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I’m delighted to welcome Tom Austin, author of The Darcy Contradiction, to Diary of an Eccentric today. He’s here to talk about why we write and to share an excerpt and giveaway. Please give him a warm welcome!

Thank you for having me, Anna! And to you all, many thanks for reading my thoughts and for believing that what I have to say is worth your time.

Why do we write?

We all write because of what we rationally want to share with others, we write to send a message, we write with purpose, sometimes even with that of changing the way things are in real life, we write to make our voices heard. Then we write what ourselves want to read, what attracts us, what enchants us. Then we write down the things that fight to get out of us, what an inner voice dictates to us, what is no longer under our control. We write to put our lives in order, to make sense of things, to have the feeling that we have power over the world, any world, even a fictional one. We write to leave something behind, so that all we live is not in vain and will not be lost. We write to build a bridge between us and the past, between ourselves, with our burdened consciousnesses and the superior, clearer mind of our predecessors.

I know that the “The Darcy Contradiction”, with its stranger writing style, its talks about philosophy, art, literature, folklore and war, had its fair share of bad reviews. I am sorry to have disappointed some of you, but I am not sorry for writing it. It is a book which I needed to write. It filled a hole in me and if it meant for a single person half of what it meant for me, then I am happy.

If you want to take a chance on me, I will be glad to hear and discuss your thoughts about it.

Thank you again for being there.

Yours,

Tom

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An excerpt from The Darcy Contradiction, courtesy of Tom Austin

Dinner consisted of only two courses concluded by dessert and accompanied by a dry and savoury red wine. The Darcys were impeccably dressed and Elizabeth was glad to have bought that dress from Meryton. They hardly spoke during supper, the sound of dishes and silvery clattering being sometimes covered by the crackling of the fire and the roar of the blizzard outside. Elizabeth ate delicately, the julienned kale soup with timid sips, the maple-glazed roast beef and honeyed parsnips with small bites. She barely touched the cheese and raisin pie or the strong, unfamiliar wine. Even the small monkey, sitting on top of a mound of dates on a silver tazza, seemed to eat with bigger bites than her.

She looked about the room, admiring the elegant and tasteful decorations, the enchanting paintings, the cats sleeping in front of the fireplace. She had always imagined a country manor having dogs, dozens and dozens of beagles, bloodhounds and greyhounds. She could not see a gentleman of Mr. Darcy’s stature with an estate such as Netherfield keeping cats. In her eyes, cats were preferred by the ladies and not by the men. But then again, Mr. Darcy seemed a bit different that every man she had ever met. She did not incline towards liking or disliking him, but she could tell he was a man apart.

“There is such a craze for Oriental art these days, do you not think?” asked Miss Darcy observing Elizabeth was looking at one of the paintings depicting a severe gentleman. “Although my brother and I both adore travelling, and he tends to collect things from all over the world, I think nothing betters an English painting, either oil or watercolour. Take the Walcombs, for example, on the inside their house looks and smells like the mausoleum of a Mughal emperor, with pots for burning incense, statues of bizarre deities, Buddhist miniatures and Jain paintings. As I said, I love the exotic, but when it comes to art, nothing really compares to a work by Sir Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, George Romney, Joseph Wright or even from the young Joseph Turner. But, alas, for every Englishman who reveres them, there are thousands who have not even hear of them. A public gallery to reunite all our great artists, that is what we need.”

“There are many who are working towards that purpose,” said Mr. Darcy, sipping from his glass. “I believe we will soon have it.”

“They seem to be taking their time. They did not defer when you gave them the money. No, they took it with both hands.”

“It was money well spent. Every penny spent on art is well spent,” said Mr. Darcy. A cat jumped on his lap.

“Fitzwilliam was one of the collectors who made his treasures available to others. At Pemberley, artists could book a few hours a week to come and study the paintings and sculptures in our collection. We might start something like that here as well. My brother is already supporting two young artists and he may take more under his patronage, in memory of our father.”

“Do you paint, Miss Bennet?” asked Mr. Darcy.

“Every now and then. I am no Angelica Kauffman, I assure you of it, but I admit I enjoy painting and also drawing. I would love to be better at it and I know it is only up to me to better myself.”

“Oh, you should have had the chance to contemplate the picture-gallery at Pemberley. We took most of the paintings with us, but some need some special conditions. The portrait there is of our father. Do not be fooled, he was never as severe as he looks in that painting. I believe he posed like that just to have some fun. He was a kind and gentle man.”

Elizabeth looked more attentively. She noticed a striking resemblance to Mr. Darcy, the same posture, the same look, the same air of nobility and a dash of arrogance.

“Fitzwilliam is very much like him,” said Miss Darcy and Elizabeth flinched, feeling as if Georgiana had read her thoughts. “If you want, I could show you some of my drawings. I have hundreds of them, some of our father, some depicting Pemberley, some even of my brother when he was younger.”

“I would not want to intrude upon your intimacy,” said Elizabeth softly.

“Nonsense!” whooped Georgiana. “I will show them to you after breakfast tomorrow.”

“Only if you insist. And only with Mr. Darcy’s approval. If he is the subject of the drawings , then he should be consulted.”

“How generous of you,” replied Mr. Darcy.

“Do we have your consent, dear brother?” Georgiana fawned upon him like a cat.

“I will think about it,” replied Mr. Darcy petting the actual cat.

“Oh! You are impossible! What is there to think about? It is art! Even if you are the subject of it, you have no rights over it. The merit and the ownership belong to the artist, not to the muse. Even if they had been nudes, you would not have had any right to decide who sees them and who does not.”

Elizabeth blushed. She sipped from her glass. The cat meowed and jumped off.

“My brother and I are quite different when it comes to art,” continued Miss Darcy turning towards Lizzy. “I am a creator, while he is more of a collector. I take great pleasure in expressing myself while he takes great pleasure in observing what others have expressed. All this talk of art has put me in the mood for music. Shall we proceed to the drawing-room?”

“Maybe Miss Bennet is tired,” said Mr. Darcy. “I am not sure she has fully recovered from being almost frozen solid.”

“Oh, do not worry about me. I feel as if nothing had happened. Besides, I would really love to hear Miss Darcy play.”

“You see!” exclaimed Georgiana. “She is feeling better than ever. That wine of yours had surely contributed to it.”

They moved back to the drawing-room, followed by one of the cats. Elizabeth was indeed feeling well, a sensation she had never known before. She could feel her cheeks red, her head slightly lighter, her mood cheerful. Somehow she knew her parents were well and that her father, although surely worried, would have talked sense into everyone else. She took a seat, eager to be entertained.

Most well-bred young ladies of the time, especially those who wanted to enchant a possible husband with their accomplishments, could play at least one musical instrument. The grand favourite was the piano and a great number of girls would have practiced playing it and taking lessons to prepare for when they would be called upon at an evening party to perform in front of an audience most often consisting of eligible gentlemen. But Miss Darcy did not play only one instrument, but several— among which the pianoforte and the harp — and not only play, but she was somewhat of a virtuoso worthy of a Vauxhall concert. When Georgiana played Mozart or Beethoven, Rossini, Schubert, Liszt or Mendelssohn, her eyes shut, her fingers dancing wildly on the piano keyboard, she showed such composure that her spiritual self seemed to be off far away somewhere, plucking the sounds from some crystal firmament or some celestial sounding board.

Elizabeth observed the impact of Miss Darcy’s divine music on her brother. Mr. Darcy sat leaning back his head, his eyes shut just like his sister’s. He was living the sounds, that moment or another from the past or the future, from real life or from dreams. Elizabeth admitted to herself that she felt quite envious of the power the girl in front of her, a few years younger than her, could have on a man. Mr. Darcy was her brother, but Elizabeth had no doubt she would have left the same impression on any man, that she could tame anyone just like Orpheus with his enchanted lyre.

“I believe music is the most divine of all the arts,” said he when Georgiana finished and made a deep bow. “Compared to music, every other art seems barbaric. It needs materials to make it visible, it needs to be seen. Music does not require anything. It comes from the air, from imagination, from the human mind. By voice or perhaps only by a wooden box and some strings, it can give you the sensations no other art is able to. A painting or a sculpture can be impressive, but it cannot take a man all the way to wherever the artist wants to take him. Music can imitate the sound of sunrise, a lazy summer morning, a hot afternoon, a snowy winter evening, a storm, the sound of midnight, the sound of love, of war, of horror, of wonder.”

“It truly is an art that reigns above all others,” agreed Lizzy.

They spent the rest of the evening talking about music and art in general, about what it meant to be an artist or merely a performer. At one point, Georgiana even suggested the two would dance while she played a tune of their choice, which they both refused in one voice.

Mr. Darcy proved to be a very cultivated man, an admirer and a supporter of all the arts. Miss Darcy as well, despite her age, was highly cultured and had many talents. Elizabeth went to her room close to midnight, impressed by the two, feeling that life at Netherfield had to be good. Maybe because of the excitement of spending time in such an unfamiliar and noble company, maybe because of the wine, she could not put her mind to rest. She thought of a great number of things, her hosts, her parents, her sisters.

