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Hello, friends! I’m thrilled to have Monica Fairview as a guest again today, this time to celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Dangerous Magic. Monica is here to talk a little about weaving fantasy into Pride and Prejudice and to share an excerpt from the book. Please give her a warm welcome!


I’m thrilled to be visiting Anna’s blog again, and to be able to introduce my latest novel, DANGEROUS MAGIC, a Jane Austen magical variation.

I don’t know about you, but I spent a good part of my childhood watching fantasy Disney stories with enchanted Kingdoms, witches and wizards, and fairytale princesses. In those bewitching worlds, we don’t blink an eye at magic carpets or genies that pop out of magic lamps. Pumpkins become carriages, witches put curses on newborns, and frogs become princes. As we grow up, though, most of us tend to leave those worlds behind, and only return to them when a child enters our lives – a beloved niece, our own children or grandchildren. That is when we see things through a child’s eye again and rediscover the enchanting stories that we left behind.

As a long-time reader of fantasy, I’ve never completely left those stories behind, even if the novels I read now are much more complex. You could argue that writing about the past and Regency England is already entering a reality that only exists for us in the imagination. Writing itself is an act of shaping reality, of creating something that doesn’t exist. It’s a magical process that draws the reader and writer together to create a tapestry of the mind.  

But last year, I was particularly drawn to writing fantasty fiction when world events took a sudden turn for the worse. I buried myself in my writing and took refuge in a different reality, finding some solace in imagining our dear couple Elizabeth and Darcy living in a Regency England where magic is the norm. The result was DANGEROUS MAGIC, and I’m absolutely delighted to share the result with JAFF readers out there.

I’ve picked out a short excerpt for you to give you an idea of what the story is like. In this scene, preparations for Elizabeth and Darcy’s wedding are being set up, and, since it’s a forced marriage situation, Elizabeth wishes she could get out of it. However, even in this magical world, wishing for something doesn’t make it happen.

At this moment Mr. Darcy appeared.

“Miss Bennet.” He bowed to Elizabeth then turned to her father. “Mr. Bennet, I assume?” he said.

“Yes, and this is Mr. Darcy, Papa.”

The two gentlemen eyed each other, taking each other’s measure. Elizabeth had rarely seen her father looking so antagonistic.

Mr. Gardiner cleared his throat and stepped forward, and Elizabeth introduced him and Mrs. Gardiner.

Darcy bowed brusquely. “Shall we get on with the business at hand, gentlemen?”

He gestured with his hand and set off, with Mr. Bennet and Mr. Gardiner striding after him.

Mrs. Gardiner smiled affectionately at Elizabeth.

“So that’s your Mr. Darcy, is it? You could have done a lot worse, you know. Quite a handsome young gentleman.”

“You can’t judge a book by its cover,” said Elizabeth, dryly. 

Mrs. Gardiner put her arm around Elizabeth’s shoulder. “You’ll get used to it, Lizzy, you’ll see. Most women don’t marry for love, you know.” She looked around her at the Hall. “Nice place.”

“It is nice, but I can’t take credit for it either.”

“Well, then. While the gentlemen argue over your marriage settlement, let’s make the best of our time together to talk,” she said. “Do we have anywhere more private where we can go?”

“We can go to my room,” said Elizabeth. “I share it with another mage, but Miss Bingley has some work to do outside the Hall, and I do not expect her to be back for a while.”

Elizabeth was happy to see her aunt, who had always been one of her favorite relatives.

“How do you like it here?” said Mrs. Gardiner, as they walked towards her room.

“It is too early to say. Let’s just say that I find it challenging.”

“Are they treating you well?” Her aunt peered at her closely. “I have heard that the mages can be unpleasant to someone who isn’t one of them. Though I have never heard bad things about Mr. Darcy.”

“What do you know of him?”

“You know I grew up in Lambton, in Derbyshire?”

Elizabeth nodded.

“Well, Mr. Darcy’s estate, Pemberley, is close to the village.”

“And what do they say of him?”

“Sadly, I have not been to Lambton for a good many years, so I know very little about him, but from all accounts, he is a fair landowner. But enough of that. You will find out everything about him soon enough.”

Elizabeth sighed. “I supposed there is not much I can do about it anyway.”

“That is the most sensible way to look at it.” Mrs. Gardiner clearer her throat. “Now, Lizzy, since your Mama is not here, and she cannot write to you about such a delicate matter, I wanted to talk to you about your wedding night.”

Elizabeth’s cheeks burned. She would have preferred not to think about that, but with the day of the wedding approaching fast, she needed to be armed with knowledge.

“I would prefer it if you told me how to get out of this marriage,” she said, with a little laugh.

Mrs. Gardiner shook her head. “Have you thought of using a magic spell to carry you away from here on an exotic carpet?”

Elizabeth sighed. “I have not learnt that particular spell, unfortunately.”

“Then I’m afraid there is no way you can get out of it at this point without completely ruining your reputation,” said Mrs. Gardiner.


About Dangerous Magic

A sparkling tale of Regency England, a forced marriage, and two magicians who must work together to save the Kingdom.

Elizabeth Bennet is stunned when the Royal Mages come to her peaceful country home of Longbourn to take her away. She is even more bewildered when she is commanded to marry a powerful mage by the name of Fitzwilliam Darcy. She has always dreamed of marrying for love, and an arranged marriage with an arrogant stranger was never part of her plans.

But Darcy and Elizabeth have no choice in the matter. Uniting their two forms of magic is essential if the Kingdom is to defeat Napoleon’s mages. They may dislike each other on sight, but Darcy and Elizabeth have to overcome their differences and find common ground before it is too late. Fortunately, it is not long before the sparks begin to fly between them.

Join the author of ‘Fortune and Felicity’ in this Jane Austen Fantasy Variation, an enchanting story of determination, love, and hope against all odds.

Buy on Amazon


About the Author

Monica Fairview writes Jane Austen sequels and variations as well as Regencies. Her latest novel is a Pride and Prejudice fantasy variation, Dangerous Magic. Her biggest claim to fame is living in Elizabeth Gaskell’s house in Manchester, long before the house was restored. After studying in the USA, she taught literature, then became an acupuncturist. She now lives near London.

Monica loves anything to do with the nineteenth century, and obsessively follows every period drama she can find. Some of her favorites are ‘North and South’, ‘Bright Star’ and ‘War and Peace’, and a dozen others that she couldn’t possibly list here. Of course, she has watched Pride and Prejudice (1995 and 2005) more times than she could count on her hands and toes.

Monica enjoys reading fantasy and post-apocalyptic novels but avoids zombies like the plague. She loves to laugh, drink tea, and visit National Trust historic properties [those were the days!], and she is convinced that her two cats can understand everything she says.

Connect with Monica: WEBSITE | BLOG | GOODREADS | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | PINTEREST


Giveaway

Monica is generously giving away 1 ebook copy of Dangerous Magic, open internationally. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, March 28, 2021. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Monica, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new book!

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Hello, friends! I’m delighted to welcome Cass Grafton and Ada Bright back today to celebrate the release of their latest novel, Mr. Darcy’s Persuasion. We had a lovely chat about the book and more, and they’re also giving away some copies. Please give them a warm welcome!


  • What inspired you to merge Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion in Mr. Darcy’s Persuasion? What was your favorite part of combining those two stories? Were there any particular challenges in doing so?

Cass: We both love these two books so much, it was almost a natural step to want to write a crossover. I’d had a thought some years ago about how some of the characters might meet (which is revealed early on, in the Prologue), and I think my favourite part was discovering how well they worked together on the page. 

I don’t recall any challenges in that respect, though we don’t use too many characters from Persuasion outside of the immediate Elliot family and Captain Wentworth. This is mainly because we’re following the timeline for Pride & Prejudice and the story is set in the winter of 1811, meaning it’s three years earlier for all the characters of Persuasion—i.e. Anne Elliot is 24, not 27, and Captain Wentworth is away at sea. It also means Lady Russell is passing the winter in Bath, as she does, Henrietta and Louisa Musgrove are away at school because they are younger in this story and Mr Elliot (the heir) is not yet widowed and is still estranged from the family.

Ada: What she said. 😉

  • Tell us something that you’re especially excited about regarding the new book. A particular scene? An original character? Having both Darcy and Wentworth in the same book?!?!?

Cass: Well, yes, having two such lovely men to work with was not exactly a hardship, and I’m sure Ada will agree. There are so many scenes I love, but there are a few secrets winging around throughout the story, so it’s hard to share specifics. I think the thing I’m most excited about is how we’ve weaved the mystery elements of the book in through the romance. I get excited to hear when readers have picked up on a clue we’ve dropped!

Ada: I was really just so excited to work with Anne. While I may not be like her in many ways, I find her very sympathetic. I hadn’t dreamed up a new future for her, so finally playing in her world was really satisfying!

  • Your co-written novels are so seamless. What process do you use for co-writing? Do you each write certain scenes/characters/POVs? How do you handle the plotting, edits/rewrites, etc.? How difficult do you find co-writing when living in different parts of the world?

Cass: This is one of Ada’s favourites, so I’ll leave her to answer the various questions more specifically. In summary, though, we both work on every aspect of our co-written novels, whether it is scenes, individual characters or POVs. Plotting is usually a brainstorm at the beginning. There are a LOT of video calls, and this year, Zoom has been our saviour!

Ada: Oo! Oo! Call on me! I am excessively long winded about this so I’ll try to be brief.

We both write everything in the book is the honest truth. Here’s how it works.

1. Cass pitches a plot (the plots I pitch usually involve car chases and Cass leaves those to my solo work).

2. We meet up somewhere on the globe and we talk about it while we walk around areas we think will be used in the book: letting ourselves meander through the story both figuratively and literally until we are ready to write our outline (here is also where we decide on actors to stand in for the image in our heads for each character).

3. We go back home, slightly worse for wear, and I start brazenly writing whatever scene I want while Cass starts exactly where one logically should: at the beginning.

4. We send each other our scenes and start editing what we’ve received from each other. This goes back and forth (each of us adding to the scenes) until one of us gets stuck and starts to doubt the validity of our plans.

5. At 10:30 pm my time and 7am Cass-time we Zoom and work out any kinks (or yell at each other—but usually we just laugh). Then I go to bed and leave Cass to fix the problems. When I wake up, I have a new set of solutions or questions in my email which I try to solve while Cass drinks some wine.

6. When all is mostly said and done we usually do a full read thru with each other out loud to check pacing etc. There’s more, but I can expect your eyes and ears are bleeding so I’ll stop.

Cass: Well it’s sort of like that! We have a 9-hour time difference, and I’m a morning person and Ada’s a night owl, so being so far apart works perfectly for us.

  • What drew you to Austen’s novels, and then to writing Austenesque novels?

Cass: Pride & Prejudice was a set book for an English Literature exam at school when I was 15, and I went on to read all the novels from there. I wrote my first Austen-inspired novel because of the proposal in the rain scene from the 2005 movie. I couldn’t believe, despite the ‘conversation’ that had taken place, that the character of Darcy, as a gentleman, would have left Elizabeth Bennet in a downpour and with no way to get back to Hunsford safely—so I sent him back to her!

Ada: I just love to dream in any of the worlds I love. Add to that how beautifully reserved Austen was with her romantic resolutions and therein lies the connection impetus to dream on paper. 

