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Hello, my friends! I’m excited to welcome Jack Caldwell back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate the release of his latest novel, Persuaded to Sail. I’ve loved all of the books in the Jane Austen’s Fighting Men series, so I can’t wait to get a chance to read it. Jack is here to share an excerpt from Persuaded to Sail, and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. Please give him a warm welcome!

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Greetings, everybody. Jack Caldwell here.

Anna was kind enough to allow me to announce the publication of my latest work, my long-promised sequel to Jane Austen’s final novel, Persuasion, PERSUADED TO SAIL!

PERSUADED TO SAIL, a sequel to Persuasion and Book Three of Jane Austen’s Fighting Men, is a companion novel to my other novels in this series, THE THREE COLONELS and THE LAST ADVENTURE OF THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL. This means that all three books happen at the same time (the 1815 Hundred Days Crisis and the Battle of Waterloo) and many of the characters know each other in my expanded Austenseque universe. The cross-overs include Persuasion, Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice.

Persuaded to Sail, my tenth published novel, stands on its own, but your reading pleasure will be enhanced by including the other books.

So, let’s kick things off. Below is an excerpt from the first chapter. While Persuaded to Sail picks up almost immediately after the events in Persuasion, there are other forces at work. Forces that will influence the Wentworths’ honeymoon cruise to Bermuda.

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March 1815, London

Deep in the government building, an office clock chimed the first hour of the day. The gloomy room was illuminated by a single candle on one side of a large desk. Heavy curtains covered the single small window. The desk groaned under the weight of numerous papers, books, and memoranda. Opposite the candle sat three glasses and a crystal decanter, half filled with amber liquid. The only other furniture in the office consisted of a few chairs.

Behind the desk, a gentleman—a peer by appearance—sat quietly, scribbling upon the paper before him. It was not the first time he had worked into the wee hours, and it would not be the last.

He looked up at the knock upon the door. It was only for form’s sake—his guest showed himself a moment later without leave. The gentleman swallowed his annoyance at the man’s impertinence.

“Were you seen? Were you followed?” the gentleman offered in lieu of a welcome.

“No,” his guest answered.

“Are you certain?” The gentleman eyed the expensive clothing the other man wore.

“Of course. That is why I am still alive.”

“Very fortunate for you.” The gentleman’s sentiment did not sound entirely sincere. “Laurence cannot say the same.”

“What? How?”

His guest was rarely shaken, and the gentleman almost enjoyed his reaction to the news. Almost.

“The newspaper says a carriage accident, but we know better. Too convenient for our French friend—far too convenient.”

“Devil take it,” the guest muttered while glaring at the floor. “Laurence was a good man.” He looked up at the gentleman with intense, hooded eyes. “Do you wish for me to look into this matter?”

“Do not concern yourself. Others will deal with those responsible.”

“Who?” the guest demanded, his face hard and angry.

“Carter and Smythe.”

The guest growled, “Carter is a fool!”

“That is why Smythe accompanies him. Do you doubt his abilities?”

“As an assassin? No.”

“How kind of you to approve.” The gentleman’s reply was filled with sarcasm before he caught himself. “I believe Laurence was a friend of yours. My sympathies.”

His guest’s face transformed into its usual bored demeanor. “Thank you, m’lord.”

The gentleman’s lips twitched; his guest rarely recognized his title. He reached for the crystal decanter. “A drink, then, to poor Laurence.”

The guest received his glass with a suspicious look. “It is not often you condescend to share your brandy.” He took a sip. “Ah, the good cognac. The excellent, illegal cognac.” He lowered his glass. “What is it you want me to do?”

The gentleman took no offense; the man knew many things about his dealings. And he knew many things about his guest’s dealings. Their situation was balanced on a knife’s edge.

“Since you were such a good friend of Laurence, it occurred to us you should take his place.”

His guest blinked, took another sip of cognac, and then set the glass down on the desk. “Exactly, what was Laurence’s place?”

“Bern, Switzerland. Laurence was on his way to board ship at Yarmouth when he was…intercepted.”

“And you wish me to take his place.”

“Yes.”

“And to wear his target upon my back.”

The gentleman shook his head. “Now, now, none of that. We have taken steps to protect you. We plan a diversion. There is no danger at all.”

“Do not insult my intelligence, m’lord,” the guest said slowly. “You would be very happy to be rid of me.”

“My dear sir!” cried the gentleman insincerely. “You have done great service for the Crown. We would not put you in any peril.”

“By sending me to Bern? It is a viper’s nest.”

“True, but we are certain you can take care of yourself.”

The guest sat back in his chair. “And if I refuse this assignment?”

The gentleman’s eyes grew cold. “You would not dare.”

The two men spent some time staring at each other. Finally, his guest broke the silence.

“When shall I be allowed to retire from this…business?”

“When we have no more use of you. Your talents are unique and of great importance to us.”

“Yes, my talents,” the guest said sadly. “My gift and my curse.” He shook himself. “Very well. I suppose you have some papers for me?”

The gentleman pointed to two packets on his desk. “This one contains your traveling papers.” He indicated the smaller of the two. “The other should not leave this building.”

“I understand.” The guest gazed at the larger packet. “I shall return tomorrow. It should not take more than a couple of hours.”

“Come disguised,” the gentleman ordered. “Not dressed like a dandy.”

“Of course. Now, pray tell me of this diversion that should safeguard me.”

The gentleman went into great detail about the plans that had been drawn. The guest’s frown revealed his dislike of some of its aspects.

“Must you use Tomlinson?” the guest asked. “He is but a babe.”

“I agree, but his resemblance to you is remarkable, particularly dressed in your clothes.”

“Our Lord watch over him,” his guest murmured.

“It is late. Get some sleep, and I shall see you in the afternoon.”

The guest took the smaller of the two packets, rose from his chair, and made for the door. Over his shoulder, he asked, “You did not say what ship I shall board at Portsmouth.”

“Did I not? Forgive my oversight.” The gentleman glanced at his papers. “HMS Laconia.”

~~~

PERSUADED TO SAIL, a sequel to Persuasion and Book Three of Jane Austen’s Fighting Men, is available from White Soup Press in paperback and Kindle. EPUB versions will be available later in the year.

BUT, since I’m a nice guy, I will give away a copy in your choice of print, Kindle, or EPUB! Just leave a comment below. The giveaway will be open through Saturday, May 23, 2020. Good luck!

(Print copy is only available to the continental U.S. Sorry. Blame the Post Office.)

~~~

Thanks, Jack, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new release!

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I am delighted to welcome Jennifer Redlarcyzk back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of A Mother’s Touch, a Pride and Prejudice-inspired short story collection. Jen is sharing a special excerpt in celebration of Mother’s Day, and I hope you all enjoy this glimpse of a young Fitzwilliam Darcy. Please give her a warm welcome!

Anna, I’m so happy to be back visiting your blog today with my Mother’s Day Anthology, A Mother’s Touch. This book is a collection of seven stories inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. See Lady Anne through the eyes of her daughter, Georgiana, in Lady Anne’s Quilt. Experience the relationship young Fitzwilliam has with his mother in An Act of Kindness and Our Special Day. Then join Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth and discover how wonderful it is to have Lady Anne’s influence in their lives as they become parents in Our Future.

Since Mother’s Day is just around the corner, I thought your readers might enjoy a little trip to the past with young Fitzwilliam and George Wickham. In this scene from Our Special Day, ten-year-old Fitzwilliam is going on a picnic with his mother while his father is gone for the day. Let’s see what our young lad is thinking as he waits for his dear mama.

After the phaeton was loaded, Fitzwilliam waited patiently in the foyer for his mother to come down the stairs. Although he loved to go on an adventure with George Wickham, he was glad that his childhood friend had gone into Lambton with his own father today and would not be accompanying them.

For some reason, George always had a way of turning an adventure into something dangerous or a situation where he, Fitzwilliam, got into trouble. It was not much more than a week ago that the boy had finished serving his punishment for their last disastrous escapade.

That particular day the afternoon had been warm and sunny when Fitzwilliam and George Wickham returned from their daily ride. Walking back from the stables to the house, George noticed two snakes sunning themselves on top of some cut logs piled against the side of the wood shed. The curious boys could not resist taking a closer look. Although the snakes slithered under the logs when the boys approached, that did not stop the two adventurers. They began to dislodge log after log until they came upon a small nest of smooth snakes.

Thinking it would make an interesting study, Fitzwilliam took hold of one of the snakes by the back of its head and held it up. “I need to take this snake to the Nature Room so I can make some notes in my journal. George, will you please put the logs back and join me?” he called out, not waiting for an answer as he began running towards the back of the house.

George was not pleased to be left with the task and grumbled while he haphazardly threw the logs back on the pile. “What makes you so special, Fitzwilliam, giving orders as though you have already inherited? Humph!”

Hurriedly entering the Nature Room from the outside entrance, Fitzwilliam knew just where to look for a holding cage. After securing the snake inside, he quickly took out his journal and began making notes and sketches of the reptile.

Not long after, he was joined by George who idly strolled in and draped himself over the edge of the table. Taking little interest in what Fitzwilliam was doing he remarked, “I simply cannot understand why you must make drawings and write about every single creature you find in that old journal. It is so boring. Would it not be more fun to take the snake down to the laundry and scare the washerwomen?”

“No, George. It would not. And as the future Master of Pemberley, I forbid it.”

“Why is it that every time I get a great idea you challenge me with that Master superiority? What makes you any better than me?”

