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My guest today is Elaine Russell, whose book Across the Mekong River I read and reviewed a few years ago and highly recommend. Today, she is here to celebrate the release of her new novel, In the Company of Like-Minded Women, which focuses on the struggle for women’s rights in the early 20th century. Please give her a warm welcome:

The level of political discord and despicable behavior in 2018 has sadly reached new heights (or maybe lows), prompting large numbers of American women to speak out, run for office, and organize for social justice. I thoroughly enjoyed stepping back over a hundred years to write about another generation of brave women—those who fought for women’s suffrage, access to professional careers, and other basic rights for women and children. The so-called “New Woman” demanded an equal voice, but faced incredible opposition from the men in power and moneyed business interests.

In the Company of Like-Minded Women explores the bonds between family at the start of the 20th century. Three sisters are reunited in Denver, Colorado, after a rift many years before. Mildred and Eva travel from Lawrence, Kansas, to visit Lida and her two children in Denver in June 1901. Lida, widowed two years before, has just graduated from medical school and begun working as a doctor. Eva, only twenty-five, begs Lida to help her overcome the opposition of Mildred and their mother to a match with the handsome Mr. Dearman of Boston. The women’s rights movement and Lida’s progressive friends provide the backdrop as the story unfolds.

Colorado led the charge for women’s rights when Republican, Democrat, and Populist women banded together to win a stunning victory in 1893, which granted women the vote in Colorado—twenty-seven years before national suffrage was approved. In 1901, the rest of the country watched with intense interest to see how this played out, challenging Colorado women to defend their accomplishments since obtaining access to the ballot box.

The story is told in three voices in alternating chapters by Lida (the middle sister), her 16-year-old daughter Sara Jane, and Mildred (the oldest sister). The following is an excerpt from Sara Jane:

I could barely contain my excitement. Aunt Eva’s predicament called to mind the dime novels that my best friend, Rose O’Malley, and I had taken to secretly reading after she found a stash hidden in the armoire in her mother’s sewing room. The romantic novels told complicated sagas of hopeless liaisons filled with improbable plots and unbelievable coincidences. We had found several rather sensational and shocking. Only Aunt Eva’s story wasn’t cheap or unsavory like those books. Her tale was more like a Jane Austen novel of thwarted romance and secret rendezvous, certainly nothing illicit.

The thrill of being privy to Aunt Eva’s intrigue offered an escape from my sheltered world and the dull, monotonous routines and sorrows of the past few years. My aunt had taken me into her confidence, and I could not disappoint her. I thought of Saint John, the patron saint of discretion, whom I had read about the previous week. He had died at the hand of King Wenceslas IV of Bohemia rather than divulge the confession of the king’s wife, Queen Sophie. Such loyalty was to be admired. I would pray to Saint John to help me keep Aunt Eva’s secret.

Mama bit her lip before speaking. “I can talk with Mildred on your behalf.”

Aunt Eva grabbed Mama’s hands. “I don’t want to burden you, but you’re my last hope. You must meet Mr. Dearman first, so you can argue in earnest on his behalf. If we can only convince Mildred to give him a chance. She’s never even talked with him.”

Mama blinked several times. “But how will I meet him?”

“I’m expecting a letter…” Aunt Eva began, but she halted at the sound of heavy, uneven footsteps descending the stairs. She wiped away her tears and took a ragged breath.

Aunt Mildred loomed in the doorway. “What is going on? Eva, have you been crying?”

“It’s only a cinder from the train in my eye. I’ll run some water over it.” Eva bolted from her seat and brushed pass Mildred.

“What has she been telling you?” Aunt Mildred’s tone implied wrongdoing on Eva’s part and perhaps on my and Mama’s as well.

I gave Aunt Mildred my most serious look, frowning slightly. “She was talking about her illness.” This was mostly true. Eva had mentioned concerns over her health.

“Did you sleep?” Mama asked calmly. “Come have some coffee and a roll.”

Aunt Mildred blinked several times. “I didn’t sleep at all. That dreadful feline of yours is somewhere upstairs mewling like a hungry calf.”

I cringed. “I’m sorry, Aunt Mildred. She must have gotten locked in Cole’s room.”

Cole clattered from the kitchen across the dining room and front hall, sliding to a halt next to Aunt Mildred. He lifted his clasped hands toward her face. “Look, Aunt Mildred! I found a frog in the bucket by the water tap outside.”

Aunt Mildred gave a short yelp and clutched her chest with one hand. “Get it away from me. Right now.” She stumbled forward and collapsed onto the green velvet armchair, causing it to shudder with a worrying groan.

Mama jumped up. “Cole, take that back outside.”

“But, Mama, I want to keep him. Just look.” He scooted forward and tripped over the edge of the Persian carpet. His arms flew out as he hit the rug, and the frog sailed through the air. “Jesusmaryandjoseph!” The words slipped out as one from Cole’s lips.

The poor creature landed on the fireplace hearth and remained still as if stunned by its sudden freedom. It was only three inches long at most, a rubbery, gray-green blob with bulging black eyes. Harmless looking, really. I felt rather sorry for it. Cole lunged for the frog, but it hopped across the carpet and under Aunt Mildred’s chair.

Aunt Mildred leaped up, emitting staccato shrieks while shaking out her skirt and lifting her feet as if dancing one of Katherine’s Irish jigs. The frog proceeded to hop into the entry and down the hall toward the library. Cole sprang up and down in hot pursuit, always a moment too late.

There were murmurs and a scuffle. Eva appeared around the doorway with a bemused expression brightening her face. She gently held the frog in her hands. “We’ll be back soon. Cole is going to show me his yard.”

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About In the Company of Like-Minded Women

In the Company of Like-Minded Women explores the complexities of bonds between sisters and family at the start of the 20th century when women struggled to determine their future and the “New Woman” demanded an equal voice. Three sisters are reunited in 1901 Denver following a family rift many years before. Each sister faces critical decisions regarding love, work, and the strength of her convictions. The success of Colorado women in gaining the right to vote in 1893–twenty-seven years before the passage of national suffrage–and their continued fight for women’s rights, provides the background as the story unfolds.

Buy on Amazon: Paperback | Kindle

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About the Author

Elaine Russell

Elaine Russell is the award winning author of the novel Across the Mekong River and a number of children’s books, including the young adult novel Montana in A Minor, the Martin McMillan middle grade mystery series, and the middle grade picture book, All About Thailand. Elaine lives with her husband in Northern California and part time on the Island of Kauai.