  • What’s your favorite Austen novel, hero, heroine?

Cass: Persuasion is my favourite, very closely followed by Pride & Prejudice. When I was younger it was the other way around, but I love Captain Wentworth’s letter so much, and find I identify far more with Anne Elliot than Lizzy Bennet, so it’s become my number one. I do also have a soft spot for Mr Knightley, though!

I do wonder what Jane Austen would think of Persuasion’s popularity, especially as she chose not to publish it when she finished writing the novel. Did she plan to make changes? Was it because it resonated too closely with her? I wish we knew!

Ada: Pride & Prejudice is my favorite novel, with Elinor from Sense & Sensibility being my favorite heroine and Captain Wentworth my favorite hero… purely for his letter honestly, I do not love witnessing his flirtations before he gets completely distracted by Anne! 

  • In your previous novels, you merged the past and the present. Do you enjoy writing contemporary novels or Regency-era novels more?

Cass: It wasn’t a conscious thing, but I do find it funny on reflection to have started in the past, then gone on to write time-travel, hopping between the present and the past, and then moving onto contemporary. It’s as though I needed to travel through time myself! 

The big advantage of writing historical is it’s easy to create conflict and stumbling blocks for the characters. You only need a letter to go astray (or where it shouldn’t), or for the weather to play up to impact the characters.

I think I love them equally, and it’s why I’m happy to be able to indulge in all three categories.

Ada: I have to say contemporary because what Cass finds easy (being comfortable writing in a historical setting) I find very difficult. It gives me structure I badly need, but also stifles some of my best jokes 😉 . 

  • Do you want to give us a hint about what’s next, book-wise? Do you have another co-writing project in the works? Anything you’re writing on your own that you’d like to share?

Cass: I have a few projects on the go, and we have third (and final, Ada) time-travel novel to write. We’ve plotted it out and it completes the 3-book series nicely, I think.  My next project, however, will be contemporary. I started a heart-warming romance series set in Cornwall last year and hope to work on the second and third ones this year.

Ada: I also have a few projects “on the go”. We have 3-5 more of our time travel adventures to write (trust me, Cass will cave. We have barely even begun to talk about the gravestones!), and I am writing a romantic suspense series, the first of which is done and the next I am researching—when not hanging over my 5th grader’s shoulder in distance learning. 

  • What books have you read recently that you’d like to recommend, Austenesque or otherwise?

Cass: I’ll be honest and say I read far less than I wish I did. I used to be a prolific reader, but when I’m in full writing mode, I find it hard to come out of the world I am in to read another book. I have made exceptions for my writer friends, though, and as a few of them have new releases coming this year, I’m looking forward to getting back into reading again!

Ada: I am in love with Robert Galbreath’s Coroman Strike series.

Thank you both so much for taking time to answer my questions and for being my guests today! Congratulations on your new book!


About Mr. Darcy’s Persuasion

Two of Jane Austen’s classics collide in this intriguing tale of pride, prejudice and persuasion, set in England’s beautiful West Country.

In the aftermath of the Netherfield Ball, Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are determined to find respite—Darcy from the allure of the lady and the feelings she evokes in him, and Elizabeth from the drama unfolding at Longbourn.

Fate is not done with them, however, as they both—unbeknownst to the other—take refuge on the Kellynch estate in Somersetshire, home to Sir Walter Elliot and two of his daughters.

Whilst Elizabeth takes solace from her friendship with Anne Elliot, Darcy finds little comfort in his reacquaintance with the woman fast taking hold of his heart—or, indeed, in the eldest Miss Elliot’s company, whose fluttering eyelashes make her intentions plain.

As for Anne, it is five long years since she last laid eyes upon Frederick Wentworth, and though her regret lingers, she has found some contentment in life… until distressing news of the captain arrives.

When hints of deep secrets emerge—some recently stolen, others harboured for decades—the mystery begins to wrap tendrils around Darcy as he struggles to free himself from its ever-tightening bonds.

Can Darcy discover the truth before it is too late? Will Elizabeth even care if he does? And just what has become of Captain Wentworth?


About the Authors

Both avid bookworms since childhood, Cass Grafton and Ada Bright write the sort of stories they love to read – heart-warming, character driven and strong on location. Cass loves travelling, words, cats and wine but never in the same glass. Ada loves nothing more than a good, subtle love story… well, except cake. She also really loves cake.

Cass and Ada are close friends who enjoy writing together. Their popular time-travel romance series featuring Jane Austen recently came out on audio and they have just completed a Regency inspired novel, Mr Darcy’s Persuasion, in which two of Jane Austen’s classics collide.

When they are not working together, Cass writes uplifting contemporary romance and Ada writes romantic suspense.  

Connect with Cass & Ada:

Amazon Author Pages

http://author.to/CassGrafton

http://author.to/AdaBright

Blogs

www.cassandragrafton.com

www.tabbycow.com

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/CassGraftonWriter

https://www.facebook.com/cassie.grafton/

https://www.facebook.com/missyadabright

Twitter

@CassGrafton

@missyadabright

Instagram

@cassgraftonwriter

@adacakes


Giveaway

Cass and Ada are generously offering 2 ebook copies of Mr. Darcy’s Persuasion, open internationally. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, March 21, 2021. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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Hello, friends! I’m delighted to welcome Brigid Huey back today to celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Interrupted Plans. Brigid is here to share an excerpt from the novel. Please give her a warm welcome!


Hello, Anna, and thank you for hosting me today! I’m excited to share this excerpt from Interrupted Plans, as it is a very important moment for Elizabeth. In this scene, Mr Darcy and Elizabeth are walking with Miss Darcy and Jane in a small park near the Gardiner’s home.

Beside her, Mr Darcy slowed his steps. She glanced at him quizzically.

“Miss Elizabeth, yesterday at the coaching inn at High Wycombe, you seemed to wish to speak with me about something.”

Oh goodness, he was trying to give her the opportunity to speak her mind! But she could not—not with his sister but five paces ahead. He seemed to follow her gaze because he nodded as if in understanding.

“If this is not a convenient time, I understand. I would not have broached the subject at all—for I have no wish to cause you discomfort—were it not for the possibility that it might bring you relief to speak of the matter, whatever it may be.”

Would it bring relief? Truly she had no idea how Mr Darcy might react to the news. He would be angry; she knew that much. What she did not know was whether his anger would extend to her as well.

“You are very good to be so concerned for my well-being. However, I do not think that this is an opportune moment.”

“Of course, forgive me.”

“Forgive you? The man who made sure to deliver us to our door after misfortune left us stranded? Sir, you are far too severe upon yourself!”

He almost laughed, she was sure of it.

“Perhaps some other time then,” he said at last. “What will you do now that your holiday has been so disrupted?”

“I am not certain. I wish to return home, but I am not sure of Jane’s feelings on the matter. Everything has happened so fast.”

“Was it always your plan to return to Longbourn for the Christmas holidays?”

“Yes, we would have been home by then, surely. Now that our trip is cancelled, perhaps my aunt and uncle can be persuaded to join us. We would be a very merry party. That is, if Mama’s nerves can stand the added noise of four boisterous children.”

“I think I understand your mother on this point,” Mr Darcy conceded.

Elizabeth’s eyebrows rose so quickly that she succeeded in pulling a low chuckle from her companion. “I must confess it: I am not good with children.”

“I daresay you have not had much practice,” Elizabeth replied.

“You are perfectly right. I have not been around any children since Georgiana herself was a child.”

“Miss Darcy does not strike me as one who would have been a particularly boisterous child either.”

“Quite so. She was always quiet. Like me.”

“Whereas I was a bit of a terror. Or so I am told.”

“I cannot believe it of you.” His eyes twinkled at her, and she smiled when she realized he was teasing her. How pleasant it was to be friendly with him now.

“Well, if you can use that lively imagination of yours, do try to picture me as a young girl running through my father’s fields.”

“Climbing trees?”

“Indeed! And chasing rabbits, I daresay. I do remember there was a particular family of barn cats that I befriended.”

“I, too, had a childhood filled with climbing trees and exploring the stables and outbuildings on my father’s estate.”

“The difference being, of course, that you are a man.”

“And as such, it was entirely appropriate for me to climb trees.”

“Whereas my mother had fits whenever I was found out.”

“I can well believe it.”

Elizabeth peered at him, but there was no malice in his tone. He smiled down at her, and she felt herself smiling in return. Time seemed to slow, and she felt the warmth of his eyes in her very bones. He held her gaze unwaveringly, and his smile faded into a look of intense interest. Nay, it wasn’t interest, it was—


About Interrupted Plans

Suppose Elizabeth Bennet never visited Pemberley…

It is October of 1812. Elizabeth Bennet and her family have seen dramatic changes in the past few months—none of them welcome. Her sister Jane needs a fresh start, and Elizabeth is no less eager to leave behind the pain and confusion of not accepting Mr. Darcy’s proposal.

Fitzwilliam Darcy has not seen Elizabeth since he offered for her—and she adamantly refused him. When she appears in London, he is determined to gain her friendship and make amends. When a carriage mishap throws them together, Darcy does all he can to demonstrate his changed behavior.

Though their renewed acquaintance seems to be growing into a genuine friendship, a family secret constrains Elizabeth. As she falls deeper in love with the man she rejected, does she dare tell him the truth?

Buy: Amazon US | Amazon UK


About the Author

Brigid Huey has been in love with Jane Austen since first seeing the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice as a young girl. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two kids and spends her free time reading and writing. She also has an assortment of birds, including five chickens and too many parakeets. She dreams of living on a farm where she can raise as many chickens, ducks, and goats as she likes and write romance novels in an airy study overlooking the wildflowers.

Connect with Brigid: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


Giveaway

Meryton Press is generously giving away 8 eBooks of Brigid Huey’s Interrupted Plans as part of the blog tour, and the giveaway is international. You must enter through this Rafflecopter link.


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

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Happy release day to Jennifer Joy, whose latest novel Forget Me Not, Elizabeth, the 4th book in the Mysteries & Matrimony series of standalone novels, is out today! Jennifer is generously sharing an excerpt from the novel and a giveaway. Enjoy!


While You Were Sleeping meets Pride & Prejudice in this second chance romance! An amnesia-struck bride and her disgruntled groom work together to recover what they lost … and discover in each other a love more profound.  

At first glance, Fitzwilliam looked much the same. Polished, pressed, and perfect. She breathed in his sandalwood shaving soap, felt the warmth of his gaze on her. She searched his face for memories. His hair was slightly rumpled, his eyes haggard. Had sleep abandoned him as it had her?

More than anything else in the world, she wished she could lie and tell him she remembered. That she was safe from danger, and her heart was wholly his again. Elizabeth believed herself capable of loving this man fully, but the past — their past — evaded her.

“I brought something for you,” he said, gesturing out to the hall.

Jane peeked inside. “The crate is in the dining room if you wish to set up the machine.”

“Machine?” Elizabeth asked.

“A transcranial electrical stimulator, to be precise,” offered the colonel.

“Come have a look, Lizzy. Its appearance is dreadful, but I saw how it worked … the effects of it, at least … and found it quite”—Jane’s vision swiveled to Fitzwilliam, and she had to bite her lips before she could continue—“remarkable.”

