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I’m delighted to help Robin Helm celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, More to Love, which is certainly a different take on Austen’s novel. I hope you all are as excited as I am to read this book, and that the excerpt Robin is sharing today makes you even more excited!

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Early October, 1811

The second eldest Bennet sister sat alone, trying to smile as she watched the couples dancing gracefully around the floor. Occasionally, she nibbled at the cookie she held, taking comfort in the richness of the sweet almond confection. As Elizabeth was a great favourite of Longbourn’s housekeeper and pastry cook, Mrs. Bailey, she was never without several of the tasty morsels in her reticule. Mrs. Bailey, who had learned the recipes for several types of cookies while a young woman in America, kept Elizabeth well-supplied.

Knowing her mother would disapprove of her eating while she waited for an invitation to dance, Elizabeth practiced her usual ruse. She hid the jumble in her embroidered handkerchief, careful to let no one see it. In any case, she was rarely asked to dance, cookie or not, as there were always more ladies than gentlemen at Meryton’s Assemblies. This night had been no exception. She had danced only one set, and that with Joshua Lucas, a friend since childhood.

Her sister Jane’s amiable partner for an earlier dance, Mr. Bingley, stood fairly close to Elizabeth, chatting with a handsome, austere man. Mr. Bingley’s voice carried over the music and gaiety, impossible to ignore.

“Darcy! Why are you standing here with your arms folded when there are so many uncommonly pretty girls lacking dance partners? You should not keep yourself apart from the company in such a stupid manner when lovely young women are seated and gentlemen are scarce. ’Tis rudeness itself. I must have you dance.”

“I certainly shall not,” answered the gentleman, drawing himself up to his full, intimidating height, looking down his nose at his friend. “You have been dancing with the only handsome girl in the room, and your sisters are engaged at present.”

Bingley’s voice softened. “She is an angel, is she not? The most beautiful creature I ever beheld.” He sighed. “However, there are plenty of suitable young ladies who are available.”

Elizabeth smiled upon hearing his praise of her sister. Mr. Bingley’s pleasant manner and good sense caused him to rise several notches in her estimation.

The young man continued, “Look! There is her sister, and she has a very pretty face, too. I daresay she is most agreeable. You must ask her to dance. Allow me to ask my partner to introduce you.”

The young lady felt the weight of the gentleman’s disapproving stare and glanced away, but she could not avoid hearing his reply.

“She is tolerable, I suppose, but there is rather too much of her to tempt me. Return to Miss Bennet and bask in her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.”

Elizabeth’s eyes filled with unshed tears as she crushed the cookie hidden in her handkerchief. While she had never been obsessed with her looks in the way her younger sisters were, she always took pride in her appearance. Her father had often complimented her beautiful skin and her lustrous, thick hair, while her mother made certain her bonnets and dresses were stylish.

Even so, she grudgingly acknowledged to herself that she had been avoiding mirrors for at least two years now, and lately, her gowns had become uncomfortably snug.

True or not, his comments wounded her deeply. Though she was well-known for her intelligence and quick wit, she yearned to be told she was altogether lovely. She had many friends, but she feared that being bright and cheerful with a pretty face described a governess or a lady’s companion, and she did not aspire to either of those vocations.

Secretly, Elizabeth wished to be the wife of a gentleman who adored her, as well as a mother to children she would love with all her considerable depth of heart, regardless of their outward features. She prided herself on valuing the characters of her friends and relatives rather than their physical attributes.

To be judged so harshly by a person she had never met was disconcerting. Her view of the world and her place in it was shaken.

In the moment the haughty gentleman had declared her to be “too much,” she had become, to herself, “not enough.” Not good enough. Not pretty enough. Not tempting enough.

Mr. Bingley, sweet man, would not agree with his friend. “How can you say that, Darcy? She has a perfect complexion, beautiful eyes, and dainty hands which are lovely. Her entire face is alight when she smiles, and I have also observed how graceful she is when she walks. Surely you have noticed that.”

Darcy snorted. “I have. Who could miss it? She approaches the refreshment table every half hour, and she is sorely mistaken if she thinks her handkerchief hides what she is constantly eating. Bingley, I am not in humour to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men, especially when that slighting is so obviously justified in this case by the lady’s lack of discipline.”

His companion rather testily replied, “I would not be as fastidious as you for a kingdom. You are determined to be disagreeable, so I will leave you to it. Furthermore, I shall dare your disapproval and ask her myself.”

Elizabeth hardly ever allowed herself to dislike people to whom she had never been introduced, but she was willing to make an exception for tall, dark, brooding Mr. Darcy. Upon further reflection, she was somewhat surprised to realize she truly despised him, despite his arresting beauty and aristocratic profile. She had never formally met the gentleman, yet she could barely stand the sight of him. Odd, for she was generally accepting of everyone.

Seeing Mr. Bingley approaching her, she stuffed the handkerchief into her reticule and placed it under her chair. Her determined attempt at a pleasant countenance was successful.

A moment later, Mr. Bingley appeared before her, bowed, and extended his hand with a smile and a request.

Elizabeth stood and placed her hand in his, determined not to disgrace herself. She held her head high and fixed a smile upon her face, allowing her brilliant, green eyes to sparkle with mischief as he escorted her past Mr. Darcy onto the dance floor.

As she and Mr. Bingley moved through the steps, she glimpsed Mr. Darcy watching them several times, his dark eyes fixed upon her, an inscrutable expression on his striking face.

Assuming that he looked at her only to find fault, her active mind formed a scheme, and she could hardly wait to set it in motion.

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About More to Love

“She is tolerable, I suppose, but there is rather too much of her to tempt me.”

Overhearing Mr. Darcy’s rude dismissal of her shocks and mortifies Elizabeth Bennet to the core.

