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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

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Chapter 21 (Excerpt) – Designed for Each Other

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Mr. Darcy?” Jane cried.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I did not say that?”

“What are you saying?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Mr. Bingley, sir?”

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

“And rightly so.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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About Designed for Each Other

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

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

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

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

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

Universal buy link

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Giveaway

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

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

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It’s always a pleasure to welcome P.O. Dixon to Diary of an Eccentric, and today, dear readers, she’s here to celebrate the release of her latest book, Irrevocably Gone. Please give her a warm welcome!

It’s such an honor to be here at Diary of an Eccentric once again to share an excerpt from my newest release, Irrevocably Gone. Thanks so much for having me, Anna.

Irrevocably Gone is a continuation of one of my favorite short stories, A Tender Moment, written primarily for the following reason: readers asked for more. Though authors do not always find themselves in the position to honor such requests, in this case I was utterly compelled to make room in my writing schedule to do just that. Readers, after all, made A Tender Moment a #1 Best Seller in Classic Short Stories on Amazon. Such a heartwarming response along with equally encouraging calls for more deserves fitting acknowledgment.

Here’s a snippet from A Tender Moment which sets the stage for its continuation:

A Tender Moment – Part 3 (excerpt)

Just as the clouds completed their waltz across the bright full moon, Darcy sensed a turning point in the evening. I’ve longed for an occasion such as this. Do I dare open my mouth and risk ruining what has heretofore been the best moment we have ever spent in each other’s company?

His mind raced through the litany of things he might say next. Shall I speak of poetry, of books, of the places she has traveled? No. He had far weightier matters he wished to discuss.

Perhaps I might explain that I was taught to be selfish and overbearing, to care for none beyond my own family circle, and to think meanly of all others—of their sense and worth compared with my own. Then I might confess my growing esteem for her in spite of her low connections and her family’s lack of fortune.

Darcy bit his lower lip. No. That would never do, for I might ruin every chance of discovering if the tender regard I feel for her is the basis for something lasting.

We were speaking of her family. Do I attempt to say something in that regard—apologize once again for my badly spoken remark? Shall I speak of my own family and how foolish they would think me were they to learn of my budding feelings for her?

The fact was that he’d never seen anyone like her. He’d never known anybody like her. Finally, he had met a woman he found himself contemplating introducing to his sister—welcoming to his beloved Pemberley … as his wife.

What if, in explaining the reasons I have fought against showing her the special regard she arouses in me, I should say something that she deems lacking in sensibility, or worse—stupid? I might never know whether she indeed might be the one I’ve been waiting for—longing for.

Darcy did not dare risk denying himself this chance. At such a tender moment as this, perhaps it is better that I say nothing at all.

Might she then regard me as inconstant? It would not do. Say something, man. He closed the last bit of distance between them. “May I call on you at Longbourn tomorrow?”

Who can find fault with readers who love Mr. Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet for wanting to know what happens next? Darcy asked to call on Elizabeth at Longbourn so soon after his arrival in Hertfordshire. Surely Mrs. Bennet will go distracted.

Enjoy this excerpt from Irrevocably Gone featuring Darcy and Elizabeth at Netherfield during her elder sister’s convalescence.

Irrevocably Gone

Chapter 6 – A Generous Gesture

His hand behind his back, Darcy waited for Elizabeth as she headed toward him in the lane.

“Thank you for agreeing to meet me like this, Miss Elizabeth.” He said once they were united, bowing slightly. “I realize it was not a trivial thing that I asked of you, but what else could I do? I believe I miss you, even more, knowing we are residing under the same roof, albeit temporarily, and yet unable to see each other – to spend time away from the others – so often as I would like. Owe it to my being a selfish man.”

“I am sorry if it seems I have been neglecting you, sir.”

“You are here now, and I intend to make the most of our time together, for who is to say how long it will last?”

“What is it that you have behind your back, sir, if you do not mind my asking?”

“Oh, this,” he said, revealing his hand—in it an arrangement of freshly picked flowers secured by ribbons: one scarlet colored and one white.

Accepting the proffered bouquet, Elizabeth said, “How lovely, sir. Are these for me?”