So that was the mysterious Mr. Darcy, she thought, the man who had eluded just about everyone for so long, the man she was so curious to meet. Now she had met him and did not know what to make of him. He seemed moody and whimsical, and she could have blamed him for her sister’s unhappiness, but somehow she could not feel ill of him. And even if he had driven away Mr. Bingley, it was because he was only looking out for his own sister’s best interest. He did not seem to hold a grudge against her, a Bennet, he had spoken to her with civility, he had listened to her speak her mind, he had never interrupted her or dismissed her opinions. Miss Darcy herself could be sometimes arrogant and shrewish, but something told Elizabeth than she was good and that her brother was also good.

Then she remembered the words of the fortune-teller. ‘He will come to you in your hour of need’ said the gypsy lady. How could she have known? Elizabeth asked herself. Had it been a lucky guess? Could such things be true in their modern world? Was it something that the madam was telling her customers every now and then, hoping to be right? A tall and handsome man — is that not what every girl dreams of? Extremely wealthy with a big house — the same. Lizzy thought back then that she would recognize the one fated to be hers, but now, lying on that swan feather mattress in that modish bedroom in that house fit for kings, she felt more uncertain than ever in her entire life. Then, all of a sudden, she imagined what the nude drawings of Mr. Darcy would look like had they been real. She fell asleep late, but she was not to have a peaceful, restful sleep.

It was still dark when the door silently opened and Mr. Darcy sneaked in, tiptoed. He was not wearing the tailcoat or the cravat he dined in, but his blue robe de chambre. She knew why he was there, but felt she could not and would not resist him, regardless of anything. She knew the dangers, the huge risks she was taking. Mr. Darcy did not seem to be the type of gentleman who would sneak into a girl’s room at night. He seemed to be one who would respect protocol more than anyone. But she did not care. She eagerly opened his robe, revealing his bandages. She caressed his broad, hairy chest and, almost as if she was scared, she merely touched his groin through the pantaloons. He took off the night gown Georgiana had lended her, he almost ripped it off, he kissed her gently, from her ear to her neck, to her breasts, going down her belly. His cheek was rough, a day’s beard maybe, his lips were soft. She stopped him, took his hand in her hands and asked him if he loved her. He said yes and only after that did she let him continue. But he did not get to do much, for she awoke. She awoke and she felt guiltier than she had ever felt in her whole life. Everything had seemed so real, but even if nothing had happened, Elizabeth felt ashamed. It was for the first time she had such impure thoughts about a man. She thought of men before, but never like that. She once imagined Mr. Wickham kissing her and that had been the apex of such lustful imaginings.

Lizzy told herself that she would never give herself like that to a man, to a man she had just met, a controversial man she did not even know, outside of wedlock, in a strange bead, wearing his sister’s clothes. The thought comforted her a little, but when she went down for breakfast, she could not look either of the two in the eye.

“Are you all right?” asked Georgiana seeing her behave strangely.

“Yes, I believe I am,” mumbled Elizabeth blushing.

“It is perhaps because of the wine,” opinioned Mr. Darcy.“You were not used to it. It may not have been the best of picks. I should have chosen maybe one from France or Italy, which you might have been more familiar with, it being drunk, I believe, at Longbourn as well. Instead I chose one from the Black Sea, a wild vine that bears a special type of grape.”

“I am fine,” Lizzy said more clearly. “And the wine was excellent.”

“You look like you had not a wink of sleep all night,” said Georgiana. “What kept you up?”

“You were maybe thinking of your parents? And your sisters?” asked Mr. Darcy.

“Yes, I was thinking of them and I could not fall asleep,” replied Lizzy. She detested lying. Even when it was only a half-lie.

“Maybe you will catch a nap after lunch,” said Miss Darcy.

“I was thinking of having breakfast in the conservatory today,” proposed Mr. Darcy. “We shall not have our usual view because of the blizzard, but it would still be nice.”

“My father used to have his breakfast in the conservatory…” Elizabeth said melancholically.

“You will be with him shortly. This weather cannot last for ever,” assured her Mr. Darcy.

“Yes,” approved Georgiana. “You shall be away from this place and far away from us faster than you can say Jack Robinson. Now, about that breakfast…”

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About The Darcy Contradiction

“The Darcy Contradiction” is a retelling of the classic love story, with quite a few twists and turns. All the well-known, beloved and behated characters, plus a few memorable new ones. A new master at Netherfield, a specious hunting accident, the elusive Mr. Darcy and his impressive library, a matchmaker for Jane and a fortune-teller for Elizabeth, the primordial silence of Iona Abbey and the dreaded beauty of St. Wulfstan’s Blizzard. The Regency Era in all its splendor, the vivid tea parlours of London, the colourful enchantments of India, the Napoleonic Wars, Shakespeare, Lord Byron and Hegel. Georgiana Darcy and Anne de Bourgh as you have never imagined them before.

Buy The Darcy Contradiction on Amazon

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Giveaway

Tom is generously offering an ebook copy of The Darcy Contradiction to one lucky reader. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. We’d love to know what you think of the excerpt. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, July 1, 2018. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thanks, Tom, for sharing why you write with us. Congratulations on your new release!

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I’m thrilled to welcome Victoria Kincaid back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate the release of the audiobook of Mr. Darcy to the Rescue. It’s wonderful to see a book I’ve edited released in audio, and Victoria has a fantastic story to share about it. Please give her a warm welcome!

Hi Anna, thank you for having me as a guest. As I was preparing this guest post, I thought about the fact that we both had daughters graduating from high school this year and that led me to musings about the role of audiobooks in my family. Of course, they are handy to have in the car. My husband listens to books in his commute, and I often listen during my multiple daily drives. As a family, we have listened to a number of audiobooks together on long car trips.

But I never realized the real importance of audiobooks until I had a daughter who had difficulty learning to read.

She was in first grade and was supposed to do 20 minutes of reading a day. I had to split up these 20 minutes into 3-4 chunks because reading was such a chore to her. As someone who has found books to be an important part of my life and endless source of joy, I was alarmed. Eventually we traced her difficulties to a vision problem known as Convergence Insufficiency (CI) in which the eyes do not function well together. The doctor who examined her found that she couldn’t focus her eyes more than nine seconds without great effort. Can you imagine trying to learn to read under those conditions?

We started her on vision therapy—with tremendous results. But the process took three years. In the meantime, I worried that she would lose interest in reading. How could she not when it was such a struggle? I read books aloud to her, which was very rewarding. (I read the entire Harry Potter series to her and then did it all over again when my son wanted to read it.) But she often wanted to read when I wasn’t available.

Thank God for audiobooks. They allowed her to be an independent reader—choosing what to read and when to read it without depending on another person. We were fortunate that our public library had many books on CD (eventually they started getting e-audiobooks and she now has a well-used Audible account).

I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have audiobook technology available. If I had experience CI as a child, I would have been out of luck. But with the help of audiobooks, she still read eagerly—and learned to enjoy reading—even when it was difficult and painful to put her eyes to paper. When she graduated from vision therapy, she was able to read print books on her own—and she wanted to. With the help of audiobooks she had become an avid reader. Her problems aren’t gone and probably never will be. Her eyes tire easily, which is a great challenge in school. She still “reads” audiobooks for pleasure because she needs to save her “eye time” for school-related tasks. Fortunately a lot of textbooks and works of literature (for English class) are available on audio; audiobooks are one of the major factors behind her success in school.

Now that I have one of my novels on audio, it will make it easier for my daughter to read my writing. I’m not holding my breath, though. Although she liked Pride and Prejudice, she has a long list of books in her preferred genres that she would rather read. I don’t mind at all; I’m just glad she’s reading.

(One in 20 people suffers from Convergence Insufficiency, but most don’t know it. For more information on CI symptoms and other information, visit CIHelp.org.)

Thank you, Victoria, for sharing your daughter’s story with us. I’m so happy that she was able to become an avid reader despite the challenges. Congratulations on your latest release, and best wishes to your daughter as she goes off to college!

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About Mr. Darcy to the Rescue

When the irritating Mr. Collins proposes marriage, Elizabeth Bennet is prepared to refuse him, but then she learns that her father is ill. If Mr. Bennet dies, Collins will inherit Longbourn and her family will have nowhere to go. Elizabeth accepts the proposal, telling herself she can be content as long as her family is secure. If only she weren’t dreading the approaching wedding day.

Ever since leaving Hertfordshire, Mr. Darcy has been trying to forget his inconvenient attraction to Elizabeth. News of her betrothal forces him to realize how devastating it would be to lose her. He arrives at Longbourn intending to prevent the marriage, but discovers Elizabeth’s real opinion about his character. Then Darcy recognizes his true dilemma: How can he rescue her when she doesn’t want him to?

Check out Mr. Darcy to the Rescue on Amazon and listen to the sample!

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Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering an audio download code for Mr. Darcy to the Rescue to one lucky reader. Please note: the promo code will only work for the U.S. Amazon site. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, July 1, 2018. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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I’m delighted to welcome Don Jacobson back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of Lessers and Betters. Don is here today to talk about the novellas bundled in the book and share an excerpt. Please give him a warm welcome!

I have often pondered the appeal of novels like Pride and Prejudice to a 21st Century audience. Back in the Regency when Miss Austen wrote her masterpiece, her contemporaries (those who could, first, read and, second, afford to purchase her book) saw P&P as being about (loosely, I will admit) people like us…the gentry and the aristocracy.