She is living her worst fear, and it galvanizes her into action.
oon, the gentleman cannot keep his eyes from her, but can she forgive his thoughtless judgment of her appearance and character?

Especially since he faces a worthy competitor for her attention?

Who will win the lady’s hand, along with the right to love her through thick or thin?

Check out More to Love on Amazon

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Giveaway

If that excerpt grabbed your attention, then you’ll be thrilled that Robin is generously giving away an ebook copy of More to Love to one lucky reader. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveway will be open through Thursday, February 28, 2019. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Robin, for treating us to a peek of More to Love. Congratulations on your new release!

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I’m pleased to welcome Caitlin Marie Carrington to Diary of an Eccentric for the first time today to celebrate the recent release of Darcy and Diamonds. When I first saw the cover and read the description, I knew this was a Pride and Prejudice variation that I had to read! I was lucky enough to win a copy in a Facebook giveaway (thanks again, Caitlin), and as soon as my reading gets back on track from a chaotic 2018 and a busy start to 2019, I hope to get a chance to read it. Caitlin is here with an excerpt that is absolutely delightful, and she’s even brought some books to share with you, dear readers. Please give her a warm welcome!

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Thank you Anna for having me here today! I am in awe of all that you do for the JAFF community and love your blog. It’s an honor to be here!

I’m so excited to share an excerpt from my recent sweet and clean romance, Darcy and Diamonds. This variation occurs almost eight years after the original events in Pride and Prejudice when Elizabeth, now a young widow, and Mr. Darcy meet again at a house party at Netherfield. Unfortunately, a scheming Caroline Bingley and all of Elizabeth’s boisterous relations are there, as well.

In this scene, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have both woken early and independently decided to take their favorite horses for an early-morning ride. (Yes, Elizabeth loves horses, in this variation.) Elizabeth is distressed to see her solitude will be broken by the proud, judgmental and annoyingly handsome Mr. Darcy. And so, in a wild moment, she decides to race him.

What could go wrong?

Enter to win one of five free ebooks below! Happy reading!

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From behind, she could hear Mr. Darcy and his stallion approaching—no, racing—through the woods. He shouted again. Elizabeth couldn’t turn to look at him now; she was too intent on the path ahead. But his exhortation hadn’t sounded angry that she had tricked him and raced ahead. If anything, he sounded—excited. Exultant?

Or perhaps she was just confusing her own feelings with his. How lovely! How wild! Then, twenty feet in front of her, Elizabeth saw the fallen tree. It was recently downed—probably just from last night and the heavy rains. Its roots were lifted high in the air, with dark, wet earth still clinging to them.

And it completely blocked the path.

“No—watch out—!” Elizabeth just had time to try and adjust herself, and her blasted skirts, before Sabine panicked. The horse tried to stop, skidding in the wet, soft earth. At the same time, Elizabeth was urging her forward and over the obstacle. But Sabine refused, bucking and rearing up into the air. Elizabeth shouted, clinging to the saddle as her leg slipped from its secure post. Sabine bucked again, angry and unsure and Elizabeth nearly fell before the horse righted itself. Elizabeth had just gotten her balance but not yet put her right leg up over the padded leather branch, when Sabine finally chose to listen to her first directions and leapt—neatly, cleanly, perfectly over the fallen tree.

Unfortunately, Elizabeth hadn’t expected it. “No!” she cried as she scrabbled for a hold—anywhere, anything. Instead, she fell to the ground, just missing the fallen log, but landing hard on the muddied forest floor.

“Elizabeth!”

She heard Mr. Darcy call her name but she couldn’t quite open her eyes yet. Where was she? On her back, her head aching, her pride in tatters.

“Elizabeth. Oh God.”

She opened her eyes to see blue sky. White clouds. And Mr. Darcy’s beautiful face, directly over her, his eyes frantic.

“Hullo,” she said. “Your eyes match the sky.”

He frowned, staring down at her. “Have you hit your head?”

“But you’re still so…frownish,” she murmured.

Her voice sounded funny to her own ears, like perhaps she was underwater.

Mr. Darcy shook his head, his hands surprising her and suddenly cupping her face. He was so gentle that she felt her eyes closing. “You have injured your head. Don’t—don’t move, Elizabeth.”

Elizabeth blinked and settled back into the earth. Not moving sounded like a good idea. No, an excellent idea. She was sure her hat was crushed—wait, she wasn’t wearing a hat.

“Did I lose my hat?” she said. “And you shouldn’t call me by my given name.”

Mr. Darcy startled her by running his hands over the back of her head. She closed her eyes again. It felt rather nice.

“Elizabeth!” His sudden yell made her startle and she opened her eyes, looking up at him again.

“Gracious, no need to shout, Mr. Darcy.”

“So you know my name? You recognize me?”

“What a silly question.” She squinted up at him. “You’re tall. Tyrannical. Perfectly attired. Yes—yes, you must be Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.”

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About Darcy and Diamonds

Forget the missing diamonds. Will Mr. Darcy steal Elizabeth’s heart—again?

What could go wrong at a Netherfield house party?
Why, everything!

Elizabeth is trapped for days with a conniving Caroline, a match-making Mrs. Bennet, and now—surprisingly—Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

She has not seen Mr. Darcy since his disastrous proposal to her in Hunsford nearly eight years ago. Since that time, Elizabeth lost her father and husband—but gained a certain measure of independence.

She is happy, she reminds herself—especially when Mr. Darcy and his sky-blue eyes seem to seek her out constantly and make her question everything.

Unfortunately, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is as proud, arrogant—and annoyingly handsome—as ever.
And he seems to have very firm opinions about Lizzy’s life and how she should conduct it.