Connect with Elaine: Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway

Elaine is generously offering two copies of In the Company of Like-Minded Women to my readers (U.S. and Canada). To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, October 21, 2018. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

To double your chances of winning, check out Elaine’s guest post on Savvy Verse & Wit, where Serena is also offering a giveaway!

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

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Hello, dear readers! I have a treat for you today! As many of you know, I’ve edited all of Victoria Kincaid’s Pride and Prejudice variations, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each one, but there was something special about her latest: When Jane Got Angry. Oh yes, an angry Jane! What a delight it was to see Jane act much differently in this novella, and I couldn’t help but cheer her on.

Victoria is here today to talk about women and anger and to share an excerpt and giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!

One of the reasons I like writing about the Regency time period is that it makes a great escape from the sometimes overwhelming and stressful news that we hear every day.  Their issues weren’t ours, so I can escape into their world for a while.  Except sometimes there’s unexpected crossover. The week that When Jane Got Angry was released, there was an interesting and thoughtful review in the Washington Post of two different books that analyzed why women are angry today.

Anger is usually something women are told to control because it’s not ladylike, but—as the Post reviewer pointed out—sometimes anger can be empowering for women.  Which is what happens to Jane Bennet in my story.

Most readers of P&P identify with Elizabeth—not just because she is the protagonist but also because she represents a kind of independent spirit that we would like to see in ourselves.  She becomes a middle way between Lydia’s heedless flouting of social norms (with attendant consequences) and Jane’s passive acceptance of what happens.  Compared to Elizabeth, Jane is dull, bland, too good.

When I thought up the plot for this book, I wanted a Jane who would fight back and shake things up a little, but I wanted it to be believable—to stay in character.  After all, I could have written a Jane who was suddenly as conniving as Caroline Bingley and turns the tables on the other woman.  But that wouldn’t be believable within the bounds of what we know about Jane’s character. The only way I could think of for Jane to change the course of her life—to be an active player—was for her to get angry.

Of course, she’s been fighting anger her whole life—it isn’t ladylike.  But when she embraces it, she finds it’s unexpectedly empowering.  I could just hear a whole chorus of female readers sighing and saying, “At last!  Jane finally got a backbone!”

Although we are frustrated with Jane’s passivity, I think we also empathize with her journey.  I’m not as passive or accepting as Jane, but I certainly have had moments in my life when I swallowed my anger and accepted what was happening. Later I would wish that I’d gotten angry.  I would wish that I’d fought for myself.  That I hadn’t stayed silent.  So, in writing this story I can share Jane’s angerand her empowerment as well.

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An excerpt from When Jane Got Angry, courtesy of Victoria Kincaid

Aware of Jane’s scrutiny, the maid dipped her head but made no move to depart.  “Begging your pardon, miss.”  The girl bit her lip.  “But are you, perhaps, sweet on Mr. Charles Bingley?”

Jane’s eyebrows shot upward.  Her mother would have chastised a servant for such forwardness.  Not that Jane was surprised the maid had guessed the truth; servants were always eavesdropping and sharing gossip.  But never had a servant asked Jane about her personal life.

Recognizing Jane’s shock, Maggie started backing toward the door.  “I’m sorry, miss!  I shouldn’t have said anything.  Never you mind—”

The maid clearly had images of being sacked for her impertinence, but Jane was not so easily offended.  She held out her hand in a reassuring gesture.  “It is quite all right, Maggie.  I was merely surprised.  What prompted the question?”

The girl’s hands twisted in her apron as she considered for a moment before speaking.  “Well, I noticed what you and Mrs. Gardiner were saying today…and I couldn’t help but overhear some of what Miss Bingley said….”

Jane was tempted to smile.  She imagined that Maggie’s “overhearing” was not particularly inadvertent.  “Miss Bingley did seem out of spirits today.”

Maggie made an indignant noise. “She was awful, that Bingley woman.  If my friend treated me in such a way, I would give her the back of my hand.”

Jane could not quite picture it.  “That would have shocked Miss Bingley,” she said.

Maggie gestured wildly.  “I don’t know how you stay so calm about it.  Me, I’d be spitting mad by now.  If you don’t mind me saying so.”

Suddenly the accumulated tension of the day caught up with Jane; her legs could barely support her.  Sinking onto the stool of the dressing table, she caught a glimpse of her drawn face in the mirror.

Many other women would be angry, Jane supposed.  Lizzy.  Lydia.  Her mother.  But Jane was the sister who did not make a fuss.  She did not demand.  She did not protest.  Papa called her “the quiet one.”  Jane could be counted upon to bring Mama her tea when she had an attack of nerves.  Or to mediate any dispute between Kitty and Lydia.  To remain calm no matter what happened.  That was who she was.

Even when your friend was revealed to be false.

Of course, none of this could be shared with the maid.  “Are you at all acquainted with Miss Bingley?”  Perhaps Maggie had heard some rumors; Jane could conceive no other reason to raise the subject with her.

“No, miss.  Not at all.  But I am acquainted with Mr. Bingley’s valet, Joseph.  That is to say, Mr. Harvey.”  The girl colored faintly.  She had red hair and the very pale skin that often accompanied it.

Jane felt a faint spark of hope, although she did not know how Maggie’s acquaintance might benefit the lowly Miss Bennet.   “I see.”

“Miss Bingley gives her brother a world of trouble.  He has complained about her to Joseph.”

“Do you know if Miss Bingley encouraged her brother to leave Netherfield?” The words were out before Jane could have second thoughts.  She should not be gossiping with her aunt’s maid, but the question was one she often had wondered about—and it was such a relief to share her woes with a sympathetic listener.  Aunt Gardiner attended to Jane’s anxieties, but she was very busy with her children—and often inclined to give advice about “forgetting” Mr. Bingley. Jane did not believe such a feat was possible.

“I don’t know, but I can ask.”

Jane said nothing, torn between her need to learn the truth and her quite proper desire to avoid gossip.

She caught another glimpse of her wan reflection in the mirror.  What did it signify?  “No, it matters not.  My path and Mr. Bingley’s are unlikely to cross again.”

Maggie’s reflection—standing behind Jane’s—frowned.  “Why is that?”

“We do not run in the same circles, and Miss Bingley seems inclined to discontinue the acquaintance.”

