Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘regina jeffers’

Regina Jeffers is visiting Diary of an Eccentric again today, this time to celebrate the release of her latest novel, The Earl Claims His Comfort. I love having Regina as a guest because she always provides the most informative and fascinating posts. She is here this time to talk about clandestine weddings in Scotland, and she also has brought an excerpt from the novel and a giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!

Clandestine Weddings in Scotland

A clandestine wedding plays a key role in solving the mystery that occurs in my latest Regency romantic suspense, The Earl Claims His Comfort: Book 2 of the Twins’ Trilogy. But exactly what constituted a clandestine or irregular marriage during the Regency Period?

A clandestine/irregular marriage is what we today might call a “de facto” (describing practices that exist in reality, even if not legally authorized) wedding or even a “common law wedding.”  Irregular marriages were considered legal in Scotland up until the mid 1900s. The laws in Scotland varied greatly from other European countries. Marriages in the European Catholic countries were only legal if they were conducted by a priest of the Roman Catholic Church. In England, marriages were only legal if conducted by an Anglican clergyman. The Hardwicke Act of 1753 saw to that. A couple wishing to marry in England agreed to both a religious sacrament and a legal contract. English couples had to have the consent of one or both parents if they were under the age of 21, and the wedding ceremony had to take place in a parish church and conducted by a man ordained by the Church of England.

But in Scotland, we have a totally different structure. A regular marriage did not require a church as the setting for the wedding or parental consent. It did require the proclamation of the banns in the parish church and an authorized clergyman from the Scottish Church.

Four forms of irregular marriages were considered valid marriages in Scotland until 1 July 1940. An irregular marriage could be considered valid (1) if there was mutual agreement between the man and the woman, a declaration of per verba de presenti—declaring before two witness to take someone as one’s wife or husband, (2) if there was a public promise of per verba de futuro subsequente copula followed by consummation, (3) if the marriage was contracted by correspondence, or (4) if there was cohabitation and repute.

The first two conditions were abolished by the Marriage (Scotland) Act of 1939. All four forms included the agreement of the couple to be married and some form of witnesses or evidence offered as proof of the agreement. Any citizen could witness a public promise. Thus, the reason many English couples rushed to Scotland to be married by a “blacksmith.” The marriage did not actually have to be performed by a blacksmith, just by a citizen of a Scottish border town or village. A marriage of cohabitation and repute was still acceptable until the 2008 Family Law (Scotland) Act. “Repute” was the part upon which divorces were granted or not. This was a common law marriage, and Scotland was the last of the European countries to abolish it. For this law to apply, the minimum time the couple had lived together continuously had to exceed 20 days. Until this act, the only regular marriage available in Scotland was a religious marriage. Irregular marriages were not socially acceptable, and many people who decided to contract them did so where they were relatively unknown.

According to Eleanor Gordon in “Irregular Marriages: Myth and Reality,” “The distinctive marriage arrangements of Scotland and England had very real consequences, most notoriously, the vogue for runaway marriages to Scotland, particularly Greta Green and other border towns, by young English couples seeking to avoid the need for parental consent for their marriage and to take advantage of the more flexible and informal marriage laws. Although Lord Brougham’s Act of 1856 attempted to stem the flow of young couples across the border by extending the residential qualification so that one of the parties had to be resident for 21 days, Gretna marriages continued to excite the disapproval of the authorities on both sides of the border into the twentieth century. Indeed it was the resurgence of these border marriages that prompted calls for reform of the marriage laws in the 1920 and 1930s. Although Dr. James Stark, Superintendent of Statistics under Scotland’s first Registrar General, William Pitt Dundas, described Scotland’s marriage laws as simple in comparison with “the complicated marriage laws of England,” they were in fact characterized more by ambiguity and uncertainty than clarity. For example, there were innumerable legal wrangles about whether particular situations demonstrated sufficient proof of exchange of consent as well as general misunderstanding of the nature of consent required, that is whether it needed to be expressed, written or tacit. Indeed when Scotland’s marriage laws were reviewed in both 1868 and 1935, it was the legal ambiguities surrounding irregular marriage that was one of the key reasons proffered for abolishing it.” [W. D. H. Seller, “Marriage by Cohabitation with Habit and Repute: Review and Requiem?” in D. L. Carey and D. W. Meyers (eds.), Comparative and Historical Essays in Scots Law (Edinburgh, 1992): 117–36.]

If contested, marriage by cohabitation was never legal in England. The fact was that most of the marriages by cohabitation or that of wife selling were invalid made little difference to the majority of the populace. Such distinctions only mattered when a child was declared legitimate or not and when a parish had to decide whether or not to give assistance to a woman in need. A couple who were married by cohabitation were, generally, not considered “respectable.” To be valid a marriage had to be started with a wedding in front of a clergyman. That is why so many went to the Fleet to get married by clergymen debtors. Women who lived with their betroths or declared themselves married without more than consummation, in England, found themselves unable to claim any property, any money or any benefits for themselves or the children because they were not considered legally married.

The world wars of the 1900s put a greater demand upon having a regular marriages. Inheritance and widows’ pensions required proof of a marriage beyond two witnesses marking a public commitment between a man and a woman. Registry offices served the need to legitimatize a marriage.

Nicol Warren on the Family Ancestry Detective Website suggests, “The National records of Scotland holds some irregular marriage information, on their website they have a pamphlet that gives the contact details of local society’s that may have more specific records. At the time of the marriage records may have been kept by priests and the couples, however it’s the kirk sessions where couples come before their local parish church that are the most kept records of an irregular marriage. With the birth of the first child meant paperwork would become an important part of legitimising the birth and registration generally happened hastily around that time. Kirk sessions like the South Leif kirk sessions recorded 1500 marriages. With the digitalisation of records all the time, it is always good to search through paid subscription sites to see whether the information is there.”

http://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/research/guides/birth-death-and-marriage-records/irregular-border-marriage-registers

In this example from 1773 (National Records of Scotland reference OPR 818/2) a couple made a public acknowledgement of their irregular marriage and paid a fine of a guinea to the poor. The entry is followed by a note of the kirk session’s concern at the frequency of irregular marriages in the parish and their decision to increase the fine!

Resources

Gordon, Eleanor. “Irregular Marriage: Myth and Reality.” Journal of Social History, Volume 47, Issue 2, 1 December 2013, pp. 507-525. https://academic.oup.com/jsh/article/47/2/507/1325355/Irregular-Marriage-Myth-and-Reality

Leneman, Leah, and Rosalind Mitchison. “Clandestine Marriage in the Scottish Cities 1669-1780.” Journal of Social History. Oxford University Press. Vol 26, No. 4 (Summer 1993), pp. 845-861. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3788783?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Nicol Warren. “Irregular Marriages in Scotland.” The Family Ancestry Detective. 31 March 2015. http://familyancestrydetective.com/irregular-marriages-in-scotland/

“Old Parish Registers – Marriages and Proclamation of Banns.” National Records of Scotland. © Crown copyright, 2014. https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/research/guides/birth-death-and-marriage-records/old-parish-registers/marriages-and-proclamation-of-banns

Images

“The Elopement, or Lovers Stratagem Defeated.” Courtesy of the British Museum. from All Things Georgian https://georgianera.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/an-irregular-marriage-arthur-annesley-powell-did-he-go-willingly/

“Irregular Marriage” from The Family Ancestry Detective http://familyancestrydetective.com/irregular-marriages-in-scotland/

“Old Parish Registers” https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/research/guides/birth-death-and-marriage-records/old-parish-registers/marriages-and-proclamation-of-banns

****
Introducing The Earl Claims His Comfort: Book 2 in the Twins’ Trilogy, released September 16, 2017, from Black Opal Books
A 2016 Hot Prospects finalist in Romantic Suspense

Hurrying home to Tegen Castle from the Continent to assume guardianship of a child not his, but one who holds his countenance, Levison Davids, Earl of Remmington, is shot and left to die upon the road leading to his manor house. The incident has Remmington chasing after a man who remains one step ahead and who claims a distinct similarity—a man who wishes to replace Remmington as the rightful earl. Rem must solve the mystery of how a stranger’s life parallels his, while protecting his title, the child, and the woman he loves.