After her first marriage, Elizabeth is determined to never again allow a man to control her. But when a devious thief targets the house party, Elizabeth finds herself working with Mr. Darcy to discover the culprit.
Will they be able to bring the criminal to justice?

And will a changed Mr. Darcy be able to steal Elizabeth’s heart?

Are you ready for a sweet and clean Pride and Prejudice variation that features love, humor, and Mr. Darcy in a soaking-wet shirt? (Because who doesn’t like to be reminded of Colin Firth?) This 67,000-word novel also includes a Darcy who knows what he wants, an Elizabeth who needs to find herself again, a runaway horse, a truly conniving Caroline, a guaranteed happily ever after, and—of course—diamonds!

Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Kobo | Scribd

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About the Author

By day, Caitlin Marie Carrington juggles motherhood, her editing job, one surly cat and all the fun drama that life with small children (and one giant husband) entails.

By night, she imagines new adventures for her favorite literary couple, Darcy and Elizabeth.

Connect with Caitlin on Facebook | Instagram

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Giveaway

Caitlin is generously offering 5 ebook copies of Darcy and Diamonds to my readers. To enter to win a copy, please leave a comment with your email address. We’d love to hear what interests you most about the book. The giveaway will be open through Sunday, February 24, 2019. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Caitlin, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your newest releases!

Readers who don’t mind a hot and sexy variation should check out Caitlin’s newest book, a novella titled My Alpha, Mr. Darcy.

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Hello, dear readers! I have a treat for you today, especially if you’re looking for a new book to cozy up with for Valentine’s Day. April Floyd is my guest today, and we’re celebrating the release of her newest Pride and Prejudice variation, Mr. Darcy’s True Love. Please give her a warm welcome!

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I would love to take a moment and thank Anna for having me once again on her blog. I am so grateful for her reviews and the opportunities she gives many JAFF authors as we seek to woo you, our dear readers!

Now for a romantic excerpt from Mr. Darcy’s True Love. My favorite parts to write and read are when Elizabeth and Darcy are alone together and the rest of the world ceases to exist. Hopefully you love those romantic scenes as well!

Don’t forget to enter to win one of the e-book copies up for grabs when you’ve finished the excerpt!

“I believe a bit of fresh air would be as welcome as the punch. Would you care to join me on the terrace, Mr. Darcy?” Elizabeth said as she turned and looked across the room at the terrace doors.

Mr. Darcy agreed. “It is warm with all the dancing and this crowd.”

He lifted his arm and Elizabeth tucked her hand against his elbow. Together they wove through the crowd and were soon standing shoulder to shoulder looking out over the small garden of Bingley House. Light from the ballroom only stretched halfway across and the trees that bordered the garden wall cast long shadows.

Elizabeth shivered when a cold gust of wind swept past and Mr. Darcy removed his coat. He placed it on her shoulders and Elizabeth inhaled the scent of orange and some spice she could not name. It was likely a cologne mixed by the chemists at one of the two famous shops in Town. It tickled her nose and brought back the memory of how he’d smelled the night he came to visit and ate baked apples with her. She smiled.

Mr. Darcy noticed. “I must say I have never encountered a lady who loves the outdoors as much as you, Miss Bennet. It is refreshing. It is a pity you do not ride, though.”

She laughed, a deep, amused sound, and looked up at him as she stood warm inside his coat. “Horses are far too unpredictable, Mr. Darcy. I prefer the surety of my own two feet. Besides, I never run headlong into the brambles like my old mare was wont to do. Papa tried for years to make a horsewoman of me, but it was not to be.”

He turned and gazed down at her, his eyes alight with mischief. “I could make a horsewoman of you for I have many gentle, and intelligent, mares at Pemberley. I know of one in particular that might be your perfect match. Oh you would certainly love to explore the fields and woods of my home in Derbyshire.”

Elizabeth breathed deeply to calm her racing heart. Being alone with him on the terrace, inhaling his scent, and listening as he practically begged her to come to Pemberley with him had an intoxicating effect.

“My Aunt and Uncle Gardiner wish to tour the Lake District this summer. Perhaps I might visit with them. Is your home open for private tours then?”

Mr. Darcy pushed a curl behind her ear and smiled. “It is, though I am seldom there in the summertime. I often ride North and pitch a camp near my cousin’s country estate so that I might fish and ride to my heart’s content.”

Elizabeth was surprised by this admission and by the tender touch of his fingers against her ear. “I would never have taken you for the type of man who would live in a tent, sir.”

“It is uncommon for someone of my circle, yes. But I am uncommon for someone of my circle, Miss Bennet. There is much about me that might surprise you. I hope you may come to know me better.”

Mr. Darcy leaned closer and Elizabeth stood completely still. She stared into his eyes wondering whether he might kiss her. Feeling silly, she finally looked down. “I would like that very much, I think. I am not surprised when I think that perhaps your camp is an escape of sorts. I admit that wandering in nature is my own way of being alone and sorting things in my head. Perhaps we understand one another more than we know?”

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About Mr. Darcy’s True Love

Mixed Up Valentines and Scheming Cousins threaten ODC’s blooming romance!

Elizabeth Bennet goes to London with newlyweds Jane and Charles Bingley and is reunited with a kinder Mr. Darcy than she remembers from their first meeting in Hertfordshire. Before their romance can blossom, Mr. Bingley’s cousins arrive in Town and jealousies arise. Elizabeth is uncomfortable with the attention paid her by Mr. Bingley’s male cousin and curious about his female cousin’s prior history with Mr. Darcy.

Will mixed-up valentines and an unwanted marriage proposal keep Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy apart? Oh no, an HEA must be had!

Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks

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About the Author

April Floyd

April Floyd lives in Alaska with her husband and youngest son. She loves happy endings, nice people, and reading great stories. Once upon a time, she was an Army wife and a phlebotomist and recently ran a successful ebook deals site for four years. Historical fiction, Jane Austen, and fantasy/dystopia are her favorite genres.

April’s Website | Amazon Author Page

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Giveaway

April is generously offering 5 ebook copies of Mr. Darcy’s True Love to my readers. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Friday, February 1, 2019. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, April, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new book! I hope you all come back closer to Valentine’s Day for my review!

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It’s release day for Riana Everly’s latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Through a Different Lens, and I’ve invited her here today to talk about the inspiration for her unique take on Mr. Darcy. Please give her a warm welcome!

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I am thrilled to be releasing my third novel today, and am equally thrilled to be celebrating here at Diary of an Eccentric. Thanks, Anna, for hosting me.

My new release, Through a Different Lens, takes a slightly different view of Mr. Darcy. What if, rather than merely being aloof or shy or unreasonably proud, he has something else going on, a neurological difference that makes social interactions extremely challenging for him? In short, what if Mr. Darcy is on the autism spectrum?

My inspiration for this question that spawned a novel came from the pen of Jane Austen herself. In Pride and Prejudice, Darcy excuses his unsociable behaviour by telling Elizabeth, “I certainly have not the talent which some people possess of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.”

Many, many years ago I did some work for a charity that helped kids on the autism spectrum, and I have a son who flirts with the edges of Asperger’s Syndrome (now classified as a type of “high-functioning” autism). Consequently, I’ve done a fair bit of reading and research, and Darcy’s words leapt out at me. These are exactly the things that someone with Asperger’s would find challenging: tone of voice, facial expressions, reading between the lines, feigning interest where there is none—these subtle cues that are so much a part of “normal” interactions and which can be all but incomprehensible to someone whose brain works differently.

I started with a single scene, just to write out what I imagined would happen if Lizzy had the same idea that I had. What if she had other experiences with somebody on the autism spectrum, a young cousin perhaps? What if she understood a little more than might be expected? In a world long before autism was identified as a “thing,” where there were no supports or therapies or awareness of such neurological differences, there was nothing left but personal experience and compassion to help people on the spectrum manage in a society that didn’t really understand them.

I happened to mention this idea of mine to a friend and fellow JAFF author who also has a child on the spectrum. She commented that she had wondered the same thing, and after some wonderful discussion, I sent her my scene. She read it and immediately said, “Finish the story!”

And so I did, and this is the result.

Here is an excerpt from Through a Different Lens.

“I am,” stated the grave gentleman as he stood so awkwardly by the pianoforte, “ill qualified to recommend myself to strangers.”

Elizabeth heard these words somewhat distractedly, as she perused the selection of music being placed before her by the colonel, his friendly eyes matched by an engaging grin. Still, something in the more serious man’s demeanour caught her attention. She had never liked him, but she had always found herself fascinated by him. She sat up a little straighter and listened as Fitzwilliam Darcy continued to explain himself. He spoke, as always, formally, somewhat stiffly, as if acting the part of himself in the grand production of his life.

“I certainly have not the talent which some people possess,” said he, “of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.”

Suddenly, with these words, Elizabeth felt her world shift slightly. With every syllable that haughty man uttered, isolated facets to his perplexing character seemed to realign themselves and come into focus. She stared at him as if seeing him for the first time. He cleared his throat and stepped back an inch, standing quite still and averting his eyes from her curious gaze. A flood of recollections and half-formed ideas cascaded through her consciousness. She stared up again at the stiff and serious man half hiding in the shadows, wondering if her suppositions might be correct.

“Miss Bennet?” the genial colonel sounded concerned. “Are you well?”

Realising she had been distracted most grievously from her supposed task of selecting music, she uttered a rushed apology. “Indeed, very well, Colonel Fitzwilliam. Forgive my wandering mind, please. I have no excuse but that your cousin, Mr. Darcy, suddenly reminded me of somebody I know, and at that realisation, you might have knocked me down with a feather, it was so surprising.”

The man under discussion drew closer, edging towards the pianoforte where the two were conversing with such easy repartee. “Knocked you down with a feather?” he asked in some confusion, “How could that possibly be? While you are by no means a large woman, your weight most certainly surpasses that of a bird’s plumage, even that of an ostrich or a peacock. To knock you down would surely take something much more substantial than a mere feather!”

Exchanging an understanding smile with the colonel, Elizabeth replied evenly, “It is an expression, sir, meaning to surprise greatly. Is this, may I ask, but one example of why you feel discomfort joining others’ conversations?”

The man nodded. “Indeed it is so. I seem, always, to miss the meaning of what is being said. Not everybody is as compassionate as you, to explain the nuances I do not catch.”

Thank you, Riana, for sharing your inspiration and excerpt. I’m looking forward to exploring this different take on Darcy. Congratulations on your new release!

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About Through a Different Lens

A tale of second glances and second chances

Elizabeth Bennet has disliked the aloof and arrogant Mr. Darcy since he insulted her at a village dance several months before. But an unexpected conversation with a startling turn of phrase suddenly causes her to reassess everything she thought she knew about the infuriating and humourless gentleman.

Elizabeth knows something of people who think differently. Her young cousin in London has always been different from his siblings and peers, and Lizzy sees something of this boy’s unusual traits in the stern gentleman from Derbyshire whose presence has plagued her for so long. She approaches him in friendship and the two begin a tentative association. But is Lizzy’s new understanding of Mr. Darcy accurate? Or was she right the first time? And will the unwelcome appearance of a nemesis from the past destroy any hopes they might have of happiness?