“I never said I was superior, George. But Papa says that because I will one day be the Master, I must begin to take responsibility where the estate is concerned.”

“You know, Fitzwilliam, I would be a far better Master than you. I am two years older for one thing. Furthermore, I am far handsomer and will have much more success with the ladies.”

“I care nothing about ladies,” he flatly said. Do you not remember how silly those Bennington girls were when they came here last month with their father? They tittered and whispered and were not in the least bit interesting.”

“Well, you were not exactly friendly. You just sulked around looking at the floor. I do not think you said more than three words to those girls the whole time they were visiting.”

He shrugged. “I had nothing to say. Besides, a gentleman has far better things to do than placate young ladies.”

George let out a roaring laugh. “What are you saying? Miss Bethany was stunning. Did you not notice her long flaxen curls and how her eyes fluttered every single time I spoke with her? Fitzwilliam, are you even listening to me?!”

“Not really. I have a lot of work to do here if I am going to put this snake back before afternoon tea. I promised my mama I would visit with her then.”

“If you say so. I for one cannot take any more of your study. I shall see you later, Master Fitzwilliam! I am going in search of my own adventure.” George laughed with abandon as he left the Nature Room.

Continuing on for another hour or so, Fitzwilliam drew pictures and studied the movements of the snake, making appropriate notations in his journal. The snake was moulting and he was able to secure a piece of loose skin for later study under his mother’s microscope. After examining the snake until the last possible moment, he quickly put everything away and then returned the snake to the nest before joining his mother. Fitzwilliam knew that he should alert Mr. Reynolds about the snakes, but he wanted one more day to study his find before the staff dismantled it.

In retrospection, he should have realised the snakes’ nest would be too tempting for his friend George to ignore. After Fitzwilliam left the nature room, George snuck back to garner one of the collection boxes with the intention of extracting all of the snakes to carry-out his great idea. Early in the evening, George placed the box of snakes close to the entrance of the hen house, opening the lid just enough for them to slither out of. Finding a place to hide, he eagerly waited for the fun to begin.

When the hens were alerted to the presence of the snakes, the coop turned into complete chaos. By the time one or two of the workers came to investigate the commotion, the hens were clucking frantically with feathers flying in every which direction. As soon as the snakes were spotted, panic took over. In the rush to catch the reptiles and secure the hens, a lantern was carelessly set aside and subsequently knocked over causing the straw on the floor to catch fire. Fortunately, no one was injured, although nothing could be done to save the hen house.

James Darcy was not pleased when he learned of the disaster. He was sure the fire must have been caused by some form of negligence and wanted to know who was responsible. Fitzwilliam had accompanied his father to the site, as did George and his father. When Fitzwilliam saw the partially burnt collection box lying by what was left of the wooden door, he immediately looked to George with a furrowed brow and knew what had happened. George shrugged when he saw Fitzwilliam’s glare and bolted in the direction of the stables.

Fitzwilliam ran after him and caught up with George just outside of the barn. His father had told him that even though he was yet a boy, as young Master, he was also responsible for the estate and those who were under his charge. While George was his friend, Mr. Wickham was an employee of the estate. Fitzwilliam would have to insist that George come with him, and the two of them would make the confession together.

“George Wickham! Why did you let those snakes loose in the hen house? My father is going to be very angry when he finds out.”

George frowned and then stood boldly. “Why does he have to find out? It was just an innocent prank. I really did not mean for any harm to come to the hens.”

“George, the hen house is completely destroyed! People could have been hurt putting out that fire. You and I are going to talk to my father, NOW!”

Laughing out loud George chided, “And who is going to make me? Is it you, Master Fitzwilliam?!

“YES!” Without waiting, Fitzwilliam took a flying lunge at George and the two began fighting as if their lives depended upon the outcome. In the end, the boys were so exhausted that they could hardly move from where they lay on the ground.Finally, Fitzwilliam grabbed George by the hand and pulled him up. “Come on, George. You know that we have to tell.” George groaned, holding onto his side as they continued back to the house in silence.

Both James Darcy and Jeremy Wickham were in the study going over the damages and discussing plans to rebuild the structure when their two dishevelled sons appeared at the doorway. Upon seeing his son, James stood up from behind the desk with a very cross expression on his face.

“What is this, Fitzwilliam?”

The boys entered, and Fitzwilliam began to tell his father the story of the snakes. Although George had ultimately been the cause of the damage, Fitzwilliam took the majority of the blame upon himself.

“Sir, I am truly sorry. It is my fault. I knew of the snake’s nest and decided against telling Mr. Reynolds because of my own selfish interests. Had I spoken up when we found the snakes, this disaster would not have happened.”

Both fathers were very disappointed in their sons. As a punishment, the boys had to assist with the clean-up and rebuilding of the hen house, and once that was completed, they would spent the remainder of their free time confined to their respective living quarters for the following two weeks.

I hope you enjoyed our little journey to the past and I would love to hear your thoughts about both Fitzwilliam and George. Your comments will enter you in my giveaway for one of TWO eBooks of A Mother’s Touch. The giveaway will be open through May 16, 2020. Thanks so much for stopping by, and if you have a chance, please take a look at my Pinterest page where I have 74 pictures for this book.

Jen Redlarczyk ♫

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

To grab your copy of A Mother’s Touch, visit Amazon or Books2Read to buy from other ebook stores. Happy reading!

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I’m so glad to welcome Monica Fairview back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of Fortune and Felicity. It’s been a while since I’ve had the pleasure of reading one of Monica’s Pride and Prejudice variations, so to say I’m excited about this book would be an understatement. Monica is here today for an amusing chat with some friends…I’m sure you’ll recognize them. 🙂 Please give her a warm welcome!

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I’m delighted to be paying a social call on Anna at Diary of an Eccentric, and to have the chance to see some of my friends here, old and new. With all the anxiety in the world around us, it is wonderful to be able to share the pleasure of talking about books and about the more sedate world of Regency England. There is nothing like a book to soothe the soul and take us away from the burdens of everyday life.

Before I start, let me ring for my Earl Grey tea and settle down to have our conversation.

I’ve been asked to tell you a little bit about a book called Fortune and Felicity. I am more than happy to answer some questions.

Ah, I see there are several people here who have something to ask. Just allow me a brief sip of my tea before I attend to you.

You can’t wait, Mrs. Bennet? Very well. I will drink my tea after I’ve answered your question.

Question from Mrs. Bennet: It’s been seven whole years, and I still haven’t forgiven Lizzy for not marrying Mr. Collins. And then she had to marry a navy captain, who was completely useless, and inconveniently drowned at sea. What’s to become of Lizzy, without a penny to her name? *Mrs. Bennet wipes her brow with her lace handkerchief.

Calm yourself, Mrs. Bennet. Lizzy is a resourceful young lady. She has applied for several positions as a governess. With so many nieces and nephews, she is very experienced in taking care of children. I do believe she will make an excellent governess. Of course, it would have been helpful if you and Mr. Bennet had ensured she was taught by a governess in order to have mastered certain skills like languages and painting, but I am sure a good position will come her way.

Would you like me to pour you some tea, Mrs. Bennet. No? You are having problems with your nerves? I understand. Perhaps a seat near the window will calm your agitation.

Now, where was I?

Question from Jane: Why is Lizzy so obstinate? Does she really think it would be more comfortable taking up a position in a stranger’s household than living with us? It is so convenient for us to have her here. The children adore her, and she spares me the trouble of having to scold them all the time.

You have to understand, Jane, it isn’t easy being a dependent. Much as Lizzy loves looking after the little ones, she has to strike out and find her own way in the world. Surely you must see that she can’t live with you for the rest of her life?

Question from Charlotte Lucas: Why doesn’t Lizzy visit me anymore? Ever since Mr. Collins and I settled in Longbourn, I have the feeling she has been avoiding me.

Well, Charlotte, you have to admit it would be rather painful for Lizzy to visit you at her former home, knowing that you are now the mistress of the property, and not Mrs. Bennet. She has many happy memories there, you know.

Question from Lizzy to herself: Am I being extremely foolish to leave the safety of Jane’s household to face a very uncertain future? If Mr. Darcy offers me a position as a governess, will I find myself in a very awkward situation, living in Pemberley?

The real question, Lizzy, is do you believe Mr. Darcy is an honorable gentleman? There is nothing in his past behavior to suggest otherwise, and if he has promised to limit his contact with you, surely there should be no problem? Pemberley is huge. You could spend months there and not run into him. You will be on your side of the house, and he will be on his.

Question from Mr. Darcy: Is Elizabeth a threat to my peace of mind? Am I taking a huge risk by inviting her to live under my roof? After I have recovered from that terrible proposal, is she a danger to me in any way?

Mr. Darcy, I’m afraid Lizzy is always going to be a danger to you. There are ways, of course, to handle the situation, and it’s important for you to keep your distance. You will have to ask yourself whether there is any chance your feelings for her will resurface, and that is a question I can’t answer at this time.

****

There is a draught in here, and I need to fetch my shawl, but I’ll leave you with a short excerpt to read while I’m gone. This scene comes just after their first encounter when Elizabeth is out.

Elizabeth watched Mr. Darcy as he returned the way he came, the hazel stems swishing as he pushed his way past them. He was so mercurial, his moods shifting from one moment to another like fast-moving clouds. He had clearly regretted that rare moment of intimacy.