Maggie shook her head, making her red curls bounce.  “Och, people of quality make everything so hard.  If I liked a fellow, I would just go up and knock on his door.”

Jane stifled a laugh.  “Would that it were so simple.”

Emboldened, Maggie stepped a little closer to Jane and lowered her voice.  “I could ask Joseph about Mr. Bingley’s schedule so you might find him and speak with him.”

Jane gave the maid a sad smile.  “I thank you for the offer, but I could not possibly approach Mr. Bingley.  It would be unpardonably forward.”

“But if you was to know where Mr. Bingley would be, you could arrange to encounter him—all accidental like—with him none the wiser.”

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About When Jane Got Angry

When Mr. Bingley abruptly left Hertfordshire, Jane Bennet’s heart was broken. Since arriving in London to visit her aunt and uncle, Jane has been hoping to encounter Mr. Bingley; however, it becomes clear that his sister is keeping them apart. But what would happen if she took matters into her own hands? Defying social convention, she sets out to alert Mr. Bingley to her presence in London, hoping to rekindle the sparks of their relationship.

Bingley is thrilled to encounter Jane and renew their acquaintance, but his sister has told him several lies about the Bennets—and his best friend, Mr. Darcy, still opposes any relationship. As Jane and Bingley sort through this web of deceit, they both find it difficult to retain their customary equanimity.

However, they also discover that sometimes good things happen when Jane gets angry.

Buy on Amazon

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Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering an international winner’s choice giveaway for When Jane Got Angry. One lucky winner will get a choice of an ebook or paperback. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, October 7, 2018. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you for being my guest today, Victoria! It’s always a pleasure to share your books with my readers.

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I’m delighted to welcome Lizzy Brandon to Diary of an Eccentric for the first time today to celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Recognizing Love. Lizzy is here to tell us a little about Recognizing Love and to share an excerpt. Please give her a warm welcome!

Late last spring, I had just finished reading a series of books where Mr. Bennet died and realized I had never seen one where Mrs. Bennet died (unless most of the family was killed off with her). Mr. Bennet’s death would cause immediate problems for the family but how would their lives change if Mrs. Bennet died?

My first book, Folly and Forgiveness, was an angst fest as I killed off Mrs. Bennet early, after she argues with Elizabeth about accepting Mr. Collins’s proposal. Blaming herself, Elizabeth is guilt ridden and mourning as she learns how wrong she was about Mr. Darcy. I didn’t have a planned destination when I started, I just wanted to see how events and characters would change if Mrs. Bennet was no longer there. I liked exploring Elizabeth’s emotional growth through the book, but it was heavy.

For Recognizing Love, I started the story with the meeting at Pemberley after Elizabeth has already learned most of her lessons.  I enjoyed writing a lighter story this time where Elizabeth is still conflicted about her feelings but already views Mr. Darcy favorably and really wants to love him.  I most enjoyed writing a Mr. Darcy not only in love, but so confident he is living his own happily-ever-after that he feels free to say what is in his heart.

Today’s excerpt takes place at a dinner party Mrs. Phillips is hosting to honor the happy couple. Elizabeth has just arrived to discover a much larger crowd than she had anticipated.

“Lizzy! You look radiant, my dear,” Mrs. Phillips said as she took Elizabeth’s hands. “I am so pleased I could host a party in your honor. I was not certain Mr. Darcy would come.”

“Mr. Darcy has changed a great deal since last he was in Hertfordshire,” Elizabeth told her. “I would not have recognized him as the same man when we met again at Pemberley. I beg you allow him another opportunity to make your acquaintance.”

Mrs. Phillips looked unconvinced but said she would certainly do so.

“You have relieved your mother a great deal,” she continued. “I have not seen her take to her bed since she learned of your engagement.” Mrs. Phillips leaned in close to Elizabeth so as not to be overheard. “I had worried a great deal about her health, you know. She has always been excitable, but the past year she has had more palpitations and attacks of nerves than I have ever before witnessed. Your marriage may be the saving of her. I know you had hoped for a more amiable man but you have been a good daughter and provided safety for your family.”

“I assure you, I am quite happy to be marrying Mr. Darcy,” Elizabeth exclaimed. “I would not have accepted him if I did not respect and admire him. He is the perfect match for me.”

“Exactly! I knew you would find happiness. You were not made to be unhappy for long. And now that Mr. Bingley is back, there is hope for Jane. I do not know why you stayed in London when your father went to search for Lydia, but I suspect you helped save her as well. You are a good girl, Lizzy, and you have ever been the dependable one. I know your mother does not understand you but know that she appreciates all that you have done for your family.”

Unable to continue in a conversation where she was being praised for such a heroic sacrifice, Elizabeth politely excused herself to seek her betrothed.

Mrs. Long next accosted her. “Miss Eliza, I wish you every happiness in your marriage as I fear you may find little.”

“I do not understand you,” Elizabeth replied, her smile becoming brittle. “I am perfectly happy to be marrying Mr. Darcy. In him, I have found a gentleman who will allow me to be myself.”

“Of course, dear,” she replied with a condescending pat on the hand. “But you will be the mistress of such a fine estate that you will have new social obligations. Do you know which charities the family supports? I expect Mr. Darcy will want you to join those societies.”

Elizabeth shrugged.

“No matter. I am sure he will tell you soon enough. Perhaps the family is not connected to any particular causes and he will allow you to choose your own.”

“Happy thought indeed,” Elizabeth said and again excused herself. Unfortunately, she turned around only to find her mother and Lady Lucas.

“Ah, Lizzy, I was just telling Lady Lucas—”

“Have you heard from Charlotte recently?” Elizabeth interrupted, afraid to find out what her mother had been discussing.

“I have. She is well. I wrote and told her of your engagement, so I expect a reply soon. Charlotte once told me she suspected Mr. Darcy had an interest in you, though none of us ever saw it. I wrote to tell her she was right after all. My Charlotte has always been an observant girl.”

“She did indeed have suspicions and I laughed at her when she told me,” Elizabeth said. “Charlotte might be happy to know she was right and I was wrong but not nearly so happy as I am.”

Lady Lucas beamed.

“I wish you joy, for I can think of no one who deserves it more.” Lady Lucas glanced toward Mrs. Bennet and continued. “Charlotte values you above all others in Meryton. Perhaps Mr. Darcy has another living somewhere in Derbyshire he might bestow on Mr. Collins so that you and Charlotte could be closer?”