Comfort Neville has escorted Deirdre Kavanaugh from Ireland to England, in hopes that the Earl of Remmington will prove a better guardian for the girl than did the child’s father. When she discovers the earl’s body upon a road backing the castle, it is she who nurses him to health. As the daughter of a minor son of an Irish baron, Comfort is impossibly removed from the earl’s sphere, but the man claims her affections. She will do anything for him, including confronting his enemies. When she is kidnapped as part of a plot for revenge against the earl, she must protect Rem’s life, while guarding her heart.

Goodreads | Amazon

****

Excerpt from The Earl Claims His Comfort, courtesy of Regina Jeffers

Actually, he received two letters upon the same day. The first was from Comfort, and Rem relished her newsy letter that not only announced the arrival of Lord Swenton’s daughter Iróna, but also the confirmation of Isolde’s and her father’s presence for their joining. “Despite his dislike of Isolde being so far from Ireland, uncle is exceedingly pleased to welcome a new granddaughter. He claims Iróna has the look of Isolde’s mother. Meanwhile, my father is speaking of our claiming a family soon. He has asked of my affections for you, and I have assured him that you own my heart. That I love you ardently.”

Her written words ripped the air from Rem’s chest. “She writes of loving me,” he whispered. He realized belatedly that his fingers trembled. He closed his eyes to capture the moment. “I must write Comfort to speak of my deepest regard.”

Yet the letter was not written, at least not for several days, for the second letter, the one from Malvern, set Remmington a task. As with Lord Swenton, the marquess took great pleasure in the announcement of the birth of his son, Henry Thomas Cadon McLaughlin, a sennight prior.

“Devilfoard struts about as if he was the one to birth the child,” Malvern wrote. “To have the dukedom secured brings both the duke and the duchess great happiness. Lady Malvern charges me with telling you that she hopes one of your daughters will take a liking to our Henry.”

Rem held no objections to a daughter of his marrying into the dukedom. “But only if she admires Lord Henry as much as she does his title,” he said with a nod of his head. “Affection is important to a successful marriage.”

Rem’s eyes returned to the page. Malvern wrote, “Now for news of a different sort. Devilfoard reports that Sir Alexander has yet to return to the Home Office. The duke spoke of how Sir Alexander’s superiors are at a loss in discovering his whereabouts. They covered his absence with tales of his secret stratagems in the government’s name. Yet as we both are aware, Sir Alexander departed for Scotland at the beginning of September to investigate the tale of your imposter. Plainly, there is a likely connection for Lord Angus’s estate is in Scotland. I cannot leave Lady Malvern. Moreover, you are better suited for finding the baronet. From your previous occupations, you have sources I have yet to develop.”

And so Rem had spent some three weeks along the Scottish border and in the west central lowlands before a rumor brought him to a small hospital on the outskirts of Glasgow.

“I have discovered your whereabouts at last,” he said in concern when he noted the many bandages wrapped about Sir Alexander’s body.

“Remmington?” the baronet asked.

“Did you expect another? A fetching female perhaps?”

The baronet frowned. “My vision is still recovering. It is difficult to see with this patch over one eye.”

Rem pulled a straight-back chair close to the bed. “Everyone worries for your absence,” he said softly. “What occurred?”

The baronet spoke in secretive tones. “A carriage accident. Broke my leg, my opposing ankle, and both arms. Took a blow to the head.”

Rem’s eyes traced the splints and bandages marking Sir Alexander’s injuries. “That explains why you did not write, but why not ask another to pen a letter?”

“The way I understand things, I was unconscious for a little more than a sennight. When I came about for several days I held no memory of what occurred or even who I was. Those who described the accident said I was fortunate to survive. Neither my coachman nor the footman did. When my senses returned, I recalled my mission to Scotland, and I worried someone planned for my carriage to leave the road in such a violent manner. I did not know if I could trust those who tended me to send word. What if I sent you a message, and then I discovered I dragged you into some sort of trap? I could not chance such.”

****
Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep: Book 1 of the Twins’ Trilogy
A 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense finalist
A SOLA’s Eighth Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Award finalist for Historical Romance

Huntington McLaughlin, the Marquess of Malvern, wakes in a farmhouse, after a head injury, being tended by an ethereal “angel,” who claims to be his wife. However, reality is often deceptive, and Angelica Lovelace is far from innocent in Hunt’s difficulties. Yet, there is something about the woman that calls to him as no other ever has. When she attends his mother’s annual summer house party, their lives are intertwined in a series of mistaken identities, assaults, kidnappings, overlapping relations, and murders, which will either bring them together forever or tear them irretrievably apart. As Hunt attempts to right his world from problems caused by the head injury that has robbed him of parts of his memory, his best friend, the Earl of Remmington, makes it clear that he intends to claim Angelica as his wife. Hunt must decide whether to permit her to align herself with the earldom or claim the only woman who stirs his heart–and if he does the latter, can he still serve the dukedom with a hoydenish American heiress at his side?

Goodreads | Amazon

****

About the Author

Regina Jeffers

With 30+ books to her credit, Regina Jeffers is an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era-based romantic suspense. A teacher for 40 years, Jeffers often serves as a consultant for Language Arts and Media Literacy programs. With multiple degrees, Regina has been a Time Warner Star Teacher, Columbus (OH) Teacher of the Year, a Martha Holden Jennings Scholar and a Smithsonian presenter.

Connect with Regina: Blog | Website | Austen Authors | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

****

Giveaway

Regina is generously offering two ebook copies of The Earl Claims His Comfort. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. The giveaway will close at midnight EDST on Thursday, September 21, 2017. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Regina, for being my guest today, and congratulations on the new release! I look forward to starting the trilogy soon!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

My guest today is Regina Jeffers, who is here to talk about Scottish marriages during the Regency and share an excerpt of her new release, MR. DARCY’S BRIDEs. I’m a big fan of Regina’s Pride and Prejudice variations; she’s one of a few authors whose books I will buy as soon as they are released without even reading the description. I’m really looking forward to reading this one…I just have to know what the small “s” in the title is all about! Please give her a warm welcome, and stay tuned for the giveaway.

****

Scottish Marriages During the Regency

Those of us who read and write Regency novels have all heard of elopements to Gretna Green. Harking back to 1754 and the introduction of a new controversial Marriage Act in England, Gretna Green flourished as a haven for runaway couples. It even receives mentions in not just 1 but amazingly 3 of Jane Austen novels, Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility and Mansfield Park.

``MY DEAR HARRIET,

You will laugh when you know where I am gone, and I cannot help laughing myself at your surprise to-morrow morning, as soon as I am missed. I am going to Gretna Green, and if you cannot guess with who, I shall think you a simpleton, for there is but one man in the world I love, and he is an angel.” – Lydia Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 47

From Austenonly, we learn, “References to Scotland in Jane Austen’s adult works are few, but she did make use of the different marriage laws in Scotland in three of her novels: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park. In Sense and Sensibility, Colonel Brandon had planned to elope to Gretna with his poor Eliza but was thwarted at the last minute by the folly of her maid exposing their plans. In Pride and Prejudice Wickham planned to elope with Georgiana Darcy to Gretna Green, but his dastardly plan was foiled by Georgiana’s confession to Darcy before they could set out on the road. Quite typically he had no such plans to take Lydia Bennet there, though she was initially under the misapprehension that Gretna was to be their final destination. In Mansfield Park, Julia Bertram and Mr Yates run off to Gretna to be married amid the turmoil of the adulterous goings on between Maria Rushworth and Mr Crawford.