She felt a sense of loss at his retreat. She chided herself for feeling that way. What did she expect? Very briefly, she had forgotten that he was Mr. Darcy, master of Pemberley, and had thought of him as a friend, but of course, he was not. She felt as if a door had slammed in her face. From one moment to the next, he had changed so completely, it was almost as if they hadn’t laughed and talked together. He had turned back into the same Mr. Darcy she had first met in the ballroom – the arrogant gentleman who had thought himself too good for Meryton, and who thought the assembly was beneath him. He was her employer. She may be a gentleman’s daughter, but she had fallen a long way since then.

Yet, as he disappeared out of sight behind the ruined wall, she couldn’t shake off the feeling that he looked very lonely. She turned away, impatient with herself. If he was lonely, it was surely by choice. It was he who had walked away, after all.

****

Thank you, once again, Anna, for inviting me to partake of tea with you. I’m looking forward to conversing with my other friends in the comments below.

It was my pleasure! And thank you, Monica, for being my guest today and for providing such entertaining conversation! I hope my readers enjoyed it as much as I did.

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About Fortune and Felicity

In this Pride & Prejudice variation, Elizabeth and Darcy have a second chance to get things right. Will they be able to come together this time, or will pride intervene yet again?

Seven years after Darcy’s disastrous proposal, Darcy is in need, not of a wife, but of a governess for his young daughter. Imagine his surprise when he discovers Elizabeth Bennet on the list of possible candidates provided by the employment agency. The question is, should he take her on as a governess, or would he be playing with fire?

Elizabeth Bennet is forced by her reduced circumstances to take on a position. However, when Mr. Darcy invites her for an interview, she is embarrassed and humiliated. How could she possibly live under the same roof as the man she had rejected so strongly seven years ago?

Whatever decision she makes, there will be a high price to pay… one way or the other.

Buy on Amazon

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About the Author

Monica Fairview writes Jane Austen variations and sequels. After graduating from the University of Illinois, she worked as a literature professor and then as an acupuncturist in Boston before moving to London.

Monica loves anything to do with the nineteenth century, and obsessively follows every period drama she can find. On rainy days, she loves to watch ‘Pride & Prejudice’ (all adaptations), ‘North & South’, ‘Cranford’, or ‘Downtown Abbey’.

Among Monica’s Kindle best-selling novels are Mysterious Mr. Darcy, the Darcy Novels trilogy, two books in the Darcy Cousins series, and the quirky futuristic P&P inspired Steampunk Darcy. She has also published several traditional Regencies.

Apart from her avid historical interests, Monica enjoys reading fantasy and post-apocalyptic novels, but avoids zombies like the plague. She loves to laugh, drink lots of tea, and visit Regency houses, and she is convinced that her two cats can understand everything she says.

Connect with Monica: Blog | Austen Variations | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway

Monica is generously offering an ebook copy of Fortune and Felicity to one lucky reader (U.S. or U.K. only). To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Saturday, May 9, 2020. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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It’s my pleasure to welcome Jayne Bamber back to the blog today to celebrate the upcoming release of her latest Austen mashup, Outmatched. All of Jayne’s variations so far have been exciting and unique, and Outmatched appears to be no exception. I hope you all are as intrigued as I am by the excerpt. Please give Jayne a warm welcome!

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Something strange is going on at Mansfield Park, and the Bertrams mean to bring their mischief to the doorstep of their Dashwood relations at Norland. But what does this mean for Fanny Price?

Hello, dear Janeites! It is a pleasure to be back at Diary of an Eccentric to tell you all about my upcoming release, Outmatched, coming to Kindle on May 8th. This is my fifth novel, and by now many readers may now my penchant for intrigue, surprises, and alternate couplings. This book promises all that and more in a fusion of Mansfield Park and Sense & Sensibility that turns everything we knows about some of Austen’s most beloved characters upside down.

I will have more to say about the Dashwoods in future posts throughout my blog tour, but today the spotlight in on the Bertrams. Their story opens just after Sir Thomas returns from Antigua, and just as in canon Sir Thomas takes notice of the changes to Fanny Price since he went away. However, Sir Thomas is harboring a dreadful secret that could alter the futures of all his family – and Fanny Price in particular.

The excerpt I would like to share with you today is the first glimpse of Jane Austen’s most underrated heroine, with some hints of what is to come. Though her future may seem uncertain now, one thing is quite sure – this visit to Norland will change the course of her future forever….

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Fanny Price ended her day in a greater degree of distress than she had ever experienced, since her earliest days of coming to Mansfield as a child. After the initial shock of being transplanted from the home of her youth, she had by and by begun to feel her position secure enough; she expected never to leave. Hearing that her uncle meant to bring her to Norland, among cousins who had never taken notice of herself, her parents, or her siblings – cousins who were by all accounts very grand – it was not the sort of news to put her at ease. Having been acquainted with the news amidst company had been difficult, even to one as accustomed as she to concealing her feelings.

The matter of putting her forward – whatever that might mean – had been touched on again at dinner, for by then it was quite resolved that they would all go to Norland very soon. Her panic increased, for among all the conversation and planning, she had lacked the courage to inquire what she most wished to know – was she to return with them when the family came back to Mansfield? Or did this journey portend some new and uncertain future for her?

After the family dined, the animated chatter in the drawing room afforded her some opportunity to slip away to the East Room. The space had formerly been used as a school room, but since the governess had left them, the room was considered by all to belong to Fanny. Here were her plants and books and little objects of comfort; Mrs. Norris would not allow Fanny a fire of her own, but it was cozy enough on most occasions merely for the peace it afforded Fanny.

Tonight, there was none to be found, and all the pleasure of her many hours whiled away in the East Room felt like a comfort that might very soon slip into her distant memory. Her uncle had been heavy with his praise of her since returning to England. This alone had surprised Fanny, and the notice made her uncomfortable. She could neither conclude on her own, nor muster the temerity to inquire, what Sir Thomas might intend for her now, but there was a rising fear in her heart that he meant to be rid of her.

It was true that John Dashwood was her cousin by blood, for his father had been brother to her mother and aunts. Yet he was twice her age, and had taken little notice of her when last they met. She had been a girl of twelve or thirteen, and still so daunted by everything at Mansfield, and everybody so high above her. What could he, his wife, and mother-and-law possibly want with her, much less do for her? What strange notions had Sir Thomas in mind? Surely he could not think that whatever improvement he had perceived in her appearance – a frightening sensation on its own – might raise her prospects enough to bring her into the notice of virtual strangers.

She paced the room for a half an hour or more, her thoughts increasingly wretched, and every moment she wished Edmund would come. He was always so mindful of her absence from the family circle, and was often coming after her here, when something or other caused her to withdraw to her favorite place.

And yet, Edmund had been acting strangely all day. He had spoken harshly to his father on more than one occasion, both in the drawing room and over the course of their family dinner. He was all barbs and brooding, and it was very unlike him to be so long out of humor.

Beset by another cause for alarm, Fanny began to agonize over what had caused Edmund such distress, and why he had not sought her out to share his troubles, as he had always done before. It occurred to her that his problem and hers might be one and the same – whatever her uncle’s intention for Fanny might be, perhaps Edmund could not like it, and could not speak to her of the matter.

Amidst such heavy woes, Fanny was late in hearing the door open and the soft footfalls on the floor; she looked up in some surprise to find Julia lingering in the center of the room. “Oh!”

“I thought I might find you here,” Julia said. She went and sat in the window seat and peered out at the twilight before beckoning Fanny to join her.

Fanny’s habit of obliging her cousins was too strong to be broken, even under such duress. She sat at the other end of the window seat, and Julia moved closer. “Well, Fanny, what do you think of this Norland business? I cannot like it at all.”

Fanny could not remember the last time Julia had asked for her opinion on anything of greater importance than a bit of ribbon or the state of the weather. Her hands fidgeting in her dress, she merely replied, “It was most unexpected.”

“Exactly so! I cannot think why Papa should wish to travel at all – and so far! He has only just come home. He might have let the theatrical go forward, if he wanted some amusement.” Julia folded her arms and huffed, leaning back against the window casement in a childlike pout.

As a poor and dependent relation, Fanny could not bring herself to question her uncle’s decision; indeed, this was the very substance of her own quandary. But no more could she confide such a thing to the cousin who had not her trust, who had really never endeavored to speak so candidly with her before. No, Fanny could speak freely to none but Edmund. “I wonder what he thinks of it – Edmund, I mean.”

“Why, you heard him – he is all in favor of it! I cannot think why that should be, either. He is never cross with Papa, and I am sure he cares as little for Cousin John as the rest of us. You must remember his Fanny – Mrs. Dashwood, I mean. Vulgar and rude is how I recall her! Mrs. Rushworth said he turned his own sisters out of the house when Uncle Henry died. Well! If our Dashwood cousins are at Norland, I shall take every chance of slighting Fanny Dashwood for them.”

Fanny knew not what response to make, though she, too, felt some sympathy for the Dashwood girls. She recalled playing with the two eldest once when they were very young – they had been kinder to her than Maria and Julia, and that they had been so ill-used made Fanny feel a sense of kinship with them. Of course, far it be for her to slight the mistress of Norland, when she knew she would be expected to show some gratitude at being brought there at all. She glanced at the door, willing Edmund to walk through it, but to no avail.

Julia needed little encouragement to go on. “I am sure you do not wish to be going there, either, Fanny. And why should you? Why should any of us! Oh, Mamma may wish to see the home of her youth, but she will not like it once we are all in our carriages, and I daresay we shall all be very uncomfortable then.”