The colonel chuckled. “Darcy would never have brought the contraption if he thought it could harm you.”

Their defense of the thing made Elizabeth more cautious.

Jane waved her into motion. “Come see for yourself, Lizzy. Mr. Darcy will explain.”

Elizabeth listened closely as they walked down the hall to the dining room. Apparently, the machine involved straps and electricity designed to stimulate the dormant memories trapped in her brain.

Terrifying … and tempting.

Fitzwilliam must have read her doubtful expression. He added, “It came recommended by my family’s personal physician and has been used successfully to treat other patients suffering from inflictions of the mind.” He pulled a letter out of his pocket and handed it to her. “This was written by the inventor. He enumerates his credentials, and he was kind enough to provide a list of cases in which he was able, with the use of this machine, to assist several individuals to full recovery.”

She read the pages and studied the drawings, hesitation gripping her until she came up from her consideration and saw Fitzwilliam’s anticipation plainly etched on his face. He had gone to so much trouble and expense for her. But she was nervous.

She could not yet bring herself to look inside the crate sitting atop the table, knowing her courage might falter unless she was firmly decided first. “It does not hurt?” she asked.

Mr. Bingley snorted, hiding behind his hand and receiving a rare — most likely, his first — disapproving look from Jane.

Nobody seemed eager to reply, which was strange. It was a simple question, and their hesitation was confusing as the scowl on Fitzwilliam’s face and the poorly contained merriment of Mr. Bingley and the colonel led her to conclude that he was the brunt of their joke. She did not imagine Fitzwilliam was the sort of gentleman who enjoyed being laughed at. Few were.

Jane spoke. “From the little I observed, it is quite harmless. Merely … tickles … is that not so, Mr. Darcy?”

He cleared his throat, pulling himself up to his full height. “Aside from the awkwardness of the strap, I felt no discomfort at all. To the contrary, in fact. It gave me a euphoric sensation.”

Colonel Fitzwilliam guffawed. “I should say so! You smiled wider than I have ever seen and laughed longer than I have ever heard. Had you not been strapped down, you would have taken flight!”

Even Jane sniggered, but Elizabeth paid them no heed. Fitzwilliam bore their laugher heroically, embarrassment tinging his cheeks, and convincing her of her course in a heartbeat. “You tried it?” she asked. “For me?”

“I had to make certain it was safe.” He shrugged, as if his thoughtfulness did not mean the world to Elizabeth. She would have kissed him right then, but there were too many spectators, including her mother, who would march them to the church before noon to marry at the slightest display of Elizabeth’s growing affection.

She understood what it meant to feel cherished then. Fitzwilliam had shown her. “Thank you,” she said through her smile.


Doesn’t that make you want to read the rest of the book?!? Grab a copy from Amazon now, or keep reading to find out how to win a copy!


About Forget Me Not, Elizabeth

Can the heart remember what the mind cannot recall?

Elizabeth Bennet’s Happily-Ever-After is shattered when calamity strikes on her wedding day. Unable to remember the man she promised to marry, Elizabeth soon comes to appreciate that Mr. Darcy is the best ally she could have when a series of disasters put her life in peril.

After one failed proposal, Fitzwilliam Darcy is finally confident that Elizabeth returns his love … until she shows up for their marriage ceremony with no memory of him.  Proving his constancy, Darcy sets about courting his betrothed, determined to win her heart — again — but his wooing is interrupted when a mysterious malefactor conspires to keep them apart for good.

Working together, the amnesia-struck bride and her disgruntled groom discover an attachment more profound than the love stolen from them. But will they catch the murderous thief before it is too late?

If you can’t get enough of Mr. Darcy and Miss Elizabeth, then you’ll love this thrilling post-canon, sweet romance based on Jane Austen’s timeless classic, Pride and Prejudice.

Forget Me Not, Elizabeth is the 4th book in the Mysteries & Matrimony series of standalone novels.


About the Author

When Jennifer isn’t busy dreaming up new adventures for her favorite characters, she is learning Sign language, reading, baking (Cake is her one weakness!), or chasing her twins around the park (because … cake). She believes in happy endings, sweet romance, and plenty of mystery. She also believes there’s enough angst on the news, so she keeps her stories lighthearted and full of hope. While she claims Oregon as her home, she currently lives high in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador with her husband and two kids.


Giveaway

Jennifer is generously offering 4 ebook copies of Forget Me Not, Elizabeth to my readers. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, March 7, 2021. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Happy release day, Jennifer! Congratulations on your new book!

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Hello, friends! Riana Everly is back today to celebrate the release of the second book in her Miss Mary Investigates series, Death in Highbury. I’m especially excited about this book because it brings together the worlds of Pride and Prejudice and Emma, which (along with Persuasion) are my favorite Jane Austen novels! Riana is here today to talk about the assassination of Spencer Perceval and how it’s tied to the novel, and to share an excerpt and giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!


Thank you, Anna, for letting me stop by your super blog today as part of my blog tour for Death in Highbury: An Emma Mystery.

In this mystery, Mary Bennet finds herself stranded in Highbury when political chaos erupts in London, preventing her return there. She finds refuge with Emma Woodhouse, and befriends the residents of this Surrey town.

So what happened that threw all of England into such chaos? Nothing less than the assassination of the British Prime Minister! Fortunately for me (but not for the poor PM himself), this worked out perfectly for my story’s timeline.

Here is a quick history of the assassination and of his killer.

On May 11, 1812 at about 5:15 in the evening, British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval was fatally shot in the lobby of the House of Commons in London. He is the only prime minister to have met such a fate. His attacker was a businessman named John Bellingham.

Bellingham was born around 1770 in Huntingdonshire. His father died while he was still a child, and the family lived with assistance from his mother’s brother-in-law, William Daw. When Bellingham grew up, Daw saw him first to the position of a junior officer on a British East India Company ship, and later as a tin plate manufacturer in London. Both ventures were failures, however, and Bellingham narrowly avoided debtor’s prison. He now decided to change his ways and took a position as bookkeeper in a company that dealt with trade with Russia. He was successful enough at this that he was appointed the firm’s representative in Archangel, Russia in 1800.

By 1804 he had returned to England and set up his own business in Liverpool. That year he travelled back to Archangel to oversee some dealings there. He had secured a pass for him, his wife, and infant son to travel to St. Petersburg, but his pass was rescinded by local authorities and he was arrested as being responsible for a supposed unpaid debt by a business associate. Despite an attempt at intervention by Lord Granville Leveson-Gower, the British ambassador in St. Petersburg, Bellingham was imprisoned from February to November of 1805. He sought redress with the Russian government, but only succeeded in angering them, and he was imprisoned again from mid-1806 to late 1809. 

He finally returned home to England and set about demanding compensation for his ordeal from the British government, whom he considered to blame for ignoring his constant appeals for help. He petitioned the Foreign Office, the Treasury, the Privy Council, and Prime Minister Perceval himself, but all pleas were denied. In 1811 he returned to his wife in Liverpool, but he could not abandon his need for justice, and in February of 1812 he returned to London to renew his cause. He met with failure. Seeing no other means of redress, he decided to exact retribution through violence. On April 20, 1812, he purchased two pistols and had a tailor sew an inside pocket into one of his coats.

He carried out the killing in the early evening of May 11, just as parliament was preparing for its evening session. He could have escaped in the chaos that followed the shooting, but instead he sat quietly on a bench until he was seized by an official who had witnessed the event. He submitted without a struggle. When questioned as to why he had done it, he replied that he was rectifying a denial of justice on the part of the government.

Bellingham was detained and sent to trial for the murder of Spencer Perceval four days later. He was deemed to be insane and was convicted and sentenced to hang. He died on the gallows at Newgate Prison on May 18, 1812.

Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the story. Mary is sitting in the Crown Inn in Highbury, reading a letter from her brother-in-law, Mr. Darcy.


But even as the carriage had drawn up to the inn, and as the footman had leapt from the box to announce their arrival and ask after the Darcys, Mary could see that something was amiss. A man who must have been the innkeeper rushed up to the footman and driver and conferred with them in hushed tones, after which Mary was hustled into this small but comfortable salon and presented with a pot of tea and a tray of small sandwiches and this letter. She knew the handwriting well, for Mr. Darcy had a distinctive hand. But the presence of the letter meant that the man himself, and her sister with him, were not here. 

Without reading a word, she could see that something was wrong. The usually smooth and crisp handwriting was jagged and uneven, the result of hurry and distress, a portent of the dreadful matter mentioned within. She read the content, and then in shock, read it again.

Dear Sister Mary,

I must write quickly, and will dispense with pleasantries, for which you may castigate me when next we meet. All your family are well, never fear. But some dire events have occurred in London which prevent your sister and me from meeting you in Highbury as planned, and which must necessitate your remaining in that town for some amount of time. 

I had considered caution in relating this to you out of concern for your sensibilities, but I know you to be a reasonable and intelligent young woman who will not swoon at the news. I will not insult you by refusing to impart it. 

London is all in an uproar tonight, for only minutes ago, from the time that I write, the Right Honourable Spencer Perceval, our Prime Minister, was shot and killed in front of Parliament. I was in the neighbourhood when it occurred and heard the outcry but not the shot, and came right home to write to you.

I have sent Elizabeth back to Longbourn. She is not pleased with me, but her safety is paramount, and she may shout at me for all of her life should she wish. My only concern is her health and wellbeing. I will join her there as soon as I am able to conclude my affairs here, and we will remain there for several days until the City is brought back into order.

I must beg your forgiveness, Mary, for abandoning you in this way, and must entreat you not to return home, nor to travel anywhere near London, until such time as it is safe once more. 

I will not forsake you altogether. I know a gentleman—as fine a man as I have met, and one of the few very sensible people of my acquaintance—who lives not far from Highbury. I have already written to him to request his assistance in providing for your security and comfort whilst we all await a return to order in our country. His name is George Knightley, of Donwell Abbey, and he will see you right. 

I will send this message off at once with a fast rider, along with sufficient funds to see to your immediate comfort at the Crown Inn upon your arrival. (That explained the private salon and the tea and food.) Enclosed please find five pounds for any further needs you might incur, with a promise for more should it be required.

Your affectionate brother,

FD


About Death in Highbury

When political chaos in London forces Mary Bennet to take refuge in the picturesque town of Highbury, Surrey, she quickly finds herself safe among friends. Emma Woodhouse welcomes her as a guest at Hartfield, Jane Fairfax is delighted by her love of music, and Frank Churchill can’t stop flirting with her. But it is not long before Mary starts to suspect that beneath the charming surface, Highbury hides some dark secrets.

Alexander Lyons is sent to Surrey on an investigation, and at his friend Darcy’s request, heads to Highbury to make certain Mary is comfortable and safe. But no sooner does he arrive than one local man dies, and then another!

Soon Alexander and Mary are thrust into the middle of a baffling series of deaths. Are they accidents? Or is there a very clever murderer hiding in their midst? And can they put their personal differences aside in time to prevent yet another death in Highbury?

Buy: Amazon | Universal Buy Link


About the Author

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

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

Connect with Riana: Website | Facebook | Amazon


Giveaway

Riana is generously giving away five eBooks of Death in Highbury worldwide over the course of this blog tour, chosen randomly from people who enter. To enter, please use this Rafflecopter link.

