of them to her brother in Darcy’s presence. As for Miss Bingley’s liking or otherwise for Hertfordshire, he doubted it had undergone much alteration since she left with such obvious satisfaction in the year eleven.

‘The stability of a home with you at Netherfield must be preferable for the younger girls, and being cooped up together in a town house in London is unlikely to satisfy any of the family. In Hertfordshire there are ample opportunities to partake of the country pursuits. Would not the size of the property secure Miss Bingley some solitude?’

Bingley threw his friend a keen glance. ‘Caroline could allocate a part of the house to the twins and keep to as many other rooms as she wished, you mean?’

Precisely. Darcy shook his head. ‘Not at all.’

Bingley sat up slowly in his seat. ‘I do not know if it will answer, but it does offer a more palatable solution than we have at present. Besides, I do wonder…’ he met Darcy’s gaze. ‘I do think I ought to pay a visit… to Netherfield.’ He fixed his friend with a determined stare. ‘I can avoid it no longer; I must speak of it. You recall the Bennet family and my tendresse for the eldest daughter?’

Tension began to seep into Darcy’s shoulders, but he refused to pay it any mind, waiting for Bingley to continue.

‘Well, then. I will own I fear bringing unease upon the lady. You said Miss Bennet was indifferent to me. My removing myself from the neighbourhood must have brought considerable relief. If I now return, will she fear I might renew my attentions?’

Darcy stirred in his seat again. ‘You assume she remains at home. It is nigh on two years since your brief sojourn in Hertfordshire. The lady may well have found an establishment.’

Bingley slumped back in his seat, his skin paling. Was it as Darcy had feared? Did his friend remain affected, even after all this time?

Yet he, Darcy, had recovered from his foolish admiration for the lady’s sister, had he not, and had sworn to think on her no more? Thus, the sooner his friend made a decision, the better for all.

‘Then shall we not go directly?’

Bingley looked startled. ‘Now? This very day?’

‘Why ever not?’ Darcy glanced at the clock on the mantel. ‘It is a ride of but a few hours and the weather holds fair. We could stay overnight, assess the estate on the morrow, and be gone from the neighbourhood within four and twenty hours. If you are at leisure?’

Bingley got to his feet. ‘I am at leisure all too often, my friend; all too often!’

Returning to Hertfordshire had never been part of Darcy’s expectation but he got to his feet determined. The sooner the visit was paid, the better, and what finer evidence was there to prove his distance this past year had been the effective cure for putting the past firmly where it belonged?

~o0o~

Shepherding Bingley into action took longer than Darcy had foreseen, and they had barely reached Hertfordshire before dusk fell. They passed what remained of the evening in a small sitting room, having been served a hastily prepared dish of soup by one of two custodian servants, their conversation touching on many things pertaining to the house and the twins, but never on the family who lived but three miles across the parkland.

The following morning dawned clear and bright, and Darcy took the opportunity to walk out into the grounds. The air was fresh and the prospect pleasing as he approached the area of woodland forming the boundary between the park and the lane as it wound its way towards Meryton.

Reaching the far wall, Darcy leaned on the stone stile and stared thoughtfully into the distance. The spectre of Elizabeth hovered in the air, taunting and tantalising – out of reach yet ever present. He had not anticipated it here at Netherfield, and though he did not welcome it, he had no power to expunge it. He stood even now at the very spot where he had met her on the morning she sought news of her sister’s health, and she appeared before him as clearly as though it were yesterday.

 Darcy released a frustrated breath. ‘Be gone,’ he muttered, turning away from the boundary wall. He needed to concentrate on their reason for being there, and to ensure their departure today was timely.

He walked back across the parkland, his eye now fixed upon the house. It had a pleasing aspect and was in excellent condition for a property leased out since it had been built but five and twenty years ago. Should Bingley retain it; purchase it, even, and make a much-needed home for himself and his younger sisters, or should he give it up?

This morning would perhaps bring a solution. They had agreed to ride out and tour the park and the remainder of the estate and, determined to hasten a decision so he could remove himself swiftly from the memories curling around him like ever thickening wisps of smoke, Darcy picked up his pace and returned to the house.

~o0o~

Some hours later, Darcy and Bingley turned their mounts away from the furthest boundary of the estate and began to ride back towards the house. Their tour of the land had been somewhat circuitous, with any foray in the direction of the Bennets’ home neatly avoided.