Now, in more egalitarian times…although there will be those who point to the 1%/99% divide…the popularity of the book has vaulted it into the forefront of readers’ favorites. Yet, how many of us can actually identify with Elizabeth Bennet…the daughter of a family earning the 2018 equivalent of about $187,000 every year? Recall, too, that the Bennets owned Longbourn free and clear in an era of no income tax and no property tax. Likewise, while they would have had to pay a window tax and an annual carriage tax, the bulk of their moneys could be reserved for gowns and ribbons and trips to Town.

Perhaps that is the appeal…much like the lottery. Easy street. No worries. It also explains the terror Mrs. B felt when she considered the entail.

The less we think of Mr. Darcy’s $1 Million a year, the better.

Of course, this would explain Caroline Bingley’s $2 Million dowry…given her personality.

However, while t’is blissful to romanticize about teas, assemblies, sideboards groaning with food, and fine brandy, there are a group of characters found in all of the Canonical books who are virtually invisible. However, without these persons, none of the softly cushioned lifestyles written about could have existed.

I am, of course, speaking of the servants. Rarely are they seen at the far end of Miss Austen’s quill except to open doors, serve meals, or dash off to fetch smelling salts.

This has, over the course of my career writing #InspiredByAusten fiction, piqued my historian’s imagination. We are now in a post-modern era where social scientists are examining events, discourses, and narratives from a subaltern’s (sergeant’s) point-of-view. Rather than history composed around those who had the power to write it, we now examine those who lived in it, but who never merited the attention of those who sought to portray that which shaped the times.

That led to, first, the novella Of Fortune’s Reversal which examined the events of November 5, 1815 from the gentry’s point of view. This novella was followed by another, The Maid and The Footman, that explored the same sequence, but as seen and experienced by two members in service to the Cecil household where Kitty Bennet was employed as governess.

While the two stories were published about four months apart in 2016 with Of Fortune’s Reversal being first, I had never intended to create paired novellas approaching the same events from two different perspectives; or, to pay tribute to a classic, akin to Upstairs, Downstairs. Of Fortune’s Reversal was simply designed as a “Kitty” story as part of my process of building her book in The Bennet Wardrobe series.

However, in the rosy hue of post-publication, the contours of The Maid and The Footman started to rise from the freshly planted terrain. T’was a short step to apprehend that there was a reason that I first had Sergeant Henry Wilson and then, later, Annie Reynolds identify themselves in the course of the action that made up Of Fortune’s Reversal. Those who are familiar with my process know that I do not apply names to characters unless they will play a larger role than a soul who lights the fireplace or opens the door for The Quality.

I have decided to offer both books together under one cover because it is my belief that the experience of absorbing the two discourses—that of the betters followed by that of the lessers—will offer the most rewarding experience as a reader considers the themes flowing through Great Britain as its social structure metamorphosed. Moving directly from one to the other without an intervening gap of weeks or months will (hopefully) create a deeper inner dialogue over which readers can mull.

As a parting note, I would urge readers to consider the following thought:

Wealth confers no greater nobility on the “haves” and no less on the “have nots.” Humans experience the deepest emotions and seek out connections of love whether they drink the tea…or serve it.

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Please enjoy this excerpt from Lessers and Betters:

This excerpt is © 2018 by Donald P. Jacobson. No republication in any form—either electronic or print—without the expressed written consent of the author is permitted.

From Chapter VIII in The Maid and The Footman

Wilson stationed himself near where Miss Bennet would stop and rest when she was not dancing. From her heightened color and happy looks, he could tell that the lady was thoroughly enjoying herself. She rarely wanted for partners as one of the Cecil gentlemen always made a point of seeking her hand. Even the young Duke of Wilton was shooed over by his wife, the former Lady Emily Cecil, to invite her old friend to take a turn on the floor. The only time Miss Bennet’s countenance drooped was when one of the men of the ton, attracted by her blonde hair and shining china-blue eyes, would discover she was the Cecil governess and abruptly turn on his heel without another word.

Henry was not sure of the reason why he placed himself near Miss Bennet. There was his soldier’s sense of loyalty to his charge. His job during the daytime was to make sure that Miss Bennet and Miss Margaret were safe—not that the governess was in any danger

at the ball—although he had an uneasy feeling which had been nagging at him for the past few hours. Perhaps he wanted to be nearby in case she required him to run an errand, one that would necessitate his seeking out Miss Reynolds for Miss Bennet’s shawl. Whatever the case, Henry Wilson positioned himself about five feet behind her and to her left.

His eyes scanned the crowd of post-midnight revelers. Only a few of the more elderly had departed for their townhomes. The noise level had increased as the younger aristocracy began to feel the exuberance of a carefree existence that only uncountable wealth could bring. More people crowded onto the dance floor, leaving those on the sidelines conspicuous in their immobility.

Miss Bennet glanced back over her left shoulder at Henry, and with a smile to him, indicated that she wished a glass of champagne from his tray. He stepped forward and bowed slightly so that she could take her drink. Looking past, he saw a tall, slender, red headed woman making a beeline for Miss Bennet from across the room.

To Wilson’s eye, this woman was at least five and more likely ten years older than Miss Bennet. As she neared her quarry, he could see that her complexion was well rouged and powdered, probably in an effort to restore the luster of a youth that had fled some time before. More likely, all she accomplished was to hide some of the more obvious ravages of time. She was dressed as good Queen Bess, but the ridiculously accurate high collar coupled with her already long frame left an impression of a carnival actor navigating the room on stilts. Henry could see a steely glint in her hazel green eyes. Whoever she was, she bore not friendship, but rather disdain, for Miss Bennet.

“Miss Bennet. I am quite surprised to come across you here at the Cecil Masque,” the woman fluted between teeth clenched in a rictus that bespoke astonishment, “How did you ever secure such a coveted invitation? I doubt if it was through your connections in Cheapside.”

Miss Bennet’s face soured at the verbal assault, but she politely replied using an epee rather than a saber, “Why Miss Bingley…it is still Miss Bingley, is it not? What a pleasure it is to meet you again. Why it has to be nearly four years since we last saw you before you left Netherfield. I do hope you are faring well. Your note of condolence upon our father’s death was so comforting.”

Wilson stepped back to his earlier position, making sure to keep his face impassive.

I think I am about to see how ladies do battle. These two have no love lost whatsoever. I doubt if this Miss Bingley—how did she ever secure an invitation, I wonder—is aware that Miss Bennet spent the last few years by the side of a Cecil, and a future Duchess at that, learning the art of social war!

The faux-Elizabeth arched her eyebrows as she absorbed the slight about her marital status. Then she tried a flanking attack.

“Yes, my brother and sister and I were all so devastated that your father’s death forced dear Jane and Eliza into taking employment. But, I imagine even Mr. Darcy, the height of condescension, felt that this was the best they could expect thanks to your father’s

indolent ways. I had heard that your sisters relocated to the hinterlands away from the city. Was it Glasgow? Dublin? I imagine you were so distressed when your Uncle acted like a common tradesman and required them to leave his house in the midst of their grief.”

Wilson ground his teeth as he listened to Miss Bingley pile insults atop insults. He had heard Miss Bennet relate to Annie that her uncle had not demanded that any of his nieces find employment. On the contrary, her two elder sisters could not bear to be a burden on a household with four small children. Another sister—the middle one—had married a sea captain in the Gardiner line. His share of the profits would make the couple quite comfortable.

Miss Bennet maintained her composure and replied evenly, “Oh, Miss Bingley, you are mistaken. Both Jane and Elizabeth decided that their futures would be away from London. Honestly, I think they needed to be absent from Town and the poor memories associated with some areas like Mayfair. My aunt and uncle could not convince them to stay. It is true that my Papá did not plan for our security, but my uncle has more than enough resources to keep his two favorite nieces close at hand. Why, he asked after them just last week when he stopped by Cecil House to meet with Lord Tom and his brother.”

Thrust and parry.

Miss Bingley fired another shot, “I can give no credit to your account. I am surprised that Lord Thomas Cecil would be willing to meet with anyone from trade here at Cecil House. Why even my brother, for whom I am still hostess, has the delicacy to conduct those sorts of meetings away from home. And, when I am Mistress of Pemberley, I will force Mr. Darcy to cut any ties with those in trade. His man of business is good enough for that!

“Those in the trade have such inferior manners. But so do many of those in the gentility, especially if they hail from countrified regions like Hertfordshire. I recall how much you and your uncontrollable sister—what was her name—Lily? Lara?—danced like wild hoydens with all the soldiers at that wretched assembly my brother forced us to attend. But I doubt if you have had the opportunity to dance like that tonight…because you are Lord Thomas and Lady Mary’s governess.”

This last vitriolic salvo was delivered with the triumphant sneer so well known by familiars of that particular daughter of trade. She then sought to push her advantage home. Dropping all pretense of being polite, Miss Bingley reached out and grabbed Miss Bennet’s dance card that was dangling from her left wrist; the same hand in which she held her glass of champagne.

The remaining liquid splashed out onto the floor as Miss Bennet’s hand was yanked forward.

“I imagine that this card is blank, as it should be for an employee overstepping her bounds by presuming to be on the same level as members of the ton.”