Old Photograph Toll House, Lamberton Scotland

“Why Gretna Green? Gretna, or Scotland as Jane Austen mostly wrote when she used the term in her novels, was, in the late 18th Century a place where couples thwarted in their plans to marry legally in England and Wales could resort, in order to marry legally without parental consent. From the implementation of the Clandestine Marriages Act of 1753, it was impossible for anyone under the age of 21 years age to legally marry without their parents (or guardians) consent.”

We must remember that Scotland is approximately 320 miles from London. The main thoroughfare from London to Edinburgh followed the Great North Road or a series of turnpike roads on the western side of the country. The journey was not an easy one. The average carriage travelled between 5-7 miles per hour––that is not accounting for poor weather, tolls, meals, changing out the horses, etc. Even traveling 12 hours per day, it would take a couple some 4 days to reach Scotland, more than likely 5 days. Do not forget that many times irate family members were in hot pursuit.

But Gretna Green was not the only place for elopements in Scotland. The Great North Road took couples to Scotland via Northumberland. Lamberton, Berwickshire, Scotland, for example, is 4 miles north of Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland. The now demolished Old Toll House at Lamberton, situated just across the border in Scotland, was notorious for its irregular marriages. From 1798 to 1858 keepers of the Toll, as well as questionable men-of-the-cloth, married couples in a hurry to escape relations.

Paxton, Berwickshire, Scotland, lies 1 mile west of the border with Northumberland, Berwick-upon-Tweed. Mordington, another Scottish village, was 5 miles from Northumberland. It is said that many chose to be married by the toll keepers of these two border towns.

Marriage and Toll House at Coldstream Bridge

Sometimes the couple chose to cross the Coldstream Bridge, which links Cornhill-on-Tweed, Northumberland, to Coldstream, a civil parish in the Scottish Borders area of Scotland. Much like Gretna Green, it was a popular centre for runaway marriages. As with the other towns mentioned, couples were joined in marriage at the toll house.

Who performed these marriages? The simple answer is: anyone who wanted to do so. Declaring one’s vows to live together before witnesses could constitute a binding marriage. One did not require a clergyman to be deemed a wedded couple. These ceremonies would also provide a certificate as proof of the marriage, for when the couple returned home.

Irregular Scottish marriages simply required the couple’s agreement and witnesses to the act to be legal. A couple could publicly promise to abide in marriage, which could be followed by consummation as proof or simply by cohabitation with repute. Any citizen could witness a public promise. The idea of “marrying over the anvil” in the legend of Gretna Green came about by the blacksmith being one of the first building encountered by the couple seeking a Scottish marriage in the village, and the blacksmith was a “citizen.” A marriage of “cohabitation with repute” was an old style of common-law marriage.

****

Introducing MR. DARCY’S BRIDEs

I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent man to the thoughtless approval of the masses.

ELIZABETH BENNET is determined that she will put a stop to her mother’s plans to marry off the eldest Bennet daughter to Mr. Collins, the Longbourn heir, but a man that Mr. Bennet considers an annoying dimwit. Hence, Elizabeth disguises herself as Jane and repeats her vows to the supercilious rector as if she is her sister, thereby voiding the nuptials and saving Jane from a life of drudgery. Yet, even the “best laid plans” can often go awry.

FITZWILLIAM DARCY is desperate to find a woman who will assist him in leading his sister back to Society after Georgiana’s failed elopement with Darcy’s old enemy George Wickham. He is so desperate that he agrees to Lady Catherine De Bourgh’s suggestion that Darcy marry her ladyship’s “sickly” daughter Anne. Unfortunately, as he waits for his bride to join him at the altar, he realizes he has made a terrible error in judgement, but there is no means to right the wrong without ruining his cousin’s reputation. Yet, even as he weighs his options, the touch of “Anne’s” hand upon his sends an unusual “zing” of awareness shooting up Darcy’s arm. It is only when he realizes the “zing” has arrived at the hand of a stranger, who has disrupted his nuptials, that he breathes both a sigh of relief and a groan of frustration, for the question remains: Is Darcy’s marriage to the woman legal?

What if Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet met under different circumstances than those we know from Jane Austen’s classic tale: Circumstances that did not include the voices of vanity and pride and prejudice and doubt that we find in the original story? Their road to happily ever after may not, even then, be an easy one, but with the expectations of others removed from their relationship, can they learn to trust each other long enough to carve out a path to true happiness?

Check out MR. DARCY’S BRIDEs on Goodreads | Amazon

****

Excerpt from Chapter 11 of MR. DARCY’S BRIDEs

Darcy handed her down from the let carriage before a small inn. They were a little less than three hours removed from Allard’s estate, but he had noticed how with each mile of the journey, Elizabeth’s shoulders had relaxed a bit more.

Their return to the manor house had been executed in relative silence. As he walked beside her, Darcy’s mind had reviewed all his interactions with Allard and how he had failed to notice the weaknesses in the man’s business aplomb before arriving on the man’s threshold. Thankfully, Elizabeth had not attempted to tease or cajole him from his self-chastisements. She was not that kind of woman, one who chattered on, filling the air with nonsense. No. Elizabeth Bennet was a woman who used language as she did every other facet of her life, with a combination of intelligence and economy.

It was only when the manor came into view that she offered, “I must beg your pardon, Mr. Darcy, for I have again interfered in your well-structured life.”

He halted their progress and turned her to him. “I consider your presence in my life a blessing, and you are not to think otherwise. You have prevented me from making two monumental mistakes. How can you think me from sorts?”

She searched for the sincerity in his expression for several elongated seconds before the worry set her features transformed into a smile that had Darcy’s heart skipping a beat. “Shall that be my role in your life, Mr. Darcy? Savior?” Good humor filled her tease, and he found himself smiling in return.

“My personal guardian angel,” he said softly as he brought her gloved hand to his lips, where he kissed the inside of her wrist.

A flush of color raced to her cheeks, but she did not rip her hand from his grasp. Instead, with a delightful laugh, one that had a rush of warmth filling his abdomen, she taunted, “Mrs. Bennet will testify that I am more devil than angel, and you, sir, would do well to remember as such.”

“May I be of assistance, sir?” The innkeeper rushed forward to greet them.

Darcy tucked Elizabeth closer to his side. “My cousin and I require rooms,” he announced. They had agreed that as they traveled in the direction of the Flynns’ estate that it was probable that they would encounter others from Flynn’s household, who might recognize Elizabeth, and so she was now Darcy’s relation instead of his wife. He would go to extremes to protect Elizabeth’s reputation, for he had grown truly fond of her.

The innkeeper eyed them suspiciously. “Not many of your ilk come this way.”

Darcy understood the man’s insinuation. “My cousin and I were guests at the Allard estate outside of Edinburgh, but measles have struck some of those employed upon the estate. We thought it best to depart early before the illness spreads to those in the main house.” He told the truth—just not the complete truth.

“Measles, heh?” the man asked as he turned the register so Darcy might sign it. “That be a bad business.” He handed Darcy the pen, but did not place the ink well upon the table. “Before ye be signing, sir, ye shud know there be a weddin’ occurrin’ here this evening. Not exactly the weddin’, more along the lines of the celebration. There be no assembly hall or meeting place large enough to hold the sizable family gathering. Most in the area call in here regularly. Might’n be a bit loud.”

Darcy did not wish to climb back into the crowded let carriage with Sheffield and Hannah observing his every interaction with Elizabeth, but he dutifully asked, “And the next decent inn?”

“For the likes of you, sir, some twelve miles along the main road south.”

Darcy leaned down to ask, “What say you, Elizabeth?”

“In truth,” she said softly, “I could sleep through the roughest storm God chose to deliver. A few partiers will not disturb me. A good meal and a bath are all I require for the evening.”