Elizabeth knew Lady Lucas was genuinely fond of her, but the request rankled nonetheless. It was a reasonable suggestion. Elizabeth would like to have Charlotte closer, but she detested the idea of being requested to influence her future husband in such a way, most especially for a fool like Mr. Collins.

Luckily, Mrs. Bennet saw someone she had not yet regaled with tales of her victory–all marital plans of Elizabeth’s naturally being Mrs. Bennet’s rightful property for purposes of gloating.

Elizabeth allowed herself to be pushed along by the crowd until she came upon Jane and Mr. Bingley. In any other circumstance, she would have preferred to give them their privacy, but the room was far too crowded anyway and Elizabeth was desperate for a respite.

“Miss Elizabeth, how good to see you,” Mr. Bingley said.

“Are you well, Lizzy? You look upset,” Jane said.

“Have you seen Mr. Darcy? I last saw him in this area and I hate to think of what he may be enduring.”

“He did look put out. I believe he stepped outside for some air. If you push on, you may be able to make it to a doorway and find him,” Bingley said.

Elizabeth smiled ruefully. She had not travelled four steps before being greeted by Mrs. Goulding.

“Congratulations, Miss Eliza. You have made a fine match.”

“Thank you,” Elizabeth replied, already gritting her teeth as she wondered what fresh humiliation would follow.

“Your mother did not know, but I expect you do. Is Pemberley entailed? Your mother suffered so in trying to produce an heir that I would hate for you to be put in a similar situation.”

“I have no idea,” she replied in what was becoming her standard response when asked anything about Mr. Darcy.

“Oh. I imagine not. Mr. Darcy would be unlikely to risk marrying a woman who came from a family of five sisters with never a brother. Or perhaps he saw you as coming from strong country stock and able to produce a good brood. Delicate society ladies cannot be counted on to deliver as well as a country lass,” she said with a wink. “In any event, Mr. Darcy would be well able to provide for a collection of daughters, so you will not face the same pressures your own mother did.”

Mrs. Goulding tapped Elizabeth’s arm with her fan as she smiled conspiratorially. “You can also take comfort that if you do produce an heir he is likely to leave you alone and spend more of his time with his mistress. If you can be discreet, you may find an amiable man to love after all.”

Elizabeth was too incensed to speak had she even the words. Before she could escape, the woman leaned in to speak furtively.

“If your father has not already signed the settlement papers, make certain he does so soon. If Mr. Darcy was able to end his engagement to Miss De Bourgh, then he would have no qualms about ending one to a girl with no connections. You must ensure your security should he change his mind.”

Mrs. Goulding then waved to a nearby acquaintance and moved off, leaving Elizabeth alone in her shock. Her entire face burned as she pushed forward. She could only hope others would attribute it to the close company and not her conversations.

Did everyone truly believe she was marrying Mr. Darcy only for his money? They had seen little enough evidence of his goodness, so they would be unable to understand her true reasons. And if she was only marrying for money, then it was logical enough to suppose he was marrying her to acquire a quality brood mare. She could only hope people had been more reserved with Mr. Darcy. Not knowing him well, no one here would dare address these impertinent types of comments to him.

Would they?

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About Recognizing Love

Secrets will surface…

Accepting Mr. Darcy’s proposal and allowing him to assume a love she does not yet feel pains Miss Elizabeth Bennet but she is certain she can love him…in time. After all of the miseries he endured to salvage her youngest sister’s reputation, how could she not come to love such a man?

Unfortunately, Lady Catherine arrives, bringing even thornier complications. With the many objections Darcy’s family will have regarding his marriage to the daughter of an unremarkable country squire, what more trouble can Lady Catherine stir up should she learn Elizabeth’s secret?

In this Pride and Prejudice romance variation, what will Mr. Darcy do when he learns his beloved has accepted him although her heart is not engaged?

Buy on Amazon

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About the Author

Lizzy Brandon once attempted to switch sections of a Brit Lit course after seeing Pride and Prejudice on the reading list. How could a book with such a boring title possibly compete with Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, or Frankenstein? Luckily, her request was denied and she was introduced to Jane Austen’s amazing world of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Years later, Lizzy was thrilled to discover the world of Pride and Prejudice sequels and variations where her favorite characters could live on with countless adventures. After enjoying reading variations for years, she decided to try writing her own.

Connect with Lizzy Brandon on Facebook

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Giveaway

As part of the blog tour, Lizzy is generously offering 3 paperback copies of Recognizing Love and 3 $10 Amazon eGift cards. The giveaway is open worldwide, but you MUST enter through the Rafflecopter link. The giveaway is open through September 30, 2018. Good luck!

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

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My guest today is Diamante Lavendar, who is celebrating the release of her newest poetry collection, Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief. I’ve asked Diamante to share a poem from the collection and its inspiration, and I’m hoping you all find it as moving as I did. Please give her a warm welcome!

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You Shone Like The Sun On Autumn Leaves

You shone like the sun on autumn leaves,
Their remaining life brief before they fell from the trees.
The sun’s light was strong, the warmth intense,
Just as your heart:  loving, immense.
But the leaves shriveled up and neared their end,
Just as you when you left, my child, my friend.
Your meaning lives on in every new day;
I begged God for time to extend your stay.
It’s a hard lesson to learn that you have no control
Over life, over love, over a darling child’s soul;
All we can do is sift through the hours
And beg for provision, mercy and power
To experience life’s sentence of lessons and fate
Before we, too, find ourselves in heaven’s estate.
Love us and guide us from your ethereal view,
Until one day we are reunited with you.

I wrote this for my daughters who passed away.  One only after ten hours’ time and the other after nearly nineteen years.  Both heartbreaking.  Devastating.  But I know that they are still alive and well beyond heaven’s veil.  They visit me and make themselves known not only to help me write so that I can help others but also to let me know they’re okay so that my heart doesn’t break beyond repair.  They gift me with a sense of purpose and meaning, with the understanding that heaven is real, it’s not just a wish or a fantasy.  Because of them I know that this life is a learning ground that leads to bigger and better things.  And I am exceedingly grateful for that knowledge and to be able to pass it along to others who are embattled and mourning.  We all need to know why we’re here and what our actions will lead to in the future.  And we all need to be comforted and to know that beauty is looming on the horizon no matter how much pain we’ve encountered on planet earth!