If you don’t like Rafflecopter, you can still enter. Just send Riana an email (riana.everly@gmail.com) saying so, and she will add your name to the list for the draw. The giveaway will close at 12 a.m. EST on February 27, 2021. Good luck!


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

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Hello, friends! I’m delighted to welcome Leigh Dreyer back to Diary of an Eccentric, this time with her father and co-author Paul Trockner, to celebrate the release of Came a Flight Gently, the final installment of the Pride in Flight Series, which is a modern take on Pride and Prejudice. Those of you who know me well know that I adore modern versions of Austen’s novels, and I can’t wait to finally get a chance to read these. Leigh and Paul are here today to share a bit about the research process for the book, as well as an excerpt and a giveaway. Please give them a warm welcome!


(Paul) As a pilot this was the fun part for me.  First I went to the Reno Air Race Association (RARA) website and learned about the various classes and race courses for the event.  There’s lots of linked rabbit holes there to the different class websites, the various class rules etc.  Some of the class websites also had the requirements for pilots and the presentations made to the pilots available.  So I read through those.  The racers call a pylon race “non-cooperative formation”.  So having flown formation in the Air Force that was easy to relate to.  Then on to YouTube while I was walking on the treadmill.  There’s everything from old race videos to pilots describing the modifications they made to their aircraft.  Leigh chose the Lancair after our visit to Reno. So I found a Lancair pilot Youtube and watched that. Before the second book came out we visited the Reno Air Races and talked to some of the pilots and got insight to the training required and problems they had.  Pilots generally are a gregarious bunch when talking about airplanes and flying so for me that was fun.  Finally for the racing portion, the Lancair factory is about an hour away from my home.  So I made arrangements for a visit and talked to Conrad Huffstutler, Lancair President and Reno racer.  I asked for 15 minutes and he generously gave me about 2 hours of his time.  We talked about racing, the course, some tips and how he got started.  Then he showed me his aircraft named “Breathless”.  “Breathless” because it doesn’t have a turbocharged engine.  In it, he won first place in the Silver race in 2019.  Mr. Huffstutler also talked about modifications to the aircraft that had been done or that he considered.  I am really thankful to him as he confirmed some of the things I’d already written.  There was more but as Leigh kept reminding me it’s a romance novel with flying.

Darcy’s military flying was either based on my experience or other stories from people I’d flown with in the service.  Going to an airshow and showing off your cool fighter is one of the best ways to give yourself an ego boost. 

(Leigh) The civilian transition for Elizabeth, I based on my transition after the military.  Military vs Civilian flying are really two different mindsets.  Not better or worse just different.  The difficult part there was trying to make it relatable to the target audience of romance readers.  I had to be reminded that many would skip over something too technically detailed that’s not germane to the romance of the story or the romance of flight.  Elizabeth has both in the book.  I did search and YouTube Bonanza information and spoke to Dan Perry, a coworker who owns a Bonanza.  The American Bonanza Society website had information on the various types and provides training programs that I looked over. 

So summing up.  If you have an interest there’s probably a website to search or a YouTube out there to open up the rabbit hole. 


Excerpt from Chapter Five

“Come in or go out, but shut the door. I finally got it warm enough to work,” a gruff voice called from somewhere inside. She startled but did not move. “In or out, I don’t care. I don’t have any money and the hangar door is frozen shut. Just close the door!”

Elizabeth took a step in and closed the door behind her.

“Thank you! Now, we don’t have lessons. I only work here and don’t have time for side jobs,” came the voice from below the front of the Bonanza.

“I’m not looking for lessons or help,” she said, walking to the voice.

A tool fell to the ground, and she heard some muttering under the plane. “Well, what do you want?”

“I came to see the airplanes.”

“I’d give you a tour but I’m busy. Mrs. Reynolds does all the tours at the big house down the road. Call her and I’m sure she can get you fixed up.”

Elizabeth asked, “May I help?”

“Sure,” the voice said sarcastically. “Do you know what an oil filter wrench looks like?”

“Cap or wrap around?” queried Elizabeth as she turned around, looking around the walls and seeing toolboxes, a large work bench, and various compartments for mechanical paraphernalia.

“Wrap around”—hands appeared from under the plane and pointed—“toolbox on the wall, second drawer, and bring the shallow oil pan, and put it on the bench by the nose.”

“Okay,” she said and worked her way to the toolbox and collected the items. By the time she found the wrench and turned around, the engine of the Bonanza was uncovered, and the body of the voice was back underneath, his coveralls exposed.

“Wrench,” came the command, and she slapped the wrench into his hand like an experienced surgical nurse.

A couple grunts later, the man said, “Here, take the filter to the pan but don’t dump it. Careful, it will spill, and it’s a mess to get off the floor and your clothes.”

Elizabeth took the filter to the oil pan and did as directed, though the process was awkward in her too-large coat and gloves. The mechanic crawled off the floor and followed her.

“Grab that filter cutter.” He nodded with his nose while taking the filter. Placing the cutter over the filter, he cut around carefully and removed the bottom plate. He discarded it and poured the oil. “We’re looking for any metal chunks. There shouldn’t be any.” He took out the filter paper and unwrapped each fold. “Where’d you get that coat? Kinda big for ya. You realize you can order different sizes?”

“My husband’s,” Elizabeth answered, studying the unfolding paper. “Do you send the oil off for spectroanalysis?”

“Not this time. Only every other change,” he said. She noticed him looking at her out the corner of his eye. He pointed again.

When she returned to the table, the mechanic spoke once more. “Have to change her oil every fifty hours. The boss flew it a bunch in December, at least two trips to Texas. Built up the hours quicker than I expected. Grab that new filter. The oil is over there.”

Elizabeth dutifully grabbed the new filter and pushed the oil cart over to the aircraft. The man returned underneath and asked for the safety wire pliers. Elizabeth spotted them within his easy reach. Handing them over, she realized what he had been doing. “That was a test, wasn’t it?”

“Yep,” he answered shortly. After coming back up, the man grabbed a clean, but well-used, funnel and filled the oil.

“Good news, bad news,” he said, looking at Elizabeth. “We’ve changed the oil, but the hangar door is frozen shut so we can’t run’er up and check for leaks.” He discarded the last oil bottle and looked down at her like a professor in a university auditorium. “What do you suggest we do?”

“Frozen at the base, hinge or top?” Elizabeth asked.

“Base.”

“Water, de-ice, shovel, or sledgehammer?”

“Based on the temperature,” he said as he walked across the hangar to a small closet, “water will make it thicker before we can shovel. I’ve got some salt and the sun might be on it by now. We’d break the shovel, but I just so happen to have two sledgehammers.”

“Great. Salt and sledges it is.”

He handed her a bucket full of salt and they tramped outside. Elizabeth felt the oppressive cold freeze her cheeks in seconds and shuddered. The large hangar door was just beginning to come into full sunlight. The mechanic showed her how and where to apply the salt for the best melting effect. Once they got across the entire door, he led her back inside.

“The office is there. Just shut the door. It’ll be nice and toasty for you.”

“Thanks.”

He pointed with his chin back behind them. “There’s two chairs by the office. On the other side, you’ll see a Navy-style coffee maker. It’s water. Hot chocolate, coffee, creamer, and apple cider are alongside. I’ve got to see a man about a horse and will join you in a few.”

Elizabeth settled down to warm herself with some hot chocolate and was blowing the steam from the top when the mechanic returned. Now that they were out of the dimness of the hangar and he was not under an aircraft, she could size him up. He was about six feet tall, with short gray hair and about two hundred pounds. His coveralls were used but neat. He was clean shaven with glasses and a kind smile, surprising, considering the quiz she had just received.

“How’d you find this place?” he asked as he sat down with a cup of coffee.

“Mrs. Reynolds sent me down.”

 “I don’t need any help. I’m fifty-nine, not seventy-nine, for heaven’s sake. I can handle the airplane.”

Elizabeth stifled a smile with her cup. “Maybe she thought with two you’d like an assistant.”

“We’ve had two planes before. When Will and Richard were learning to fly, we had a Citabria and the Bonanza. Mr. Darcy and I taught them. Will’s become a great little pilot, though I shouldn’t let him hear me call him little.” Chuckling, the mechanic continued. “No, not Mr. F-22 fighter pilot.” He straightened himself. “Of course, it’s not an A-10. Now, I think he just got done flying ‘38s.”

“Did you fly in the service?” Elizabeth asked, taking a sip.

“Yep, F-111s, two tours, T-37s in between, A-10s and T-38A and Cs. Around forty-three hundred hours. But what I’m most proud of is over two thousand instructor hours.”

“How’d you become a mechanic?”

“Retired from the service. Got into some financial trouble with my ex-wife. Mr. Darcy, Will’s dad, hired me as an assistant mechanic. I apprenticed for a year, then took over when the other retired.” He looked at her over his glasses. “You aren’t in trouble, are you?”

“No, no.” Elizabeth laughed.

“By the way, I’m Steve Weston,” he said, reaching out his hand.

“Elizabeth Ben—I mean—Elizabeth Darcy.”

“You one of their cousins or something?”

“Or something,” answered Elizabeth, not wanting to ruin the moment.

“Well, hot chocolate’s done. The salt’s probably worked so we have no excuse.”

They donned their gloves again and went back to the doors. The salt had worked and the ice on the doors only required a little persuasion with the sledgehammer. Elizabeth felt a thrill run through her with the physical labor and banging the ice off the door. It’s been too long since I’ve felt useful. After several minutes of work, the large doors creaked open, filling the warmer hangar with cold air.

“We need to work quick,” Mr. Weston called loudly to her from the other side of the hangar. “The block was heated, and it’s been in the hangar, but we need to get the runup done before it cools.”

The aircraft positioned and chocked, Mr. Weston opened the back door and started the engine to let it warm and cycle the propeller. Once shut down, he motioned over to Elizabeth and showed her where to look for leaks. When they found none, they closed the hangar doors and turned up the heater. It was six when they got all the covers put on the plane and it was ready to fly again another day.

“What can you tell me about the Lancair?” she asked, pointing to the candy apple red plane next to Darcy’s Bonanza.

“Not much,” Mr. Weston said as he filed various tools away into their places. “A friend of mine flew it in for Will a couple weeks ago on a ferry permit. The builder did a good job but didn’t fly it. I’ve got the paperwork and books on it. I’ve got to do a condition check and go through all the systems. It’ll take about two months. It has better technology than the Bonanza, well at least newer, composite fuselage, fuel injection. Updated glass cockpit inside. Comfortable, stable, fast, but you have to pay attention more than a 172. You got any time?”

She let her hand glide along the smooth painted wing as she listened. “I’ve my private license and about seventy hours in the T-6.”

“Tailwheel time, eh?”

“Uh, no. The new T-6. I was in the Air Force.”

“Was?”

She shifted uncomfortably as he examined at her. She could practically see the questions running through his mind, though he had not paused his work.

“Yeah, I had a mishap and was medically retired.”

“Hmm, you’ll have to tell me about it sometime. I worked as a safety for a bit, so I enjoy hearing about those things.”

After a pause, Elizabeth summoned the courage to ask: “Mr. Weston, do you still teach?”

“Flying or mechanics?”

“Flying is what I’m most interested in at the moment. I think I would like to get my commercial and become a CFI.”

“Can you afford it? The 172 down the road rents for a hundred and fifty dollars an hour.”