Henry stepped forward to Miss Bennet’s side. He had already lifted the napkin draped over his arm and had dropped it atop the golden puddle before it spread to the hem

of her gown. Then he gently removed the glass from her hand, still held captive by the silk ribbon stretching from her wrist to Miss Bingley’s hand. He glanced at the governess’ face.

Oh, this Bingley woman has overcharged her musket like a raw recruit. Wonder if she left the ramrod in as well. There is going to be an interesting explosion in a moment. Just look at the arch of Miss Bennet’s eyebrow and the set of her lips!

Caroline snapped open the card. Then her face began to grow pale for the card was filled with names that could only have been improved if one had been the Prince Regent’s! Her eyes widened as she saw monikers that were familiar to her only from the columns in the Times.

Henry dipped to wipe the floor and remove the cloth. As he stepped back, the tableau of Queen Elizabeth facing Marie Antoinette across the centuries stuck in his mind.

Miss Bennet gently tugged her arm backward away from Miss Bingley. Miss Bingley released the dance card from numb fingers. She never moved; her widened eyes locked on Miss Bennet’s face.

Miss Bennet began her final assault.

“So, Miss Bingley, perhaps what truly is is not what you have wished it to be. Perhaps some of the ton are not so insensitive as to ignore a guest forced to sit out a dance because the social sensibilities of others would leave an unaccompanied lady without a partner.

“I happen to recall a particular gentleman from Derbyshire being called out by a young lady from Hertfordshire for exactly that same boorish behavior.

“Yes, it is true that I am governess to Miss Margaret Cecil. And, yes, it is also true that I receive wages for my services. But, Miss Bingley, you must know that I, too, have chosen to relieve the burden of my welfare from my uncle’s shoulders.

“Jane, Lizzy, and Mary could have remained in Meryton and lived with our Mama, Lydia—yes her name is Lydia—and me off of Mamá’s 5,000-pound portion. But can you imagine six women maintaining themselves on 150 pounds a year?

“My older sisters knew that they had to make their own way in the world. They refused to condemn all of us to poverty; and it would be a poverty not of the genteel kind about which the novelists so happily declaim as some sort of virtue.

“Mrs. Bennet may have been a foolish woman when you knew her, but Papá’s death changed her. With my three older sisters away from the family, Mama took some of her money to send Lydia and me to seminary.

“I have not heard from my sister these past few months, but I know she is healthy and happy because I feel it here.” At that she laid her gloved hand above her heart. “Just as I know that Lizzy, Jane, Mary, and Mamá are all well.

“Can you say the same about Mr. Bingley and Mrs. Hurst? I imagine not.

“So, I may be a governess, but I was happy this morning. I am happy tonight. And tomorrow, I will awake happy because I know that there are people who want me near and that those whom I love are they themselves happy.

“And tomorrow morning…what will you be, Miss Bingley?I

“Oh, you must excuse me. I see my next partner coming. Will yours know where to find you?”

Match to Miss Bennet with first blood. Perhaps Miss Bingley would like a glass of champagne? I think not. Likely she has had enough of that drink for the time being!

I This was inspired by Sir Winston Churchill’s famous exchange with Lady Astor from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/my-dear-you-are-ugly-but-tomorrow-i-shall-be-sober-and-you-will-still-be-ugly-winston-churchill-tops-8878622.html accessed 10/3/16

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About Lessers and Betters

Experience Love As It Blooms Upstairs and Downstairs

Lessers and Betters asserts that class is an imaginary distinction conferring no better manners on the haves and no lesser nobility on the have-nots and that the deepest human emotions are universal and ignore wealth or status.

Now for the first time under the same cover, discover the paired novellas that explore the remarkable events of November 5, 1815 when the Cecil Governess, Kitty Bennet, was grievously injured as she defended her charge. What rests behind the attack? Readers of Lessers and Betters will experience a unique literary approach that offers both gentry and servant perspectives presented in their own self-contained novellas.

Of Fortunes Reversal: A brisk Hyde Park morning is shattered by a child’s scream. How two gently-born adults react in those next few desperate moments sets the plot in motion that is a unique reconsideration of the traditional Pride and Prejudice memes. Of Fortune’s Reversal is a novella-length tale based upon an inversion of Mrs. Bennet’s exclamation that with one good marriage, the other girls would be thrown in front of rich men. What if the well-wed sister was neither Jane nor Elizabeth?

The Maid and The Footman: Explore the growing affection between a young lady’s maid, Annie Reynolds, and a retired sergeant, Henry Wilson: ultimately a love story as great as any written by the immortals. In the Jane Austen universe, the celebrated novels are written from the point-of-view of the landed gentry. Servants are rarely seen except to open doors, serve dinner, or fetch smelling salts. Follow Annie and Henry as they combine with General Sir Richard Fitzwilliam and Miss Bennet to defeat an awesome threat aimed at the heart of the British Empire.

The combined volume is approximately 82,000 words in length.

Buy Lessers and Betters on Amazon.

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About the Author

Don Jacobson

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years.  His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio.  His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards.  He has previously published five books, all non-fiction.  In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe SeriesThe Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey, novel that grew from two earlier novellas. The Exile is the second volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series.  Other JAFF P&P Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” and “The Maid and The Footman.”

 Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations.  As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing.

He is a member of JASNA-Puget Sound.  Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective (see the internet, Facebook and Twitter).

He lives in the Seattle, WA area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Ms. Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty pound cat, Bear.  Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the JAFF world, Don also enjoys cooking; dining out, fine wine and well-aged scotch whiskey.

His other passion is cycling.  Most days from April through October will find him “putting in the miles” around the Seattle area (yes there are hills).  He has ridden several “centuries” (100 mile days).  Don is especially proud that he successfully completed the AIDS Ride—Midwest (500 miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-A-Wish Miracle Ride (300 miles from Traverse City, MI to Brooklyn, MI).

Connect with Don: WebsiteAmazon Author Page | Goodreads Author Page | Twitter

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Giveaway

Don is generously offering an ebook copy of Lessers and Betters to one lucky reader! To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. We’d love to hear what you think of the excerpt! This giveaway will be open through Sunday, June 24, 2018. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Don, for being my guest today. It’s always a pleasure to share your books with my readers. Congratulations on your latest release!

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I’ve welcomed Jennifer Joy back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate her latest release, Diamonds & Donuts: A Jessica James Cozy Mystery, the fourth installment of the Murder on the Equator series. Many of you know Jennifer for her Pride and Prejudice variations, but if you’re like me, your reading is varied and you’ll want to give her cozy mysteries a try. Jennifer is here with an excerpt from Diamonds & Donuts with an Austen connection — and keep reading for information on a promo deal for the first and second books in the series. Please give her a warm welcome!

As many of you are aware, I am a Regency romance writer with a special fondness for the characters in Pride & Prejudice. I love the history, the research, the innocent side of romance, and the intriguing contrast of people who lived at that turbulent period in time. It’s fascinating, and I enjoy every minute of it! In fact, I’ve already begun another standalone novel featuring a proud Mr. Darcy and a fiery Miss Elizabeth that I’m hoping to finish this summer.

So why did I start writing contemporary cozy mysteries set in my backyard? Because my backyard is GORGEOUS! And I wanted to share a piece of my life with you (except for the murder bits…that’s pure fiction). I wanted to write about the people who have had the most influence on me and my family without restrictions of time and place. That’s how Jessica James and her quirky friends came to be. Together, they solve mysteries and help conflict-averse, Jane-like Jessica bring out her inner, adventurous Lizzy. It’s a wild ride full of exotic destinations, third world quirks, a crazy cast of characters to root for, mystery, and humor.

The scene below is taken from a place near and dear to my heart, a waterfall about an hour away from my apartment: Pailon del Diablo. To say it’s beautiful is an understatement, but I hope you can appreciate a taste of its beauty in this excerpt. In this scene, Tia Rosa and Abuelita (elderly sisters who get Jessica into scrape after scrape) have conspired with Jessica’s grandma (whom she lovingly calls “Mammy”) to keep her out of her recently broken into apartment. Jake, adventure tour guide and Jessica’s love interest, drives them to the waterfall while Abuelita and Tia Rosa rig Jess’ apartment. It’s the calm before the storm, and I hope you enjoy it!

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An excerpt from Diamonds & Donuts, courtesy of Jennifer Joy

Liquid sunshine sprinkled on us halfway down the gravel trail, and I was grateful for the polyester blend shirt and yoga pants I wore. Everything got damp in the jungle.

Mammy stopped at a lookout to snap some pictures.

Jake turned to me, speaking low, “So what are Abuelita and Tia Rosa up to that they arranged for you to be out of the house most of the day? I’m guessing Mammy’s in on it, too.”

I smacked my forehead as comprehension lit the light bulb in my brain. The thing Tia Rosa had insisted on didn’t have anything to do with Jake and me.

It was a setup.

Jake looked at me in confusion, and I realized how stupid I must look. “Mosquito,” I mumbled, rubbing my hands against my yoga pants.

He was gracious enough to smile and ask no further questions.

Mammy turned around. The sweet expression of innocence in her smile and wide eyes convinced me that she’d overheard Jake. Also, whatever Abuelita and Tia Rosa were up to, she played a role in it.