Thank you, Diamante, for sharing your poem and story with me and my readers. I hope that it helps others find comfort and healing.

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About Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief

Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief is a winner of a Pinnacle Achievement Award for Spirituality.  It is also the recipient of a Silver Medal from Mom’s Choice Awards!

This earthly plane offers much for us to learn: happiness, wisdom, loss, heartbreak, and enlightenment. It is a Pandora’s box of emotions, situations, opportunities, and failures, all wrapped into a package we call life. Nobody is immune, but everyone has the opportunity to grow tall or wither like a flower in harsh light. It’s completely up to us how we choose to respond.

Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief is a gleaning of insights from artist Diamante Lavender. For her, life has been a long, difficult road, but it has taught many poignant lessons. Her poetry collection is an exploration of the human soul, a traversing of situations that life throws at us. Diamante has always been intrigued by the ability to overcome and move on to bigger and better things.

She writes to encourage hope and possibility in those who read her stories. If she can help others heal, as she has, then Diamante’s work as an author and artist will have been well spent. She believes that everyone should try to leave a positive mark on the world, to make it a better place for all. Writing is the way that she is attempting to leave her mark–one story at a time.

Find the book on Goodreads and Amazon

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Click the button below to learn more about Diamante Lavendar and follow the blog tour for Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief

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I had such a wonderful time editing Victoria Kincaid’s latest Pride and Prejudice variation, The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy, and I’m thrilled to welcome her back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate its release! Victoria is here to talk about her research on espionage and to share an excerpt from the novel. Please give her a warm welcome!

Thank you for having me visit, Anna!  While doing research for The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy, I learned a lot about espionage activities during the Napoleonic Wars.  In particular, I read about the Alien office (part of the Home Office) which was basically the British government’s first official spy agency.  I learned about a number of fascinating incidents which would make great scenes in novels but didn’t fit into this book.  Still, I think that anyone who is interested in the era would find them remarkable—and entertaining:

  • The Alien Office thwarted one actual domestic insurrection: an incipient Irish rebellion led by agents supported by the French government. The secret service placed agents in Ireland to infiltrate the organization. This enabled them to arrest all of the rebellion’s leaders in 1798 before the event took place this represented one of the office’s greatest success.
  • In 1800 the secret service helped one faction of the French royalists form the “English Committee” in Paris. The Committee was responsible for several assassination attempts on Napoleon’s life—the most famous of which was the Rue Nicaise bombing on Christmas Eve, 1800. By 1803 the Committee had detailed plans in place for Napoleon’s kidnapping or assassination.  These plans almost certainly could not have remained in place without the tacit complicity of Fouche, the well-known minister of police in Paris.
  • One of the Committee’s most successful agents was a woman, Madame Williams. An Englishman’s widow who made multiple Channel crossings, some disguised as a sailor, Williams was never captured or apparently even suspected of being a spy.
  • Napoleon had planted agents of his own. One double agent arrived in England with his own false plans for overthrowing the French government.  Aware of the ruse, the British government created an elaborate counter plan that was designed to fool the French authorities into believing the British had fallen for their trick.  For months they created correspondence and moved agents around Europe with the purpose of deceiving Napoleon’s spy.
  • Savary, the chief of Napoleon’s personal guard, was charged with Investigating the extent of a treasonous plot. He visited the home of a recently discovered traitor along the Channel coast and found early drafts of reports that he himself had given to the Emperor.  He realized then that the information in the reports he had been giving had been authored by the British Alien Office.

It is difficult to say to what extent the secret service’s efforts helped to bring about Napoleon’s eventual demise since it is the nature of espionage to have unseen effects.  Most likely the agency’s efforts helped to sow the seeds that eventually led to many French citizens to switch to the royalist cause, but at the time eventual success was attributed to diplomacy and conventional warfare.

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An excerpt from The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy, courtesy of Victoria Kincaid

Darcy returned his attention to Elizabeth’s still form, aware that the doctor’s eyes were upon him.  After a long moment the Frenchman spoke.  “You are not a laborer searching for work.”  It was a statement, not a question.

Darcy stiffened.  “No?”

“Your hands are too soft, with callouses only from a horse’s reins.”  The doctor’s voice was matter-of-fact, not accusatory.  “A farm laborer’s hands are calloused everywhere.”

Darcy cursed himself silently for not having anticipated that detail.

“And you have an English wife.”  No doubt myriad explanations occurred to the doctor: spies, expatriate nobles, smugglers.

Darcy readied himself to fight.  Were he alone he could simply flee, but he could not leave Elizabeth behind—and traveling might kill her.

But Martin spread his hands, giving Darcy a gentle smile. “I am not your enemy.  To me, you and your wife are simply patients in need of care, and I have taken an oath to care for all who need it.”  Darcy regarded the doctor steadily.  Did he dare take the other man’s word?  Did he dare put his life—and Elizabeth’s—into this man’s trust?

Darcy sighed, and his shoulders slumped.  In truth, he had no choice.

“I swear I will not give you up to the authorities.  I have no love for them.  I would not give a rabid dog into their keeping.”  For a moment Martin’s expression was quite fierce.

Darcy nodded, somewhat reassured.

Martin looked at him sidelong.  “But will you tell me how an English gentleman and his wife came to be in Saint-Malo in the midst of a war?”

An English gentleman.  Darcy rubbed his face with both hands.  Despite his clothing, Darcy apparently might as well be wearing a sign proclaiming his name and rank.  Very well. The doctor had guessed enough of the truth; Darcy might as well tell more.  “Elizabeth was on a ship that exploded near the Channel Islands. It was reported that everyone on the ship was lost.  I am seeking the man responsible for the explosion, but I did not expect to find…” He gestured to Elizabeth’s still form.

“Yes, I remember hearing word of that.  An explosion would explain the blow to the head, but her survival is wonderful indeed.  I know of no other survivors.”

The rise and fall of Elizabeth’s chest fascinated Darcy, and he allowed himself to revel in the simple fact of her breathing.  Although he did not like the soft rattle in her exhales or the convulsive coughs.  “It is a miracle.  I had no hope.”

Martin clasped Darcy’s shoulder.  “If someone killed Marguerite, I would hunt him down as well.  I wish I knew this man so I could help you seek revenge.”

Darcy continued to regard the other man warily.