“Yes,” he said, nodding. “I picked them myself.”

Reading in her expression a modicum of disbelief, he asked, “Do you doubt me?”

“It is just that I find it somewhat hard to believe you would go to so much trouble—what with rows of servants at your feet to attend such tasks. To what do I owe the honor of such a generous gesture?”

“It has not escaped my notice how attentive you have been toward your sister, and I began to ask myself who is taking care of you.”

“You are very kind to think of me, sir. To say nothing of your talents. This arrangement is stunning.”

“There is also the matter of my feeling rather guilty in desiring so much of your attention. I am inclined to think it would be much better for all concerned if I simply returned to town, at least until your sister no longer relies on you so much as she does.”

“No—do not do that! Please, whatever you do—do not leave. Why, I—”

Exercising a bit of liberty and seeing as it was just the two of them with not another soul in sight, Darcy placed a finger on Elizabeth’s lips. “Hush,” he said softly. “I speak only in jest. I have no wish to be parted from you—not now.” Remembering himself, he tucked both hands behind his back.

“So, you were teasing me, Mr. Darcy?”

“Are you not to be teased, Miss Elizabeth?”

Her spirits rising to playfulness, Elizabeth said, “Oh, no! On the contrary, for I dearly love to laugh. I must warn you, however, that I give as good as I get. Now that you have been warned, what say you to that?”

“I say only this. While I am a serious man—one who does not easily forget the follies and vices of others so soon as I ought, nor their offenses against me, any ensuing resentment is not so implacable as to render me wholly incapable of forgiveness, particularly toward those who mean the most to me.”

“Oh my, you are a serious man indeed. I should like to think I am safely among the latter.”

“Indeed. More than you know,” Darcy said.

“Do you mean to suggest that I am on the same level as Miss Bingley?”

He shook his head. “No—not at all. Miss Bingley, try as she might, has no effect on me at all.” He spoke nothing but the truth, for that young woman was always taunting him in one way or another in her attempts to get him to dislike Elizabeth. Always in vain.

“Tease me, taunt me, challenge me at will. You are in no danger of losing my good opinion. I am forever your humble servant,” he professed.

At that moment Darcy and Elizabeth were met from another walk by Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley herself.

“I did not know that you intended to walk, Mr. Darcy. I declare you used us abominably ill,” said the younger of the two ladies. “You know how much my sister and I dearly love a good walk about the park with you. Yet you ran away without telling us that you were coming out.”

Acknowledging Elizabeth’s presence, Miss Bingley said, “What a lovely bouquet of flowers, Miss Eliza. Did you gather them yourself?” Placing her hand over her mouth, she smirked. “Oh, but of course you did. What on Earth am I thinking?”

Elizabeth held her bouquet to her nose and inhaled its intoxicatingly sweet fragrance. “Actually, they are a gift—from an admirer.”

“No doubt, an admirer with extraordinary taste,” said Mr. Darcy. His voice tender, his eyes fixed on Elizabeth’s, he continued. “Such beauty is impossible to resist.”

As though the intimate exchange between Darcy and Elizabeth was lost on them, the two sisters then took either of the gentleman’s arms, which forced Elizabeth to walk by herself, for the path just admitted three. Feeling their rudeness, Mr. Darcy immediately said, “This walk is not wide enough for our party. I suggest we go into the avenue instead.”

Elizabeth, who had not the least inclination of remaining in company with the Bingley sisters a second longer than she must, replied, “No, no—do not alter your course on my behalf. I fear I must return to the house as soon as can be so that I might place this bouquet in a vase befitting its beauty. Far be it from me to allow my admirer’s special talents to be in vain.”

Thank you so much for being my guest again and sharing these very intriguing excerpts. And congratulations on your newest release!

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About Irrevocably Gone

From almost the first moment Mr. Darcy beheld Miss Elizabeth Bennet, his heart was irrevocably gone. But will he admit it? What will it take to make him realize he wants to spend his life with her? A proposal from another man? A second proposal from yet another?

What of Elizabeth? Will she obey her own heart’s yearning? Can she afford to wait for love?