Warning: This variation of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice depicts our hero as having a neurological difference. If you need your hero to be perfect, this might not be the book for you. But if you like adorable children, annoying birds, and wonderful dogs, and are open to a character who struggles to make his way in a world he does not quite comprehend, with a heroine who can see the man behind his challenges, and who celebrates his strengths while supporting his weaknesses, then read on! You, too, can learn what wonders can be found when we see the familiar through a different lens.

This is a full-length novel of about 100,000 words.

Buy on Amazon

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About the Author

Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

Riana’s second novel, The Assistant, was awarded the Jane Austen Award by Jane Austen Readers’ Awards, and her debut novel, Teaching Eliza, was listed on a list of 2017 Favourite Books on the blog Savvy Verse & Wit. For both of these honours, she is delighted and very proud!

You can follow Riana’s blog, and join her on Facebook and Twitter. She loves meeting readers!

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Giveaway

Riana is generously offering five copies of Through a Different Lens to readers world-wide as part of the blog tour! Just sign up through this Rafflecopter link to enter.

If you prefer not to use Rafflecopter, send Riana an email message (riana.everly@gmail.com) or leave a note on her Facebook page, and she’ll add you to the list for the draw.

Entries close at midnight Eastern time (GMT-5) on February 10, 2019, so the winners have something to read on Valentine’s Day. Good luck!

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Jan 21 ~ Diary of an Eccentric
Jan 22 ~ Author takeover at Historical Reads and Research with Leila Snow
Jan 23 ~ Rose Fairbanks
Jan 24 ~ Interests of a Jane Austen Girl
Jan 25 ~ Babblings of a Bookworm
Jan 28 ~ So Little Time…So Much to Read
Jan 29 ~ My Love for Jane Austen
Jan 31 ~ Half Agony, Half Hope
Feb 5  ~ From Pemberley to Milton
Feb 6  ~ More Agreeably Engaged
Feb 8  ~ Austenesque Reviews

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It’s a pleasure to welcome Don Jacobson back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate the latest installment in The Bennet Wardrobe series, The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament. Don is here to talk a little about the series, as well as share an excerpt and a giveaway. Please give him a warm welcome!

Historical Context in The Bennet Wardrobe

Jane Austen was a young lady and, later a mature woman, of her times. Like most authors, Austen’s work rose from a clear understanding of the social milieu that had begun to mature by the time the industrialization of Great Britain was entering its second half century at about 1805. As such, Austen was writing for an equally-informed audience, albeit one that was awfully content to cling to the old ways.

Every one of the Canonical books in informed by their own historical contexts. The history was not necessarily overt but was akin to the wash a painter applies to the canvas prior to beginning work.

In Pride and Prejudice, while he is seeking to become a gentleman by purchasing an estate, Bingley, none-the-less, retains ownership of the textile mills because the British Army needed uniforms, tents and other woven goods. Pemberley was a money machine for Darcy because the price of grain was skyrocketing as that same army demanded food. Captain Wentworth ranged the high seas seizing French Warships and Spanish gold. Colonel Fitzwilliam was often off-stage fighting Napoleon’s hordes. The Bertram fortune rooted in sugar grew exponentially as rum was the easiest way to concentrate and transport sugar from the Carib. The British Navy consumed an immense amount of rum…and likewise the general population.  The Methodist Dissent runs throughout the background whenever a young, but sensible, clergyman appears.

As an historian, I habitually seek to establish context to add a deeper layer of understanding to events and personalities. Thus, when I began to compose the Bennet Wardrobe stories, t’was a natural activity to utilize historical references to establish the meaning character motives and actions.

For instance, while I could have had Mary find her own way to grow beyond the moralizing woman, I preferred to have her emerge by reading Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman. In the climax of the book, the Peterloo Massacre of 1819 reshaped both Mary and Lydia’s lives

One of my favorite scenes from both The Keeper and The Countess Visits Longbourn has Kitty as an elderly lady addressing Georgiana Darcy in the chocolaterie of two French émigrés. She mentions the Deauville of 1812…a Breton resort that will grow over the next 150 years. Again, a bit of context that resonates throughout the next five books.

Historical personages also can be found throughout the books.  From Pierre-Auguste and Aline Renoir to Sigmund Freud in Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque to Lord Byron, Mary Godwin, and Percy Shelley in Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess, those who stood astride the times logically join in our story to help advance the plot and allow the characters to grow.

My most audacious insertion of historical figures appears in the most recent offering, The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament. From the United States High Commissioner overseeing the American Zone of Occupation, General Lucius Clay, to the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Winston S. Churchill, key historical figures offer context to forward the deeper—and often noir—themes of the broader story. I have also appropriated a hero of the hidden War, Miss Eileen Nearne, as a love interest in this novel. Finally, a few royal personages play an important role in our little drama.

I also ask my readers to suspend disbelief and accept that the Universe of the Wardrobe is a lose parallel of the reality which we experience. I have adopted Robert A. Heinlein’s concept of solipsism which asserts that the act of writing fiction creates the universe in which the story exists as a reality: essentially, all myth is reality and all reality is myth.

Thus, you will note a few references made by characters to “the biography of the Bennets written by Miss Austen.” I have chosen to treat Pride and Prejudice as a fictionalized account of persons—the Bennet Family, the Darcys, and the Bingleys—who truly existed. This allows Mrs. Bennet to carp about the book in Chapter XXX of The Avenger: 

“That impertinent Miss Austen who wrote of our family certainly did not help my cause in any manner: showing me in just one light, and the worst one, at that.  Of course, she never met me and only drew her portrait based upon second-hand information, probably supplied by jealous mamas of the ton.”

I hope that my readers will allow my slight bending of some closely-held and loved notions about the Canon as The Bennet Wardrobe continues. I look forward to your comments.