Martin chuckled.  “Our countries may be at war, but I have no quarrel with you, sir.  Your secret is safe with me.”

Did Darcy even dare to trust the man?  “I cannot ask you to take such risks…”

“The risk is not so great.  Bretagne only grudgingly supported the revolution or the emperor.  My sentiments are very common.”

Darcy was humbled by the man’s generosity and trust.  “I thank you, sir.  I will be forever in your debt.”

The man took the necklace from the table and poured it into Darcy’s hand.  “You must keep this safe until your wife may wear it once more.” Darcy stared dumbly at the pendant in his hand.  “I am afraid the chain broke when we removed it from her neck.”

Darcy threaded the chain of his watch fob through the loop at the top of the pendant.  He had chosen his plainest, cheapest watch and fob for the journey, but the doctor’s sharp look suggested it was still out of place.  Hopefully the future of Britain did not rest on Darcy’s abilities to pass as a common Frenchman.

Darcy heard a knock sounding on the front door.  Martin looked toward the source of the noise.  “Ah, I have a patient for a return visit.”   With a nod to Darcy, the doctor slipped through the door and closed it behind him with a quiet click.

Darcy was alone in the room with Elizabeth—his sleeping miracle. His eyes sought out her face once more, savoring the features he had never thought to see again in this lifetime.  His heart was so full that it felt ready to burst from his chest. Yes, Elizabeth was ill, and they were trapped in a country at war with an unknown enemy threatening them.  But Elizabeth was alive, and for the moment that was more than enough.

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About The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy

A Pride and Prejudice Variation

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?

Buy on Amazon

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Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering a reader’s choice giveaway of either an ebook or paperback copy of The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy. One winner will be selected. This giveaway is open internationally, and will be open through Sunday, August 5, 2018. To enter, leave a comment with your email address. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Victoria! It’s always a pleasure to have you visit. Congratulations on your new release!

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It’s a pleasure to welcome Don Jacobson back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of his latest audio books, Henry Fitzwilliam’s War and The Maid and the Footman. Please give him a warm welcome!

Which came first: The Written or the Spoken Word?

One of my favorite mantras to students…be they history or writing…is that “if it sounds weird, it probably is weird.” Oh, I know, this is odd to be coming from the podium at an august institution of higher education, but it is spoken with the best of intents. T’is my fun way to encourage the l’il darlin’s to proofread aloud. That way they will hear the sound of their words…and understand that if they are spewing a mouthful of gibberish, they likely have written something semantically incomprehensible.

This exercise is rooted in my belief that every single syllable, pause—partial or full—sentence, and paragraph have grown from Humanity’s effort to preserve that which came first; the spoken word.

Recall that t’was the Greeks who invented vowels (after they pinched the Phoenician alphabet in the mid-700s BCE to replace Linear B from the pre-Greek Dark Ages days: nobody could read it!) so that they could preserve the Homeric Epics after Homer died.

I mean, how would The Illiad read if there was an eternal confusion over (OK, this is English, but imagine an Athenian bard trying to sing for his supper) whether the word “dg” was “dog,” “dig,” “dug,” or “dag?” The cardinal vowels (a, e, i, o, u…forget about the cross-dressing “y” and “w”) were created to allow the Greeks to record their favorite after dinner entertainment. OK, Plato surely recorded many down-and-out drinking brawls where Alcibiaedes and Socrates would try to drink each other under the klismos, but that was after a local minstrel had recited a few dozen stanzas of something designed to show the cultural chops of the party’s host.

Yet, given that the Greek’s captured the eloquence of Homer’s words…and later those of Sappho, Aeschylus, and, later by Romans living on another peninsula, Ovid…these written works were still designed to allow an oral performance before an audience.

This is, I admit, a long way around the block to get me to the point of saying that all writing is rooted in the oral tradition. If that is the case, should not all writing when heard sound as good as (if not better than) when it  read silently?

In the #InspiredByAusten world, #Austenesque authors over the past few years have been moving through the processes of bringing their works to a broad public using a range of electronic publishing options. Many are now adept at designing their stories to fit both digital and print venues.  We have, it seems, been following the traditional path extant since our good friend Gutenberg invented the movable type printing press in the 1450s.

Naturally, this great leap in the manner in which the written word could be distributed forced a putting of the cart before the horse, essentially given primacy of written over spoken. And so it has remained until the last 20 or 30 years.

However, new technologies (I am ignoring phonographs upon which you could have enjoyed Gielgud performing King Lear…not particularly portable.) led to a reappraisal of the spoken word as a literary device. Three words…books on tape.

Of course, these were usually the author or celebrity author reading their word into a microphone. The utility was that one could listen to a book…and hear the author’s voice…without having to cease other tasks in order to flip pages. But, t’was “just” a reading, not a performance. And, so it remained for a few decades.

With the advances in Internet technology and ever-expanding server farms, more opportunities to move books to recorded arenas are now available. And, in the process, voice artists are bringing their talents to performing and interpreting the books.

I have been in the midst of a four-month process of moving all of my books (Bennet Wardrobe and Lessers and Betters) to #Audible.

The reason is simple: I want my readers to also be able to engage my books in a different manner. The performers with whom I work offer just that. Barbara Rich (The Lessers and Betters stories) and Amanda Berry (The books of the Bennet Wardrobe) bring their training and experience to play to present listeners with a uniquely different experience.

They interpret the pacing of the writing. They assume the nature of the characters. They bring emotion to the passages and, hopefully inspire reactions not experienced by readers of the printed books. They draw you in…much as the ancient Greek and Roman rhapsōidos did 2,500 years ago. And, in the process, make the words I have laid down sound much as they did when I imagined them.

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Please read the following excerpt from Chapter VIII in Henry Fitzwilliam’s War while listening to the audio sample as performed by Amanda Berry found here.

The House thus settled itself for another night much as it had for almost a century, its long porches reaching out to embrace the turbulent weather that had disturbed its owners’ homeland just a few hours before. Idiosyncratic creaks and pops echoed through the structure as ancient nails and beams gave up the heat collected from the watery October sun. Yet, while the building and its servants may have surrendered themselves to sleep, the two principals found such relief impossible to attain.

She could not imagine that he could be pulled away from her again, even though she knew that it was impossible for him to remain in this time.  His absence would disrupt every thread, every mote that swirled in the complicated universe governed by the Wardrobe. Only the fact that her husband was in Washington permitted the soldier’s presence next door.