Thousands of delighted readers helped make A Tender Moment a #1 Best Seller in Classic Short Stories.

§ And now, the story continues…

Author’s Note

Irrevocably Gone is a fast-paced 42,000+ words story. As a reader bonus, A Tender Moment, the story which formed the foundation for Irrevocably Gone, is included at the end of this edition. Fans who have already read and enjoyed A Tender Moment can easily reacquaint themselves with the storyline. Those who have yet to read the prequel can acquaint themselves with the storyline for free. While included as a permanent part of the print edition of Irrevocably Gone, future eBook editions may not include A Tender Moment.

Buy links can be found here

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Giveaway

P.O. Dixon is generously offering an ebook copy of Irrevocably Gone to one lucky reader. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address, and let us know what intrigues you most about the book. This giveaway is open internationally, and will close on Sunday, March 25, 2018. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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I’m excited to have P.O. Dixon here today to celebrate her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, By Reason, by Reflection, by Everything. I’ve long been a fan of P.O.’s books, and as soon as I read the blurb for this one, I was intrigued. The book sounds fascinating, and I hope to read it soon. I also hope that once you read P.O.’s inspiration for the novel and the excerpt, you’ll feel the same. Please give her a warm welcome!

Thank you so much, Anna, for having me here at Diary of an Eccentric. I am honored indeed to be able to share an excerpt of my newest release, By Reason, by Reflection, by Everything, with your readers.

I’ll start with the story’s premise: what if the elder Mr. Darcy’s first-born son is promised to Mr. Bennet’s first-born daughter?

If ever there were a Jane Austen fan fiction taboo, a romantic alliance between Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Miss Jane Bennet would surely fit the bill. As a reader, I’d find such an entanglement unconscionable. However, that does not mean the writer in me would balk at such a possibility. Indeed, I have asked myself what if Darcy and Jane were promised to each other numerous times since I wrote my first Pride and Prejudice variation.

Finally, I took the time to fashion my frequent musings into a story during last year’s National Novel Writing Month. Otherwise known as NaNoWriMo, it’s an annual event during which writers around the world commit to writing fifty thousand words during the month of November.

I do not know that I have ever had such fun writing a novel in one month—so much so that I crossed the fifty thousand words milestone with nine days to spare. Of course, my rough manuscript would require months and months of editing, fine-tuning, and polishing to deliver the final story. Upon reading the excerpt below, I hope everyone will find that my effort to deliver a wonderful Pride and Prejudice what-if story proves to be time well spent.

Enjoy!

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Excerpt from By Reason, by Reflection, by Everything (Reprinted with Author’s Permission. All Rights Reserved.)

Chapter 3

Wonder and Intrigue

Today is everything it ought to be. My Jane shall meet the gentleman whom she very well may marry and with whom she may spend the rest of her life. Elizabeth could not imagine being anywhere but by her sister’s side during such an auspicious occasion, and thus the two of them sat next to each other, arm in arm, as their carriage rounded the bend headed for Pemberley.

Everywhere Elizabeth looked she beheld the estate’s natural beauty. When at last the manor house came into view, she gasped on behalf of her sister as well as herself. There stood a massive stone mansion backed by a ridge of high woody hills. In front of it, flowed a large stream, its banks neither formal nor falsely adorned

Never have I seen such a place as this, Elizabeth silently reflected. Pemberley. Is there any wonder it is hailed as one of the finest estates in all of Derbyshire?

One glance at her sister and she rather supposed their thoughts must have tended along the exact same lines. Both of their faces overspread with contagious smiles.

“Dearest Jane,” Elizabeth remarked, “how fortunate you are. To be mistress of such a place as this must surely be something. How fortunate you are indeed.”

Jane squeezed Elizabeth’s hand. “Dearest Lizzy, I appreciate your enthusiasm over the prospects for my future life, but truth be told, I feel more overwhelmed than fortunate at this moment. What if the gentleman takes one look at me and concludes he wants nothing to do with me? What a considerable distance to travel to be summarily sent on one’s way.”

