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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth shrugged.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lady Lucas beamed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would they?

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About Recognizing Love

Secrets will surface…

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

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

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

Buy on Amazon

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About the Author

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

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

Connect with Lizzy Brandon on Facebook

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Giveaway

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

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

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