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This excerpt from The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament is © 2018 by Don Jacobson. Any reproduction—either in print or electronic media without the expressed written consent of the author is prohibited. Published in the United States of America.

Chapter XVIII

The Boardroom of the Bennet Family Trust, August 3, 1947

Not a single soul in the Board Room, beside the two aristocrats with whom he had broken bread, had ever beheld Bennet in the flesh.

The assembled Bingleys, Gardiners, Fitzwilliams, Bennets, and Darcys collectively gasped. More than one immediately looked toward the Dowager Countess’ portrait of The Founder as if to confirm his identity.

Bennet could recognize the varying and diluted images of his daughters in the countenances of the persons throughout the room. A few seemed to have a touch of his old friend Sir William Lucas’ distinctive brow and nose. Not that he dismissed most out-of-hand, for they were his kith and kin, but they were clearly from lines that had branched away from the Bennet tree after his time. The potency of their connection to him would be filtered through the closeness of his ties to Matlock and Pemberley.

However, there were two ladies who defied this sort of easy classification: one older, obviously the mother, and the other, her daughter from all appearances and clearly just having attained her majority. They stood slightly off to one side of the great room. Each was dressed elegantly, if in an understated manner, complete with hats, and matching clutch handbags. The elder sported a brown fur neck wrap which added a touch of chic even on this unseasonably steamy summer’s day. Her daughter was wearing a suit which was redolent of cotton superfine and reminded Bennet of a military uniform but without all the frippery and frogging so favored in his time. She was also without gloves but sported an impressive diamond betrothal ring on her left hand.

Both seemed to hearken back to a trunk of the family which he had not expected to encounter this far into the future. Unaccountably, they were being accorded a considerable amount of deference; not a single soul presumed to approach them. Matlock and Pemberley, the Earl and Countess, hovered slightly behind the two, acting remarkably like a pair of border collies minding their sheep.

Never being one to allow a lady, let alone two, to be relegated to lonely contemplation along the figurative chair rail, Bennet genially approached the pair and offered, “Good morning. I fear that you must forgive a man of my advanced years for presuming upon you without an introduction. However, I must admit that your appearance here today has somewhat surprised me. You look quite like my old solicitor, the man whose name graces the letterhead downstairs. I am speaking of Mr. Frederick Hunters who would have been my Great Uncle.

“Are you, by chance descended from the Hunters line of the Bennet Family?”

He felt his grandson, the Earl, fly up by his side. The man’s gulp indicated that he feared his Grandfather may have committed a terrible faux pas.

Bennet quickly continued, “Before Lord Matlock flays me, please forgive my forwardness. I am used to country manners, well actually, more like country familiarity…and both those probably have not aged well in the past 150 years. Might I presume upon Earl Fitzwilliam’s graciousness to introduce me properly?” He glanced at his doppelgänger and lifted a brow.

The Earl said nothing until the older lady moved her handbag from its double handheld shield-like post in front of her torso. Giving the man a nod, she said in a melodic voice that was redolent of drawing rooms and racing meets, “Yes, please, Earl Matlock, introduce us to your honored guest.”

Bennet swore that he expected his grandson…he is M, for Heaven’s sake…to run a finger under his all-too-tight collar before he completed this British tradition.

“Ma’am.  Mr. Bennet, may I have the pleasure of introducing you to Mrs. Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon of Balmoral, Scotland and her daughter, erm…” he stalled on the second introduction.

The young woman quickly took pity on the older man and stepped forward, thrusting her left hand out, saying, “Thank you, Uncle Thomas. Elizabeth Windsor. Without a doubt you must be Mr. Thomas Bennet of Longbourn Estate in Hertfordshire. Your portrait does not do you justice. T’is truly an honor to meet The Founder.”

Bennet, in his surprise, automatically reached out and shook her proffered digits. Several sharp intakes of breath echoed around the room.

Her mother hid a smile and a small chuckle behind a gloved hand, and then turned to the Countess and said, “I declare, Georgie, it must be something with girls named Elizabeth. If I recall the tale correctly, your Lizzy greeted her German in that manner the first time they met on the sand by the Beach House.”

The Countess, now in her 45th year replied with all of the dignity she could muster, “You have the right of it ma’am. Recall that my daughter was lately a WREN driver while yours in the ATS could lubricate—how do the Americans call it—oh yes, a deuce and a half. I imagine our egalitarian cousins schooled the girls’ manners from time to time!”

Miss Windsor looked at the two before riposting, “Now Mama, Aunt Georgie; you know the world is changing. Just as Mr. Bennet discovered, if we stand on ceremony and privilege, nothing will ever be accomplished.

“And, you did teach me to respect our elders,” she said with a devilish twinkle in her eye, “I doubt if there is anyone here who will stand superior to a man birthed in 1760! And, yes, Mr. Bennet, we are of the Hunters’ line.”

She leaned in toward Bennet and whispered conspiratorially, “Your biography was required reading for all of my generation. Why, I am unsure.”

Bennet found that he enjoyed the young lady’s spirit, reminding him as it did of his own beloved Elizabeth.

Mrs. Bowes-Lyon gently, but firmly, broke up the singular conference saying, “Lord Matlock, I do believe you called this emergency meeting of the board. Might we attend to that? I fear that my daughter and I have other claims on our time this day. Later, we had hoped to rejoin my husband in Scotland. The shooting is particularly good this year.”

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About The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament

Bennet looked at his wife’s swollen lips, softly bruised from several deeply loving kisses, and her flushed complexion, as alluring when gracing the countenance of a woman of four-and-forty as that of a girl of nine-and-ten. He was one of the lucky few to have fallen in love with the same woman at both ages.  

