I’m delighted to welcome Jennifer Joy to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth. I will be reviewing it here soon, along with the first book in the Meryton Mystery series, The Honorable Mr. Darcy. (These are standalone novels.) Jennifer is here with an excerpt from The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth and a very generous giveaway! I hope you all enjoy the excerpt as much as I did, and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. I am eager to read the book in its entirety!
An excerpt from The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth, courtesy of Jennifer Joy
Entering the room, Darcy saw the two standing three paces away from each other. Aunt Catherine clutched the sharp-tipped cane she used more to make a statement than for the stability it offered. Tanner’s feet stood hip-width apart, his thick arms crossed firmly over his large chest forming an impenetrable wall against which Aunt’s pointy arrows bounced off. He was clearly unimpressed. Darcy needed to interfere before Tanner suggested she sleep at the stables with the other mules.
Neither of them turned their heads to look at him and Richard as they entered the parlor. Anne sat in a chair by the fireplace massaging her temples while Mrs. Jenkinson fanned her and patted her arm reassuringly. Anne looked dreadfully pale despite the heat from the fire.
“Aunt Catherine, you must allow Mr. Tanner to see Anne to a room. She must be fatigued after your journey,” Darcy said, forgoing greetings and pleasantries when his cousin was in obvious need of assistance.
Tanner’s lips tightened. “That is exactly what I have been trying to convince Lady Catherine de Bourgh of Rosings Park in Kent to allow me to do.” He enunciated every syllable of her name, making it clear he knew precisely who she was. “Mrs. Molly already has a suitable room ready if only her ladyship would agree to it. I have offered to send for the apothecary, but she has refused that too.”
“Darcy! You must order this man to give me the best room in his inn. I will settle for nothing less.”
Mrs. Jenkinson dared approach Aunt Catherine, saying, “Pardon me, Lady Catherine, but Miss de Bourgh should rest.” The softness of her voice was in direct contrast to the intensity of her stare.
Aunt Catherine’s pulse throbbed at her temples, but she nodded her head. Mrs. Jenkinson led Anne out of the room and Darcy heard Mrs. Molly speak with them as the stairs creaked under the footsteps.
Richard broke the tense silence with exaggerated cheer. “Good afternoon, Aunt Catherine. How pleasant it is to see you here. To what do we owe the pleasure of your company?”
How he could smile at a moment such as this was incomprehensible to Darcy. Tanner looked like he would strangle Aunt Catherine if he uncrossed his arms. Aunt Catherine looked capable of poking Tanner with her pointy cane.
“You are grinning like a fool, Fitzwilliam. It does not suit you. Or have the residents of Hertfordshire ruined you too?”
Here it came.
“You wish to know the purpose of my visit?” Aunt Catherine turned her glare away from Tanner and Richard to focus on him. Great.
Darcy took a deep breath and steadied himself.
“I am here to discredit certain rumors about my nephew forming an attachment to a young lady of inferior birth. What have you to say about that, Darcy?”
There it was. The accusation that Elizabeth was unworthy of their family. He had thought he was prepared to hear it, but his blood boiled with more anger than he had imagined himself capable of. He closed the distance between himself and his aunt, looking down at her from his superior height. He was unafraid of her and her sharp cane.
He felt Tanner’s hand grasp his shoulder. Darcy was wound up as tight as a carriage spring and his immediate reaction was to lash out against his brother who dared restrain him, but he controlled himself. He looked at Tanner, who met his level gaze and squeezed his shoulder as if to remind him not to lose his temper. Fine advice from one who was so often provoked.
Darcy felt Richard move to his other side. Another reminder to hold his temper. Darcy took a deep breath and cleared his focus.
He would do nothing to satisfy Aunt Catherine’s curiosity until he first got the information he required. It was a much more humane — and far more effective — way of frustrating her. “Who is the source of this rumor?”
“You confirm it is merely a rumor?” she snapped.
He would not make it so easy on her. “I neither confirm nor refute it. Who is the source of the rumor?” he repeated.
“Mr. Collins.” She offered nothing more.
“What did he tell you?”
“He seemed to think I would be pleased at the news of your attachment to one of his country cousins … one Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Is her uncle not in trade and her father’s estate in a state of disrepair?”
Mr. Collins. Darcy should have known. The clergyman meant well, but he did not know when his assistance was unwanted nor when to keep his mouth shut.
“Miss Elizabeth Bennet is the daughter of a gentleman and, as such, she is my equal.”
Aunt Catherine gasped. “You dare compare your elevated station to one so insignificant, her name is unknown amongst the beau monde?”
“You would regard her as insignificant because she is not recognized in society? Of what use has society been to us?”
Society could hang itself for all the value Darcy placed upon it. Aunt Catherine lived in constant fear of becoming the brunt of its malicious gossip, and his mother had accepted the dalliances of his father because society had taught her to look the other way while pretending to be the adoring wife. It had killed her. And how did society reward its handiwork? His father had died miserable and friendless.
No, Darcy cared not for what society thought of him nor Elizabeth. The fact that she refused to be impressed or intimidated by those who would look down on her only served to reaffirm his decision to make her his wife. As soon as he could convince her to have him. There was that small detail … though his patience grew thinner by the second.
“You dare defy society when you were born into it? Your position in the first circles demands the consideration of your peers.” Aunt Catherine’s lips pinched together so tightly, they were rimmed in white.
“I will choose what is best for me and those for whom I am responsible. It is my decision and mine alone. I will permit nobody authority over me when I am able to make up my own mind.”