“Then we will stay.” He grinned at her. “You heard the lady. Two rooms as far removed from the jubilation as possible.”

Within a quarter hour, they dined in the common room of the inn. Only three others occupied the room, so they were relatively alone and could speak freely. “I wish to extend my apologies,” he said in serious tones. “I thought myself in charge of what has occurred between us since you ran from the church, but I fear I have done you irreparable harm. I have placed you in a abrasive surrounding and opened you to further accusations. You must permit me to do more than present your sisters with a larger dowry.”

She looked up in alarm. “Such as?”

“I would not be opposed to our joining,” he stated honestly. Since taking her acquaintance, Darcy had often considered the possibility of calling her wife.

Elizabeth shook off the idea. “I could not entertain your address, Mr. Darcy. Even if you had not brought me aboard your yacht, my actions at the church discredited my name. It was foolish of me to think such cheekiness could be ignored. Even if I had simply thwarted Mr. Collins’s plans, I named my fate. I doubt either the gentleman or your aunt would have remained silent regarding my purposeful slight. And I find it hard to believe that my father will be capable of controlling Mrs. Bennet’s aspersions. He has failed miserably in the past when Mrs. Bennet sets her mind to such misery. Most certainly, all in the neighborhood know something of my ill-advised bravado by now.”

He did not approve of her decision, but Darcy nodded his agreement. “I must abide by your choice.”

Silence settled between them, and it was not the kind of silence that caused distress. It was more of the manner in which two friends can sit together, even when they disagree upon something important. He searched for a means to change her mind, but he knew Elizabeth adamant in her opinions. Before he could form an argument to persuade her, the wedding party, literally, carried the newly-wed couple into the inn. The bride and the groom were perched on the shoulders of four bulky Scotsmen, who proudly hefted the pair higher, to the cheers of all those trailing behind them.

“Oh,” Elizabeth sighed heavily as she looked on. “Is she not beautiful? Such joy upon her countenance. Do you suppose they are in love?”

Darcy studied the pair as their escorts set them upon the floor. “The groom appears enthralled with his bride.” He noted the look of longing upon Elizabeth’s face, and he felt a bit sad that because of him, she would never know such happiness. “Is that your desire? To marry for love?” Such would go a long way in explaining why she had refused him, for Darcy knew her affections had not been stirred by their acquaintance.

She shrugged off his questions. “Do you find it odd, Mr. Darcy, that I am as susceptible to the idea of discovering a man who holds me in deep regard as are my sisters? Is it not foolish for a woman of my years to carry the wish of the Cinder Maid buried deep in her heart?”

“My parents married for love,” he admitted. “Together, they were a force with which to be reckoned.” Darcy chuckled in remembrance. “They were quite remarkable. I always believed if I could replicate their devotion to each other in my own marriage that Pemberley could survive and prosper.”

“Then when did you have a change of heart?” she challenged. “From your own lips, Miss De Bourgh did not claim your heart.”

“I do not know exactly how to define that particular moment.” He sat staring out the window over her shoulder. “I thought I had several years before I must choose a wife. Thought myself above entering the marriage mart. But…” He closed his eyes to drive away the taste of bile rising to his throat whenever he considered the betrayal practiced at George Wickham’s hands.

“But?” Elizabeth prompted, as she slipped her hand into his. “Know that I can serve as your confidante, Mr. Darcy.”

He opened his eyes to study her beautiful countenance. How was it possible that they had known each other less than a fortnight; yet, she was essential to all that he held most dear? “But a former friend used our relationship to attempt a seduction of my sister.” He had said the words aloud, and all his fears of the world swinging away from its axis had proved false. “I blundered—not giving her the attention she required,” he explained, “and Georgiana is so broken that I am desperate to restore her good humor. I thought that Anne might prove a comforting force for Miss Darcy. Mayhap even lead my sister to a better understanding of Georgiana’s lack of fault in the matter.”

Tears pooled in Elizabeth’s eyes. “And who is to lead you to a better understanding of your role in the matter, Mr. Darcy?” she asked in sympathetic tones.

He squeezed her hand. “My fault will never be obliterated. It is Georgiana’s heart that requires protection. She is not yet sixteen and was easily misled by a man she recognized as part of our family’s legacy. Miss Darcy trusted him, but all Mr. Wickham, who was my childhood chum and the son of my father’s steward, wished was my sister’s substantial dowry.”

“Oh, William,” she whispered. “You cannot take the blame for some blackguard’s disposition. You can only execute your life with honor.” She smiled weakly. “I know young girls. I was one very recently.” A bit of a tease entered her tone. “We give our hearts away many times before we discover a man worth knowing.”

“Pardon, friends,” the innkeeper said as he set two steaming plates before them. “Wanted to get yer meal out before the celebration became too rowdy.”

He chuckled good-naturedly as he glanced over his shoulder at the wedding party. “The bride be the daughter of Sir James Metts, a knight who earned his title via our local bishop. She be a good girl. Don’t know much of the groom. He be Greek. And Catholic. Never knew a Greek before. Some sort of diplomat, I hears. They met in London at a musicale, whatever that may be.” He set two tea cups upon the table without saucers. “Don’t know ‘bout the spirits, but the young man claims this a traditional drink for those of his kind. Says it tastes of aniseed or fennel. Wishes you to join him in a toast to his bride.” The innkeeper poured two fingers full in the cups.

Elizabeth eyed the drink suspiciously. “And what does the gentleman call these spirits?”

“Ouzo.”

She glanced to Darcy. “Are you familiar with the drink?”

“It may surprise you, my dear,” he said with a genuine smile, “but I never experienced a grand tour nor do I associate with high rollers.”

Her mouth formed a teasing pout. “Then I suppose it falls to me to taste the brew first. I would not wish to stain your immaculate reputation by demanding that you imbibe first.”

Darcy’s smile widened. “We will partake of the brew together.” He lifted his cup to tap it gently against hers. “To life.”

“To love,” she added.

Then they turned as one toward the happy couple, and with the others gathered in the room, they declared, “To a happy marriage.”

Thank you, Regina, for the informative post and for giving us a peek at your newest novel. Congratulations on its release!

****

Giveaway

Regina is generously offering two ebook copies of MR. DARCY’S BRIDEs. To enter, leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will close at midnight on Friday, August 18, 2017. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Read Full Post »

the prosecution of mr. darcy's cousin

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

“I will not send for Mrs. Fitzwilliam, but I do mean to send word that you are safe.  Neither Mrs. Darcy nor my sister deserves to spend another hour in worry over your actions.”

He could not control speaking in disappointment.

“I thought better of you, Edward.”

(from The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin)

Quick summary: The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin is the latest Pride and Prejudice mystery by Regina Jeffers.  Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy have been happily married for about five years and are enjoying life with their two young sons, but their world is turned upside down when Darcy’s sister, Georgiana, sends word that her husband, Major General Edward Fitzwilliam, is missing.  Darcy tracks down his cousin in a seedy inn in London, drunk and in a uniform covered in dirt and blood.  Fitzwilliam’s marital problems and PTSD are the least of the family’s concerns, once it becomes known that he is the prime suspect in a serious of gruesome murders.

Why I wanted to read it: I’ve long been a fan of Jeffers’ novels (check out my reviews of Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion, Christmas at Pemberley, and The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy), and I was intrigued by the idea of a darker side to the charming and amiable Colonel Fitzwilliam.

What I liked: I was fascinated by this tale from start to finish, and I especially enjoyed the twists and turns of the mystery.  Jeffers really digs deep into her characters, particularly Georgiana’s need to find inner strength in the face of great loss, Darcy’s realization that he is no longer his sister’s protector, and Fitzwilliam’s troubled transition to civilian life.  The assortment of original characters, like Cowan, secondary characters given bigger roles, like the Earl and Countess of Matlock, and even some courtroom drama help round out the story, and I was happy to see another of my favorite Austen heroes make an appearance toward the end.