“I think so—my husband has a pretty good gig, and he’s a pilot, too, so I’m sure he’ll be supportive.”

“You’re young. How long have you been married?”

“Almost four months.”

“It will take some time away from him.”

“I think he’ll be okay with it.”

“Huh, let me check with the boss. I don’t think he’d be upset. He just moved back so hopefully no more random trips across the country. Though, with more consistent flying, he might need me around a little more often than in the past.”

“How much will you charge to instruct?” Mr. Weston laughed, a jolly sort of chuckle that Elizabeth found appealing, contrasting his initial porcupine-like personality. He seemed a teddy bear sort of person, one who was initially gruff, but quite warm once he welcomed you to his circle of trust.

“You live near here?”

A smile crossed her face, and she said, “Pretty close.”

“How about you come clean and sweep the hangar, help me with the aircraft, and bring me donuts once a week?”

As she reached out her hand to make the deal, an artic blast came whooshing through the door. Both of them yelled, “Come in or go out, but shut the door!” Shaking hands, they grinned at each other.


About Came a Flight Gently

In the exciting conclusion of the Pride in Flight Series (The Best Laid Flight Plans and The Flight Path Less Traveled), our dear couple Elizabeth and Darcy have moved to Pemberley to begin their lives together. An outsider to New York society and the affluent world of Darcy, our heroine uses her characteristic drive and wit to begin her marriage and all that comes with him. Helped along by Mrs. Reynolds and a curmudgeonly airplane mechanic, Elizabeth discovers a new path to the civilian flight world. Darcy, ever the hero, supports her and learns to trust her instincts. Fast-paced and dramatic, Came a Flight Gently soars through love, adventure, and intrigue as it races through Reno to the finish.

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


About the Authors

Leigh Dreyer is a huge fan of Jane Austen variations and the JAFF community. She is blessed to have multi-generational military connections through herself and her husband, who she met in pilot training. She often describes her formative years in this way: “You know the ‘Great Balls of Fire’ scene in Top Gun (Goose, you big stud!) when Goose and Meg Ryan have their kid on the piano? I was that kid.” Leigh lives with her pilot husband, a plane-obsessed son, a daughter who was a pink pilot for Halloween, and a one-year-old son who is so used to F-16 noise, he does not even startle to sonic booms.  

Paul Trockner was an Air Force fighter pilot for twenty-eight years. He flew the F-111, T-37, A-10, and T-38. He currently teaches fighter pilots using simulator instruction. He has been happily married for thirty-six years to his lovely wife Elizabeth. Leigh is the oldest of his five children.

Connect with Leigh Dreyer: Email: leighdreyerauthor@gmail.com | Facebook | Goodreads | Website


Giveaway

Leigh and Paul are generously offering an ebook of Came a Flight Gently to one lucky reader, open internationally. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, February 28, 2021. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thanks, Leigh and Paul, for being my guests today, and congratulations on your new book!

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Hello, friends! I am thrilled to welcome Heather Moll back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of Nine Ladies, a novel that combines Pride and Prejudice and time travel. Doesn’t that sound fantastic? Heather is here to take you on a tour of Bakewell, which is featured in the novel. Please give her a warm welcome!


Hello Anna and thank you for welcoming me back to Diary of an Eccentric! Today I’m going to take your readers on a tour of some of the real places mentioned in Nine Ladies. Now, I know what some are you are thinking: “Heather, I heard this story has time travel. What is real about that?” While you may not be able to travel through time 200 years by standing in a stone circle during certain solar events, the places that our modern Elizabeth visits before she goes back in time to meet Regency Darcy are real.

I finished the manuscript for Nine Ladies in 2018, and in 2019 I visited Derbyshire with a dear friend for our own Elizabeth Bennet tour. Bakewell was our home-base and it’s also where Elizabeth is staying in 2011 when Nine Ladies opens.

This is Bank House on Bath Street in Bakewell. When Darcy rode through Bakewell in 1811, it was a girls’ school, but by the time Elizabeth comes to England it was converted into 3 flats, and she’s renting the second one from Professor Gardiner.

Elizabeth’s friends from Sheffield decide that she needs some cheering up after her father’s death and they come to spend the weekend with her. They leave her flat and walk toward the town center to have breakfast. They pass the Rutland Arms, an inn built in 1804. Jane Austen is believed to have stayed here in 1811.

By the way, I had an amazing sandwich at the Lambton Larder. Nice name, right?

Elizabeth and her friends, Charlotte Lucas and her sister Maria, Willie Collins, and Missy King, then take a bus to nearby Haddon Hall.

Haddon is a 900 year old manor house that is still a private residence and one of the only houses in England that has remained in one family’s ownership. It was empty throughout the Georgian and Victorian era while the family lived elsewhere. When Elizabeth visits Haddon in Nine Ladies, she’s not impressed by the Tudor and Medieval styling, but she does like the terraced walled gardens.

Later, her friends have to decide to visit either a Bronze Age stone circle or the ruins of a Georgian-era home. They decide on the ruins, but the stone circle stays in Elizabeth’s mind.

Of course, they have to finish the afternoon with a Bakewell pudding. This is my friend’s dessert because I ate mine too fast before it even occurred to me to take a picture of it.

After her friends leave, Elizabeth decides to see the Nine Ladies stone circle herself. She walks to Stanton Moor and sees the real Nine Ladies, a stone circle that’s 4,000-years old.

In Nine Ladies, if you stand in the center of the stone circle at sunset on an equinox—in the 21st century—you’ll go back in time 200 years. The one-way portal opens again on a solstice, and anyone inside will move forward in time from the 19th century to the 21st.

I stood in the center of that stone circle for a while, but I didn’t go anywhere. No regency men for me. But if you read Nine Ladies you’ll find out what happens when a 21st century Elizabeth goes back in time to meet 19th century Darcy.


About Nine Ladies

The Darcy family has grudgingly kept the secret about the power contained within a nearby stone circle called Nine Ladies. Fitzwilliam Darcy is forced to contend with this secret when a young woman from the future appears at Pemberley. Until the opinionated stranger can return to when she belongs, Darcy is responsible not only for her safety, but also for ensuring that nothing she does threatens Pemberley’s well-being.

Elizabeth Bennet has returned to England to take care of her estranged father, and her life was off track long before she walked into that stone circle at sunset. She quickly discovers that, as a poor and single woman, she’ll have to rely on the arrogant Mr. Darcy. She tries her best to survive in the nineteenth-century until she can return home but, as she and Darcy grow closer, the truth she knows about his and Pemberley’s bleak future becomes harder to keep.

How can Darcy and Elizabeth overcome 200 years of differences in this era-spanning love story?

Buy on Amazon


About the Author

Heather Moll is an avid reader of mysteries and biographies with a masters in information science. She found Jane Austen later than she should have and made up for lost time by devouring her letters and unpublished works, joining JASNA, and spending too much time researching the Regency era. She is the author of Nine Ladies, Two More Days at Netherfield, and His Choice of a Wife. She lives with her husband and son and struggles to balance all of the important things, like whether or not to buy groceries or stay home and write. Visit her blog and subscribe to her newsletter for a freebie and monthly updates. Connect with her on FacebookGoodreadsInstagram, and Twitter.


Giveaway

Heather is generously offering a giveaway of 6 ebook copies of Nine Ladies as part of the blog tour, open internationally. This giveaway ends on February 13. You must enter through this Rafflecopter link. Good luck!


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

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Hello, friends! Grace Gibson is here today to celebrate the release of her newest Pride and Prejudice variation, Reckless, Headstrong Girl, part of Meryton Press’s Skirmish & Scandal series. Grace is here to share an excerpt from the book that we hope you’ll all enjoy. Please give her a warm welcome!


Thank you for having me Anna! I would like to share a little excerpt from Reckless, Headstrong Girl. Shortly after her elopement with George Wickham, Lydia Bennet has found herself in a bit of a pickle…

Shock, having taken hold, suspended even the silliest thoughts that were prone to arise in the mind of Miss Lydia Bennet, age fifteen, of Longbourn, Hertfordshire. She was acutely aware of the rumble of the wheels of the retreating coach, the low chuckle of the outrider, the subsequent chirping of crickets in the ditch, a few stars shining through the humid haze, and the throbbing in her rear from being thrown onto the hardened clay of the ruts in the road. How long she sat slumped and uncomprehending in this state she could not guess, but eventually, outrage replaced shock, and she staggered upright and screamed at the top of her lungs.

After venting the worst of her rage in roars and unholy howls of indignation, she devolved into sobs, hiccoughs, and moans. Lydia Bennet stood—alone—upon the London road in the dark. Surely Wickham would come back for her, she began to reason, although reasoning was not her strong suit. He could not be so lost to honor and duty that he would abandon a gentleman’s daughter in the wilds of West Sussex in the middle of the night.

Roughly two hours later, Lydia began to think that perhaps Mr. Wickham was not a gentleman after all. When he finally returned for her, she would tell him off at the top of her lungs! This seemed a paltry punishment for what he had done to her, and yet, as she would be dependent upon him to restore her to Colonel Forster’s home, she could hardly tear out his liver with her bare hands. The image of doing so, however, was quite sustaining. Consequently, Lydia—thinking darkly of throwing George Wickham’s beloved Hessians into the fire, cutting his pomaded curls off his head as he lay in a drunken stupor, seeing him bound, pale and weeping, in a tumbrel headed for the guillotine, or paying a thoroughly disreputable sea captain to press him into the lower decks of a second-rate ship headed for Java—finally looked around her. She could hardly remain standing in the road. If the night mail were to pass, she would be plowed down by a team of six at the gallop.

If you are curious as to what happens next in Lydia’s adventure, part two of this excerpt will be featured on February 8th at Austenesque Reviews. Hope to see you there!


About Reckless, Headstrong Girl

A scandalous flight, an inconsiderate couple—

How can things have gone so terribly wrong for Lydia Bennet?

In Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, Lydia Bennet runs away from Brighton with George Wickham, but this adaptation of Lydia’s adventures is not your typical story about this brash couple.

Mr. Wickham, proving he is no gentleman, does the unthinkable and casts Lydia out of a second-rate coach. Filthy, exhausted, and penniless, Lydia is just facing the beginning of her ordeal! How can a spoiled, uneducated girl of fifteen—used to having her way—survive a night in the wilds of Sussex?

As Mr. Bennet and Mr. Gardiner vainly search for her in London, Lydia’s sisters struggle to keep her secret from their Meryton neighbors. Though they fear the worst—that Lydia’s wild life has ended in tragedy—all hope is not lost. Mr. Darcy, in the midst of reigniting his courtship with Elizabeth, is determined to recover his love’s unfortunate sibling.

Will Mr. Darcy succeed in finding Lydia and restoring her to respectability? In what shocking condition will this catastrophe render such a reckless, headstrong girl?

*****

The novella, Reckless, Headstrong Girl, may be purchased on Amazon US and Amazon UK. It is available as an eBook, a Paperback, and through Kindle Unlimited. The audiobook, narrated by Stevie Zimmerman, should be released in about a month.


About the Author

In addition to mosaic art, which I create at Studio Luminaria, my home-based glass shop in El Paso, Texas, I enjoy writing regency romance and Pride and Prejudice variations for pleasure.   