Though Julia meant the discomfort of traveling, Fanny felt sure that the entire ordeal would be very uncomfortable for her, but all the more so once they had reached their destination. She had heard little of Norland from her mother and aunts beyond the fact that it was very large and very grand. Her own mother had been raised there, too, though she had fallen so low in the world that Fanny wondered if her mother would ever be welcome back there – it was rather to be wondered at that any Price should be admitted to such a house.

“We shall have to be allies, you and I,” Julia said, and took Fanny’s hand. “You are too good and sweet to say so, but I know you wish to go as little as I. My, but your face when Papa addressed you! I cannot think why he would make you so uncomfortable, for no one but Maria really wishes to be going at all. He ought not force anyone who does not like it, and I am sure we would be much happier to stay here. But I see you are too afraid to agree with me. No matter, it shall be our little secret.”

Even this discomfited Fanny. She could not like to have secrets of such a nature, to be an ungrateful malcontent. Surely Edmund would talk her out of such feelings. Fanny let slip a little sigh of woe, and Julia embraced her with one arm. “Do not fret, my little friend. We are of one mind, and we shall keep together, you and I. I am sure it will be vastly unpleasant – we must find some pleasant room just like this to hide away at Norland, for we shall be better company for one another than anybody else. If Papa means to put you forward, I am sure he is thinking of one of Fanny Dashwood’s brothers – can you imagine how odious they must be?”

“Surely not!” Fanny raised a hand to her mouth, sorry to have spoken with a vehemence that surprised and shamed her.

“I am certain of it. I can well imagine a pair of gentlemen with her same beady-eyed look, gauche and over-trimmed, and full of self-importance. We shall have to look after one another.”

Fanny’s alarm intensified. Of course Sir Thomas would think to marry her off, for all his talk of her improved looks and womanly virtues. She had been a fool to think they would keep her at Mansfield forever.

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Thanks for tuning in to this stop on my blog tour – there will be a chance to win a free ebook and another excerpt at every stop along the way!

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Thank you, Jayne, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your upcoming release!

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Hello, my friends! I’m thrilled to welcome Traci Borum back to Diary of an Eccentric on the release day for Love Starts Here. I’ve been a fan of Traci’s since the first book in her Chilton Crosse series. I’ve loved every book in that series and can’t wait for the next to be released. But in the meantime, I’m looking forward to reading Love Starts Here, which is a sweet and clean Hallmark-style romance and the first book in her new Morgan’s Grove series. Traci is here today to share an excerpt from the book. Please give her a warm welcome, and let’s wish her a happy release day!

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In this excerpt from Love Starts Here, Jill McCallister meets Rick Wright, the handsome and mysterious businessman.

As she made her way down the lengthy driveway, Jill heard a rustling noise and turned to view the source—once again, the front porch’s Christmas tree branches were shivering.

Jill quickened her pace and drew closer, calling out, “Lucille. Need some help?” She remembered the six-foot ladder perched against the edge of the house yesterday and knew Lucille had intended to finish the tree all by herself.

As Jill climbed the porch steps to the top, the shivering subsided. A man emerged from behind the tree, dusted off his hands, and stared down at her. His face was rugged and handsome, with at least a three-day beard, and when he locked eyes with Jill, she could sense the hint of a smile underneath.

“I’m not Lucille.” His voice was husky and resonant, with only the slightest trace of a Southern accent.

“Clearly.” She chewed her bottom lip, suppressing a grin.

The man, who stood as tall as the tree itself, wore faded jeans and a flannel shirt. She assumed he was either a helpful neighbor or a hired handyman, paid to finish the tree. But something about the intensity of his dark eyes looked slightly familiar.

He took a couple of steps closer, his boots scudding along the porch’s planks, then pushed his hands into his pockets. “You’re looking for my grandmother.”

Grandmother. The familiarity made sense. “You’re Rick,” she said then noticed his confusion. “I saw you yesterday on Lucille’s wall,” she explained with her hands, realizing she wasn’t making much sense. “The photos in her kitchen, I mean. She pointed out your graduation picture when she was making cookies.”

“Mm,” he said with a nod.

“Anyway, I’m Jill.” She pointed at herself, pushing down a light, unexpected nervousness, then stuffed her hands inside her jacket pockets.

She’d had time by then to study the details of him more closely—the deep-set brown eyes that matched his thick brown hair, the way his broad shoulders filled out the flannel shirt. He was no longer the gawky twentysomething in the graduation photo.

“She mentioned you last night,” Rick said. “The B&B mix-up…”

“Your grandmother was a lifesaver. I would’ve been driving blind around Austin, otherwise, trying to find a place to stay. Are you here for the holidays? Lucille said you’d be coming, but closer to Christmas.”

“What else did she say about me?” His smirk was jovial. He was surely used to a proud grandmother talking about him to perfect strangers. “She wasn’t expecting me. I had some time off and wanted to surprise her. I came in late last night.”

That explained the slam of a car door, which had briefly woken her the night before.

“I’m making up for lost time. I usually do this over Thanksgiving.” He pointed toward the half-trimmed tree.

“I caught her trying to decorate it herself, yesterday. In fact, that’s how we met.” Jill noticed the boxes of ornaments sitting to the side. “Can I help? It would make the job go faster.”

Rick shrugged. “Why not?” He moved toward the tree while Jill unlooped her purse from her shoulder and set it down on the porch ledge.

“I’ll hand you the lights,” Rick offered, returning to his original position behind the tree. He extended a hand toward Jill, and she took the string of lights from him, brushing his fingers in the process. She draped the bulbs along her side of the tree then passed the rest toward Rick, whose hand awaited on the other side. They worked silently and steadily for a few minutes. Then Rick swirled the lights up to the top, where Jill couldn’t reach. He clearly didn’t need a ladder.

Tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, Jill leaned down toward the box and chose an ornament to hang. As she approached the tree again, the multi-colored lights suddenly flashed on, and she let out a small gasp.

“Do they all work?” Rick asked from behind the tree.

“Yes. Beautiful.”

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Thanks, Traci! I can’t wait to find out what happens next! Happy release day!

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About Love Starts Here

Feeling her life is at a standstill, Jill McCallister jumps at the chance to visit Morgan’s Grove, the town founded by her great-great-great grandfather. Eager to discover her roots and do research for a new book, she drives from Colorado to Texas, excited to meet the inhabitants of her grandfather’s legacy.

Jill immerses herself in the charming community, enjoying the residents and their quirky traditions. When she meets the mysterious Rick Wright, she almost forgets she’s sworn off men, but she’s not willing to risk getting too involved, especially since she will be returning home in a few weeks.

When the winter festival kicks into high gear, Jill and Rick are thrown together to work on a project, and sparks soon fly. Although she fights it, Jill can’t help falling hard for his soulful eyes and flirty smile. But as tempting as Rick is, he’s hiding something, and the mystery writer in Jill is determined to discover his secret.

With the clock running out on her time in Morgan’s Grove, Jill needs to decide what “home” really means to her.

Buy on Amazon

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About the Author

Traci Borum

Traci Borum is a writing teacher and native Texan. She’s also an avid reader of women’s fiction, most especially Elin Hilderbrand and Rosamunde Pilcher novels. Since the age of 12, she’s written poetry, short stories, magazine articles, and novels.

Traci also adores all things British. She even owns a British dog (Corgi) and is completely addicted to Masterpiece Theater–must be all those dreamy accents! Aside from having big dreams of getting a book published, it’s the little things that make her the happiest: deep talks with friends, a strong cup of hot chocolate, a hearty game of fetch with her Corgi, and puffy white Texas clouds always reminding her to “look up, slow down, enjoy your life.”

Connect with Traci on her website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Amazon Author Page | Book Bub Author Page

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Check out my reviews of Traci’s previous books:

Painting the Moon

Finding the Rainbow

Seeking the Star

Savoring the Seasons

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Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Rose Fairbanks back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Mr. Darcy’s Grieving Wife.

I’ve enjoyed reading and editing Rose’s books for the last several years, and Mr. Darcy’s Grieving Wife really touched me. Having lost my own father when I was around Elizabeth’s age, and just as suddenly as Elizabeth lost Mr. Bennet, Elizabeth’s grief felt real to me. And my husband was my rock during that time, just like Darcy was for Elizabeth. That being said, Rose does a great job keeping that grief from overwhelming readers, balancing it out with plenty of romance.

Rose is here to share two excerpts from Mr. Darcy’s Grieving Wife, and I do hope you enjoy them (and the entire book) as much as I did. Please give her a warm welcome!

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First, thanks so much for having me back, Anna! I appreciate all the hard work you did on editing this book and the chance to share two excerpts with your readers today.

Mr. Darcy’s Grieving Wife is a marriage of convenience story. As with many of them, Mr. Bennet dies, placing Elizabeth in a position of choosing marriage to save her family. However, I try to put my twist on it, too. Darcy’s proposal is just after Elizabeth and Jane’s stay at Netherfield and before Elizabeth has met Mr. Wickham. As such, Elizabeth hasn’t totally hardened herself against Darcy. It’s also a marriage of convenience for Darcy. I thought it would be most interesting to share excerpts from both points of view.

Excerpt #1 (Elizabeth) The day after Mr. Collins arrives at Longbourn.

Just as Elizabeth and the others reached the edge of Meryton, a servant from Longbourn came running after them.

“Oh, misses! Come quick! The master has fallen ill, and my mistress is sick with worry.”