“Not like you! Jane, do not be ridiculous. I posit Mr. Darcy will fall madly in love with you the moment he lays eyes on you. How could he not? Unless of course, the gentleman is a fool. But even a fool would fancy himself the wisest and the luckiest man in the world to proclaim himself your future husband.”

“We shall see,” Jane replied in a voice that lacked the joy the moment warranted.

“Jane, I can see you are not as convinced of your unmitigated charms as you ought to be. But you need not worry, for I have enough confidence for the two of us. Mark my words, there will be a wedding here at Pemberley in under three months, or my name is not Elizabeth Bennet.”

“Oh, Lizzy! Where would I be without you?”

“Pray you will never find out.”

“Then does that mean you will accompany me on my wedding journey?” Jane bit her lower lip sheepishly. “That is to say, should events unfold as you anticipate.”

“I agreed to spend this time with you here at Pemberley, did I not? I see no reason to abandon you once you have accepted your prince.”

A little while later, a mixture of wonder and intrigue commanded Elizabeth’s thoughts as their carriage drew to a halt in front of the imposing manor house. The number of people awaiting them was such that she had never witnessed before.

What a welcoming reception.

Two tall, very distinguished looking gentlemen were flanked on either side by lines of servants uniformly attired in stark black and white. The older of the two, Elizabeth quickly surmised as being the master of Pemberley, Mr. George Darcy. His countenance was stern and dignified, but there was something about his eyes that gave a real glimpse into his character. While indeed a man to be reckoned with, Elizabeth suspected buried beneath his austere outward appearance was a heart of gold.

The gentleman who stood beside him, much to Elizabeth’s surprise, wore a military uniform.

How can it be that the future master of Pemberley is an officer? Elizabeth immediately questioned herself in silence. As they were mere moments from meeting their magnanimous hosts for the summer, she suppressed her urge to ask her father how he had overlooked conveying such a fascinating tidbit of information to any of them.

How pleased Mama will be upon learning not only does her eldest daughter stand a chance of being the next mistress of such a grand home, but moreover her would-be son-in-law is a dashing officer.

Not very long afterward, Mr. Bennet, Jane, and Elizabeth descended the carriage and awaited the approach of the two gentlemen. Elizabeth tossed her sister a tentative smile. Any irksome reservations she suffered that Jane might be subjected to a less than desirable alliance faded with each step the eminent gentlemen took.

A good measure of formality was cast aside as the older gentleman eschewed the expected handshake and embraced her father. “Bennet, my old friend, after all these decades it gives me enormous pleasure to say to you, ‘Welcome to my home. Welcome to Pemberley.’”

Her father responded to his old friend in the warm manner that was to be expected of acquaintances who had not had the privilege of sharing each other’s company after a great long absence, and soon thereafter it was time for introductions to the other members of the assemblage.

All at once, a quiet hush spread throughout the gathering as all heads swung in the direction of a new addition to the welcoming party. Elizabeth could hardly believe her eyes. She knew without being told that she had been mistaken earlier as regarded the officer’s identity. The tall, handsome gentleman with dark hair, brooding dark eyes, and noble mien who appeared before them was the most beautiful sight her eyes had ever beheld.

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

My sister Jane is a most fortunate woman, she could not help but think, even though the gentleman’s eyes were not fixed on Jane. To Elizabeth’s bewilderment, his eyes were fixed on her. She was powerless to turn away. But turn away she must, for this was Jane’s moment, and Elizabeth truly did not want to miss bearing witness to a single second of her sister’s joy.

Elizabeth must have blinked an instant or two, for before she knew it, the gentleman stood by the elder Mr. Darcy’s side and was introduced to her own father. And no sooner had her father been introduced to the officer did the three gentlemen focus their full attention to Jane and Elizabeth.

“Allow me to present my eldest daughter,” Mr. Bennet began, directing everyone’s eyes to Jane. “Mr. Darcy, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, and Colonel Fitzwilliam, meet Miss Jane Bennet.” Each of the gentlemen, starting with the eldest, greeted Jane in their turn. Elizabeth could not help noticing the decided contrast in the manner of the gentlemen’s addresses. The elder Mr. Darcy’s expression was lively, his manner warm and welcoming—very much the same as it had been toward her father. Colonel Fitzwilliam’s greeting was equally pleasant, but the other gentleman’s – the one that mattered the most – was rather wanting.

Before Elizabeth had too much time to mull over the implications of what such a reception might mean for her sister’s prospects, it was her turn to be introduced. Once again, she detected in the gentlemen the same measure of civility that had been extended toward Jane with but one exception, for she was confident that the younger Mr. Darcy’s eyes held fixed with hers a second or two longer than was necessary—his hand lingered upon hers just a bit longer than that.

The situation righted itself moments afterward when the two older gentlemen moved side by side and turned toward the manor house, the colonel took his place by Elizabeth’s side, and finally, the younger man fell into place beside Jane. As the party proceeded inside, Elizabeth threw a look in her sister’s direction and was pleased to observe that Mr. Darcy seemed to be focused entirely upon his companion. What a relief this was for Elizabeth to see that things were exactly as they ought to be.

Soon after, upon entering the grand foyer with towering ceilings, glorious paintings, black-and-white marble floors, and gilded stairways, Elizabeth was pleased to know Jane and she would be escorted to their respective apartments to allow them a bit of a reprieve before joining the rest of the Darcys’ houseguests. It was a much-needed reprieve at that, for the last part of the journey had been filled with such wonderment of what was to come that Elizabeth had not bothered to sleep for fear of missing a single moment of the adventure unfolding before her.

How happy she was upon discovering that she and Jane were assigned apartments just across the hall from each other. Of course, she would have been just as pleased if she and her sister had been assigned a single room, for no doubt they would be spending a prodigious amount of time with each other as they were wont to do while at Longbourn. Aside from a much-needed reprieve to refresh herself, there was but one thing uppermost on Elizabeth’s mind, and that was discovering what her dearest sister thought about Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. On second thought, there was another matter for Elizabeth to dwell upon in private.

What precisely is my own opinion of the heir apparent of Pemberley?

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About By Reason, by Reflection, by Everything

Promised to one sister. Bewitched by the other.

What if Mr. Thomas Bennet’s first-born daughter is promised to the elder Mr. Darcy’s first-born son? Are promises made always promises kept? Or is a love like Fitzwilliam Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s destined to prevail?

You’ll fall in love with Darcy and Elizabeth all over again while reading this heartwarming Pride and Prejudice what-if story. Grab your copy now!

Goodreads | Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Scribd | Barnes & Noble | Google Play

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Giveaway

P.O. is generously offering an ebook copy of By Reason, by Reflection, by Everything to my readers. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and tell us what most interests you about the book. This giveaway will close on Wednesday, September 20, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thanks, P.O., for being my guest today! Congratulations on your latest release!

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pride & sensuality

Source: Review copy from author
Rating: ★★★★☆

Her easy playfulness reminded him of the reason he loved her so. How unfortunate he had spent as much time as he had denying his affections. That she had been immune to his charms never once occurred to him, and only after she had declared him the last man in the world she could be prevailed upon to marry had he realised how unworthy had been his pretences to a woman so worthy of being pleased.

(from Pride & Sensuality)

P.O. Dixon’s Pride & Sensuality is a short story variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice set just days before Darcy and Elizabeth’s wedding. Spending an evening at Longbourn, Darcy and Bingley must endure the talk of Mrs. Philips, the aunt of their soon-to-be brides, and the outbursts of Mrs. Bennet. Particularly embarrassed by Mrs. Philips’s comments about the men’s nether regions, Elizabeth and Darcy manage to escape the drawing room to seek solitude elsewhere in the house. Some very sensual, though fairly innocent, moments are interrupted by various members of the family — as well as a pack of dogs — and hilarity ensues.

This was a delightful story, passionate without any explicit scenes. Dixon does a great job building the sexual tension and adding bits of humorous frustration along the way. I was surprised that Elizabeth and Darcy were so daring within the walls of Longbourn, and I was entertained by a snooping Bingley and Jane.

Pride & Sensuality is a quick read, perfect for a quiet, lazy morning. It’s just a glimpse of Darcy and Elizabeth, ending with their wedding night, but it is sweet (in more ways than one) and leaves plenty to the imagination. Another fun story from P.O. Dixon!