With a sigh, I said, “Just promise me I’ll have a home to go back to?”

Mammy nodded gravely. “Oh, yes. They’re just making it safer for you until Jake’s friend can install the alarm.”

Jake chuckled. “This should be interesting.”

“I don’t feel safer,” I muttered, still feeling stupid for not seeing what Tia Rosa had so blatantly tried to communicate this morning. Abuelita wasn’t the only one who couldn’t take a hint.

We continued down the path, stepping over the springs of water streaming over the gravel.

Jake held his arms out at a patch of steeper incline. Mammy accepted with gusto, wrapping her arm around his and tapping her fingers against his bicep.

“Nice!” she said with a wink.

Jake laughed and shook his head while I tried to figure out how I could accept his help without actually touching him.

He made it easier when he grabbed my hand. The callouses on his fingers scratching my nerves into a frenzy. On a positive note, I didn’t melt or light on fire. I just had a harder time breathing.

“This should be interesting,” he said, talking to both of us as we proceeded down the path. “When I was in high school, Abuelita encouraged me to take a class on electricity.”

“Encouraged?” I asked in disbelief.

“Encouraged … demanded … I choose to remember my memories with Abuelita in a positive light,” he said.

I couldn’t help myself. “Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure,” I quoted.

He looked down at me, his eyebrow raised. “Very well, Lizzy Bennet.”

We’d discussed literature before, but my heart melted just a little bit more at his knowledge of my all-time favorite classic, Pride & Prejudice. Most guys had no clue who Mr. Darcy was, let alone recognize a quote from my favorite book heroine.

He continued, “She wanted me to rig her windows with copper wires connected to batteries without shocking either of us.”

“Did you do it?” I asked, momentarily forgetting I was supposed to be nervous around him.

“Of course, I did. I earned extra credit for it, too. The only downside was that she forgot to tell my dad what she’d done, and he got a good shock when he cleaned her windows.”

I found comfort in not being the only one to get roped into Abuelita’s schemes.

Mammy said, “I doubt it was an accident. Bertha never did like your father.”

“Yeah, well, the feeling was mutual. But he stayed around another year after the incident. Washo is made of tougher stuff. I almost think Abuelita’s a little scared of him. She behaves herself more now that he’s around.”

I raised my eyebrows, trying to think of anything Abuelita was scared of. Respected, maybe. But scared? Nah.

“What do you think of Washo?” I asked.

Jake shrugged. “He’s a good guy. He helps Mom in the kitchen after he’s had a long day. He brings her lunch on his days off just so he can talk to her. She appreciates the break from the kitchen and loves eating food she hasn’t cooked.”

Mammy said, “That’s the way to any woman’s heart.”

Jake craned his neck to look at her. “Really? It’s that easy?”

Mammy grinned. “Not quite, but it’s a promising start.”

I did my best to shrink and be quiet, feeling like an intruder eavesdropping on their conversation.

Jake dropped my hand and pointed to a rock stairwell going back up the side of the mountain. “We’re here,” he said.

I looked at the stairwell, thinking how unfair it was to have to climb up it when we’d spent the last twenty minutes hiking downhill. Someone’s calculations had faltered.

The view from the top, however, silenced my inner grumblings. Ferns sprouted out of the rock face. The waterfall pounded into the river below with such a force, it vibrated in my chest and surrounded us with mist.

We continued forward and down another rock stairwell so close to the waterfall, it enveloped us in spray and roared in my ears. Whoever had carved the steps out of the mountainside were intrepid souls bent on sharing this natural beauty with others. And I was eternally grateful to them for going to the trouble.

The sun reflected off the spray, shooting dozens of little rainbows everywhere I looked.

Lady bit at the spray. To her, it must’ve looked like a giant hose nozzle. It sure felt like one.

We were sopping wet within seconds, but I was too full of awe to care.

I gripped the edge of the stone wall — the only barrier separating us from the roaring cauldron. I understood the waterfall’s name now. Pailón del Diablo. Devil’s Cauldron.

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The promo deal for Book 1 (FREE) and Book 2 (99 cents) ends Sunday, June 10, so act now! (The Amazon links are below with the description of each book.)

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Cabs, Cakes & Corpses (Murder on the Equator Book 1)

Defying the boundaries of her comfort zone … one murder at a time.

Jessica James isn’t the kind of girl who has adventures. She isn’t the kind of girl who hops on an airplane to a foreign destination. And she most definitely isn’t the kind of girl to traipse around in the jungle for a murder weapon. But one taxi ride changes everything.

Caught between the crime scene’s evidence and a hard-nosed homicide detective, Jessica is forced into one catastrophe after another as she searches for the truth. With the help of two elderly sisters (who are more troublesome than helpful), she’ll either catch a murderer … or end up in jail.

Will Jessica’s newfound bravery help her survive her vacation? Or will it make her the next victim?

Cabs, Cakes, and Corpses is the first novel in Jennifer Joy’s Murder on the Equator cozy mystery series set in the charming, touristy town of Baños, Ecuador — where majestic waterfalls carve through the Andes Mountains and the balmy jungle breezes carry your worries away to the tune of salsa music.

Read Cabs, Cakes, and Corpses to satisfy your craving for a quirky cast of characters to root for in this fast-paced story of mystery, humor, and discovery today!

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Rum Raisin Revenge (Murder on the Equator Book 2)

Just when she thought her vacation couldn’t get any worse, it does.

Jessica James has big plans to finally enjoy her vacation. But when she discovers a dead body in the freezer of a local ice cream shop, she’s soon mixed up in another mystery.

Caught between an investigation, an argument between two mischievous elderly sisters, and a televised fundraiser, Jessica finds herself neck deep in doughnuts, conflict, and unanswered questions.

Can Jessica stay out of trouble and off the camera while catching a criminal and raising money for a good cause? Or will she become the next headliner in the national news?

Rum Raisin Revenge is the second novel in Jennifer Joy’s Murder on the Equator cozy mystery series set in the charming, touristy town of Baños, Ecuador — where majestic waterfalls carve through the Andes Mountains and the balmy jungle breezes carry your worries away to the tune of salsa music.

Read Rum Raisin Revenge to satisfy your craving for a quirky cast of characters to root for in this fast-paced story of mystery, humor, and discovery today!

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Cold Case Crumble (Murder on the Equator Book 3)

Some secrets are best left buried.

Jessica James is helping her friends design the doughnut shop of her dreams. But when a skeleton is discovered under the foundation of the shop, the simple remodel turns into a full-fledged investigation.

With her friend’s livelihood on the line, Jessica cooks up a plan to discover the truth. But digging up the past unearths more secrets and Jessica’s troubles go from bad to worse when her dog disappears, her elderly “helpers” volunteer her to cater a school event, and the murderer claims another victim.

Will Jessica taste sweet victory and solve the cold case in time? Or will her investigation turn sour?

Cold Case Crumble is the second novel in Jennifer Joy’s Murder on the Equator cozy mystery series set in the charming, touristy town of Baños, Ecuador — where majestic waterfalls carve through the Andes Mountains and the balmy jungle breezes carry your worries away to the tune of salsa music.

Read Cold Case Crumble to satisfy your craving for a quirky cast of characters to root for in this fast-paced story of mystery, humor, and discovery today!

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Diamonds & Donuts (Murder on the Equator Book 4)

Family, Friendship, Community, and … Doughnuts.

A vandal is wreaking havoc in paradisiac Baños — and he’s got his sights set on Jessica James.

The grand opening of Jessica’s dream doughnut shop is days away. She’d rather sort sugary sprinkles than chase after another criminal. But when the crazed crook crosses the line, leaving nothing but a trail of flour behind him, desperate times call for desperate measures.

With the help of her trusted friends, Jessica determines to restore peace to her town, protect the people she’s grown to love, and save her shop from an unknown enemy out to sabotage The Sugar Shack.

Diamonds & Donuts is the fourth novel in Jennifer Joy’s Murder on the Equator cozy mystery series set in the charming, touristy small town of Baños, Ecuador — where majestic waterfalls carve through the Andes Mountains and the balmy jungle breezes carry your worries away to the tune of salsa music.

Read Diamonds & Donuts to satisfy your craving for a quirky cast of characters to root for in this fast-paced mystery of humor, travel, and discovery today!

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About the Author

Jennifer Joy

When Jennifer isn’t busy dreaming up new adventures for her favorite Jane Austen characters, she is learning Sign language, reading, baking (Cake really is her one weakness!), or chasing her twins around the park (because … calories).

Her wish is to continue to write sweet romances and mysteries with happy endings for years to come.

While she claims Oregon as her home, she currently lives high in the Andes mountains of Ecuador with her husband and two kids. All of them are fluent in Spanglish.

Right now, Jennifer is imagining how a courtship with such a turbulent beginning can possibly lead to a smooth Happily-Ever-After for Darcy and Elizabeth. She senses there’s more trouble to come and promises to keep a detailed account of events (because, let’s face it, it makes for fun reading!).

Connect with Jennifer Joy via Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter

Thank you, Jennifer, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your newest release!