Elizabeth felt her knees grow weak. It was unlike Sally to exaggerate, and she was not new to Mrs. Bennet’s antics. This must be serious indeed.

“Do not worry, my dear cousins,” Mr. Collins rushed to say before anyone else could speak. “I shall escort you home, and I will pray for your father’s recovery. If, however, the Lord sees fit not to answer that prayer, you will find I will not be an unkind master.”

He bowed to Elizabeth, and a terrible suspicion filled her. Had Mr. Collins meant for her to be the olive branch between the families? How dare he suggest it so callously! Paying him no heed, she turned to her sisters. Jane’s lip trembled while Kitty and Lydia clutched their eldest sister’s arms.

“Come, let us hurry.” Elizabeth put her arm around one sister, hoping the rest would follow.

“Has the surgeon been sent for?” she asked the maid.

“Aye, Miss Lizzy.”

Once home, Elizabeth spoke with Jane on how to direct the members of the family. Jane and Mary would sit with Mrs. Bennet while Kitty and Lydia were told to keep quiet. Elizabeth waited with her father, who was reclining in his library. Unfortunately, Mr. Collins chose to do so as well.

Elizabeth trembled as she saw how pale her father was. He could not walk or see very well. He could not raise his left hand and complained of a terrible headache.

The surgeon came and examined Mr. Bennet while Elizabeth waited outside the door. She questioned the man as soon as he exited, Mr. Collins hovering just over her shoulder.

“I fear it is the very worst, Miss Bennet. He has had an apoplexy and shall not recover. You must prepare yourselves.”

Elizabeth’s knees buckled, and she clutched the wall for support. “Wh-when?”

“It may be days, certainly not weeks.”

“Is there nothing you can do for him?”

“It is beyond my assistance now. I have left laudanum for the pain, and if you need more, Mr. Jones has a healthy supply. There is no need to measure the dose. He will not live long enough to become addicted.”

With a trembling lip, Elizabeth nodded at the surgeon, who chose to see himself out. Someone would have to tell her mother. Calling for a servant, she had Jane brought down. Elizabeth delivered the news to her eldest sister and asked if she would inform Mrs. Bennet.

“I shall have Hill draw up her salts and all the other things that soothe her. We ought to write to my uncle Gardiner and tell my aunt Phillips.”

Elizabeth agreed. “Send Kitty and Lydia to Aunt Phillips. Mary may write the Gardiners. That leaves you to sit with Mama, and I shall watch over Papa.”

Once Jane had left to see to her duties, Elizabeth turned to Mr. Collins, who had attached himself to her side like a leech. “Perhaps you can walk to Meryton with my sisters?”

“I do not think it would be appropriate for me to do so. My position is here with you.”

With a clammy hand, he reached for hers. Instantly, Elizabeth’s stomach revolted, and she attempted to draw it back.

“Cousin Elizabeth, I had not planned to speak so early, but you must see there is little time to waste. Lady Catherine does not support unwed rectors, and I entirely agree with her. I am conscious, too, of the hurt my now imminent inheritance will cause you and your sisters. I came to Longbourn to find a wife. I will admit you were not the first object of my interest, but I am very pleased with your conduct and attractiveness. I will not hold it against you in the least that you come to me with little money. I know you will honour me all the more for my condescension.”

Elizabeth could scarcely breathe. She could never ever marry Mr. Collins—or any man she did not love.

Until the unthinkable happened and her father was mortally ill, that is. Without allowing the man to finish, she raced out of the room. In a matter of minutes, she found herself knocking on the door to Lucas Lodge, requesting her friend Charlotte to join her for a walk. Elizabeth needed sensible advice, and she knew Charlotte would be the one to give it.

Excerpt #2 (Darcy) Darcy overhears Elizabeth’s conversation with Charlotte as they discuss Collins’ proposal. He uses the opportunity to speak with her.

“Miss Bennet, do you realise that you are consoling me about long ago hurts while you are in such a mournful position? You have a truly generous heart!” He looked at her intently and gently took her hand in his. “It is this reason as well as your intelligence, your lively wit, playful manners, and perfect loveliness that I find myself captivated by you.”

Darcy searched Elizabeth’s face for a sign of encouragement. Her eyes had widened when he first reached for her hand, and she seemed to be in a state of disbelief as he continued his speech. He supposed that she had felt unworthy of his notice. “It may surprise you to hear that I have decided to end my bachelor’s existence. I determined to do so just before arriving at Netherfield and had planned to devote time in the upcoming season to finding a wife. My estate needs heirs, and I wish to end the schemes of my relations once and for all.”

Elizabeth stared blankly at him. Deciding it was best to illustrate just how much he admired her, he brought her knuckle to his lips before continuing his unexpected proposal. “Why should I wait for London when a pleasing alternative is before me? Instead of offering for a titled miss, I find myself needing to be in your presence, to experience your joy for life.”

Once he had begun, he found he did not wish to stop speaking of his feelings. Indeed, they surprised even him, but he meant every word. “I have a very deep affection and regard for you. I have never felt such admiration for another woman before. Please be my wife. I am convinced you are the only one who can be the perfect mistress for my home and sister for my dear Georgiana. Let me care for you and your family. Please be my companion for life.”

Darcy waited with bated breath. He proposed only a marriage of convenience. He admired Elizabeth but would not call it anything more. Still, his heart raced, and he felt the same anticipation one feels before pushing their horse to jump over a fence for the first time. He was part dread, part elation.

Well, what do you think Elizabeth will say? Will she need any convincing to accept Darcy?

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About Mr. Darcy’s Grieving Wife

There was only one rule for their marriage. No falling in love.

Elizabeth Bennet thrives on finding the follies in life. The most beloved daughter of her father, she has lived a relatively charmed life with little to cause her pain or regret. That all changes the morning her father collapses. Forced to marry to save her family, Elizabeth’s only choices are men she can never love.

Needing a wife to end his overbearing family’s schemes, Mr. Darcy has settled upon the vivacious Elizabeth. When he overhears she is considering marriage to another man, he is inspired to act quickly, and soon finds himself in a marriage of convenience.

The agreement is supposed to be devoid of sentiment and love, suiting them both at first. However, respect soon blossoms to love for Darcy while Elizabeth remains convinced her heart is permanently broken. Suddenly, a match that was supposed to be convenient becomes painfully inconvenient. Can a marriage overflowing with such differing emotions be maintained, or will there be no other choice for Darcy and Elizabeth but to live separate lives?

Mr. Darcy’s Grieving Wife is Rose Fairbanks’ latest stand-alone novel. If you like heroes with unwavering devotion, stories that pull on your heartstrings, and romance amidst life’s pains, then you will enjoy this story full of heartache and joy.

Grab your copy today and settle in for an unforgettable read as Darcy and Elizabeth navigate their anything-but-convenient marriage.

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About the Author

Rose Fairbanks

Born in the wrong era, Rose Fairbanks has read nineteenth-century novels since childhood. Although she studied history, her transcript also contains every course in which she could discuss Jane Austen. Never having given up all-nighters for reading, Rose discovered her love for Historical Romance after reading Christi Caldwell’s Heart of a Duke Series.

After a financial downturn and her husband’s unemployment had threatened her ability to stay at home with their special needs child, Rose began writing the kinds of stories she had loved to read for so many years. Now, a best-selling author of Jane Austen-inspired stories, she also writes Regency Romance, Historical Fiction, Paranormal Romance, and Historical Fantasy.

Having completed a BA in history in 2008, she plans to finish her master’s studies someday. When not reading or writing, Rose runs after her two young children, ignores housework, and profusely thanks her husband for doing all the dishes and laundry. She is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America.

You can connect with Rose on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog.

To join her email list for information about new releases and any other news, you can sign up here.

Facebook fans! Join Rose’s reading groups:

Rose’s Reading Garden

Jane Austen Re-Imaginings Series

Christmas with Jane

When Love Blooms Series

Pride and Prejudice and Bluestockings Series

Loving Elizabeth Series

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Giveaway

Rose is giving away 2 (two) ebook copies of Mr. Darcy’s Grieving Wife. You must enter through this Rafflecopter link. Requirements for entry are following Rose on Facebook or commenting on this post. Good luck!

Thanks, Rose, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new book!

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Hello, dear readers! My guest today is Melanie Rachel, who is here to share an excerpt from her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, I Never Knew Myself. This one sounds fantastic, and after reading the excerpt, I’m sure you’ll all agree. Please give Melanie a warm welcome!

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In I Never Knew Myself, Elizabeth Windham, who is Lady Matlock’s niece and goddaughter, is abducted from her family’s home in Derbyshire.

Writing this story required that I do a little research on what we know about memory in children. I learned there is a cognitive process we all go through that psychologists call “childhood amnesia,” which means that once we pass a certain age, we do not retain episodic memories (everyday events) from the ages of two to four, and do not retain most of our memories before the age of ten. While there are always exceptions to the rules, this appears to be the norm.

Therefore, when Elizabeth in INKM arrives at Longbourn at nearly five years old, she remembers everything—but nobody is listening. As she grows up, she loses most of those childhood memories, only recalling things in patchy, disconnected ways and in her dreams.

This excerpt shows how it begins. I hope you enjoy it!

Longbourn, Autumn 1796

Elizabeth sat at breakfast longer than was her wont. The day was sunny and warm for the time of year, and Aunt Bennet eventually insisted they go out of doors to relieve her nerves.