As she lay there, counting the hours to dawn, she gazed around her son’s room, the furnishings so distinctly male, yet still revealing his sensitive nature.  On the one hand, his polo mallets were resting in hooks on the wall facing the window; two cricket bats were also propped in the corner.  On the other, one of her favorite canvases, his oil of Roses on Fieldstone, Deauville looked down at the foot of the bed.  How she prayed for his safety. What would he have made of the young man resting in his parent’s bed?

That young man tossed one way and then the other.  Each crash of thunder returned him to that night, back to Loos, to the moment when he could still count sight as one of his senses. But, artillery was only thunderous at the moment of impact.  The low grumble beyond the horizon, sometimes punctuated by flashes of grim lightening, first led to a whistle that increased in pitch and volume if the shell had your number.  If not, the sound deepened and the moaning faded as the charge found another target.

Then there was the wind; its gusts shook the House like a terrier would a captured rat. Again he was thrown back to the Front where the ground quivered pudding-like under the pounding of Hun cannons. Sudden drafts chilled his cheeks and chin as the pervasive blasts overwhelmed well-mitered windows.

How foolish we were, to allow phony “national pride,” the ultimate manifestation of masculinity, to destroy the system that had kept the peace for a hundred years.  Now the blood price that will have to be paid to erase this, man’s original sin—pride, will be steep indeed.

He knew that the coming parting was utterly necessary. He had to return to his own time lest he become another Kitty Bennet, now lost in the Wardrobe for 70 years. He could see Gran’s sadness when she spoke of her next eldest sister.  He could not subject his family to that sort of grief.

***

There was a point around midnight when she found herself sitting on the edge of her bed.  Had she dozed?  Then, responding to a dream, had she risen in pursuit of…she knew not what? The pulling she had felt for twenty-plus years was roiling her insides. The demand was too intense.

Her bare feet touched down on the bedside throw rug. Gathering a blanket around her shoulders, she glided across the mahogany stained floorboards to open her door. Just four steps down the hallway to his. She rested her forehead against the panel, trying to control her breathing—but with little success.

Stop…do not proceed.  You will break your heart…and his!

In his darkness, he first perceived her scent, roses rushing over the grass to his nose.  He must have lost the sound of the door opening beneath one of the crashes of the storm.  Somewhere, feet or inches away, She stood, silently.  The weight of her eyes in the nighttime darkness bore on him.  Her gaze played up and down his body and pushed his aura like a hand gently stroking a cat’s silky coat.  He could hear her shallow quick breaths signaling intense conflict. But, she did not move to close the gap.

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Giveaway

Don is generously offering a two-pack of Audible codes for Henry Fitzwilliam’s War and The Maid and the Footman. There will be two winners selected. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, August 5, 2018. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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About the Author

Don Jacobson

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years.  His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio.  His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards.  He has previously published five books, all non-fiction.  In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe SeriesThe Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey, novel that grew from two earlier novellas. The Exile is the second volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series.  Other JAFF P&P Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” and “The Maid and The Footman.”

 Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations.  As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing.

He is a member of JASNA-Puget Sound.  Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective (see the internet, Facebook and Twitter).

He lives in the Seattle, WA area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Ms. Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty pound cat, Bear.  Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the JAFF world, Don also enjoys cooking; dining out, fine wine and well-aged scotch whiskey.

His other passion is cycling.  Most days from April through October will find him “putting in the miles” around the Seattle area (yes there are hills).  He has ridden several “centuries” (100 mile days).  Don is especially proud that he successfully completed the AIDS Ride—Midwest (500 miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-A-Wish Miracle Ride (300 miles from Traverse City, MI to Brooklyn, MI).

Connect with Don: WebsiteAmazon Author Page | Goodreads Author Page | Twitter

Thank you, Don! It’s always a pleasure having you as my guest! Congratulations on your latest audio book releases!

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It’s always a pleasure having P.O. Dixon as a guest, and today I’ve welcomed her back to celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Designed for Each Other. Please give her a warm welcome!

It’s always an honor to be here at Diary of an Eccentric to share a new release excerpt. Thanks so much for having me, Anna.

My being here also allows me to broach the topic of alternate pairings among Jane Austen’s couples. In the world of Jane Austen fan fiction (JAFF), it is widely held that Mr. Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet pairings are the rule. But what about Miss Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley? Is the pairing of these two as staunchly defended in Pride and Prejudice retellings as with Darcy and Elizabeth?

There have and always will be exceptions in the case of either couple. What are rules for if not to be broken? In the case of Jane and Bingley, I have often paired either of them with others in my JAFF stories—most often with original characters and once with Mr. William Collins. Poor Jane.

Where Jane Austen’s characters are concerned, I like to entertain the idea of an alliance between Jane and Colonel Fitzwilliam. In many of my stories, the two are very often cast as more than merely casual acquaintances, but rather two people who enjoy a healthy share of flirtation with each other. As much as I would like to give Jane and the colonel their own happily ever after with each other, I have been unable to do so. It seems I cannot overlook his being the second son of an earl and as a result, his needing to marry a woman with her own fortune if he means to continue his preferred manner of living. Fifty thousand pounds, after all, is a pretty tall order for Jane.

I’m sure that one day I’ll envision a scenario that renders Colonel Fitzwilliam’s particular dilemma inconsequential. Until then, here’s an excerpt from my new release, Designed for Each Other, which features Jane and the colonel having a most heartfelt conversation.

Enjoy!

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Chapter 21 (Excerpt) – Designed for Each Other

“Miss Bennet, you may have noticed that I have grown extremely fond of you since making your acquaintance. Indeed, I like to think of the two of us as more than casual acquaintances.”

“I agree, Colonel Fitzwilliam. You and I are of the same mind as regards our acquaintance, I am sure.”

“I am delighted to hear you say that.” Seizing her hand in his, he raised it to his lips and brushed a soft kiss across her knuckles. Lowering her hand while still holding it in his, he said, “I admire you too much not to be completely honest with you regarding all the pertinent facts relating to Bingley’s abrupt departure from Hertfordshire.”

Jane could not deny being affected by the colonel’s nearness. She had spent too much time in his company during the past weeks to be immune to those innumerable gifts he possessed, his being a man with a way with women. Her heartbeat racing, it did not help her composure one bit that he was sitting so close and holding, even caressing, her hand.