Disclosure: I received Pride & Sensuality from the author for review.

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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These are all books I read over the summer that have been patiently waiting to be reviewed, so in order to clear them off my side table and feel accomplished, I figured some mini reviews were in order!

the war within these walls

The War Within These Walls by Aline Sax, illustrated by Caryl Strzelecki

This young adult graphic novel chronicles the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943 from the eyes of a teenager, Misha. When he can no longer stand to watch the disease, starvation, and violence take the lives of the Jews forced to live within the walls of the ghetto, he decides to join the resistance fighters planning to stand and fight the Nazis as they prepare to liquidate the ghetto. The War Within These Walls combines a first-person narrative with dark illustrations to emphasize the desolation and despair in the ghetto. It’s a powerful novel, and although I read it in one sitting, the images still haunt me months later.

emma, mr. knightley and chili-slaw dogs

Emma, Mr. Knightley and Chili-Slaw Dogs by Mary Jane Hathaway

A fun modern-day retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma set in a southern town where people take their garden parties and Civil War reenactments seriously. The novel centers on old friends, Caroline, a journalist who leaves her job to care for her ailing mother, and Brooks, a journalism professor dealing with his own family issues, who must contend with their changing feelings for one another amidst all their disagreements. It was fun to pick out all the allusions to Austen’s novel, and there are recipes, too!

darcy and elizabeth lost in love

“Darcy and Elizabeth: Lost in Love” by Mary Lydon Simonsen

A sweet short story based on Pride and Prejudice by one of my favorite authors of Austen-inspired fiction. While touring Pemberley with her aunt and uncle, Elizabeth Bennet gets lost in a garden maze. Darcy is still dealing with Elizabeth’s rejection when he returns to his estate, and both are surprised to encounter one another. “Darcy and Elizabeth: Lost in Love” was a quick read that made me feel sad that it was over but satisfied at the same time.

almost persuaded

“Almost Persuaded: Miss Mary King” by P.O. Dixon

This short story inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice focuses on Mary King, the heiress who catches Mr. Wickham’s eye but who luckily manages not to be trapped into a marriage with the scoundrel. Tired of competing with the Bennet sisters, Mary finds herself easily charmed by Wickham. It was nice to get a glimpse of a secondary character that isn’t paid much attention, but I was surprised to see a bit too much of her in a steamy seduction scene. My only complaint is that it ended too soon, and because I’d grown to care for Mary a bit, I wanted to see if she ever got her happy ending.

bits of bobbin lace

Bits of Bobbin Lace by Maria Grace

This was a free download from the author’s website that features bonus chapters from her Given Good Principles series of novels inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I’m a big fan of the series, so it was fun to revisit the characters again. I especially liked how the bonus chapters featured a wide variety characters, including Mr. Darcy’s parents, Elizabeth’s parents, Charlotte Lucas, and even Mr. Bingley’s sister, Louisa. However, you’ll definitely have to read the series first so you can appreciate these extras.

a tale of two matchmakers

“A Tale of Two Matchmakers” by Marilyn Brant

This very short (and free, on the author’s website) story is inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma and involves a matchmaking fairy named Sylvia. Sounds odd, but it was sweet, humorous, and took only a few minutes to read. The story is set at the Box Hill picnic, and Emma tells the fairy about all the “matches” she has made, but Sylvia sees what Emma does not. It’s a fun little scene that is oddly satisfying given its brevity.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

© 2015 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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a tender moment

Source: Review copy from author Rating: ★★★☆☆

Elizabeth approached the couple and directed her ire towards the gentleman.  “How dare you speak so callously about my mother?  You know nothing about her!”

Standing there with an air that proved him wholly unmoved by any feeling of remorse, Darcy said, “I know enough about her to know that she failed to teach you proper decorum.  How dare you remark on a conversation clearly not intended for your hearing?”