The girls moved out beyond the garden and the home farm to the stream. They spoke of baby Mary, and Elizabeth mentioned her brother John was two years old.

Jane gave her a reproving look. “Papa says that John must be a boy you met on the ship. Was he nice?”

Elizabeth’s lips drew down in a scowl. “He is my brother.”

Jane’s brows pinched together. “Did you not say that Robbie was your brother?”

“He is.” Elizabeth folded her arms across her chest. “They both are.”

Jane smiled. “I see,” she said in a mild voice that made Elizabeth want to stamp her feet. She hoisted herself up on a boulder and gazed out on the water unhappily. She kicked her heels against the rock, first one, then the other.

“You will ruin your shoes,” Jane warned. “Mama will be upset.”

Elizabeth gazed unhappily at her dull brown shoes. The dragon man had taken her pretty red ones. She sighed noisily and stopped swinging her legs. She dropped to the ground and strolled to the water’s edge. She plucked a long piece of grass and placed it on the water, watching as it floated away.

At home, she would have been invited to eat in the breakfast room instead of the nursery. Papa might even carry her downstairs, and there would be a little cake on her plate. Mama would have sung a song just for her. Robbie would be especially nice to her all day long. But then Robbie was always nice to her.

Did Uncle Bennet even know it was her birthday? Papa should have told him. But Papa was in India, wherever that was. And Uncle Bennet did not know about Mama or Robbie or John or Fitzy or Mal or even Willum. Two fat tears ran hot over her cheeks, and she rubbed at them with the back of her hand. She wanted to go home, but they all thought she was telling a story. Everyone was kind to her here, but nobody ever listened.

Melanie Rachel’s I Never Knew Myself is now available on Amazon.

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About I Never Knew Myself

Elizabeth Bennet is living a lie.

She’s known since she was fifteen that she isn’t truly a Bennet, but who is she? Are the people and places that appear in her dreams just a sign of her active imagination, or are they memories of her true family? Could the stories she’d told Jane when they were children not be stories at all?

Fitzwilliam Darcy is reliving a nightmare.

He hasn’t dreamed of “Ellie” Windham in years, but after meeting Elizabeth Bennet, he is reminded of the day little Ellie was kidnapped. And now he is left to wonder whether he is drawn to more than her fine eyes.

When Darcy realizes that Elizabeth and Ellie might be one and the same, he is anxious to return her to the Windhams, and Elizabeth is no less eager to meet her family. But when the idyllic reunion she longed for goes awry, both Darcy and Elizabeth wonder whether it’s really possible to put a broken family back together again.

Can Darcy help Elizabeth find her place in her first family so she can one day join him in his?

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Giveaway

Melanie is generously offering a copy of I Never Knew Myself to one lucky reader: paperback (U.S. only) or ebook (international). To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Tuesday, March 31, 2020. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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

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I’m delighted to welcome Belén Paccagnella back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, When Duty Calls, and to kick off the blog tour. Belén is here to share an excerpt from the book, which I hope you will enjoy reading as much as I did. Please give her a warm welcome!

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Thank you, Anna, for hosting me again on your excellent blog and promoting my new book, When Duty Calls. I had a great time when I stopped here for my first novel, Obstacles, and I’m sure this time will be just as good.

Forced marriage scenarios have always been a favorite of mine. There is something about having our dear couple living together without tolerating each other —like in that week they spend together at Netherfield at the beginning of P&P— that makes us want to see more of that genius verbal sparring Miss Austen was so apt to create. We just want to see them butting heads all the time, sense that sexual tension Elizabeth and Darcy feel, and witness their struggle to repress it.

For this first stop of my blog tour I chose a scene that happens early in the book, in Chapter 5, right after Darcy’s first visit to Longbourn as a betrothed man. He is coming to terms with his sudden engagement, but he is still the same proud Mr. Darcy who hasn’t learned anything about selflessness or empathy. He thinks too highly of himself to understand that he has to try harder if he wants to conquer his bride’s heart. I had many doubts when I wrote this scene because I thought he was being too much of an oblivious jerk. I even asked my editor what she thought about this, if it was too much. Her reply was “you’re fine, this is just male reasoning” (no offence meant to my fellow gentlemen writers!). Well, if he’s an oblivious jerk or just an arrogant fool, it’s for you readers to decide. Have fun!

Darcy’s head rested against the leather upholstery of his armchair, his gaze fixed on the fire that warmed the room. Watching the flames dance inside the hearth always soothed him, more so when savouring the richness of an aged cognac. The goblet with the exquisite Frapin Colonel Fitzwilliam had smuggled from France on his latest military quest was perfect balsam for his restless heart. Lazily, he moved his hand in circles and swirled the golden liquid, freeing its robust scent. Smiling in appreciation, he stretched his legs ahead of him, finally letting go of the tensions of a most trying week.

Undoubtedly, his trip to Longbourn had been successful, much more than he had expected. He had left London with many doubts regarding Elizabeth’s disposition, yet the reluctance he perceived in her upon his arrival—understandable, given the circumstances—reverted as their intimacy progressed. These few days in her society had confirmed to him the compatibility of their dispositions and made him quite hopeful of their future together. The attachment growing between them was undeniable, and he left Meryton with the conviction that he was on his way to win his lady’s affection.

If not for the constant interference of her family and the contemptible behaviour consistently displayed by the mother and the two youngest sisters—Miss Mary, when she did not attempt to play the pianoforte, was quite tolerable—his stay would have been most pleasurable. Elizabeth’s father was an excellent shooting companion, and Darcy would have felt it no inconvenience to expand their acquaintance if not for his insufferable wife and Mr. Bennet’s occasional lack of conjugal decorum regarding his wife’s follies. This conduct he found highly reprehensible and only bore it for Elizabeth’s sake. A husband, no matter how silly and loud his wife was, should never expose her to the contempt of his own children or laugh at her in front of his occasional guests.

Fortunately, all this would come to an end after the wedding. Elizabeth would be removed from Longbourn to his town house and there would be no more Mrs. and Miss Bennets to endure. Once they became husband and wife, Elizabeth would be freed from their undesired influence, and she would be able to centre her attention on him.

Yes, we shall be very happy. Darcy let out a sigh of contentment. Very happy indeed.

“Brother?” Georgiana asked from the door. “You have been so quiet since your return. Is anything the matter?”

“Come here, my dear. There is something I must tell you.” Darcy extended his hand, inviting her to join him. “Forgive me if I have been distant lately.”

Georgiana sat in the armchair opposite his.

“I have important news for you.” Darcy thought this was a great moment to tell his sister about his betrothal. “I am engaged to be married, Georgiana.”

“Engaged? To whom?” The girl was all astonishment. “You are not marrying Anne, are you?”

Darcy chuckled at his sister’s expression. Georgiana tended to knit her brows in a most adorable manner when concerned. “No, dearest, I am not marrying Anne—or Caroline Bingley, if that is what you fear.”

Georgiana exhaled in relief. “Thank heavens!”

“I met a charming young lady during my stay in Hertfordshire,” Darcy elaborated. “Her name is Miss Elizabeth Bennet.”

“Oh yes, I do recall your writing about a certain Miss Bennet. She fell ill, and her sister tended to her. You never mentioned her again, so I thought you had stopped the connexion entirely.”

“Miss Jane Bennet suffered from a cold and stayed at Netherfield for about a week. Her sister Elizabeth came and looked after her.” Darcy preferred not to acquaint his sister with the unpleasant circumstance that led to his engagement. “Miss Elizabeth’s kindness towards her sister and other superior qualities she possesses convinced me she will make a most suitable wife.”

“Do you love her?”

Darcy chose his next words carefully. He could not disappoint her innocent soul. “Dearest, my feelings for Miss Elizabeth go beyond anything I have ever felt before.”

Incurably romantic at her sixteen years of age, Georgiana sighed dreamily. “Oh, William! This is wonderful news! When shall I meet her? Can I accompany you to Hertfordshire on your next visit?”

“My dear, that is also my fondest wish, but I fear this meeting will have to wait until after the ceremony.”

“So, I shall not attend your wedding? Brother!”

“No, darling. You must return to school.”

Georgiana looked at Darcy with renewed adoration. “I have always wanted a sister. I shall be counting the days until I finally meet her.”

“She is desirous to meet you as well. She even expressed so herself. I am most certain you will become close friends once you finally become acquainted. Now, will you play something for me? I have not heard you in some time. That song I heard you practicing this morning sounded very pleasant.”

Georgiana’s countenance brightened, and the siblings walked towards the music room. As he observed his sister at the pianoforte, Darcy reflected on how much she had grown in the past two years. The little girl was now a young lady. These changes had occurred so fast he had barely time to understand them.

Darcy’s experience with the opposite sex was scarce. Though not physically innocent, he was aware of the differences between one night of pleasure and understanding a woman’s heart. His sister was grown and preparing herself to face a society moulded by complex rules and etiquette. It was clear to him that Georgiana needed another of her sex to confide in—to look up to—and Elizabeth was the perfect one to fulfil that role. But, of course, there was a price. While Elizabeth was the embodiment of good behaviour to follow, her sisters exemplified the exact opposite. Miss Bennet was the exception, but Miss Catherine and Miss Lydia’s wildness was something to which Darcy would never expose his dear sister.

No, Georgiana would not meet his bride till after his wedding when he would be at leisure to oversee their friendship. Once Elizabeth was fully under his care and supervision, then everything would be all right in his world.