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I’m delighted to welcome Nicole Clarkston back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate the release of London Holiday. Nicole has quickly become one of my favorite authors of Austen-inspired fiction, so I downloaded London Holiday as soon as I saw it was released. It looks and sounds fantastic, so I hope I will be able to find time to read it soon. Nicole is here today to talk about how she combined Pride and Prejudice with a classic movie to create London Holiday. Please give her a warm welcome!

London Holiday was a book that I hesitated to write, for almost two years. The idea was nipping away at me, but I could not quite convince myself that the time was right for me to tackle a comedy. I was afraid it would become farcical, which was not the intent. Moreover, I had convinced myself that a Darcy and Elizabeth story that wasn’t thick with angst or largely took place in one day just wouldn’t fly. Still, I kept thinking about it, and I was itching to see what our dear couple would do in a situation like this.

The idea of creating a mashup of Pride and Prejudice with another timeless story is not new, but at least to my knowledge, no one had attempted this particular combination. I know I am not alone in my admiration for Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck’s chemistry, and I couldn’t help snickering when I imagined Darcy in Princess Ann’s shoes for a day. Roman Holiday is such a touching, funny, heart-warming romance that breaks all the conventions, and it has long been a favorite.

I think one of the things that sets it apart is the fact that it’s a reverse Cinderella story. Roman Holiday was filmed in 1953, in an age when women were growing restless with the typical formula. I truly believe that most people, at their core, want to believe in a Pygmalion or a Prince Charming who values his chosen lady for her own worth rather than her social station. However, the same old story was growing tired and flat. Why shouldn’t it be the girl and not the guy who is at the highest rung of the social ladder? Why can’t an intelligent young woman be the one to identify something special in a man most would consider to be beneath her? It was a gentle question the movie asked, but the answer was resounding: There is no reason at all why she can’t be and do those things.

What I love about Princess Ann is that she doesn’t set out to topple kingdoms. She has no agenda at all, and nothing to prove to anyone. She is simply a girl who wishes to be herself, and to experience just a taste of the life she might have lived if she were anyone but a daughter of royalty. Kind and gracious to everyone she meets, the minor gaffes that betray her privileged upbringing only make her the more irresistible. She is sweet when princesses are supposed to be haughty, and humble when she might have been prideful. She is vulnerable yet unafraid, thrilling to new experiences but poised and graceful even on a motor scooter. She places herself willingly in the care of a complete stranger, because even though she did not precisely need him, she enjoyed being with him. How could we not love someone like that?

In London Holiday, both Darcy and Elizabeth take turns with some of Princess Ann’s qualities. It is our wealthy and influential gentleman who flees his house by night, and eventually decides that a day away from his usual obligations might not kill him. However, it is Elizabeth who possesses the wide-eyed wonder, the charming innocence, and the pure determination to act according to her own happiness. Darcy’s peculiar behavior doesn’t fool our clever girl for long, and like Princess Ann, she discovers almost at once that there is more to her escort than meets the eye.

Opposite the endearing Princess Ann was our stalwart hero, the down-on-his-luck Joe Bradley. We get a glimpse of his character early in the movie when he (though unwillingly) shelters a helpless young lady without taking advantage of her. In fact, he seems highly uncomfortable with anything that might be considered unseemly. He doesn’t precisely roll out the red carpet for her—in fact, even if he had known who she was at their first meeting, I’m not sure he would have bent over backward. He doesn’t seem impressed by royal trappings, but he instantly connects with “Anya,” the girl in his apartment. His is a unique position—he needs something, desperately, and by the next morning he learns that she is the means to it. However, the longer he spends in her company, the more he views her as a person and not a crown.

Again, we see elements of Joe Bradley in both Darcy and Elizabeth. It is Darcy who needs something from Elizabeth, but it is she who discovers that she could use his position to solve her own problems. And while it is ultimately Darcy who plays the very Joe Bradley-esque role of tour guide and protector, it is Elizabeth who encourages her companion to try new adventures and teaches him how average people live. By the end of the day, both determine that their regard for the other has surpassed their own personal needs, and they seek the best interests of the other person.

London Holiday took on a life of its own, but a few other homages remain. Unfortunately, I couldn’t put Elizabeth on a Vespa, but I did find a Regency equivalent, and both Darcy and Elizabeth got in on the fun (it was her idea, by the way). Sadly, Vauxhall Gardens didn’t have a “Mouth of Truth,” but they did have a “hermit” who told fortunes.

And, like in the original, our hero has a slightly pesky “side kick” who manages to help things along. Colonel Fitzwilliam filled in nicely for Irving, and I had quite a bit of fun with the way he would inaccurately quote Darcy’s words back to him, provoking him to finally confess what he really wanted to do all along. Incidentally, see if you can find Bradley and Irving’s names in the book!

The usual lament about the classic film is that the ending is not your typical Happily Ever After. They certainly fall in love and their misunderstandings are cleared away at the end, but they do not walk off set hand in hand. However, perhaps that ending was enough, after all. Both parties come away from their adventures richer and a little more human. We still have the fairy tale, but with a twist: getting married and raising a pack of little princesses will not, in the end, make this couple happy.

It was enough for them that they touched each other’s lives, that they saw another aspect of themselves, and that they found a friend where they would have least expected it. Princess Ann and Joe Bradley would have probably had a miserable marriage due to their disparate circumstances, but they need not have an unhappy friendship. It was a fresh idea, that marriage is not the ultimate goal of life and certainly not for every relationship. The movie seems to make the point that relating to people and caring for them in the moment, even if we never see them again, is just as valuable.

This is where Darcy and Elizabeth deviate. Unlike Princess Ann and Joe Bradley, they are highly compatible, and only need a little humility and wisdom to build a dynamic, thriving marriage that will bring blessings and happiness to them both. I believe the earth would tip off its axis and bounce into Saturn if Darcy and Elizabeth did not end their story happily married, in a loving partnership that could instruct all around them in the ways of connubial harmony. So, this is your official spoiler: Darcy and Elizabeth have their happy ending, but the journey is what gave them their solid foundation.

~NC

All photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures

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Excerpt from Chapter 18 of London Holiday

Elizabeth could not remain sedately in her seat. She leaned forward, touching eager fingers to the window as each famous sight rolled by; The Strand once again, with that hotel which had refused them service; Charing Cross with its awe-inspiring statue of the troubled King Charles I; the humble Scotland Yard, followed by the pristine buildings of White Hall. This was a part of Town she rarely saw… and might seldom, if ever, see again. She blinked away an unwelcome bit of emotion from her eyes, determined to wring every bit of enjoyment from this day that it had to offer.

There was a thumping from the back wall of her coach, and she leaned back to press her ear to the panel. “Look to your right,” came a muffled voice.

Chuckling, Elizabeth did.

“Behind the Horse Guards buildings,” he urged when she did not respond at once. “Do you see it?”

Elizabeth craned her neck, trying to see better from the moving carriage. She knew well that St James’ Park, in all its dashing splendour, lay just there to delight the eyes and stir her deepest yearnings. There, beautifully dressed ladies walked on the arms of their sensible-looking husbands, military fanfare dazzled the young and swelled the hearts of the aged, and classical architecture and verdant bowers melded into one gracious Walk. She sighed, her chest squeezing just a little. What she would give to admire it at leisure, knowing that at any time she could return to indulge her senses just a little more. But it was no good to long for that which could only make the choices before her seem more miserable than they already were.

“Would you like to stop?” she heard through the carriage wall.

The smile returned to Elizabeth’s face. Her escort was attentive, whatever else might be said of him. And this time, he had not permitted so much as a facial twitch or a cough of ill humour when one of the oldest carriages in all London had answered his hail. It was clean and safe, that much he had assured them both, but his voice from without could hardly be heard over the squeaking of worn leather and wood.

“No, thank you,” she called back to him, pressing her cheek to the panel so that he would be certain to hear her. “I would prefer to go on.”

He did not answer directly, so she rapped her knuckles against the wall, just as he had done to attract her attention. He replied in a quick, staccato beat just behind her ear.

The carriage slowed briefly, and Elizabeth tried speech once again. “Are you quite safe back there?”

“I have made a bargain with Fate,” his muted words filtered through the panel.

“And that is?”

“If this foot peg breaks under my weight and I am trampled by that fine pair of chestnuts behind us, I shall never again have to wear such uncomfortable shoes.”
Elizabeth giggled, and could nearly see that faint twitching round his mouth, the mock gravity crinkling his eyes as he spoke. “Let us only hope the carriage behind us belongs to no one you know.”

“It does. I do not think they would drive to the curb simply to avoid my body.”

“Then I dearly hope your hands are strong!” she laughed, then playfully knocked again near the place she had heard his last thumps. To her childish delight, he replied in kind.

The carriage rocked forward again, and for several minutes the traffic moved ahead at a moderate pace. She could not have heard him then if he had tried to speak, but there sounded another knock on the left side of her head as they approached Westminster Abbey. Elizabeth looked on, breathless in admiration for yet another building she would dearly love to explore.

Their driver chose a meandering route through the back streets—or perhaps he had received the direction from her escort—and Elizabeth was treated to several more quaint views. Then, as if by magic, London fell away, and they began to pass fields of wheat and fruit orchards. The cobblestones still rang loudly beneath the horse’s feet, but there were fewer of them, and the carriage seemed to roll more freely. A lad of perhaps eight or nine, standing amid a golden wheat field with a sickle in his hand, waved energetically as they passed. Elizabeth waved back but realised belatedly that the boy had not been offering his civility to her, but to the tall man clinging to the back of the carriage. Elizabeth leaned a little farther to the right, searching the ground, and could see the shadow of his hand lifted in greeting to the young farmer.