Thomas Bennet, Master of Longbourn, had always counted himself amongst the few educated gentlemen of his acquaintance. But, he had to travel over 120 years into the future to discover how little he knew about the woman sharing his life.

Once again, the amazing Bennet Wardrobe proved to be the schoolmaster. Tom Bennet’s lesson? Mrs. Bennet had been formed especially for him. Yet, t’would be the good lady herself who taught him the power of the Fifth and Sixth Loves: Redemption and Forgiveness.

Fanny Bennet also would uncover deep wells of courage and inspiration as she stood by her man’s side in the bleak years after World War II. Together they would lead their descendants in pursuit of the beast who had wronged every member of the Five Families.

The Bennet Wardrobe series stands alone

The Avenger takes us on a new journey through The Bennet Wardrobe – an alternate universe rising from Don Jacobson’s vivid imagination and based upon the immortal Pride and Prejudice. The Avenger is another important step leading to the culmination of this enchanting trip: one that has drawn us into its reality to travel side-by-side with richly sketched characters. Each book has left us wanting more.

The Bennet Wardrobe series stands alone as a unique result of originality focused on beloved characters as they move—and grow—through surprising plotlines.

Lory Lilian, author of Rainy Days

Buy on Amazon

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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:

Don Jacobson’s Amazon Author’s Page

Goodreads Author’s Page (with blog)

Author Website (with blog)

Twitter  (@AustenesqueAuth)

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Giveaway

As part of the blog tour, Don is generously giving away 4 copies of The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament. You must enter through this Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

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12/28 Babblings of a Bookworm Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

12/29 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl Review, Giveaway

12/30 My Love for Jane Austen Guest Post, Giveaway

01/03 My Vices and Weaknesses Author Interview, Giveaway

01/04 So Little Time… Guest Post, Giveaway

01/05 My life journey Review, Excerpt Giveaway

01/07 More Agreeably Engaged Character Interview, Giveaway

01/08 Diary of an Eccentric Guest Post, Giveaway

01/09 From Pemberley to Milton Excerpt, Giveaway

 

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The holiday books just keep on coming, and today Anngela Schroeder is here to celebrate the release of her Pride and Prejudice-inspired Christmas novella, An Unexpected Merry Gentleman. This is such a sweet story! I read it in one sitting, in front of my Christmas tree with a cup of peppermint-flavored coffee, and it was just perfect! I will be sharing my review later this week, but in the meantime, Anngela is here with an excerpt (one of my favorite scenes from the book!) and a giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!

Anna, thank you so much for allowing me to share An Unexpected Merry Gentleman with your readers this holiday. This little book has been a goal of mine for quite some time, and I was finally able to buckle down, push life aside and get it written. 🙂

I love Christmas stories, and the idea of a ‘warm fuzzy’ quick read on a cold December night, reminds me of the spirit of Christmas. Add our favorite couple and the idea gets even better! But, I was busy. I has just finished Rational Creatures from the Quill Ink Collection, and Christina Boyd asked me if I wanted to be part of Yuletide, a collection of short Christmas stories to benefit the Great House of Chawton. Throw in a husband and 3 sons? There was no way. But, things changed when I opened up an ‘old’ file on my phone.

About a year ago I was looking for pictures for another book I was working on, and I came across the image I used for my cover. I LOVED the little girls, and how one was a blonde and the other a brunette. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be darling if this was Jane and Lizzy as little girls?” That’s when the idea of the possibility of a Christmas story was hatched. However, I wanted it to be short–­–something you could read lying in bed after wrapping presents, or waiting for the cookies to come out of the oven. A story which would show that much growth and development of our two main female characters would take way too long. Plus, how would they meet Mr. Darcy as a child, then transition to adulthood? Nope. The little girls needed to be Jane and Lizzy, all while NOT being Jane and Lizzy. Hence, the Miss Gardiners were born.

One of my favorite things about writing this story was little Emily Elizabeth Gardiner, and how she was a younger and less refined version of her cousin Elizabeth. I love how she says things we are certain Elizabeth said at a young age. Well––we actually hope Lizzy would have said. It was fun crafting scenes where she interacts with the Darcys and to watch her insight as a child blossom on the verge of adult comprehension.

It was difficult choosing an excerpt to share with your readers today, as I wanted to give them a taste of Darcy and Lizzy together, but still highlights the precociousness of Emily and the sedateness of her sister Miss Victoria (Tory) Gardiner. I hope they enjoy this little ‘Christmas gift’ from An Unexpected Merry Gentleman.

He could tell the girls were attempting not to bubble over with enthusiasm, especially the younger who most resembled Elizabeth. And with her chocolate curls, she could be a childhood portrait come to life. Miss Mary asked his sister about her music preferences and he noticed Elizabeth’s curious eyes on him.

“What are you looking forward to the most during this holiday season, Miss Emily?” he asked.

“Oh, to be sure, the stairs at Netherfield.”

“The stairs?”

“Oh, yes,” she said with eyes that mirrored Miss Elizabeth’s. “Cousin Jane tells us Netherfield is such a beautiful home and there are two sets of long stairs. I have never slid down banisters before.”

“Emily,” Elizabeth said, gently reproaching the girl.

“But it is true, Lizzy,” she whispered back. “We only have one banister, and Longbourn’s banisters are not long enough. I’m sure it is a jolly time.”

Her innocent face looked up at him, and it was all he could do to not tussle her hair. “If I might make a confession, Miss Emily,” he said, leaning in and lowering his voice, “my home, Pemberley, has four banisters.”

“Four banisters?”

“Yes.” He glanced at Miss Elizabeth and winked. Watching her start, he continued, “And I have slid down all of them.”