What I disliked: Nothing!

Final thoughts: The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin is a darker take on the characters of Pride and Prejudice, but it is exciting and shines in the complexity of the characters and the multilayered mystery at its core.  It was hard to see Fitzwilliam in such a light, but Jeffers’ portrayal of a man who has spent a great deal of his life at war and remains haunted by his experiences is realistic and heartbreaking.  Although it focuses on some heavy subjects, like PTSD, and puts Austen’s beloved characters in some dangerous and hopeless situations, the romantic moments between Darcy and Elizabeth help to lighten the mood.  Jeffers had me guessing and biting my nails until the very end, a sign of a great mystery, and I hope there will be more installments in this series.

(I haven’t yet read the previous installment, The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy, so that’s something to look forward to, and I should point out here that The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin can be read as a standalone novel.)

Disclosure: I received The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin from the author for review.

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

Read Full Post »

I’m pleased to welcome Regina Jeffers to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of her latest novel, The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin.  She is here to discuss the real-life inspiration for one of the characters in the novel, and there is an excerpt and an international e-book giveaway as well.  Please give a warm welcome to Regina Jeffers:

John_Norton

Image source: Mather Brown-Portrait of Major John Norton as Mohawk Chief Teyoninhokarawen Notecards (www.encore-editions.com)

One of the characters in my latest Austenesque novel, The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin, is modeled upon that of John Norton (Teyoninhokarawen), who was a Mohawk Indian chief of Scottish birth. Norton attended school in Scotland.

Norton was the son of a Cherokee Indian father and a Scottish mother. His father was taken prisoner as a boy by British soldiers when the British destroyed the Cherokee village of Kuwoki in South Carolina. Later, the youth was removed to England.

John Norton became a soldier in 1784, serving with the 65th Foot Regiment in Lower Canada. From 1787 to 1788, he served at Fort Niagara (Upper Canada). From 1791-1795, he found his “fortune” in the fur trade. During those years, he learned his skills in trade and negotiation from John Askin, an American trader who served as an interpreter for those in and around Fort Detroit. Norton and Askin also had dealings with the First Nations (Maumee, Wyandot, and Shawnee tribes), who resided south of the Great Lakes. When the Americans defeated the Maumee at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in August 1794, Norton returned to Canada.

In Canada, Norton became an interpreter for the Indian Department at Niagara. During this time, he met Joseph Brant (Mohawk chief), who convinced Norton to become a fellow tribesman of the Grand River Mohawks. Brant even adopted Norton as his nephew, and Norton became chief when Brant died in 1807. As “Peace Chief,” Norton assisted the Mohawks in negotiating land settlements with the British government. Under Indian law, Norton was considered a full-blooded Indian for his father was an Indian.

The British and Foreign Bible Society saw John Norton as an asset to their cause. They asked him to translate the Gospel of St. John into the Mohawk language. The translation was published in 1806, a first for the First Nations’ language.

Over the next few years, Norton traveled extensively through the Grand River area, even establishing a relationship with Tecumseh. During the War of 1812, Norton served as a captain in the British army. He led several of the Indian tribes at Detroit and at the Battle of Queenston Heights. With the death of Sir Isaac Brock (the British leader in Canada), Norton led the Mohawk tribes against the American troops. He participated in the burning of Buffalo (NY) in 1813, as well as fighting in the battles of Chippewa and Lundy’s Lane. His efforts provided the British time to successfully defeat the Americans in the encounters.

Norton also was instrumental in the British defense of Fort Niagara, Fort George, the Battle of Stoney Creek, and the Battle of Beaver Dams. After the war, Norton and his wife, a Lenape (Delaware Indian) traveled to England, where he received the higher rank of major in the British army for his gallantry and meritorious conduct. It was a brevet commission and held no authority, precedence, or rank pay.

During his years in England, Norton finished his journal, which became an accurate account of the War of 1812 from the Indian point of view.

Norton return to the Canadian front in 1816. In 1823, he was found guilty of manslaughter after a duel involving his wife’s infidelity. We know little of Norton after this point. He reportedly passed in October 1831 in northern Mexico.

Resources for the post: Davis, D. S. “Norton, John (Teyoninhokarawen).” War of 1812. © RCGS/HDI/Parks Canada 2011, All rights reserved.

“Chief John (Teyoninhokarawen) Norton,” The Casebook: The War of 1812.

Carl F. Klinck and James J. Talman, eds. The Journal of Major John Norton. Toronto: Champlain Society, 1970.

the prosecution of mr. darcy's cousinThe Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery

Fitzwilliam Darcy is enjoying his marital bliss. His wife, the former Elizabeth Bennet, presented him two sons and a world of contentment. All is well until “aggravation” rears its head when Darcy receives a note of urgency from his sister Georgiana. In truth, Darcy never fully approved of Georgiana’s joining with their cousin, Major General Edward Fitzwilliam, for Darcy assumed the major general held Georgiana at arm’s length, dooming Darcy’s sister to a life of unhappiness.

Dutifully, Darcy and Elizabeth rush to Georgiana’s side when the major general leaves his wife and daughter behind, with no word of his whereabouts and no hopes of Edward’s return. Forced to seek his cousin in the slews of London’s underbelly, at length, Darcy discovers the major general and returns Fitzwilliam to his family.

Even so, the Darcys’ troubles are far from over. During the major general’s absence from home, witnesses note Fitzwilliam’s presence in the area of two horrific murders. When Edward Fitzwilliam is arrested for the crimes, Darcy must discover the real culprit before the authorities hanged his cousin and the Fitzwilliam name knew a lifetime of shame.

Buy: Kindle * Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Nook

Excerpt from Chapter 2 of The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery

“I expect you to reexamine your records, Belker,” Darcy said with his best “Master of Pemberley” voice.

He favored the harbormaster with a quelling glare.

“I want to know unequivocally that no one impressed my cousin into service upon one of the ships recently setting sail from the Thames. If you ignore my request, you will know the wrath of the Earl of Matlock, Viscount Lindale, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and even His Royal Highness Prince George, who favored the major general upon more than one occasion.”

Darcy took pleasure when his exaggeration caused Belker to flinch. The harbormaster was not happy to observe Cowan enter his office.

Without doubt, as a Bow Street Runner, Thomas Cowan hounded Belker’s existence, for the man held a reputation for the importation of illegal goods. When this investigation knew completion, Darcy would use his extensive influence to aid Cowan in replacing the man who used his position for personal benefit.

“As I said previously, Mr. Darcy,” Belker shot a furtive glance to a glaring Cowan, “the major general was here. Saturday last. But he never boarded any ship.”

“How can you be so certain?” Cowan growled.

Belker puffed out his chest in self-importance.

“Assisted the officer meself,” he declared. “Some men upon the Towson thought the major general an easy target for your cousin consumed more than his share of drink.”

Darcy did not like to think upon Edward imbibing so heavily. Whatever drove the major general from his home rested hard upon his cousin’s soul.

“Certainly, some can hold their drink better than others.”

Belker straightened some papers upon his desk while organizing his thoughts.

“Those from the Towson thought to claim the major general, but Lord Matlock’s son proved himself worthy of his position. With just his fists, the major general dispatched the four men from the Towson. More easily than what anyone might believe of a gentleman’s son, I might add.”

“Explain,” Cowan demanded.

Belker did not disguise his disgust, but he provided the information. The harbormaster would not cavil over a thing such as principle.

“Needless to say, none on the Towson realized the man they discovered passed out among the crates waiting to be loaded onboard was a gentleman. The major general’s clothes be finely cut, but they be filthy. On the night in question, my dockers escorted all five men to my office, and I summoned a surgeon. Your cousin had but a few bruises and cuts, Sir. Two from the Towson are still housed at the infirmary a few streets over.”