She drew back again to the seat, her cheeks almost weary from the constant smile they bore. Such a peculiar man, this William! When he had uttered those first, disdainful slurs in her presence that very morning, she would have sworn that he was conceited, arrogant, and cared nothing for the feelings of others. How wrong had been that first impression! She could not help but wonder what his usual manner was when among his equals in society. She would have wagered the last of her pin money that he did not mingle and cavort freely, as did those gentlemen who were usually deemed “amiable.” Yet, there was a gentleness in him, and a deep feeling akin to sincerity and kindness, if one took the time for a second look. Was that not, to her tastes, more amiable than the sort of man her mother had taught her to admire?
She felt herself sighing again and shook her head. “You must stop,” she muttered aloud. There, she had spoken it, and must now heed. She could not afford to think of him, even if he would ever look at her. She had been given one day to peer beyond the veil of her own destiny, one day in the presence of the very sort of man who could teach her that they were not all fools. She must content herself with that. She must continue to treat him as a kind stranger, one whom she would never see again after this day had ended.

Within minutes of this resolution forming, it was tried. The carriage drew up to a queue, and she felt the ageing springs give way as William bounced down from the back. His steps crunched on the gravelled earth, and she heard him paying the driver. He opened her door and greeted her with an expression that threatened to rob her of breath. There was a boyish delight there, a flickering of the youth he must have suppressed long ago, but kindling beneath it was something fuller, richer, and simmering with flavours of the forbidden.

Elizabeth paused, her lips parted as she surveyed him with eyes opened to a new depth of awareness, and the back of her neck prickled. His chest swelled proudly, and with one hand he gestured toward the Thames River, while the other crossed over his abdomen in a stately bow. “Miss Elizabeth, Vauxhall Gardens await.”

****

About London Holiday

When the truth is harder to believe than disguise.

Drugged and betrayed in his own household, Fitzwilliam Darcy makes his escape from a forged compromise that would see him unhappily wed. Dressed as a footman, he is welcomed into one of London’s unknown neighbourhoods by a young lady who is running out of time and running for her life.

Deciding to hide in plain sight, Miss Elizabeth Bennet dodges the expectation to marry the man of her mother’s dreams. When the insolent footman she “found” refuses to leave her side until they can uncover a solution to their respective dilemmas, the two new acquaintances treat themselves to a holiday, experiencing the best of what Regency England has to offer.

Based on Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, can two hard-headed characters with kind hearts discover the truth behind the disguise? Enjoy the banter, humour, and growing affection as Mr Darcy and Miss Elizabeth have the best day of their lives, and discover that they just might find love and romance while on a London Holiday. This book is appropriate for all ages.

Buy: Amazon U.S. (paperback) | Amazon U.S. (ebook) | Amazon U.K. (paperback) | Amazon U.K. (ebook)

****

About the Author

Nicole Clarkston

Nicole Clarkston is a book lover and a happily married mom of three. Originally from Idaho, she now lives in Oregon with her own romantic hero, several horses, and one very fat dog. She has loved crafting alternate stories and sequels since she was a child watching Disney’s Robin Hood, and she is never found sitting quietly without a book of some sort.

Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties―how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project, she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Her need for more time with these characters led her to simultaneously write Rumours & Recklessness, a P&P inspired novel, and No Such Thing as Luck, a N&S inspired novel. Both immediately became best selling books. The success she had with her first attempt at writing led her to write three other novels that are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.

Nicole was recently invited to join Austenvariations.com, a group of talented authors in the Jane Austen Fiction genre. In addition to her work with the Austen Variations blog, Nicole can be reached through Facebook at http://fb.me/NicoleClarkstonAuthor, Twitter @N_Clarkston, her blog at Goodreads.com, or her personal blog and website, NicoleClarkson.com.

Connect with Nicole: Website | Goodreads Author Page | Goodreads Blog | Facebook | Amazon Author Page | Twitter

****

Giveaway

As part of the blog tour, Nicole is generously offering 8 ebook copies of London Holiday. You must use this Rafflecopter link to enter. Good luck!

Terms and Conditions: Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.

A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook of London Holiday by Nicole Clarkston. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter, and the giveaway is international.

****

June 7 So little time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

June 8 Diary of an Eccentric; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

June 9 Just Jane 1813; Review, Giveaway

June 10 My life journey; Review, Giveaway

June 11 From Pemberley to Milton; Vignette, Giveaway

June 12 My Jane Austen Book Club; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

June 13 Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway

June 15 Austenesque Reviews; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

June 16 My Love for Jane Austen; Vignette, Giveaway

June 18 Obsessed with Mr. Darcy; Review, Giveaway

June 19 My Vices and Weaknesses; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

June 20 A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life; Guest Post

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

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Source: Review copy from author

The guilt she wore like a heavy shawl sometimes threatened to overwhelm her. With a small sniff, to keep the tears at bay, she shook her head and struggled to stand, waving off Mary’s helping hand. The past was the past. What was done could not be undone and she’d have all her empty life to reflect on it.

(from Catherine)

Sue Barr’s Catherine is the second book in her Pride and Prejudice Continued series. I really enjoyed the first installment, Caroline (my review), which focuses on Caroline Bingley after she learns that she has lost her chance with Mr. Darcy forever. Catherine picks up after the first book and follows Kitty Bennet and Lord George Kerr as they struggle to hide their respective secrets following the weddings of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, and Mr. Bingley and Jane Bennet.

Lord George has a reputation as a result of his work for King and Country, but despite being brother to a duke, he has little patience for the ton and is immediately captivated by Catherine Bennet when he meets her at Pemberley. Meanwhile, Catherine is attracted to Lord George but knows that little could happen there. Not only does she know her place in society as a mere gentleman’s daughter, but she also harbors a terrible secret — one known only by her father, and one that will surely jeopardize her future happiness. When Lord George’s suspicions about a possible traitor to the crown causes his path to cross with Catherine’s in very dramatic fashion, the two forge a friendship that could be so much more if their secrets didn’t stand in their way.

I love reading stories about the secondary characters in Pride and Prejudice, so it’s no surprise that Barr’s series has quickly become one of my favorites. I enjoyed getting to know Kitty better as she blossomed into Catherine, and with only Mary left at Longbourn for companionship, I loved the relationship that developed between the sisters — both of whom were underestimated while living in the shadows of Elizabeth, Jane, and Lydia.

Meanwhile, Lord George is totally swoonworthy, and I loved that the book also is told from his point of view. Barr does a great job balancing a budding romance fraught with secrets and misunderstandings with a story of scandal and intrigue that adds a lot of depth to the characters. I’ve been distracted in my reading lately, and Catherine was just the thing to grab my attention. I had a hard time putting it down so I could get some much needed rest, and when I finished, I was tempted to immediately start reading it again. I can’t wait for the next book in the series, which will be about Georgiana Darcy — but I do hope Mary’s story is in the works!

****

About Catherine

Some secrets are not meant to be shared

Catherine Bennet, known as Kitty to close friends and family, knows this better than anyone. She also knows that she will never marry and it never bothered her before she met Lord George Kerr at Elizabeth and Darcy’s wedding. He’s determined to breach the walls of defense she’d carefully constructed around her heart, and she’s just as determined to stay the course.

Some secrets cannot be shared

Lord George Kerr knows this better than anyone. For five years, as a spy for His Majesty the King, he played the part of a Rake, concealing his espionage activities beneath a blanket of brothels, drink and loose women. Even though he’s forced to resume his regular life within London’s finest society, he still must keep some things hidden. One thing he does not hide is his attraction to Miss Catherine Bennet of Longbourn. Enraptured by her beauty and warmth of character, he plunges headlong into winning her heart, only to find it carefully guarded and she’s unwilling to give him even a small pinch of hope.

Some things are beyond your control

When circumstances bring Kitty’s secret into the open, she fears the tenuous bonds of friendship she’s forged with Lord George will be lost forever along with whatever love he proclaims to have for her. With the very lives of England’s vast network of spies working undercover in Bonaparte’s France hanging in the balance, she’s forced to face her worst nightmare.

Her secret is laid bare, can he love her enough to overcome what he learns?

Buy Catherine on Amazon

****

About the Author

Sue Barr

Sue Barr resides in beautiful Southwestern Ontario with her retired Air Force hubby, two sons and their families. She’s also an indentured servant to three cats and has been known to rescue a kitten or two, or three…in an attempt to keep her ‘cat-lady-in-training’ status current. Although, she has deviated from appointed path and rescued a few dogs as well.

Sue is a member of Romance Writers of America and their affiliate chapter, Love, Hope and Faith as well as American Christian Fiction Writers.

For more information about her other books, visit her website.

Connect with Sue via Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Blog

****

Giveaway

As part of the blog tour, three copies of Catherine will be given away. Two winners will receive ebooks, and one will receive an autographed paperback. This giveaway is open internationally. To enter, you must use this Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

Terms and Conditions: 

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once each day and by commenting daily on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to this tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented.