Contact Info:  Facebook

Other Books by Grace Gibson

Silver Buckles is available on Amazon. “Old Boots” will be coming summer 2021.


Giveaway

Meryton Press is generously offering 1 ebook copy of Reckless, Headstrong Girl to my readers. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway is open internationally through Sunday, February 14, 2021. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!


Thank you for being my guest today, Grace, and congratulations on your new book!

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Happy release day to Elaine Jeremiah and her first Pride and Prejudice variation, Elizabeth & Darcy: Beginning Again. Elaine is here to talk a little about the book and share an excerpt. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. Please give her a warm welcome!


I’m really excited to do this guest post today, on the publication day of my very first ‘Pride and Prejudice’ variation, ‘Elizabeth and Darcy: Beginning Again’. Thanks to Anna for featuring me on her blog! I thought I would share with you some thoughts about what are to me some of the most appealing aspects of the original ‘Pride and Prejudice’ story, things that make us want to read so many retellings of it.

Well, I guess unsurprisingly, the biggest draw for me is the two main characters, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy. Aren’t they just great? They’re so memorable and feel so real. I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing I could be more like Elizabeth Bennet; confident, forthright and witty.

And Mr Darcy. Hmm – he’s just about the best romantic hero ever written. I say that most of all because of the way that after Elizabeth so flatly refuses his first marriage proposal, in no uncertain terms, he goes away and reflects on what she’s said and starts to re-evaluate himself as a person. Over time he realises there’s a lot of truth in what she’s said to him about his character and he begins to change.

The amazing thing is – so does Elizabeth! She too, having read Darcy’s letter after that first disastrous proposal, gradually begins to see things from his point of view. She starts to see that she’s been wrong as well in her behaviour at times – ‘Till this moment, I never knew myself’ – perhaps one of the most famous lines in the novel.

Austen’s tale of Elizabeth and Darcy is perfect, really great – and yet ripe for retelling! You can tell the story so many ways; there are so many ‘what ifs?’ What if Darcy and Elizabeth didn’t meet again in Derbyshire after the first proposal? What if they met when they were very young? What if they meet when they’re older? The possibilities are endless.

The secondary characters are so good too. Who could forget the venomous Miss Bingley, saintly Jane Bennet or the permanently marriage-obsessed Mrs Bennet? There are so many other wonderfully unforgettable characters who it’s possible to use in retellings of ‘Pride and Prejudice’, let alone all the possibility for stories about the secondary characters themselves.

Another thing that I love is the Regency era during which ‘Pride and Prejudice’ was written and in which it’s set. I love the history of the time in which Jane Austen lived, reading about the events that took place during her lifetime and how different society was in England back then. It’s so very different from life in England in the twenty-first century! So that’s another definite draw for me to want to write a novel set in that era.

There’s so many reasons I love Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, almost as many reasons why I love to read retellings of the story, and also a whole load of reasons why I loved writing my own retelling of it myself. I do hope you enjoy reading my book as much as I enjoyed writing it.


An excerpt from Elizabeth & Darcy: Beginning Again

As Darcy strode away from Elizabeth Bennet, he contemplated the situation they had found themselves in. Being unable to find help did not bode well. If or when they were discovered alone together, they would have difficulty explaining how it came to pass. He was unsure what he would say in his defence if they were.

He reflected too on his ambiguous feelings for the lady. It was true that she was the daughter of an inconsequential gentleman and her other relations… well vulgar did not begin to describe the mother. As for her sisters, excepting the eldest, Miss Jane Bennet who was perfectly amiable, he had never come across such boisterous, flirtatious misses in his life.

And yet he could not deny that Elizabeth intrigued him. She piqued his interest and those eyes of hers were most arresting. He shook his head as he thrashed his riding crop through the foliage of the woods, forcing a path through. Their meeting today was unaccountable. His very purpose for heading out from Netherfield on his horse, despite the indifferent weather, had been to clear his thoughts of her.

These nascent feelings for her simply would not do. She and her family were beneath him in every way. So it was that his surprise on happening upon her so suddenly had been great. At first, dismounting from his horse, he had felt as though he had been robbed of the power of speech. When finally he had turned and spoken to her, he saw by the expression of her fine eyes that her surprise was equal to his.

‘Attend to the task at hand, William,’ he told himself. At this moment, his biggest regret ought to have been his horse. Under usual circumstances, the horse would never have behaved in such a way. But he was unused to thunder and lightning, poor creature. Darcy had also had to rein him in very suddenly to avoid trampling Elizabeth, which had only added to the horse’s confusion.

In spite of his attempts to the contrary, however, Darcy’s thoughts would return to Elizabeth. He felt a need to protect her. After all, it was his fault she was injured. It was true that he had no wish to ruin her reputation; in fact, he knew that as a gentleman it was his duty to preserve it. Yet it was something greater than that which spurred him on, forcing him to ignore the raindrops trickling down the back of his neck, his cravat and greatcoat no match for the inclement weather.

He refused to acknowledge that feeling, however. It could lead nowhere. In any case, there were more important considerations to be thought of. He was unsure how long he had been walking for, but at that moment a smallish wooden hut with a stone chimney came into view. He halted abruptly, surveying it. Would it do for their purposes? Was it habitable? Although it was rudimentary, it appeared well kept. When he knocked, there was no answer. Taking a breath, he tried the door and to his relief discovered it was unlocked.

Darcy took a cursory glance around the interior. There was only the one room, but it did have a substantial fireplace on the far wall with firewood piled up beside it and a small bed in one corner. This will do nicely, he thought. Now all that remained was to fetch Elizabeth. It was a considerable distance for him to carry her, but the thought of having her small, warm, curvaceous body in his arms again made his mouth curve upwards in a grin.

~

Could this moment really be lasting an eternity, Elizabeth wondered, as she was sitting under the tree getting wetter by the minute. It certainly felt like it. The pain in her ankle was severe and it occurred to her that it may be broken. God forbid, she thought with a shudder. If she had broken a bone in her ankle and it was then set incorrectly, it could mean she would never walk again.

And Mr Darcy. Elizabeth could not make him out. In all her previous encounters with him, he had been aloof, taciturn and on occasion more than a little rude. During the short time she had been in his company this morning however, he had behaved with great chivalry towards her. It was perplexing to say the least. She shook her head. Mr Darcy was only performing the service that any gentleman would and that was all.

But his keeping hold of her hand for longer than necessary. What could he mean by it, if he truly disliked her? Attempting to answer this vexing question kept her mind occupied for a good while, in fact until the gentleman himself appeared in front of her. Elizabeth felt her face flush and bit her lip as her eyes met Mr Darcy’s own.

For a moment neither of them spoke but remained as they were with their eyes fixed on one another. It was as though someone had cast a spell over them. Elizabeth was startled that Mr Darcy seemed as transfixed as she. She wanted and yet did not want to look away. Finally, he cleared his throat. The spell was broken and he said, ‘Miss Bennet, I have discovered the gamekeeper’s cottage that you mentioned, although in truth it is more of a hut.’ He gave her a rueful smile, which seemed somehow to transform his face, lightening it, making him appear even more handsome than before.

She gave him a brief nod. ‘Thank you for searching in this dreadful weather,’ she said. ‘It may be a mere hut, but I think it is the best we can hope for. Beggars cannot be choosers.’

‘No, indeed,’ he replied. He paused and she saw that he seemed to be bracing himself for what he would say next. ‘Unfortunately, it is quite far from here, about a half mile. Miss Bennet, I must carry you for all of that time, if you will permit me?’

‘But of course,’ she replied. ‘I suppose that will have to suffice, as my ankle can scarcely support my weight.’

He gave a wry smile at her tart comment. ‘In that case, I suggest we depart immediately,’ he said and stooped to pick her up. She put her arms around his neck. ‘You are wet through,’ he added as he straightened and began to walk away from the tree which had proved so mean a shelter for her.

‘It is a very wet day, sir,’ Elizabeth replied lightly. ‘I cannot be expected to look the part of a lady in conditions such as these,’ she added in a mischievous tone.

He did not understand her. ‘Miss Bennet, I was not suggesting for one moment that you…’

‘Of course not, Mr Darcy,’ she replied. ‘I merely jest.’

‘Ah. I see,’ was his response.

They remained silent for a while as Mr Darcy soldiered on through the rain with Elizabeth in his arms. Gradually, her initial apprehension began to wear off and she found herself relaxing the rigid body posture she had adopted when he had lifted her off the ground. His arms around her made her feel warm in spite of the weather. Yet a sense of unease remained. She, an unmarried woman, was being carried a fair distance by a man who was not her betrothed and certainly never likely to be her husband. What would society say?


About Elizabeth & Darcy: Beginning Again

Little does Elizabeth Bennet think the journey across muddy fields from her home at Longbourn to Netherfield Park will change her life forever.

But an unexpected encounter with the proud and haughty Mr Darcy leaves her injured and vulnerable. Worse still, she is left alone with him for a significant amount of time. Her reputation at risk, she is forced to make a decision about her future. Now her life will never be the same again.

Can Elizabeth ever be happy? Or will she always loathe Mr Darcy?

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


About the Author

Elaine lives in Bristol, South West England with her husband and their golden retriever, Dug. But she was privileged enough to grow up in Jane Austen country, in Hampshire.

She’s always loved writing, but it’s only been in recent years that she’s been able to devote more time to it. She decided to self-publish with the help of her wonderful husband who’s very tech-savvy! In 2013 she self-published her first novel, but it was only with her fourth, her novel ‘Love Without Time’, that she felt she finally found her niche: Jane Austen Fan Fiction!

She’s always loved Jane Austen’s writing and the Regency era, so this felt like a natural thing for her to do. ‘Elizabeth and Darcy: Beginning Again’ is the first ‘Pride and Prejudice’ variation she’s written.

If you want to connect with Elaine online, her Facebook page can be found here:

https://www.facebook.com/elainejeremiahauthor/

Her Twitter handle is: @ElaineJeremiah

Her website is here: https://elainejeremiah.co.uk/


Giveaway

Elaine is generously offering 2 ebook copies of Elizabeth & Darcy: Beginning Again to my readers. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, February 7, 2021. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!


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

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Hello, friends! C.P. Odom has a new Pride and Prejudice variation, Determination, and I’m excited to welcome him back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate the release. He’s here today to share an excerpt, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Please give him a warm welcome!


This excerpt is from Chapter 8 of my new novel, Determination. Since the released blurb on the cover and previous excerpts in the blog tour make it evident that Colonel Fitzwilliam is in romantic pursuit of Jane Bennet, the colonel issued an invitation for Jane, Elizabeth, and her aunt and uncle to be his guests at the theatre for a new production of Shakespeare’s Julius Ceasar. This excerpt is about what happens during that excursion.

Chapter 8

He is not a lover who does not love forever.

— Euripides, writer of classical Greek tragedies

Friday, May 1, 1812
Covent Garden, London

Jane looked out the window in surprise as her uncle’s carriage slowed and came to a halt. Shoppers still thronged the pedestrian walkways to either side of the street since many of the shops along Bow Street stayed open until ten o’clock or even later. But there was no sign of the theatre.

“Why have we stopped, Uncle?” Elizabeth asked, leaning out of the window for a better look. A series of dividers separated the pedestrians from the streets, and she was surprised to see a line of carriages ahead of their coach with several more stopping just behind.