“Do you know the major general’s destination when he departed the docks?” Darcy asked.

“Said he meant to find himself an inn to wait for his next set of orders. I thought him a junior officer on one of the ships, for he wore no epaulets. Thought he expected to depart soon,” Belker disclosed.

Cowan stood to depart.

“Do you have a guess as to where the man took residence?”

Desiring their exit, Belker stood also.

“Can’t say for certain. Most sailors avoid the inns close to the river, preferring those inland for obvious reasons. I would image a King’s soldier would follow suit. If I wished to hide from those who would follow me, I would avoid the city inns.”

Weariness claimed Darcy’s stance.

“If you think of anything of import, please contact me at Darcy House. It would be well worth your time.”

About the author

Regina-270x300Regina Jeffers, a public classroom teacher for thirty-nine years, considers herself a Jane Austen enthusiast. She is the author of several Austen-inspired novels, including Darcy’s Passions, Darcy’s Temptation, Vampire Darcy’s Desire, Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion, The Phantom of Pemberley, Christmas at Pemberley, The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, Honor and Hope, and The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy. She also writes Regency romances: The Scandal of Lady Eleanor, A Touch of Velvet, A Touch of Cashémere, A Touch of Grace, A Touch of Mercy, A Touch of Love, and The First Wives’ Club. A Time Warner Star Teacher and Martha Holden Jennings Scholar, Jeffers often serves as a consultant in language arts and media literacy. Currently living outside Charlotte, North Carolina, she spends her time with her writing, gardening, and her adorable grandchildren.

******

LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW TO BE ENTERED INTO A GIVEAWAY OF 2 eBOOK VERSIONS OF THE PROSECUTION OF MR. DARCY’S COUSIN. Please include your email address. The giveaway will close Sunday, July 12.

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

Read Full Post »

Source: Review copy from Ulysses Press
Rating: ★★★★★

Edward picked up his sword.  “I will see to it.”  He put the gun in a holster under his jacket.  “I assume you have a weapon, Darcy.”  He did not wait for a response before he strode to the door.  Without turning around he said, “If anyone has laid a finger on Georgiana, he will know my fury.”  The sound of the door slamming throughout the small inn brought the world to a stand still.

(from The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, page 287)

The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy is a sequel to Christmas at Pemberley, which was a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  In Christmas at Pemberley, Regina Jeffers expanded on several of Austen’s secondary characters and threw in a few of her own creation.  In The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, Jeffers brings back some of her original characters and introduces several more, weaving them into what becomes a macabre tale, making it very different from the Austen-inspired novels I’ve read thus far.

Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy are enjoying their new son and preparing for Kitty Bennet’s wedding at Pemberley when the Wickhams arrive unexpectedly.  After the pair are kicked off the Pemberley grounds, Mr. Bennet confronts Mrs. Bennet, who doesn’t understand why her youngest daughter must be excluded from the festivities.  Mrs. Bennet must come to terms with her past foolishness regarding Lydia’s rushed nuptials and soon discovers that the life of her dearest child isn’t sunshine and roses.

Darcy has more than Wickham and business dealings to occupy his thoughts.  He and Elizabeth soon learn that his beloved sister, Georgiana, is missing and presumed dead.  Now the wife of Major General Edward Fitzwilliam, Georgiana is no longer Darcy’s responsibility, but he is not ready to give her up to another man.  Georgiana traveled to Scotland to prepare Alpin Hall for her husband’s return from the war at Waterloo, and Darcy had already grown concerned that she hadn’t written.  The Darcys learn that Georgiana fled to the moors on horseback after receiving a letter informing her of her husband’s death, and she never returned.  Darcy and Elizabeth set off to find Georgiana — but Wickham, determined that Darcy will not best him again, believes there might be something in it for him if he finds her first.

Meanwhile, evil things are happening at Normanna Hall, the estate neighboring Alpin Hall that is the home of the MacBethans.  A young woman is in shackles with no recollection of how she came to be there.  The matriarch of the MacBethan clan, Dolina, has plans for the woman, but her eldest son, Domhnall, still grieving the death of his wife and heir, wants to repair the damage Dolina has caused to the family name.  However, Domhnall is torn between loyalty to family and stopping the horrors in castle’s dungeons.

The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy is an exciting book that removes Austen’s beloved characters from their peaceful lives and puts them in the midst of unimaginable horrors and grave danger.  Jeffers does a wonderful job creating a dark, creepy, and fearful atmosphere but allowing the blood and gore to happen off the pages.  It’s not the type of mystery that challenges you to put together a series of clues sprinkled throughout the narrative, but one in which you simply sit back and enjoy the ride.  The horror aspect of the story, based on legend, was a great touch, one that I hadn’t yet experienced in an Austen-inspired novel.

What I most loved about The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy was Jeffers’ handling of the characters.  Darcy and Elizabeth are just how I imagined they would be after the events in Pride and Prejudice, content and playful with one another.  Wickham is more evil than in Austen’s portrayal, but maybe that’s because he’s front and center in this book and more in the background of Pride and Prejudice.  I like what Jeffers did with Lydia and Mrs. Bennet, but her handling of a more mature and in-love Georgiana is where the book shines.  Darcy is forced to contend with the fact that Georgiana isn’t a little girl anymore, and I found his coming to terms with her relationship with Edward — who is struggling himself to come to terms with the horrors of war — to be endearing.

I recognized Jeffers’ writing talent when I read (and loved) Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion, and with The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, she has become one of my favorite authors of Austen-inspired novels.  It’s true that this book doesn’t need the Austen connection to be a good novel, but I enjoy watching Austen’s characters take on a life of their own in these variations.

Book 5 for Explore the Many Genres of Jane Austen Challenge (Mystery)

Disclosure: I received The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy from Ulysses Press for review.

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Read Full Post »

I’m so pleased to welcome Regina Jeffers to Diary of an Eccentric today. Regina is the author of several Jane Austen-inspired novels, including Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion, Christmas at Pemberley, and her latest release, The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, which I will be reviewing tomorrow. The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy was something new to me in the realm of Austenesque novels, a dark mystery that kept me on the edge of my seat. I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Regina was kind enough to pose and answer some questions that readers will find interesting, touching upon her research process, writing quirks, and Austen-inspired novels. Please give a warm welcome to Regina Jeffers:

How do you research your novels?

The research is based on what would and would not be acceptable for the Regency Period, the time period in which the majority of my novels are set. The true Regency Period lasted only ten years, from 1811 to 1820. Most writers of the period place their stories somewhere between 1800 and 1820; however, a few feature everything from the French Revolution to the Reform. When I am creating a Jane Austen adaptation, my setting is defined by Austen’s original story line. For example, Pride and Prejudice is set in 1812. If I am writing an Austen sequel, I must be aware of the events that happened in the years after 1812. In my latest novel, The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam is returning from service with Wellington at Waterloo. Therefore, the book must be true to June 1815. In my unique Regencies, I tend to place my characters in situations that occur between 1810 and 1815. It is the time period of which I am most familiar.

I have a stash of Regency related books to which I often turn for assistance. The Internet is helpful, but there is so much misinformation on the Web that a person must look for sites that verify the content found upon the page. One of the biggest issues is anachronistic phrases. I am more aware of those issues in my Austen-inspired works. Miss Austen has a distinct style, which is difficult to replicate, and I make a point of adding her actual wording to the story lines. In most Regencies on the mass market, in the publishing business, a certain number of anachronistic phrases are acceptable. Those serve as a segue between what is often seen as the stilted language of the period and modern phrasing. However, I do attempt to be true to the language of the period.

What is a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write?

This is only my second year of retirement. I spent 40 years in the classrooms of three different states. During those years, I would teach all day, sit at my desk and grade papers until about 7 each evening (English teachers always have tons of papers to grade.), then go home to eat, shower, and write for 2-3 hours.