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Each entrant is eligible to win one eBook or paperback book.

****

May 28 / My Jane Austen Book Club/ Launch Post & Giveaway

May 29 / From Pemberley to Milton/ Excerpt Post & Giveaway

May 30 / Just Jane 1813/ Guest Post & Giveaway

May 31 / More Agreeably Engaged/ Author Spotlight & Giveaway

June 1 / So Little Time… / Excerpt Post & Giveaway

June 2 / Liz’s Reading Life / Book Review & Giveaway

June 4 / Diary of an Eccentric /Book Review & Giveaway

June 5 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Review & Giveaway

June 6 / Savvy Verse & Wit / Guest Post & Giveaway

June 7 / Margie’s Must Reads/Book Review Post & Giveaway

June 8 / Obsessed with Mr. Darcy / Book Review & Giveaway

June 9 / My Love for Jane Austen / Excerpt Post & Giveaway

June 10 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Excerpt Post & Giveaway

June 11 / Austenesque Reviews/ Guest Post & Giveaway

Disclosure: I received Catherine from the author for review.

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My special guest today is J. Dawn King, who is here to celebrate the release of her latest Christie Capps’ novels: Elizabeth and Lost & Found. It’s always a pleasure to have Joy as a guest, and you’re in for a treat today, dear readers! Please give her a warm welcome!

Thank you for your warm welcome, Anna. I really enjoy the variety you offer on your blog.

For some reason, amidst tragedy comes the will to escape into fiction. For the past several months illness has impacted our family and friends. This breaks my heart. Writing gives me an opportunity to control every aspect of the character’s lives, to fix things when they are suffering, and to make everyone happy—or not. If only we could do this in real life!

Now that these two stories (Elizabeth and Lost & Found) are completed and out in the world, I’m settling back in to finish my story Letter of the Law by J Dawn King. I do love this story and cannot wait to see how it ends. I’m already 800 words into the next chapter. I’ll post the chapter along with the first 16 chapters already on my website as soon as I finish. (http://jdawnking.com) As far as these Christie Capps stories are concerned, Elizabeth is a bit tongue-in-cheek with Colonel Fitzwilliam acting out of character to move the story along. Lost & Found is about 98% Darcy and Elizabeth. Elizabeth is in danger and our hero, Mr. Darcy, comes to the rescue. Swoon!

Here is the premise:

When he lost his heart to her, he found happiness.

Miss Elizabeth Bennet is missing—vanishing without a trace from the library at Rosings Park.

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy feels duty-bound to find the most frustrating young lady of his acquaintance. He is Elizabeth’s sworn enemy. Yet, when he comes to her rescue, she is forced to rethink her opinion.

Trapped together for hours, each layer of their character is revealed until their masks are gone, and their worst fears are shared. Will Mr. Darcy’s arrogant pride keep him from finding tender affection and happiness? Will her prejudice withstand trials so a man worthy of her affection will not be lost?

In this sweet, angst-filled Regency variation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, our dear couple overcome all odds to find a love for the ages…or do they?

Lost and Found is about 100 pages in length and is appropriate for all readers.

****

Excerpt from Lost & Found

This scene describes how Darcy and Elizabeth find themselves confined for hours in a closet, which is the setting for the story.

“Secret passages? Of what are you speaking, Nephew?” His aunt stood and approached him. “As mistress of Rosings Park, I know every inch of this house, inside and out. Had there been hidden hallways from one room to the next, I would be aware,” she insisted. Fluttering her hand, she waved off his concerns. “No, Mr. Collins’ cousin has rudely run off to the parsonage with no intentions of thanking me for my hospitality. Young people these days!”

“She would never…” Darcy growled. His breath would be wasted defending Miss Elizabeth. There was nothing he could say his aunt would believe.

“I shall dismiss the footman immediately for his inattention.” His aunt was known for intolerance. “Miss Elizabeth has undoubtedly left Rosings, walking right by him, with no care to giving consideration to her hostess for my condescension.” Turning to her remaining guests, she insisted, “You may leave for the parsonage. When you come upon your guest, feel free to inform her I will no longer welcome her into my presence. She means nothing to me.”

As Mr. Collins sputtered his apology for the presumed slight given by his cousin’s daughter, Mrs. Collins approached Darcy.

“You will search until you find her?” she whispered. “Lizzy is not the sort to run off as your aunt stated. I fear she has come to harm.”

Darcy feared he same.

Reassuring the woman, he tasked Smyth with sending a rider to find the colonel. Richard would be the best man to find the missing young lady. When they were children, no matter how diligent Darcy was in finding a proper hiding place, Richard seemed to hunt him down with ease. It had been one of his life’s greatest frustrations before they outgrew the game.

The rest of Rosings’ staff were divided so every floor of the grandiose building was searched. A few of the grooms volunteered to look outside the doors and windows for evidence of her dainty footprints, a great sacrifice in the heavy downpour.

With a nod from the butler, they were gone. Leaving Lady Catherine standing alone in the middle of the room, Darcy gave her no further thought. Returning to the library, he stood at the room’s doorway to peer inside. Slowly scanning from one wall to the next, he finally noted something distinctly out of place. A narrow section of shelves was lined with cobwebs and dust-covered books to the point they appeared filthy and damaged. The wood holding up the books was dull in appearance, in direct contrast to the surrounding bookcases, which gleamed from having wax rubbed into the surface then polished out.

As he cautiously approached, Darcy noted an oddity he had never noticed before. The floor, thick with dirt and grime, had a circular seam in front of it which apparently ran behind the wall. The whole area in close proximity smelled of mildew and damp.

What is this?

Without hesitation, he stepped on the surface, placing footprints on a area that appeared to have not been disturbed in decades and started pulling books from the shelves. His uncle Sir Lewis had been short of stature, so Darcy began with the shelf at chest height. He was only three books in when he heard the click and felt movement below him. Before he could step aside, the bookcase, floor, and himself quickly spun into a dark void. The latch closing behind him when the wall came to a stop was deafening in the silence.

His rising panic was overridden by his need to find her. He hated the darkness.

“Help me.” The distant sound of her voice was a relief. “Help me. I am here.”

Fear for her drove him forward. Extending his arms, he easily touched both walls of the passageway. Running his hands through the dust and debris, his right foot unexpectedly hit the front of the first step of a staircase. Unable to stop his momentum, he crashed forward, the edge of the third stair banging into his knee. The pain was nothing to him.

Scampering to his feet, he again reached out for the walls.

Move forward. Find her. Move forward. Help her.

“Help!”

She must have heard his fall.

Rushing up the stairs, he pulled his hands from the walls. Instead, he held them in front of him feeling each upcoming tread, so he knew when he reached the top. Carefully, but quickly, he passed down a short landing only to reach another set of stairs. Climbing as rapidly as possible in the pitch blackness, Darcy gave no heed to hanging webs or the dirt now covering his face, hands, and clothing.

“Elizabeth!” His voice reverberated down the narrow passage. “Where are you?”

“I am here.” The muffled tone was clearer. He was getting closer. “Help me, please.”

The wall hit him square in the face while he was distracted by her voice.

“Oof!” Stepping back, his hands roamed the surface. The wood extended only to his right. He had reached the back corner of the house.

“Elizabeth,” he yelled again.

“You are closer. I hear you better.”

Taking six steps, he reached another wall. Pounding on the surface, he was thrilled when she immediately pounded back.

Her direction was clear. “There is a latch to the right of the door on the casing. It is a small button.” Her anticipation of rescue warmed him.

His fingers easily found the indentation. He pressed the small nob and the door at the same time. Within seconds he was inside, allowing the door to slam behind him.

“No!” Her despair sent chills down his spine. “No! No! No!” she cried as she roughly pushed him aside to reach behind him.

“What?” He could not see her but felt each rap of her fist on the wood with every beat of his heart.

“We are stuck, Mr. Darcy.” Her disappointment bordered on grief. “I have found no means of reopening either the door we came through or the one in front of us.”

****

What a great excerpt! Thank you, Joy, for being my guest today! I bet my readers feel the same way I do right now: I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

Now I bet you all are dying to know about the other new Christie Capps’ release, Elizabeth. Here’s the blurb:

He could have anything he wanted…except her.

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy finds himself in the unusual position of chasing a woman rather than being chased.
Miss Elizabeth Bennet is exasperated as Mr. Darcy, the rudest man of her acquaintance, is being nice—to her! How can she continue to despise a man who apologizes so well?

Based on Jane Austen’s classic novel, Pride & Prejudice, Mr. Darcy’s arrogance and pride are equally matched by Miss Elizabeth’s prejudice. In this fast-paced novella set in Regency England, can they both overcome strongly entrenched personalities to discover peace and happiness? Of course, they can. This is Mr. Darcy and his Elizabeth, he hopes.

Elizabeth is appropriate for all readers. This story can be read in about an hour and is around 100 pages.

****

Giveaway

Joy, as Christie Capps, has not come to the blog empty-handed. She is offering three eBook copies each of Lost & Found and Elizabeth. Please include your email address, and indicate which book you’d like to receive if chosen as a winner. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, May 27, 2018. Winners will be randomly selected from those who leave comments and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Have you read any of Christie Capps’ stories? Which is your favorite?

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