(from “A Tender Moment”)

Quick summary: “A Tender Moment” is the third installment in P.O. Dixon’s Darcy & Elizabeth Short Stories series of standalone Pride and Prejudice variations.  This particular story is set at the party at Lucas Lodge, where Elizabeth Bennet overhears Mr. Darcy make a rude comment about her mother to Caroline Bingley.  Elizabeth immediately confronts him, and a heated argument ensues.  After being fiercely scolded, Darcy takes stock of his feelings for Elizabeth, how she continually misunderstands him and how it is possible that he really has been ungentlemanly toward her.  When Darcy overhears her speaking of her dislike of him, he is more determined than ever to set things right.

Why I wanted to read it:  I wanted to read it for the Pride and Prejudice connection, of course, but I’ve been so pressed for time lately that I also was in the mood for something that could be read in one sitting.  I also enjoyed Dixon’s A Lasting Love Affair, and I wanted to read more of her work.

What I liked: “A Tender Moment” is a sweet story about misunderstandings and new beginnings.  Dixon lets readers into the minds of Darcy and Elizabeth, putting on display their uncertainties, their misconceptions, their desire and willingness to change, the stirrings of attraction, and the promise of something more.  The story is a just a moment in a bigger story — just enough to satisfy readers’ desire to catch up with Elizabeth and Darcy without the commitment of a novel.

What I disliked: There was little description; it was mostly internal dialogue.  However, I was able to overlook that because “A Tender Moment” is meant to be just that: one moment between Elizabeth and Darcy, a turning point of sorts.  Still, it felt like it ended just as the story was beginning.

Final thoughts: “A Tender Moment” is a worthwhile read for fans of Austen variations who are looking for something short and sweet, a story to distract them for a half hour or so.

Disclosure: I received “A Tender Moment” from the author for review.

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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a lasting love affair

Source: Review copy from author
Rating: ★★★☆☆

“You must tell me what you think of him.”  Her ladyship paused a moment but not nearly long enough for Elizabeth to fashion a response. … “Pray, is he amiable?  Is he a handsome man?”

“Though our meeting was by happenstance, as Betsy likely told you, I do not know that I would describe him as amiable.”  In fact, I found him arrogant and a bit condescending.  “As for your second question on whether he is handsome, I would say he is tolerable.”  Yes — tolerable is the word I would choose.

(from A Lasting Love Affair, page 15)

P.O. Dixon’s short novel, A Lasting Love Affair: Darcy & Elizabeth, is a unique retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with new characters and a change in the scenery.  Elizabeth Bennet literally bumps into Mr. Darcy on the street in Bosley, where she is now living with her father’s sister, Lady Vanessa Barrett, who has been estranged from her brother since he married Fanny Gardiner and is now in need of an heir.  Mr. Darcy, meanwhile, is staying with his friend, Lord Holland, who happens to be Lady Vanessa’s nephew.

Elizabeth isn’t looking to form an attachment with anyone, having suffered a significant loss, and is content merely pouring her heart out into letters she will never mail.  Despite the expectations of his family, Mr. Darcy finds himself captivated by her, but he has to overcome Elizabeth’s fear of giving her heart away and the expectations of a match between Elizabeth and Lord Holland.  From the gossipy Caroline Bingley to the greedy Mr. Wickham to Lady Catherine on a mission, there are plenty of obstacles in the way of their happiness.

A Lasting Love Affair was an enjoyable retelling of Austen’s novel, mostly because Dixon takes the characters away from Meryton and Netherfield and puts them in an entirely new setting.  I was heartbroken for Elizabeth, but her fear of losing someone else close to her was a different challenge for Mr. Darcy to tackle.  Dixon portrays Elizabeth as someone just beginning to emerge from a deep grief, and the change of scenery means she and Mr. Darcy get to know each other without the obnoxious Mrs. Bennet and the other Bennet sisters lurking in the background.

Although I wish I felt a stronger connection to Dixon’s Elizabeth and Darcy, I couldn’t help but like this novel.  Even though I knew they would achieve their happily ever after, changing the main stage and adding a few new players meant that I wasn’t sure exactly how they would get there.  A Lasting Love Affair is a light and quick escapist read that kept me company at a time when I needed a little Darcy pick-me-up, and I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.

Disclosure: I received A Lasting Love Affair: Darcy & Elizabeth from the author for review.

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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