Their eyes met, and it was more than a moment before she grew demure. Breaking eye contact, she withdrew her hand. Standing, she smoothed her skirt and walked over to the fireplace.

The colonel also stood. He walked over to a side table and poured a drink. He offered it to Jane, but she did not accept. He took a sip of the dark liquor.

“Sir, what is it that you think I should know about Mr. Bingley’s leave-taking?”

His drink in hand, he walked to where Jane stood. By way of an inviting gesture of his hand, he encouraged her to take a seat by the fireplace. He took the one directly opposite. “I think you should know that whereas Miss Bingley may have played a part in keeping you and her brother separated, she did not act alone. You see, Miss Bennet, my cousin was also instrumental in the scheme.”

“Mr. Darcy?” Jane cried.

The colonel nodded. “Trust me when I say that both Mr. Darcy and Miss Bingley may have been complicit in the scheme, but their motives for their actions have nothing in common whatsoever. I can only speak to Darcy’s motives, for he explained his purposes to me long before you and I met. Indeed, in explaining the time he spent with Bingley last autumn, he mentioned having to come to his rescue yet again to save him from a most disadvantageous alliance. I say that he had no ill intentions towards you in doing so because Bingley had theretofore fancied himself in love with any number of young women since he and Darcy became friends. I am afraid that my cousin could have no reason to suppose that Bingley’s falling in love with you was any different.”

“I suppose my family’s lack of fortune and want of connections must surely have been a factor as well,” said Jane.

“A circumstance that is by no means confined to you nor are you to be faulted, but from Darcy’s viewpoint, Bingley’s tendency in failing to consider such things is not exactly in his own best interest. At the time, Darcy felt it was incumbent on himself to see that his friend made the most advantageous match possible.”

“Do you mean to someone like his own sister, Miss Darcy?”

Miss Bingley’s words to a similar effect echoed in Jane’s mind: “My brother admires her greatly already; he will have frequent opportunity now of seeing her on the most intimate footing; her relations all wish the connection as much as his own, and a sister’s partiality is not misleading me, I think, when I call Charles most capable of engaging any woman’s heart. With all these circumstances to favor an attachment, and nothing to prevent it, am I wrong, my dearest Jane, in indulging the hope of an event which will secure the happiness of so many?”

The colonel replied, “I suspect that may very well be the favorite wish of Mr. Bingley’s family, and there may have been a moment in my young cousin’s history where both Darcy and I entertained such a notion, but the truth is, young Georgiana’s prospects ought not to be constrained.”

“In other words, Mr. Bingley is not good enough for Miss Darcy.”

“I did not say that?”

“What are you saying?”

“I am saying that Darcy, in doing all he did to keep you and Bingley apart, was acting in service to his friend.”

Jane wondered if Elizabeth had any knowledge of the things the colonel alleged. And if she did, why did she choose not to confide in Jane herself? On the other hand, she had never seen her sister so happy. Elizabeth loved Mr. Darcy, and she likely wanted Jane to love him too, and thus her silence on his role in the scheme.

“I pray that in telling you all this you will not begrudge my cousin. I merely thought you should know.”

“I cannot fault your cousin if for nothing else but for the sake of familial harmony as he is to be my brother, I must let bygones be bygones.”

“I am happy you feel that way, which brings me to another matter of great concern to me. One having to do with Charles Bingley.”

“Mr. Bingley, sir?”

“Indeed,” said the colonel, nodding. “you suffer a bit of ill will toward him for the way you were mistreated by the people who mean the most to him.”

“And rightly so.”

“Surely if you can forgive Darcy, then you can forgive Bingley. If not for the sake of familial harmony, then for yourself. I am certain he cares deeply for you even if you choose not to see just how much. I suspect you love him too or at least you believed you did at one time. Those feelings cannot have dissipated so easily as the passage of a couple of months would allow. Let that be the basis upon which the two of you build something lasting. He is an excellent match for you.”

“As opposed to whom, Colonel Fitzwilliam? For I cannot suppose you are not speaking of yourself.”

“I would be lying if I denied how much I wish it were otherwise. But the second son of an earl cannot marry where he chooses. I must—”

Nodding, Jane interrupted, “—marry a woman with her own fortune if you are to maintain your manner of living. I know—my sister made that abundantly clear when she suspected that I might be captivated by your infinite charms.”

“I want you to know that were my situation different, I would do everything in my power to make you mine. You are exquisite, Miss Bennet.”

As though he was powerless to do otherwise, he stood from his chair and walked over to her. He seized her hand in his once again and bowing, pressed a lingering kiss on her palm. He had the keenest sense of how vulnerable she was.

When Bingley speaks of her has being an angel, he cannot possibly know how close he is to speaking the truth.

As for the colonel, he would be lying if he said he was unaffected by her. A part of him longed for her—ached for the chance to know her in that way a man knew the woman whom he adored, the woman who belonged to him and him alone. In the lonely hours of the night since getting to know her, he yearned for her—spent long hours satiating his need for her, imagining her there beside him.

Her hand in his, she cried, “You are not being fair, sir. One moment you are encouraging me to open my heart once again to the man who has been the means of tearing it apart, and the next moment you are making love to me.”

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About Designed for Each Other

Make room, Mrs. Bennet. It’s Charlotte’s turn to play matchmaker for Mr. Darcy and her intimate friend, Elizabeth.

Mr. Darcy has a second chance to court Miss Elizabeth Bennet after his disastrous marriage proposal, thanks largely to Mrs. Collins’s timely intervention. As a result of an incident at Rosings, Darcy and Elizabeth find themselves suddenly engaged to each other.

Elizabeth respects Mr. Darcy. She likes him very much. But, what if she fears she is not indeed in love with the gentleman? What if Elizabeth is persuaded she does not really know what love is?

Darcy’s heart belongs to Elizabeth. What must he do to convince her that her heart belongs to him?

§ Author’s Note
Designed for Each Other is a fast-paced 50,000+ words story in which Darcy and Elizabeth explore the more sensuous aspects of their relationship. Print length is 300 pages.

Universal buy link

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Connect with P.O. Dixon

Newsletter | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Website

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Giveaway

If you’re as curious as I am to find out what happens next, Pam is generously offering an ebook copy of Designed for Each Other to one lucky winner. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, July 29, 2018. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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

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