“And is that what you have done? Have you chosen to forsake your own cousin and bring reproach on the Darcy name by marrying a nobody?”
He would bring no more reproach— not even close— than what his own father had brought on the Darcy name.
“I cannot forsake Anne when I have given her no promise —” he stopped, the words choking in his throat when Mrs. Molly rushed into the room with a complexion the color of his aunt’s powdered hair.
The rim of Mrs. Molly’s cap trembled. Looking anxiously between Tanner and Aunt Catherine, she said, “Please, Miss de Bourgh is …” She wrung her apron in her hands, looking down at the floor.
Tanner stepped forward, reaching out for her. “She is what? Calm yourself and speak plainly, Mrs. Molly.”
Aunt Catherine’s cheeks had lost all color. She stood frozen in her haughty posture in defiance of bad news.
Mrs. Molly looked up, her eyes shut like a child believing herself to be invisible so long as she saw no one. “Miss de Bourgh has suffered an —”
“Enough!” interrupted Aunt Catherine. “I will see to my daughter. No doubt, she was overly fatigued from our journey and merely needs a dose of tonic from our family doctor. There is no need for talk, do you understand?” She eyed Mrs. Molly with a stony glare until the nervous housekeeper cracked her eyes open.
And then Aunt Catherine did something Darcy had never known her to do. She pulled out some coins and handed them to Mrs. Molly.
“For your silence,” she said as she marched out of the room. When Mrs. Molly followed her, Aunt Catherine astonished them further by refusing her assistance and ascending the stairs alone.
Tanner moved a chair over to Mrs. Molly, who looked like she might collapse at the slightest provocation. She slumped into it and rubbed her free hand over her face, shaking her head back and forth. Finally, after some time, she straightened her spine and, with a firm nod, she held out the coins for Darcy to take.
“I cannot accept these, sir. I understand her ladyship’s reason for giving them to me, but I am now well aware it is not merely her daughter’s future at stake, it is yours as well. My conscience will not allow me to remain silent when you should know what I just saw.”
Darcy’s pulse hammered in his head. She spoke as if her news could adversely affect his future. It must be horrible news for Aunt Catherine to separate from her precious coin to hide whatever it was she wished to bury.
“Very well, but I insist you keep the coin.”
“I cannot, Mr. Darcy.”
“You cannot return it to Lady Catherine. So long as what you have to tell me remains a secret within these walls, I see no reason why you cannot dispose of the coin for the benefit of another and thus appease your conscience.”
The trimming on the front of her cap bobbed up and down as she nodded enthusiastically. “Mrs. Thorne will use it to assist a family in need. She is a good woman.” Mrs. Molly took a deep breath. “I pity your aunt, as will you, once you understand why she insists you marry her daughter.”
About The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth (A Meryton Mystery Book 2)
Two determined women. One murder. No eyewitnesses.
Lady Catherine has come to Meryton.
When a devastating secret is revealed, putting Elizabeth Bennet’s future happiness and the loyalty of the man she loves in the balance, her hopes for a Happily-Ever-After are dashed to pieces. Threats are made and family obligations are enforced, leading to an event no one could foresee. Another murder in Meryton.
Fitzwilliam Darcy is more determined than ever to win Elizabeth’s love— no matter what obstacles their families place between them. When a matron is found murdered in the midst of a militia parade, he soon discovers the strength of the woman’s enemies… and their closeness to Elizabeth. Can Darcy protect her when she is determined to bring the murderer to justice?
With a killer on the loose and their hearts on the line, can Darcy and Elizabeth work together to solve another mystery while fighting for each other? Or will the pressure break them apart forever?
About The Honorable Mr. Darcy (A Meryton Mystery Book 1)
Everyone has a secret. Who will kill to keep theirs?
Lieutenant George Wickham is dead.
The shot rings out in Wickham’s tent as the good citizens of Meryton dance the night away at Mr. Bingley’s Netherfield ball. The only person who can confirm Fitzwilliam Darcy’s alibi faces the loss of her reputation and her freedom if she comes forward.
Convinced that her sole motive is the pursuit of justice— and not her growing attraction to Mr. Darcy— Elizabeth Bennet begins an investigation to clear his name and evade an unwanted marriage.
If Darcy didn’t shoot Wickham in cold blood, who did? Which of Longbourn’s neighbors is not who they seem?
With a killer on the loose, can Elizabeth avoid being the next victim as she comes closer to revealing the truth?
About the Author
When Jennifer isn’t busy dreaming up new adventures for her favorite Jane Austen characters, she is learning Sign language, reading, baking (Cake really is her one weakness!), or chasing her twins around the park (because … calories).
Her wish is to continue to write sweet romances and mysteries with happy endings for years to come.
While she claims Oregon as her home, she currently lives high in the Andes mountains of Ecuador with her husband and two kids. All of them are fluent in Spanglish.
Right now, Jennifer is imagining how a courtship with such a turbulent beginning can possibly lead to a smooth Happily-Ever-After for Darcy and Elizabeth. She senses there’s more trouble to come and promises to keep a detailed account of events (because, let’s face it, it makes for fun reading!).
***Subscribers to Jennifer’s Historical Romance newsletter will receive access to a BONUS scene involving Lady Catherine and an important character in The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth!***
Jennifer is generously offering 4 ebook copies of The Indomitable Miss Elizabeth and 2 audiobooks of The Honorable Mr. Darcy. To enter, please leave a comment about what intrigues you most from the excerpt. Please leave your email address and indicate which book you would prefer to win. This giveaway will close on Sunday, March 26, 2017. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!