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About When Duty Calls

The Netherfield ball brings about many changes for the population of Meryton, and more so for the female residents of Longbourn. Mr. Bingley’s departure leaves the eldest, Jane Bennet, heartbroken whilst Mr. Collins’s proposal induces Miss Elizabeth to make a hasty escape. During her flight, she happens upon Mr. Darcy, a gentleman she despises. A moment of solitude in the woods leads to rather improper behavior, and the couple departs with the promise they will tell no one about their minor indiscretion. When their secret is finally uncovered, marriage becomes the only solution to saving Elizabeth from social disgrace. Her other grudges against Mr. Darcy are amplified by resentment and the prospect of spending her life with a man she can never respect. Nonetheless, the marriage takes place, forcing the young couple to deal with their pride and prejudices as husband and wife.

Originally posted online almost twenty years ago, this Regency tale of redemption narrates the struggles of two people, their differences, and their rocky start. But will they succeed in overcoming lies, misunderstandings, and their own errors to finally find love?

Buy on Amazon (U.S.) | Amazon (U.K.)

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About the Author

Belén Paccagnella

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Belén Paccagnella discovered the world of Jane Austen fan fiction after watching the 1995 BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice. In her teens, she lived in Brazil when her family moved to the city of Curitiba due to her father’s work. She moved back to Buenos Aires a few years later, where she studied agronomy but finally pursued a different career and started working in the development and administration of shopping centers.

In 2001, she began writing both Regency and modern stories, adapting the Pride and Prejudice storyline to different backdrops, merging drama, humor, and adventure while creating characters with unique traits. Almost two decades later, she published Obstacles, a modern variation released in 2018 by Meryton Press.

Belén still lives in the suburbs of Buenos Aires where she shares her home with her pets while spending her time working, reading, and writing.

Connect with Belén on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Giveaway

Mertyon Press is giving away 8 ebook copies of When Duty Calls as part of the blog tour. You must use this Rafflecopter link to enter. Good luck!

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

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I am thrilled to be part of the 10th anniversary re-release celebration for Karen M Cox’s Pride and Prejudice-inspired novel 1932. Karen is here to share an excerpt and giveaway with us today. Please give her a warm welcome!

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Thanks for welcoming me back to Diary of an Eccentric!

Tomorrow is the big day—the release of the second edition of my debut novel, 1932, complete with some additional chapters for more Darcy-loving fun!

One of my favorite parts of writing 1932 was the addition of a certain brown-eyed, precocious character, first introduced in this excerpt.

The Bennets have just arrived at the Meryton train station from Chicago. The date is August 2, 1932…

Once they had gathered on the platform, Elizabeth wandered away from the bench where her mother and sisters waited.  

“Lizzy!” her mother called. “Where are you off to, girl?”

“I’m just going to stretch my legs a little. I’ll be right back.”

Elizabeth ambled past the ticket window. Several dozen people were milling about, greeting loved ones or saying goodbye, several clustered together in embraces. The air had a thick, sweet smell, and she became aware of the long, drawled Southern vowels peppering the conversations around her. She turned in amusement to the sound of small voice calling, “Baa-baa.” A little girl, perhaps two years old, was toddling toward the train, waving at some unseen passenger. Corn silk blonde curls swirled around her shoulders. As she neared the edge of the platform, Elizabeth glanced around for the girl’s parents but saw no one coming to retrieve her. The little one had stepped perilously close to the train when Elizabeth sprang forward and caught her hand.  

She squatted down to the girl’s eye-level and smiled at her. “Whoa there, sweet pea. You can’t go over there all by yourself.”

The girl looked at her, curious. “Choo-choo. Baa-baa!”  

“Baa?” Elizabeth asked, amused. “I don’t see sheep anywhere.” She had noticed a chorus of baa’s from the passengers and their families as they stood and waved goodbye to each other.

“Where’s your mama?”

The girl parroted after her. “Mama!”  

Elizabeth picked the girl up, looking around the crowd. She heard a woman’s anxious voice calling, “Ruth! Ruth?”  

A child’s voice joined in. “Ruth!” 

A young woman hurried through the crowd, scanning the platform, frantic. She was dragging another girl along by the hand.  

Elizabeth called to her. “Ma’am, is this whom you’re looking for?” 

The woman stopped, relief washing over her features. She put a hand to her heart and closed her eyes for a quick second. Taking a deep breath, she began moving toward them. Elizabeth set the little girl back on her feet, watching her toddle back to her mother, calling, “Mama!” The woman scooped the girl up into her arms and hugged her fiercely, wrapping a protective hand around her head.  

“Ruth Anne Darcy! You mustn’t run from Mama like that, darling.” She approached Elizabeth, moving the little girl to her hip. “Thank you so much for catching her, miss. She’s quick as lightning. I looked away for a moment and she was gone.”  

A little voice piped up from below. “I tried to tell you, Mama, but you shushed me.” 

Elizabeth looked down into dark brown eyes with long, sooty lashes. Wide-eyed and curious, the little girl stared at her with an unnerving intensity. Her earnest face was framed by a shock of glossy brown hair, red and gold highlights catching the sun’s rays.  

“You watch out for your sister, don’t you?”

The girl let out a dramatic sigh. “I try. But she just gets in troubles all the time anyway.”  

Elizabeth stifled a chuckle and put on a serious-looking face. “I know exactly what you mean. My little sisters are always getting into troubles too.” She looked back at the girls’ mother, who seemed embarrassed at her daughter’s frank assessment of the situation. The young woman’s cheeks were pink in her lean, delicate face. She was about Elizabeth’s height, but thinner, with blonde hair and sad grey eyes. She changed the topic with a shy smile. 

“Are you meeting someone here, miss?”  

“Oh. No, I’ve just arrived. I’ve come here with my family to live.”

“How nice. Do you have children too?”

Elizabeth shook her head. “Ah, no. I’m not married. I live with my parents and my sisters.” She felt a tug on her skirt.  

“What’s your name?” 

“Maggie! That’s a little forward, darling. You haven’t been introduced.” The woman admonished her older daughter, placing her free arm around the girl’s shoulders.

“I want to be introduced, Mama. That’s why I asked her.”

Elizabeth did chuckle this time. “Makes sense to me.” She knelt to look the girl in her big brown eyes and held out her hand. “My name is Elizabeth Bennet.”  

The little hand shook hers. “I’m Maggie. My middle name is Elizabeth, just like yours. I’m Margaret Elizabeth Darcy, and I’m four years old.”

“Good to meet you, Margaret Elizabeth Darcy.” Elizabeth stood up and smiled at the girls’ mother. “Do you live here?”

“Yes, we live on a farm out in the country. The girls are so excited. We’ve come to meet

A loud squeal erupted from Maggie’s lips as she pulled loose from her mother’s hold and ran down the platform, yelling something incomprehensible. The young mother turned, and a smile broke over her face. “There he is!” Ruth was wriggling in her mother’s arms, trying to get down. After being set free, she followed her sister. Elizabeth glanced up and saw a tall, dark-haired gentleman with a small suitcase in one hand. He stopped and smiled at the girls’ squeals and held both arms wide, kneeling and gathering them into a hug.  

“I guess I should go.” The mother turned back to Elizabeth. “It was good to meet you, Miss Bennet, and thank you so much for catching Ruth.”

“I hope to see you again soon.” The woman cocked her head to one side and smiled cautiously at Elizabeth, as though she was deciding if that were indeed a true statement.  

“Goodbye, Missus.…” Elizabeth paused expectantly. 

“Oh,” the young woman said, “I’m Georgiana. Georgiana Darcy.” She began walking backward toward her family, and with a broad smile, she turned around, striding swiftly away. Elizabeth watched as the man gave Georgiana a quick embrace. Georgiana then turned and gestured toward Elizabeth, obviously telling the story of the missing Ruth. The man frowned, and Elizabeth instantly recognized him from the passenger car, three rows behind her family. It was that grim, dour banker! The one who scowled at her and then retreated behind his paper. Amazing how a smile had transformed his haughty expression.

The family turned to go, and Georgiana held up a hand to Elizabeth in a friendly farewell. Lizzy waved back. 

What a sweet little family. The children are precious, and the mother seems nice, if a little shy. But the father! Goodness, he’s rude! 

****

About 1932

“…do anything rather than marry without affection.”
—Pride and Prejudice

During the upheaval of the Great Depression, Elizabeth Bennet’s life is torn asunder. Her family’s relocation from the bustle of the big city to a quiet family farm has changed her future, and now, she must build a new life in rural Meryton, Kentucky.

William Darcy suffered family turmoil of his own, but he has settled into a peaceful life at Pemberley, the largest farm in the county. Single, rich, and seemingly content, he remains aloof—immune to any woman’s charms.

Until Elizabeth Bennet moves to town.

As Darcy begins to yearn for something he knows is missing, Elizabeth’s circumstances become more dire. Can the two put aside their pride and prejudices long enough to find their way to each other?

1932, Karen M Cox’s award-winning debut novel, is a matchless variation on Jane Austen’s classic tale.

Buy on Amazon

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About the Author

Karen M Cox

Karen M Cox is an award-winning author of five novels accented with history and romance, a novella, and several short stories.

Karen was born in Everett WA, the daughter of a United States Air Force Officer. She had a nomadic childhood, with stints in North Dakota, Tennessee, and New York State before settling in her family’s home state of Kentucky at age eleven. She lives in a quiet town with her husband and works as a pediatric speech pathologist.