“Covent Garden is the largest theatre in town, Lizzy, and it is usually considered to be the leading theatre of the English-speaking world. Only Drury Lane came close, but the rebuilding likely will not be completed until the fall. Even then, it is uncertain whether it will be able to open since the management is said to have been virtually bankrupted by the cost of the renewal.”

“I thought a new company had been formed to cover the cost of rebuilding by subscription,” Mrs. Gardiner said.

“Quite correct, dear, but subscriptions have proven barely able to keep up with costs. Whitbread and his fellow investors are said to have little left in their purse. In any case, Lizzy, there is always a line of coaches, carriages, and hacks waiting to drop their passengers in front of the theatre. We shall simply have to wait our turn.”

Both Jane and Elizabeth settled back to look out at the shops on either side of the street, and there was much to see. Streams of people strolled along the street, pausing occasionally to inspect the various offerings in the fine, high windows. There were drapers, stationers, booksellers, china sellers, and many more, all close to each other and without any break between shops. The shoppers were dressed well but not opulently. Covent Garden and similar shopping areas such as Leicester Square and the Strand were not in the most fashionable areas, but the shops were still genteel and respectable.

The girls had shopped often with their aunt in Cheapside, which was not so very different from the scene they saw here, but everything was significantly altered at night as the streets were lit by a multiplicity of lamps and lanterns of all different colours and brightness. Jane pointed out a dressmaker’s establishment that showed women’s materials—silks, chintzes, muslins, and more—many of them visible behind the windows lit by carefully placed lamps to pique the interest of those passing by.

Just then, their coach lurched into motion again, and they moved up a coach-length before again halting.

“We could get out and walk,” Elizabeth commented, “and then we could inspect the shops more easily.”

“Ah, but it is not done that way,” responded her uncle with a smile. “The theatre employs people who will stop the pedestrians when we alight from our coach, forming a line so we may enter the theatre. If we walked up to the entrance, we would be simply more pedestrians, either forced to enter with those buying tickets or directed away from the arriving coaches. In addition, I should not like to try escorting three ladies past all these merchants’ windows and still arrive in time for the beginning of the play.”

Elizabeth sniffed audibly to show her opinion of this last comment and returned to inspecting the businesses on her side of the coach while her uncle and aunt shared a soft laugh at her expense.

“It is too bad Miss Lucas declined to attend, dear,” Mr. Gardiner said to his wife. “She might have enjoyed the shops even if she does not care for Shakespeare.”

“I believe she would have liked to come, if only to be able to say she had attended the theatre and seen all of the finest society in London. Why, I understand the Prince Regent will be attending tonight,” responded his wife. “But Maria must have eaten some bad meat when we were at the market yesterday. I especially suspect that beef pie she purchased from the gypsy.”

How Maria would have loved to boast that she dined nine times at Rosings with her ladyship, drank tea there twice, AND attended the theatre when the Prince Regent was in attendance, Elizabeth thought sardonically. Silly girl. I told her not to buy that pie.

Gradually, their coach moved up position by position, and Elizabeth happened to be looking at Jane when she saw her sister’s expression change. Jane had been idly looking at the shops on her side of the coach when her head suddenly swivelled and stopped. Her eyes seemed to sharpen and focus, and her whole expression softened even as her lips curved into a smile.

“There is Colonel Fitzwilliam waiting for us,” she said.

“I daresay he is waiting, Jane,” Mr. Gardiner commented dryly, “but I believe I am correct when I say he is not waiting for your aunt and me.”

“And as amiable as I find the gentleman, I am certain he is not waiting for me either,” Elizabeth said teasingly.

Jane’s cheeks grew a little pinker, and she lowered her eyes, but Elizabeth was sure she was not displeased. However, she could not help feeling a pang of regret when she thought of Mr. Bingley.

Had it not been for Mr. Darcy’s arrogant interference, that might be Mr. Bingley waiting, she thought angrily. No matter how Colonel Fitzwilliam might try to change my mind, I do not believe I can ever forgive Mr. Darcy for that.

***

As soon as their carriage stopped in front of the theatre, two servants in Covent Garden livery quickly opened the door and pulled down the step. Mr. Gardiner would normally have exited first in order to assist his wife and nieces, but he waved Jane ahead since the colonel was already stepping forward to do the honours.

Richard’s breath caught in his throat as Jane stepped through the door of the coach, bent over slightly to duck under the top of the door frame. She thus presented to him a most enchanting view down the front of her fashionably low-cut evening gown.

Her aunt had ordered the gown prepared early in Jane’s visit in order to show off her niece’s figure to best advantage though Jane had never had occasion to wear it until her aunt suggested she do so tonight. Mrs. Gardiner’s suggestion certainly achieved the intended result. Richard was not able to keep his eyes from dropping to Jane’s bodice and the view of her neckline as her breasts swelled against the constraints of her gown. He was at least able to make himself wrench his eyes away after a moment so he could accept Jane’s hand as she straightened and stepped to the ground.

Does she know just how enticing she looks? he wondered in numb confusion. Does she have any idea of the effect she is having on me—and on any other man looking this way?

Only manners strengthened by rigid self-control allowed him to exchange greetings with her, though he really wished to simply step back and stare. He did not think he had ever seen a young lady more beautiful in her person or more attractively attired, though he knew enough about women’s fashion to realize that Jane’s gown was nothing extraordinary. It was quite in keeping with the fashion of the day, heavily influenced by the move towards the more simplified and classical styles of Greece and Rome. The waistline was high, and the material was an inner layer of fine white linen with an outer layer of sheer white silk. Gone were the heavy brocades of the previous century, replaced by the clean lines that fell from the high waist just under her bosom all the way to her hem. The sleeves were short, hardly more than straps across the shoulder to support the dress while allowing a low, square-cut neckline to show off the snow-white perfection of a lady’s bosom.

It is a beautiful gown that many a high-society daughter could not wear with more credit, Richard thought. They might pick elaborate gowns with more embroidery and a much higher price, but they could not look as beautiful as this country lass before me—or as desirable.

The addition of physical desirability to his already fixed admiration for this striking young woman only firmed his already expressed intentions, and the soft smile she gave him sent a tingling sensation down his spine and made his blood seem to sing in his veins. He believed he would never forget this moment, his varied emotions twisting, turning, and melting together until no single strand could be untangled from the others.

My intentions are already declared, at least to her uncle, but tonight makes me absolutely determined that nothing—absolutely nothing—shall sway me from winning her and making her my bride.

“Colonel Fitzwilliam?”

The note of query in Elizabeth Bennet’s voice brought Richard’s attention back to the present as he realized that, despite his attempt at self-control, he had clearly been staring too long at her sister. He was quick to turn back to the coach and assist Miss Elizabeth to the ground. The expression on her face was clear: she knew it was the sight of Jane’s exposed bosom that had paralysed him.

And it was clear that she did not approve.

***

Richard was correct in his supposition since Elizabeth had heartily disagreed with her aunt’s suggestion for Jane’s gown earlier that day, believing it was much too revealing.

“Lizzy, you are in London, the largest and most cosmopolitan city in the world,” Mrs. Gardiner had said with a smile. “Every woman attending the theatre for this opening performance will be dressed in her absolute best evening wear with considerable shoulder and bosom on display.”

At Elizabeth’s disbelieving look, her aunt had continued. “It is not customary or proper to wear a low-cut or short-sleeved gown to an afternoon event, even in London, but it is quite appropriate for the evening. Trust me, all the younger women tonight—both married and unmarried—will be showing considerable bosom. Jane will be much admired by all the men—and envied by all the women.”

“Especially one young man,” Elizabeth had grumbled under her breath.

“Well, I certainly hope so,” her aunt had replied merrily. “After all, we women have to use whatever assets God has given us.”

Elizabeth was well aware that her aunt was more sophisticated than either Jane or herself, but it was still startling to accept her aunt’s intention to make the best use of the impact Jane’s innocent but nevertheless undoubted sexuality would have on a healthy young man, even one as urbane as the son of an earl. Then she had a further thought.

“Will you be wearing…that is…”

“Will I be wearing anything similar to Jane, even at my ancient age?”

Mrs. Gardiner had laughed delightedly as Elizabeth turned bright red in embarrassment. “Yes, Lizzy, I have something in mind for myself also. After all, I have a man in my life to entice, even if we have had four children. I just wish I had had time to have something as alluring made for you, especially if your Mr. Darcy decides to accompany his cousin.”

“He is not my Mr. Darcy,” Elizabeth had said instantly, startled and upset. But her aunt had simply given her a sly smile, which had left Elizabeth feeling decidedly unsettled.

***

Elizabeth was easily able to discern that Fitzwilliam was having difficulty breaking away from the vision of her sister though he did manage to straighten and mumble a greeting to her. But Elizabeth was inwardly certain that he had little awareness of what he said, and he looked distinctly relieved as he saw Mr. Gardiner step next into the doorway. That meant her uncle could assist his wife, which allowed the colonel to turn back to Jane and offer his arm. Elizabeth was warmed and disturbed at the same time as she saw the animation of her sister’s smile when she took the proffered arm.

But Fitzwilliam appeared more in control of himself as he offered his other arm to Elizabeth, and she lost little time in taking it. She had managed to quell her irritation by now, and her expression was one of careful calm. She knew it would do no good to poison the relationship between Fitzwilliam and herself. Even if she thought Bingley would have been a better match for Jane, it was obvious that Jane was captivated by the colonel. If he did as he had told her uncle and managed to marry Jane, it would be disastrous not to be able to visit her beloved sister because of the disapproval of her husband.

Two uniformed doormen opened the theatre doors as they approached, giving them all a bow. Elizabeth looked around in interest once they were inside, and she quickly realized her aunt had been correct about the eveningwear of the ladies. All the fashionable women walking about on the arms of their escorts or waiting to go to their seats were elaborately coifed and gowned, many in attire even more revealing than Jane’s.

Several of them should have exerted a bit more common sense and self-control, considering they no longer have Jane’s or even my aunt’s figure, Elizabeth thought puckishly, her usual nature beginning to reassert itself. She also apprehended that Aunt Gardiner had been right about Jane’s effect on the men.

The contortions some of these gentlemen are going through in trying to get a closer look at her without offending their present partners would be quite entertaining if it were not so necessary to maintain my composure.

For a moment, Elizabeth felt a brief flash of jealousy that she was not the cause of so many men trying to get a better look, but she easily repressed it. She had deliberately dressed in an understated gown that would have been appropriate for visiting but was rather out of place tonight. However, she felt little desire to attract the attention of other men. Having so unwittingly attracted the attention of Mr. Darcy, she had no desire for further interest along those lines.

The noise level had increased remarkably once they were inside the foyer, and Jane had to lean towards Richard as she said, “There are more people here tonight than I had expected. Is it very expensive to attend this theatre, Colonel Fitzwilliam?”

“Not unduly so, Miss Bennet. The ground level boxes go for six shillings, and a great number of people from all walks of life attend every week. It appears they will be playing to a full house tonight.”

“Where shall we be sitting?”

“We have the good fortune to have the loan of a private box, so we should have an excellent view. We go up these stairs just ahead,” Richard said, nodding towards the stairway. An employee in evening dress was passing parties up the stairs and, when their turn came, Richard handed him the card Darcy had given him. The man took only a cursory look at it since Richard had taken the precaution of presenting the card prior to the arrival of the Gardiner party.