“All of them?” the young girl asked with adoration in her eyes. “Would you slide down them with me at Netherfield?”

“Emily!” Elizabeth said, reaching for her hand to stifle the eagerness of her cousin. “I believe it is time you and Tory return to the nursery.”

“That was not ladylike, was it?” she whispered to Mr. Darcy.

A small smile edged at the corners of his mouth. “My sister and I look forward to becoming better acquainted with you and Miss Gardiner.”

“Thank you.” She curtsied and ran out of the room, little Miss Gardiner following at a demure pace.

I do hope the excerpt has enticed you to check out the full novella of An Unexpected Merry Gentleman available on Amazon, and on Kindle Unlimited. I have also included the opportunity to win a Kindle version of the book, which is open internationally. Have a Merry Christmas, and a happy holiday!

Giveaway

Anngela is generously offering a Kindle copy of An Unexpected Merry Gentleman to one lucky reader. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway is open internationally through Sunday, December 16, 2018. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Anngela, for being my guest today. I hope my readers enjoy An Unexpected Merry Gentleman as much as I did! I can’t wait to share my thoughts later this week. Stay tuned!

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I just love seeing how many Pride and Prejudice-inspired holiday books have been published. They’ve certainly been keeping me busy every December for the last few years, and this year is no exception. Today, Victoria Kincaid is here to share an excerpt from Christmas at Darcy House to celebrate its audiobook release, and there’s a giveaway as well. Please give her a warm welcome!

Hello, Anna, and thank you for having me back to visit!  I love just about every part of the Christmas season (except for the crowds when shopping), and one of the most fun parts is writing and reading Christmas stories.  I published Christmas at Darcy House last year—after long imagining what would happen if Darcy and Elizabeth encountered each other in London after the latter fled Netherfield.  This year, I am pleased to announce the release of an audiobook version of Christmas at Darcy House, narrated by Julia Eve.  I hope you enjoy the excerpt below! 

Mr. Darcy hopes Christmastime will help him to forget the pair of fine eyes that he left behind in Hertfordshire.  When Elizabeth Bennet appears unexpectedly in London, Darcy decides to keep his distance, resolved to withstand his attraction to her.  But when he learns that Wickham is threatening to propose to Elizabeth, Darcy faces a crisis. 

For her part, Elizabeth does not understand why the unpleasant master of Pemberley insists on dancing with her at the Christmas ball or how his eyes happen to seek her out so often.  She enjoys Mr. Wickham’s company and is flattered when he makes her an offer of marriage.  On the other hand, Mr. Darcy’s proposal is unexpected and unwelcome.  But the more Elizabeth learns of Mr. Darcy, the more confused she becomes—as she prepares to make the most momentous decision of her life.

It’s a Yuletide season of love and passion as your favorite characters enjoy Christmas at Darcy House! 

Elizabeth hurried to the edge of the terrace, leaning against the balustrade to better view the Marlowes’ extensive garden.  Naturally, nothing was in bloom at that time of year, but the bare tree branches and ornamental bushes were decorated with a delicate covering of new snow.  Torches had been placed at intervals along the garden paths, providing a gentle golden illumination.

“How enchanting!”  Elizabeth sighed.  “A fresh layer of snow can make anything lovelier.  Do you not think so?”

Mr. Darcy regarded her with a most peculiar expression on his face; his lips were slightly parted and his eyes wide.  He appeared, for all the world, as if he gazed upon a most wondrous and unusual sight.  But he was staring at Elizabeth, not the snow.

“Is the snow not beautiful?” she prompted again.

“Oh yes, yes!”  His eyes shifted toward the snow-covered garden below them.  “Yes, it is quite pretty.”

“Pretty” was a completely inadequate word to describe such a sight, but Elizabeth was not of a mind to quarrel with him.  She turned her gaze back to the garden and the snowflakes illuminated in the torches’ glow.  Fortunately, the terrace was protected from the elements by a roof of sorts, and she was only struck by an occasional wayward snowflake.  “I wish I could have a painting of such a scene!” she exclaimed.  “It is altogether charming.”

“Indeed,” he breathed. The wonder on his face would have been more appropriate if he had never before seen such a sight.  “Do you know, Miss Bennet, I do not believe I fully appreciated the beauty of snow before this moment.”

At least he was finally gazing at the snow.  Why was the man so vexing?  Most of the time he seemed so distant, but occasionally he would demonstrate how he was not only attending to what Elizabeth said but also taking it to heart.  And it was most frustrating.  It complicated her propensity to dislike the man and caused her to rethink her opinion of him.  As she grew better acquainted with him, the more he puzzled her.

Only when Elizabeth felt a chill did she recall why they were outside: Mr. Darcy had professed a desire to say something to her.  What could it be?  Customarily there was only one reason a single man would ask to speak privately with a single woman.  Her momentary panic was quickly quelled.  Mr. Darcy would no more think of marrying Elizabeth than he would consider marrying his cook.

Now she was quite curious about the topic of his desired conversation.  And quite cold.  “Mr. Darcy, you wished to speak with me about something?” she prompted, wrapping her arms around herself.

He started as if in a reverie and slowly focused his eyes on her.  “Yes.  Yes, I did.  I…”  His voice trailed off as his eyes fixed on her…lips?  What an odd man.

Still, Elizabeth could not help noticing that he cut a fine figure in his well-tailored coat.  And a wayward dark curl over his forehead gave him a completely undeserved rakish appearance.  I could brush it away from his forehead.  How would it feel beneath my fingers?  Merciful heavens!  How could she entertain such thoughts about Mr. Darcy of all people? Her eyes sought the safer sight of the garden.

Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering an audiobook code for Christmas at Darcy House to one lucky reader! To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Saturday, December 15, 2018. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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