One would think that now that I am retired that I would have more time to write. However, my “free” time has been limited by the birth of my first grandchild, James. As my son and daughter-in-law are both teachers, I am babysitting James each day for 9 hours. Many days when he leaves me, I am too exhausted to move from the sofa. I do not wish to appear to be complaining; I love the little “monster” more than words can express, but I had forgotten how exhausting raising a baby can be. I am nearing 65 years of age, and it shows. Thus said, my writing has suffered. I feel less structured, and I would admit to a bit of frustration because the stories NEVER leave my head, even if I am too tired to put them on paper. Hopefully, I will recover a bit my life once the school year ends, and my darling Jayme becomes a child I can simply spoil (like all good grandparents) and then send home to his parents.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I still hand write my novels. I write with a black ink pen and use a wide ruled spiral notebook. Then I word process the pages. By that time, the book has had several rewrites (arrows up and down the page, White Out, scratched out lines, inserted words, etc.). All these checks and rechecks affect the writing process. When the novel goes to print, there are few major rewrites with which to deal.

Have you ever written a character you did not like? What did you do about it?

I did not like my take on Anne De Bourgh in Darcy’s Temptation. She was TOO meek, and I thought her quite undeserving of Colonel Fitzwilliam, a character I absolutely adored. Therefore, when I had the opportunity to add her to The Phantom of Pemberley, I gave Miss De Bourgh a “rebellious” streak. I certainly liked her better, and so did my readers, who responded with delightful anticipation of what might follow for her.

In my Regency series based on the men of the Realm, a covert governmental group, I had originally planned to bring Satiné Aldridge and Aidan Kimbolt together; but as I set up their joining, I again grew weary of Satiné’s lack of a backbone (Yes, I realize it was I who gave her no spine). The Regency heroine needs more in her life than fashion and manners. Plus, Satiné was like my original Miss De Bourgh, not good enough for the hero. Aidan Kimbolt required a woman who could bring him happiness. For the moment, in the series, Satiné is in Europe. I have not decided whether to add her to a future book or, perhaps, kill her off. I may, just for fun, let my readers vote on what to do about Miss Satiné.

What makes Jane Austen adaptations/sequels/retellings so special?

I seriously believe that Austen’s intertextual reinscriptions of Restoration comedy have echoes in contemporary literature. Reading a historical novel in its period requires the reader to understand the period, as well as the social distance from the present. Despite Austen being a part of the Society of which she wrote, her works display a “distance” from the time period, and that “distance” marks Austen’s voice as one more distinct than others of her time. Jane Austen was sophisticated, subtle, and very intelligent in her handling of complex issues. Austen’s women were women of sense; they embodied the notion of rational love. Today’s audience has paradoxically maintained Austen’s “formula.”

Thanks, Regina! Now I have a special treat for my readers…an excerpt from The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, followed by information about how you can win a copy!

(Situation: Lydia and George Wickham have unexpectedly appeared uninvited on Pemberley’s doorstep. Elizabeth has tried to send them away before Darcy becomes aware of their inviting themselves into his home. However, Darcy’s appearance in the drawing room escalates the situation.)

“It does not surprise,” Wickham grumbled. he caught Lydia’s elbow and turned his wife toward the still-open door. however, when he reached Darcy’s rigid form, he mockingly said, “Please give Miss Darcy my regards. I understand the last four years have been very good to her.” With a slight nod, Wickham took a step to depart.

However, Darcy’s anger had never receded—not today, not four years prior when Wickham had staged the elopement, which would have devastated Georgiana—not through the years of falsehoods, and not when the man had purposely ruined Lydia Bennet and had crushed Darcy’s hopes of claiming Elizabeth as his wife. The memory of every degrading moment seemed to course through his veins, and without considering his actions, his right arm wound up for a perfectly executed uppercut to Wickham’s finely chiseled jaw. A left jab to Wickham’s nose followed the right, and the man went sprawling backward to rest at Elizabeth’s feet. Blood gushed from Lieutenant Wickham’s nose upon the man’s crisp uniform.

“Bloody hell, Darcy!” Wickham exclaimed as he dug in his pocket for a handkerchief. “You are a case for Bedlam!”

Darcy growled, “Curse in my wife’s presence again, and those

imprecations will be the last words that you utter.”

Elizabeth stepped around Wickham’s efforts at recovery and

slipped into Darcy’s one-armed embrace. “Tell me you are well,” she whispered as she caressed his chin.

Darcy did not remove his eyes from the scuttled figure bleeding onto his Persian rug, but he tightened his hold. “As long as you are safe,” he said softly.

Meanwhile, Lydia’s loud protestations were added to the clamor. “Lizzy, look what you have started.” She avoided her husband’s bloody hands when she cuddled his head. “What kind of man have you married?” she accused.

“The best kind, Lydia.” Elizabeth looked lovingly into Darcy’s eyes. “A man of honor. A man of integrity.” She turned in Darcy’s embrace. “Mr. Nathan, would you ask Jasper and Thomas to escort Lieutenant and Mrs. Wickham safely from Pemberley’s grounds?”

“Certainly, Mrs. Darcy.” he snapped his fingers, and the two footmen appeared.

“I cannot believe it has come to this,” Lydia lamented. “You would turn your own sister away? Your flesh and blood?”

Elizabeth’s mouth turned downward. “As my marriage vows require, I would cling to my husband above all others.” She shook her head in sadness. “I never wished it to come to this. In the future, should you choose to return to Pemberley, I shall welcome you with open arms, but I shall never subjugate Mr. Darcy’s desire to sever relations with Lieutenant Wickham to my desire to maintain sisterly affection. If you cannot accept

those terms, then we shall communicate through the post.”

As she supported her husband’s rise from the floor, Lydia exclaimed, “You have turned Kitty against me.”

Elizabeth shot a quick glance to the downcast countenance of a sister she dearly adored, and she noted how Kitty’s mouth twitched with the desire to smile. Kitty, too, had found all the drama quite amusing. Miss Catherine Bennet had grown into a sage young woman. “I hope not. I would never place Kitty in a position to have to choose between us.” She silently thought, as you have just required. “And I hope to see you regain the family and friends you have so carelessly sacrificed. The nuptials are a public gathering. You must choose whether you shall stay until Monday for the service. Yet, Pemberley is my home, and I shall determine the events we celebrate and the guests who participate.”

“I see.” Lydia straightened her clothing. “We shall await my parents at the Lambton inn.”

Wickham staggered to his feet. “That may not be the best idea.”

“Why ever not?” Lydia demanded. “There is no coach until tomorrow.”

Darcy eyed Wickham carefully. The man’s nervous mannerisms made him an open book. “If your husband’s demeanor is any indication, Lieutenant Wickham expects to meet those in the area who still hold his markers.” Everyone turned to stare at the wastrel in the King’s uniform.

“I simply prefer not to importune Father Bennet for the cost of our room and return passage,” Wickham said smoothly.

Darcy laughed sarcastically. “Did you hear, Mrs. Darcy? Your father’s debts grow. You suggested that Mr. Bennet would assume the unexpected cost of an inn stay, but your assumption included the notion that Lieutenant Wickham had previously arranged a return journey to Carlisle. Now, we find that not to be the case. Our brother in marriage requires both passage and room, and I suspect board, as well.”

Elizabeth said accusingly, “I expect the accuracy of your words, but that is my father’s issue.”

Kitty said softly. “Mr. Saunders is at Kympton. Perhaps Lydia and Lieutenant Wickham could share the curate’s quarters for the evening. Should I speak to Mr. Winkler? I would not wish Lydia to know any public humiliation.”