Yet, as they made their way along the lane and neared Netherfield once more, Darcy realised they were perilously close to Longbourn.

‘I say, Darcy,’ Bingley hailed his friend as they reached a junction in the road which would determine their course.

Darcy turned in the saddle. ‘You wish to make a call.’

Bingley would attribute the disinclination in his voice to an entirely inaccurate cause, but it suited his purpose. His reluctance to truly test his mettle in Elizabeth’s company was his concern alone — should she even remain at home.

Bingley drew his mount to a halt next to Darcy. ‘You will not accompany me. I understand. Yet I wish to call and pay my respects. When I went away in the year eleven, I took no proper leave of the family. I do not intend to make Miss Bennet-’ he hesitated. ‘Should Miss Bennet remain at home, I have no desire to make her uncomfortable, but I do feel duty – and honour – bound to do what I could not back then.’

Darcy shifted in his saddle. ‘As you wish. You may have my support if you so desire, but if you would prefer to attend alone…’ he hesitated. ‘I was never well received by any of the family.’

Bingley threw him an unreadable glance. ‘I think it was fairly reciprocal, old man.’

Darcy acknowledged the hit. ‘Then if you will excuse me, I shall continue on to Netherfield and await your return.’

With a touch of his hat, Bingley turned his mount, branched left at the junction and set off at a canter towards the gates to Longbourn.

For a moment, Darcy watched his friend. Why this sudden and irrational urge to follow him? With a tug at the reins, he turned his mount to the right. This was no time for self-indulgence. Staying away would clearly answer for Elizabeth and her family having an easier time of it during Bingley’s visit. His friend had the right of it; he, Darcy, had displayed no inclination for the company of the family in the past, and they none for his, and the sentiment was unlikely to have undergone any alteration in his absence.

~o0o~

Darcy returned to the house quite out of countenance but reluctant to own it. No resurgence of memories would be permitted to undermine the newly-found peace he had acquired; yet he could feel himself weakening and was gaining a devil of an ache in his brow from attempting to prevent it. The sooner Bingley returned and they headed back to Town the better. Any qualms he suffered over what news his friend might bring of Elizabeth and her present marital status he rigidly silenced. What was it to him anyway?

Barely had he set foot in the entrance hall, having returned to the house through the boot room, when he came face to face with a middle-aged woman who let out a shriek.

‘Oh, my dear sir! Such a fright you did give me!’

‘Forgive me, madam.’ It was Bingley’s former housekeeper, and Darcy racked his memory for a name. He could not recall exchanging a single word with her during his earlier stay – he had left such pleasures to his friend and his sisters.

‘Mr Bingley wished to visit the house for a brief period. We will be returning to Town directly, and thus he felt no need to recall the household servants.’

The woman before him looked disapproving. ‘All the same, sir, I would have appreciated the opportunity to ensure the provision of adequate meals and a warm fireplace by which to sit. The house is cold from lack of use.’

Could she not leave him in peace to indulge his aching head? ‘Perhaps you could address your concerns to Mr Bingley on his return from Longbourn.’

The woman paled visibly, a hand shooting to her throat. ‘Oh dear! Oh dear me!’

Darcy was intrigued despite himself. ‘What is it? What ails you – here, perhaps you should be seated.’

He waved the housekeeper onto a nearby settle, and she all but fell onto it.

‘Oh, Mr Darcy, sir!’ Clearly, she had a better recall of names than he. ‘This is no way for the master to find out.’

An icy hand took hold of Darcy. ‘Find out what, madam?’

****

Cassandra Grafton

Connect with Cassandra Grafton via Blog | Facebook | Twitter

****

Giveaway

Cass is generously offering an assortment of goodies to one lucky reader: an ebook or paperback (winner’s choice) of A Quest for Mr. Darcy, an ‘I’d Rather Be at Pemberley’ mirror, a ‘Mrs. Darcy’ badge, a set of 20 Jane Austen bookplates, and a silver Jane Austen silhouette charm, all in an ‘I’d Rather Be at Pemberley’ tote bag!

This giveaway is open internationally. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and tell us, now that you’ve had a peek, what makes you most excited about reading this book.

This giveaway will close on Thursday, June 29, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you so much, Cass, for sharing the fantastic excerpt and giveaway! I can’t wait to find out what happens next, and hope you’ll visit again soon!

Read Full Post »