If you would like periodic bits of authorly goodness delivered to your inbox, be sure to get Karen’s News and Muse Letter. Updates, sales, book recommendations, etc. are yours for the asking.

Follow Karen: Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Pinterest

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Giveaway

To celebrate the 10th anniversary edition of 1932, Karen is giving away a signed copy of the book and some Jane Austen swag: fun notecards from The Quill Ink, What Would Jane Do? book of quotes, and Austen coffee mug (if US winner) or an ebook copy of the book and 25$ Amazon Gift Card (if International Winner – cause #shipping 🙂 You must enter through this link. Good luck!

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Thanks, Karen, for being my guest today, and congratulations on this publishing milestone!

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Happy release day to Cass Grafton! Her newest book, The Cottage in a Cornish Cove, is out today, and she is here to share an excerpt and a giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!

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Thank you so much, Anna (you share a name with my heroine!), for inviting me to be a guest on your blog today!

As you can tell from the book blurb, Anna Redding is making a new home for herself in the Cornish village of Polkerran. She quickly settles into Polkerran life and makes friends with several of her neighbours—other than the distinctly unfriendly and rather irritable man she ran into twice outside her Aunt Meg’s house. Next, she needs to get a job, and she soon hears there’s a typing job going working for a reclusive writer/historian who lives across the cove.

This is what happens when she arrives for an interview and is greeted by the writer’s housekeeper, Mrs Clegg.

~o0o~

Mrs Clegg gestured at the stone staircase rising from the large and lofty hallway. ‘He’s alright. Just has some bad days.’ She lowered her voice. ‘Lovely man, really. Divorced, you know. Nursing a broken ‘eart, we reckons. Never seems to date anyone.’ She shook her head with a sigh.

Anna bit her lip. If he was an elderly, needy, broken-hearted man, he didn’t sound like he’d be much fun to work for. Still, if she didn’t earn a bit of money, she wouldn’t be able to stay in Polkerran.

She looked around full of curiosity as she followed Mrs Clegg across the flag-stoned entrance hall and up the stairs.

‘Ready, dearie?’

They’d come to a halt outside the first door along the landing, and Mrs Clegg rapped firmly on the polished wood and pushed the door aside, gesturing for Anna to enter.

‘Miss Redding, Master Oliver.’

Master Oliver? Anna threw the housekeeper a startled look. Surely she didn’t have to call him that? Mrs Clegg merely smiled warmly at her and then she was gone.

Turning back to face the room, Anna waited. There was no acknowledgement from the man at the large desk under the bay window, which framed a wonderful vista of the sea. As Phoenix had implied, he was formally dressed in a shirt and waistcoat, a suit jacket hanging off the back of his chair. The only sounds were the muted cries of the gulls and the tapping of a keyboard.

Anna looked around the room. It was a good size and had obviously been set up as a home office. Two of the walls were made up of bookcases reaching as high as the cornicing and were stacked with books. How she longed to go and study the spines.

Aside from the desk under the bay window, there was a second, smaller desk and chair by a side window, two armchairs either side of a fireplace containing a roaring log burner, and, to her surprise, a dog and a cat curled up together on the rug. Both raised their heads, but deeming her unworthy of further interest, returned to their dreams.

‘Nice to meet you too,’ Anna muttered under her breath.

‘What did you say?’

Anna’s gaze flew back to the man who’d now risen from his chair to face her and instinctively she took a step backwards.

‘It’s you!’

The grumpy giant raised a derisive brow.

‘Of this I was never in doubt.’

‘I thought you were a gardener. Or a neighbour. Not a…’

The mocking brow rose higher.

‘I, I was simply’—Anna gestured towards the animals—‘admiring your pets.’

The man grunted. ‘The feline isn’t mine.’

Oliver Seymour was as Anna remembered: aside from the grumpiness, good-looking, tall, and broad shouldered, with dark hair and piercing eyes. He wore wire-rimmed glasses today on his Romanesque nose and a sardonic expression.

‘So, you want to work for me.’

Did she? Anna was tempted to say, no thanks. I’ve changed my mind, but then she remembered her wish for a job.

‘You’ll do.’

Anna’s gaze snapped to his. ‘But—but you haven’t asked me anything. Or tested my typing speed or…’ Her voice trailed away under his look.

‘I’m not looking for a conversationalist. You’ll do fine. I can’t imagine you came here for a typing job if you can’t. Mrs Clegg knows better than to suggest it.’ He raised his chin. ‘She said she knew you. Does she?’

‘Yes, of course. She was a friend of my aunt’s. Well, not really my aunt, I just called her that.’ Anna paused. ‘Why does Mrs Clegg call you Master Oliver?’

He didn’t answer for a moment. After all, he’d said he wasn’t looking for a conversationalist.

‘She was in service all her life. I’ve asked her not to, but old habits die hard.’

Anna smiled. ‘I like it. It’s sweet.’

A grunt was the only response to this, and Oliver Seymour turned back and retook his seat.

‘The desk is over there. Go and power up the Mac and I’ll give you the first chapter.’ He didn’t look at her again, merely resumed his tapping on the keyboard. ‘Oh, and there’s no need to dress up. There’s no one here to see whether you look like a typist or not.’

Bristling, Anna resisted the temptation to tell him he didn’t dress much like a successful social historian either, but then she realised she didn’t know what one was supposed to look like. Did they all wear business suits and ties? Surely he approved of formal dress? Then, she brushed it aside. He was right. If this is where she would work, and only he and the housekeeper would see her, she may as well turn up in her pyjamas.

She put her coat and bag on one of the armchairs and took a seat at the smaller desk, adjusting the chair to the right height before turning her attention to the Mac. Thankfully, she was used to using one.

He reeled off the password, and Anna tapped it in quickly before grabbing a pencil and writing it down.

‘Here.’ He had risen from his desk and pulled a stack of papers from a tray. ‘The first draft was typed up by the last girl. I’ve made several notes and changes to the first few chapters. You’ll find it stored under Haunting History.’

Anna scribbled down the details, took the papers without a word and began to peruse them, conscious he still lingered. She bent her head, relieved when he walked back to his desk, then raised her eyes to peer at his back. Several notes and changes were an understatement. Every page was covered in pencil, with arrows and annotations and goodness only knew what else.

‘Why did she leave?’ Anna bit her lip. She hadn’t really meant to ask.

Oliver didn’t turn around. ‘Because I told her to.’

Sensing conversation, if it could be called that, was over, Anna turned her attention to the papers and before long was completely engrossed. Though unaware of his writing until now, she found herself gripped by the topic—the run-up to the Battle of Sedgemoor—and although she made a perfunctory attempt at starting the edits, she was soon turning page after page, unable to stop herself.

‘I was wrong then.’

Anna started and looked up. Oliver Seymour towered above her once more.

‘Sorry?’

‘I see no evidence you can actually type.’

Warmth rushed into her cheeks. ‘Yes, I can. I mean, I will. Now. Sorry. I got wrapped up in reading ahead.’

‘I’m flattered,’ he said dryly. ‘I’m going out. There’s a front door key in the desk drawer you can have. Leave me a note of your hours and let yourself out when you’re done for today.’

~o0o~

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt The Cottage in a Cornish Cove, which is out today in both paperback and eBook formats!

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About The Cottage in a Cornish Cove

A heart-warming tale of discovering all you never wanted is exactly what you need.

Orphaned as a baby and raised by uncaring relatives, much of Anna Redding’s happiness as a child came from the long summer holidays spent with an elderly family friend, Aunt Meg, in the charming village of Polkerran.

With Aunt Meg’s passing, Anna is drawn back to the West Country, relocating to the Cornish cove where she was once so happy. Filled with memories, she hopes to perhaps open a B&B—and perhaps cross paths with Alex Tremayne again, a local boy she used to have a major crush on and who only had to walk past Anna to make her heart flutter.

Settling into her new life, and enjoying her work for the older, reclusive and—to be honest—often exasperating Oliver Seymour, Anna is delighted when Alex reappears in Polkerran and sweeps her off her feet.

The stars finally seem to be aligned, but just as Anna thinks all she’s ever wished for is within reach, a shock discovery brings everything under threat, and she realises she’s living a dream that isn’t hers.

Can Anna rescue the new life she has made for herself and, when the testing moment comes, will anyone be there to hold her hand?

The Cottage in a Cornish Cove is the first in a series of uplifting romances from Cass Grafton. Get to know the warm and funny locals of Polkerran, wallow in the quaintness of a Cornish fishing village and fall in love with romance all over again.

Buy links: Amazon (U.S.) | Amazon U.K. | Kobo | Barnes & Noble (Nook) | Smashwords | Apple iBooks | Google Play

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About the Author

Cass Grafton

An avid bookworm since childhood, Cass Grafton writes the sort of stories she loves to read — heart-warming, character-driven and strong on location. Having moved around extensively and lived in three countries, she finds places inspiring and the setting of her novels often becomes as much a part of her stories as her characters.

She leans heavily towards the upbeat and insists on a happy ever after. As one of her favorite authors, Jane Austen, once wrote, ‘let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.’

Cass loves travelling, words, cats and wine but never in the same glass. She has two grown up children and currently splits her time between Switzerland, where she lives with her husband and imaginary cats, and England, where she lives with her characters.

Connect with Cass on her Blogs (Cass Grafton – Writer) (Tabby Cow) | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Giveaway

Cass is generously offering one winner a choice of a paperback or ebook, open worldwide. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through February 15, 2020. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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

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