The man snapped his fingers, and one of several uniformed boys sprang to his side.

“Enjoy the performance, Colonel Fitzwilliam,” the man said as he handed the card to the boy.

“Thank you, Logan, we shall,” responded Richard politely.

“After me, if you please.” The boy, who appeared to be about twelve or thirteen, led the party up the stairs and down a long, narrow hallway.

“Here you are, ladies, gentlemen.” He opened a door towards the end that led into a box. “Enjoy the play.”

“Thank you,” Richard said, giving the boy a shilling. Mr. Gardiner gave him another, and the boy grinned widely at his good fortune.

“Thank you, sirs!” he exclaimed before he scampered down the narrow hall, expertly squeezing past the next party being led to their box by one of his fellows.

“Now we know why they employ boys,” Mr. Gardiner said. “They are small enough to get past parties coming this way.”

The box had seats for six, three in front and three behind, with the chairs in front on a lower step so the view from the rear was unimpeded. The chairs were comfortably made with cushions on the seat and back as well as upholstered arms.

***

“Would you and Mrs. Gardiner care for the lower seats, sir?” Richard asked. “Or perhaps we could let the ladies sit in front while we sit behind.”

“No, no, you young people sit down front. I only need my spectacles to read—my vision is otherwise quite excellent. Mrs. Gardiner and I shall make ourselves comfortable in the rear.

And you will also be able to keep an eye on your two nieces, thought Richard with amusement as he recognised Mr. Gardiner’s ploy. Who knows what might happen with Jane dressed as she is?

Richard made sure that Elizabeth did not manage to separate him from Jane, and before she realized what was happening, he had offered her the left hand seat. She had no choice but to take it, which allowed Richard to seat Jane in the middle seat. He took the remaining seat on the right while Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner settled down in the two seats on the right directly behind Jane and him.

Richard saw Elizabeth looking at him in a speculative fashion, and he arched an interrogative eyebrow. The interior of the box was only dimly lit, but their eyes were rapidly growing used it.

“Yes, Miss Elizabeth? Did you have a question?”

“Not a question, sir, a compliment on the skilful way you arranged the seating.”

“Tactics—my soldier’s training, you know. But I do want to offer you a compliment on your diligence in attending your sister. No ne’er-do-well shall get close to her with you providing protection.”

“Surely you are not suggesting you fall into that category.” Elizabeth gave him her sweetest smile but with the light of deviltry dancing in her eyes. She might prefer Bingley as a husband to her sister, but she did very much like Fitzwilliam. “Yet I do note with dismay that you have reverted to your beloved uniform again. And just when Jane and I had reason to believe your wardrobe of fashionable attire was rather extensive.”

“I am afraid your sister has caught me out, Miss Bennet,” Richard remarked, turning now to Jane. “Either your assessment of my indifference to fashion was correct, or I have exhausted the only two pieces of gentlemanly attire I own.”

“Ignore her, Colonel,” replied Jane with a smile. “She and I often tease our younger sisters about swooning over a red coat, but I think your uniform suits you perfectly.”

“I hope I might be introduced to your other sisters soon,” Richard said quietly, his nerves tingling as he awaited an answer to this probe.

Jane was conscious of a sudden constriction in her throat at this indication that Richard’s interest would not be limited to her tenure in London. She had to swallow several times before she could finally say, “If…if you visit our home in Hertfordshire, I shall be glad…very glad…to introduce you.”

“Excellent,” Richard said, feeling a weight lift off his shoulders. “Perhaps I might pay your family a visit Saturday week? I know you travel home tomorrow.”

“I…I shall look forward to seeing you again,” Jane said quietly, and the softness in her eyes as she looked at him made Richard feel about six inches taller.

However, he caught the expression on her sister’s face, and he was not at all sure what to make of it. Not disapproval, exactly, just…assessing. But assessing what?

“I am not at all familiar with this play,” Jane said as they waited for the theatre to fill. “Lizzy and I were usually more interested in the comedies and the tragedies.”

“The tragedies, Miss Bennet?” Richard asked, arching his eyebrows. “I am dreadfully sorry, but I have great difficulty picturing you delving into King Lear.”

“Well, perhaps my interest did lie more towards the comedies,” admitted Jane sheepishly.

Richard fixed his eyes on Elizabeth. “And does that mean you were more interested in the tragedies?”

“Actually, it was the histories rather than the tragedies, though I admit a partiality to Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth.”

“I cannot remember hearing of a production of Julius Caesar here in London,” Mrs. Gardiner said. “I read the play many years ago, but it does not seem too popular any more.”

“It used to be popular some fifty years ago,” her husband said. “And I hear it is very popular in America these days. Evidently, they read it in the spirit of republican patriotism, and whenever it is performed, the part of Caesar is invariably played by an actor with a most distinguished upper-class British accent.”

The last sentence was stated in such a droll manner that it inspired a general round of laughter, tinged with some apprehension since relations between America and England gave every appearance of degenerating into dangerous territories.

“In any case,” Richard said, not wishing to dwell on such sombre matters, “it seems this resurrection of Julius Caesar is the work of John Kemble, who manages the theatre and is the brother of Mrs. Sarah Siddons, the famous actress. He will play Brutus, and his brother Charles will play Marc Antony. I have heard they plan a completely different interpretation of the play. Evidently, they intend it to be more of a ‘noble drama,’ with great attention paid to ‘accurate costuming’ and ‘scenic splendour.’ Or, at least that was the way it was described in The Times.”

Richard had noted that Elizabeth was looking around the theatre as he talked, and he guessed that she had just realized how favourably their box was placed, close to the left side of the stage and at a slightly higher level, where they would be able to look down on the actors from a point only slightly above their heads. Suddenly, when she twisted around to look at the empty seat behind her, he was not surprised to see a sudden look of anger on her face.

“Uncle,” she announced, clearly trying to keep her voice calm, “do these not appear to be very nicely located seats? Compared to what I can see, ours would seem to be among the very best.”

“Of course, Lizzy. This is a third level box, a private box. It can only be rented yearly, and the seating is thus very desirable.”

Elizabeth nodded tautly, before turning to Richard. “You mentioned you had the good fortune to have the loan of a private box, Colonel Fitzwilliam. Would it be possible this box belongs to your cousin Mr. Darcy?”

Richard’s expression as he looked at Elizabeth was one of calm composure though he could see embarrassed looks on the faces of her aunt and uncle out of the corner of his eye. He knew Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner had to be distressed at the unseemly anger their niece was displaying.

They, of course, must have immediately deduced what has only now occurred to their niece, he thought, but they had too much tact to comment on it; whereas, Miss Elizabeth, with her usual forthright manner, simply plunges in and speaks her mind.

“It is indeed Mr. Darcy’s box. He was kind enough to offer it to me for our use tonight.”

“I do hate to be so uncharitable since we are your guests tonight, Colonel,” Elizabeth said, her anger now openly displayed, “but I remember your original reason for visiting my uncle’s house. I cannot help wondering whether Mr. Darcy might coincidentally be joining us tonight.”

“No, he will not,” Richard said flatly. He locked stares with Elizabeth, and he saw the surprise on her face at his blunt statement and his cold, dispassionate tone. She could not long maintain her glare in light of such a refutation of her suspicions, and he could see her anger fading away.

“Then why did he give these seats to you?”

“Because he knew he would not be attending. When I mentioned my intention to attend tonight, he offered the box to me, saying someone might as well have the use of a box for which he had already paid.”

Fitzwilliam’s last words had been stated in an emotionless tone, and Elizabeth flushed in embarrassment as she realized how rude her comments had been.

“I might also mention,” Fitzwilliam continued, “that my cousin has always favoured Shakespeare’s histories, and he had shown the greatest interest in attending this revival of Julius Caesar. I was thus surprised when he made his offer. In addition, this is not the first time he has allowed me and others of his friends to make use of his box. He has always been most generous, even when we were boys together.”

Elizabeth was now stricken at how she had converted the convivial atmosphere to one of cold formality, and she realized Fitzwilliam had just thrown in her face the knowledge that Mr. Darcy had not put her out of his mind but was instead avoiding his usual activities because of the blow to his spirits. She felt especially dreadful as she remembered commenting so lightly to Jane that she was sure he had other feelings that would soon drive away any thought of her. Obviously, such a change in his opinion had not taken place, and she suddenly realized just how spiteful and malicious her behaviour must appear to her companions. A great wash of embarrassment and shame swept over her, and her cheeks flamed red as other remembrances flashed across her mind.

“I am sorry,” she said in a strained voice. “I spoke very much out of turn. I beg everyone’s forgiveness for my careless and thoughtless words.”


About Determination

“Love at first sight” is a laughable concept in the considered opinion of Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam andnever occurs in real life—certainly not in the life of an experienced soldier. In fact, until he observes the smitten nature of his cousin Fitzwilliam Darcy, he doubts that fervent love truly exists. Marriage, after all, is a matter of money, social standing, and property.

But his cousin becomes besotted with Elizabeth Bennet, the lovely but penniless daughter of a Hertfordshire gentleman, and is determined to make her his wife. Unfortunately, emotions overwhelm hisgood judgment, and he botches an offer of marriage.

When the colonel attempts to untangle the mess, his own world becomes almost as chaotic when he makes the accidental acquaintance of Miss Jane Bennet, Elizabeth’s beloved elder sister. Can emotions previously deemed impossible truly seize such a level-headed person as himself? And can impassible obstacles deter a man of true determination?

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About the Author

By training, I’m a retired engineer, born in Texas, raised in Oklahoma, and graduated from the University of Oklahoma. Sandwiched in there was a stint in the Marines, and I’ve lived in Arizona since 1977, working first for Motorola and then General Dynamics.

I raised two sons with my first wife, Margaret, before her untimely death from cancer, and my second wife, Jeanine, and I adopted two girls from China. The older of my daughters recently graduated with an engineering degree and is working in Phoenix, and the younger girl is heading toward a nursing degree.

I’ve always been a voracious reader and collector of books, and my favorite genres are science fiction, historical fiction, histories, and, in recent years, reading (and later writing) Jane Austen romantic fiction. This late-developing interest was indirectly stimulated when I read my late wife’s beloved Jane Austen books after her passing.  One thing led to another, and I now have five novels published:  A Most Civil Proposal (2013), Consequences (2014), Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets (2015), and Perilous Siege (2019), and A Covenant of Marriage (2020). Four of my books are now audiobooks, Most Civil Proposal, Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets, Consequences, and A Covenant of Marriage.

I retired from engineering in 2011, but I still live in Arizona with my family, a pair of dogs (one of which is stubbornly untrainable), and a pair of rather strange cats.  My hobbies are reading, woodworking, and watching college football and LPGA golf (the girls are much nicer than the guys, as well as being fiendishly good putters). Lately I’ve reverted back to my younger years and have taken up building plastic model aircraft and ships (when I can find the time).

Colin Odom Facebook page | C. P. Odom Amazon Author page | C. P. Odom Goodreads page | C. P. Odom Meryton Press page


Giveaway

Meryton Press is generously offering 8 ebook copies of Determination as part of the blog tour. You must enter through this Rafflecopter link. Good luck!


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

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