“You do what you consider best, Kitty.” Elizabeth admired how Kitty had handled herself. Her sister had demonstrated a firm resolve, but she had also shown charity, a quality Mr. Winkler had recognized in the young Catherine Bennet—a quality he required in his wife. “Why do you not speak privately to Mr. Winkler and then ask Papa to join us here?”

“Yes, Lizzy.” Kitty dropped a quick curtsy and then disappeared from the room.

“Mr. Darcy, we shall await my father in the main foyer. Mr. Nathan shall attend Lieutenant and Mrs. Wickham. We should rejoin our guests.” She reached for Darcy’s hand, and he came willingly.

Within seconds, they were at the foot of the main staircase and in each other’s arms. “Thank you,” Darcy rasped as he pulled her closer.

Elizabeth clung to him. “For what? For loving you beyond reason? I fear that my heart is fully engaged, Mr. Darcy.”

“As is mine,” he whispered into her ear. “Yet, I am chagrined that my previous acquaintances have tainted your family’s life.”

“I shall hear none of this regret, Mr. Darcy. You, Sir, are exactly the man who, in disposition and talents, most suits me. Your understanding and temper, though unlike my own, has answered all my wishes. You are as generous as the most generous of your sex.”

Before she could say more, her father appeared on the landing. “Kitty tells me that you require my assistance,” he said suspiciously. Elizabeth blushed at having been caught in an intimate embrace, but she quickly explained what had transpired. “And your mother never indicated to anyone that she had invited Lydia and Lieutenant Wickham?” his disbelief showed. “I tolerated her maneuverings with Mr. Grange at Christmastide because Grange is harmless and unassuming. No one could object to Grange, but Lieutenant Wickham is a different story.” he turned to Darcy. “I swear, Mr. Darcy, that I held no prior knowledge of this situation, but I will deal with the Wickhams and with Mrs. Bennet. “

“We will escort the others to Derby while you see to your youngest child.”

With a reluctant shrug, Mr. Bennet agreed. “Mrs. Bennet will miss the journey. During your absence, my wife and I will have a serious discussion.”

About The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy:

Shackled in the dungeon of a macabre castle with no recollection of her past, a young woman finds herself falling in love with her captor – the estate’s master. Yet, placing her trust in him before she regains her memory and unravels the castle’s wicked truths would be a catastrophe.

Far away at Pemberley, the Darcys happily gather to celebrate the marriage of Kitty Bennet. But a dark cloud sweeps through the festivities: Georgiana Darcy has

disappeared without a trace. Upon receiving word of his sister’s likely demise, Darcy and wife, Elizabeth, set off across the English countryside, seeking answers in the unfamiliar and menacing Scottish moors.

How can Darcy keep his sister safe from the most sinister threat she has ever faced when he doesn’t even know if she’s alive? True to Austen’s style and rife with malicious villains, dramatic revelations and heroic gestures, this suspense-packed mystery places Darcy and Elizabeth in the most harrowing situation they have ever faced – finding Georgiana before it is too late.

About Regina Jeffers:

Regina Jeffers, an English teacher for thirty-nine years, considers herself a Jane Austen enthusiast. She is the author of 13 novels, including Darcy’s Passions, Darcy’s Temptation, The Phantom of Pemberley, Christmas at Pemberley, The Scandal of Lady Eleanor, A Touch of Velvet, and A Touch of Cashémere. A Time Warner Star Teacher and Martha Holden Jennings Scholar, as well as a Smithsonian presenter, Jeffers often serves as a media literacy consultant. She resides outside of Charlotte, NC, where she spends time teaching her new grandson the joys of being a child.

Giveaway:

Courtesy of Ulysses Press, I am giving away a copy of The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy. To enter, please leave a comment with your e-mail address and tell me what you think is so special about Austen-inspired novels and why you want to read this book. Because the publisher is shipping the book, this giveaway is open only to readers with addresses in the U.S. and Canada, and it will close at 11:59 pm EST on Sunday, April 22, 2012.

**Please note that this giveaway is now closed**

Disclosure: I am an IndieBound affiliate and an Amazon associate.

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Read Full Post »

Source: Review copy from Ulysses Press
Rating: ★★★★☆

Elizabeth came to a sudden halt.  “Is everyone obsessed with my mental stability?”

Mr. Bennet started their walking again.  “Your husband and your parents are naturally sensitive to your changed temperament.  Even you must admit, Lizzy, that you’ve not been yourself of late.”

“I suppose,” she said reluctantly.

“We all love you,” he assured.

Elizabeth accepted his compassion.  “I never meant to worry you.”

“We know.”  He patted her hand.  “Just come back to us, Lizzy.  We all depend on your good sense.”

(from Christmas at Pemberley, page 269)

Christmas at Pemberley by Regina Jeffers is a charming and quiet novel that brings all of the characters in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and a few new ones together in one place, creating both tension and amusement.  Although the Afterword indicates that Christmas wasn’t a major event in Regency England, it was nice to join Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy and their family and friends for a holiday celebration.

Darcy and Elizabeth are on their way back to Pemberley when icy roads force them to take shelter in a crowded inn.  Elizabeth isn’t her usual witty self, having lost two babies and now scared to acknowledge her current pregnancy, and Darcy is anxious to bring her home.  He has invited the Bennet and Bingley families to Pemberley for Christmas, hoping the presence of Elizabeth’s family will snap her out of her funk.

Elizabeth feels isolated at the inn, being the only woman, until the Josephs arrive.  Mary Joseph is far along in her pregnancy but traveling with her husband to his sick mother’s bedside.  As in the story of Jesus, there is no room at the inn for the Josephs, but Elizabeth refuses to let a pregnant woman sleep in the barn, so she and Darcy offer to share their room.  A friendship develops between Elizabeth and Mary that will help both women through some tough times.

Meanwhile, back at Pemberley, Darcy’s sister, Georgiana, is playing hostess to the Bennets and the Bingleys.  Complications arise when several uninvited guests seek shelter at the estate, particularly her formidable aunt, Lady Catherine (who still isn’t on speaking terms with Darcy because of his marriage to Elizabeth), but Georgiana navigates the choppy waters with ease, thanks to Elizabeth’s sister, Kitty, and her cousin and guardian, Colonel Edward Fitzwilliam.

There’s not much action in Christmas at Pemberley, and the slow pace at the beginning made it difficult for me to become invested in the story.  However, about a quarter of the way through the book, I started really enjoying it, particularly when Jeffers focused on the crowd of guests at Pemberley.  Much of the story revolves around pairing up the unmarried characters.  The flirtations were sweet and the pairings predictable, but I was in the mood for a romantic tale and wasn’t disappointed.

Jeffers inserts a tale of intrigue with the character of Beauford Manneville, a plantation owner from South Carolina who boasts of his wealth and isn’t keeping it a secret that he’s in search of a wife.  Of course, Mrs. Bennet, having already secured a husband for Mary, throws Kitty at him, but Kitty has other plans.  Colonel Fitzwilliam is unsure why he was ordered to bring Manneville back to England, but he smells something fishy.  Meanwhile, Manneville strikes up a friendship with Caroline Bingley, who hasn’t changed a bit.

I liked Jeffers’ take on Austen’s characters.  It’s easy to understand how Elizabeth would be grieving her miscarriages and scared about losing a third baby, but a little of the Lizzy I love peeked through.  I really enjoyed her quarrelling with Darcy over Kitty’s future, and watching Georgiana and Kitty blossom was delightful.  Jane, Bingley, Mary, and the Collinses remained in the background, but I was so wrapped up in Georgiana and Kitty’s stories that I didn’t realize they were missing.

Christmas at Pemberley is a fun continuation of Pride and Prejudice, and a perfect book for fans of Austenesque novels to curl up and read with a cup of hot cocoa.  It’s not filled with action or drama, but it’s like a calm, heartwarming visit with old friends.

Disclosure: I received Christmas at Pemberley from Ulysses Press for review.

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »