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It’s a pleasure to welcome Rose Fairbanks back to Diary of an Eccentric today in celebration of the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, The Secrets of Pemberley. Please give her a warm welcome!

The Queen’s Love

Thank you for hosting me, Anna! I consider myself primarily a romance writer, but I have a degree in history and always like to insert real facts into my novels. Usually, that means a circumstance or event during the Regency era. The Secrets of Pemberley centers deeply on the emotional growth of Mr. Darcy. As such, I don’t delve into current events of the era. However, my characters find themselves at a ball with fancy dress, and thus some history (and humor) came to the story. Fancy dress balls replaced the popular masquerades earlier in the Georgian era and often historical costumes were chosen. Darcy chooses to dress as Edward IV in honor of a king who married for love. When Elizabeth arrives dressed as Edward’s consort, Elizabeth Woodville, it would seem like fate indicating they belong together, yet, Darcy leaves the ball in broken spirits.

Elizabeth Woodville

Elizabeth Woodville was born into a family of mismatched ranks. Her mother was a descendant of Henry II of England and the daughter of a count from Luxembourg. Her first marriage was to the Duke of Bedford, uncle to the current king. He died after only two years of marriage, and she scandalously married her late husband’s chamberlain. Richard Woodville was born with no rank or title, and they had not sought the king’s permission to marry. After a fine, the King accepted their marriage and Woodville was made a baron. However, the stink of their union followed their daughter all the way to the throne.

During the War of the Roses, the Woodvilles supported Henry VI. Elizabeth’s mother served as a lady-in-waiting and favorite of Queen Margaret. When the York claimant to the throne, Edward IV, unseated Henry, the Woodvilles fell out of favour at court. Additionally, Elizabeth’s Lancastrian-supporting first husband died in battle in 1461.

In 1464, Elizabeth married Edward in secret. One can imagine how the courtiers must have hated the marriage. Elizabeth’s family barely counted as nobility and had not during most of her life. She had no fortune and supposed Edward’s enemy. It was a political nightmare. Throughout their marriage, Edward and Elizabeth attracted enemies. Although flawed individuals, most historians believe they truly loved each other.

Just as Darcy chose to dress as Edward as an expression of his love for Elizabeth, she has reasons for costume choice as well. What do you think she is trying to tell Darcy in the quote below?

Elizabeth of Woodville, Illustration by Percy Anderson

“Tell me, then, why you chose her?” Darcy smiled down at her. He loved speaking with her and understanding how her mind worked.

“She came from a simple background, a commoner. Her parents had a scandalous and imbalanced marriage. She met the King fearlessly one day and for that earned his love. Their love overcame so much: class and political lines. She lived amongst her enemies daily but had his respect and love. It gave her strength and bravery. I can only hope to experience the same one day.”

Darcy noticed the red rose in her hand. Elizabeth Woodville’s family had supported the Lancastrians. Their symbol was a red rose while her husband was from the York line and used a white rose. “You mean to be Elizabeth before she married?” He touched a petal.

“I have not yet met my king,” she dropped her voice but stared at the white rose pinned to his hat.

“You have not met him, or you have not secured him?” Darcy held his breath. How could they speak like this and yet her favour another man? He needed to hear her say it. Kill the hope within him.

“Are you asking for one of my secrets, sir?”

Darcy shook his head. He did not want to play their game. He searched Elizabeth’s eyes.

“Perhaps I will tell you if we dance,” she said before he could decide what to say.

“I am not dancing tonight.”

“You cannot claim to be unacquainted with the guests tonight,” she teased.

Darcy fought a flush to his cheeks. “I fear my valet is far too talented in finding accurate costuming. I require my cloak to be held in this position. Movement would be…catastrophic.”

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About The Secrets of Pemberley

To the world, Fitzwilliam Darcy has it all. He’s the young master to one of the kingdom’s oldest and wealthiest Norman families. Through his mother, he is related to a powerful line of earls. Beneath the perfect façade lies the truth: he’s the product of his mother’s affair and the heir George Darcy never wanted.

At twenty-eight, Darcy has fought hard to put to rest the pains of the past and earn his place in Society. But can he resist the allure of ending his loneliness with the unsuitable woman who has tugged at his heartstrings? Will he tell her his secret and if he does, will she keep it? Or will someone else from the past destroy everything Darcy has worked for?

Buy The Secrets of Pemberley on Amazon

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About the Author

Born in the wrong era, Rose Fairbanks has read nineteenth-century novels since childhood. Although she studied history, her transcript also contains every course in which she could discuss Jane Austen. Never having given up all-nighters for reading, Rose discovered her love for Historical Romance after reading Christi Caldwell’s Heart of a Duke Series.

After a financial downturn and her husband’s unemployment had threatened her ability to stay at home with their special needs child, Rose began writing the kinds of stories she had loved to read for so many years. Now, a best-selling author of Jane Austen-inspired stories, she also writes Regency Romance, Historical Fiction, Paranormal Romance, and Historical Fantasy.

Having completed a BA in history in 2008, she plans to finish her master’s studies someday. When not reading or writing, Rose runs after her two young children, ignores housework, and profusely thanks her husband for doing all the dishes and laundry. She is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America and Romance Writers of America.

You can connect with Rose on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog.

To join her email list for information about new releases and any other news, you can sign up here.

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Giveaway

Rose is kindly offering a giveaway of 1 ebook copy of The Secrets of Pemberley as part of the blog tour. You must enter using this Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

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Thank you, Rose, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new release! I’m very much looking forward to reading it.

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Today I have a real treat for you, my dear readers! Rose Fairbanks is releasing her next Pride and Prejudice variation on March 29 (possibly sooner) — click here to preorder — and I will be revealing the cover right here, right now. And she is generously sharing an excerpt and a giveaway with you as well!

Before I show you the beautiful cover for The Secrets of Pemberley, here is the blurb:

To the world, Fitzwilliam Darcy has it all. He’s the young master to one of the kingdom’s oldest and wealthiest Norman families. Through his mother, he is related to a powerful line of earls. Beneath the perfect façade lies the truth: he’s the product of his mother’s affair and the heir George Darcy never wanted.

At twenty-eight, Darcy has fought hard to put to rest the pains of the past and earn his place in Society. But can he resist the allure of ending his loneliness with the unsuitable woman who has tugged at his heartstrings? Will he tell her his secret and if he does, will she keep it? Or will someone else from the past destroy everything Darcy has worked for?

Doesn’t that sound intriguing? And here is the cover that seems to capture the book so well:

And the entire print cover:

Wow! The mask hints at some secrecy, and the statute on the back cover has a vulnerability about it that just tears at my heart! I’m dying to read the book, and I’m sure many of you are as well. In the meantime, here is an excerpt to whet your appetite:

“You have done this, Anne, and I will never forgive you.”

A large, stern man hovered over Fitzwilliam Darcy’s sobbing mother. Her cries awoke the boy of eight from his night time slumber in the small Scottish cottage where he and his mother shared a room. The only light was a lantern in the man’s hand. Outside the open window, the world remained quiet except for the sound of horses snorting and stamping impatiently. A coachman attempted to calm them.

“But do not take him away from me! Do not take my boy!”

Fitzwilliam attempted to hide behind his mother who now sat on his bed.

“You have taken mine!” the man roared. “Have you no words of regret on the passing of your firstborn? My son! My heir! He needed his mother — but no, you were here.”

Lady Anne Darcy remained mute and continued her sobs. Her son peered curiously at the angry man. Mother had another child? He had a brother?

“Do not fret,” the man glared and had no sympathy for the tears he saw. “I kept your affair a secret, and he has my name. He will be accepted.”

“But he will not be loved!” Lady Anne sobbed anew, and she hugged Fitzwilliam.

“You should have thought of that before you played the harlot.”

“If you would allow me to come with you,” she pleaded.

“Absolutely not. You will remain here for your “health.” Now, pass the boy over.”

The man looked at the Fitzwilliam. He looked strange, unfamiliar and in clothing that showed no signs of wear. Mother had always said one day his father would come for him one day, but looking at this man, Fitzwilliam did not want to go.

“No, anything but that please,” Mother cried.

Large hands tried to snatch Fitzwilliam’s arm, and she threw herself in front of the child. He darted to the other side of the room.

“Anne,” George said in a warning tone. “The law is on my side.”

He sounded angry, and Fitzwilliam flinched at the voice, but his mother did not cower. Either Mother was very brave, or perhaps there was no reason to fear violence from the man.

“Allow me to say goodbye,” Mother pleaded.

At last, the towering man relented.

“Fitzwilliam, my darling son,” Mother choked out and embraced him.

He wrapped his hands tightly around her waist and pressed his head to her chest. “Mama, please do not send me away. Do not make me go with that man.” Tears streaked down his face, and he trembled in fear. Other than Cook and the maid, he had seldom known other people. He was even too shy to greet the minister they saw every Sunday.

“He is your father,” Mama said.

The man snorted, and Fitzwilliam lifted his head.

Mother turned her head to face Father. “What else is there to tell him, George?”

“Disguise of every sort is my abhorrence,” he said through gritted teeth. “Am I not lying enough as it is?”

“Please,” Mother asked as her chin trembled and tears fell down her cheeks. “Please.”

“Blast it. You always knew how to get your way,” Father whispered. “I will tell him when he is old enough.”

Fitzwilliam felt relief in his mother’s frame, and she exhaled the breath she had been holding.

“Thank you.”

Turning back to her son, she ran comforting hands over his hair and face. “Now, you will go with your Papa and learn everything you can about running a big estate. So many people will look up to you and will count on you. Do you think you can do that?”

Fitzwilliam shook his head.

“Our son was never afraid of anything,” Father said sadly. “Did you ever wonder?”

Pain and anguish flooded Mother’s eyes, and she squeezed them shut. Upon opening, determination filled them.

“You can do this! I know you can! Do you remember the name of the estate?”

“Pember…Pemberley?”

“Yes! See how smart you are already?”

Fitzwilliam did not care about praise at this moment. Why did he have to leave Mother behind? “When will I see you again?”

“Do not worry about that,” she answered with a quavering voice. “I must remain here and get healthy.”

Mother often said they lived here because of her health. She never seemed ill to him, only sad. However, he would never wish to hurt her. “Must I go?”

“Yes, it is your duty to be the heir of Pemberley.” She pulled him into a crushing hug. “Now, never forget how I love you. No one will ever love you as your mother.”

“Boy, it is time,” Father called.

After another minute, Mother released him and gave him a kiss on each cheek. He reluctantly walked to his father’s side.

“I am pleased to meet you, Father,” he said.

George Darcy harrumphed and left the sparse room. Fitzwilliam cast a parting look at his mother, who tried to smile and waved goodbye. Then, he trailed down the stairs and maintained silence until they were in the carriage. As they pulled away from the cottage which been his only home, Fitzwilliam cried.

How heartbreaking! I really need to know what happens next!

If you’re as curious as I am, Rose is generously offering two lucky readers the chance to win The Secrets of Pemberley: one ebook, open to readers internationally, and one print copy, U.S. only. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and whether you are entering for the print copy or the ebook. This giveaway will close on Tuesday, January 16, 2018. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Rose, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your upcoming release!

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SE final 4Today, I have the pleasure of hosting Rose Fairbanks as she celebrates the release of her latest novel, Sufficient Encouragement, a Pride and Prejudice variation and the first book in the When Love Blooms series. I really enjoyed editing this novel, as it combines Rose’s love of both Austen’s characters and history.

About Sufficient Encouragement:

We are all fools in love…

Some say a lady’s imagination is very rapid. Such is the case when Elizabeth Bennet overhears that Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy admires her eyes. She thinks nothing for herself, but immediately considers her dearest sister’s growing attachment to Mr. Darcy’s friend. If Elizabeth spurns such a wealthy—and proud—gentleman, he might do everything in his power to separate his friend from her sister.

Raised in a world of expectations and pedigree, Darcy knows Elizabeth Bennet can offer him nothing of material value. As his attraction for her grows, he becomes increasingly convinced his feelings are nonsensical. Still, he might forsake it all if only he had true encouragement.

Misunderstandings lead to betrayals and the couple soon learns falling in love takes courage but staying in love requires forgiveness. Traversing from the groves of Hertfordshire to the drawing rooms of London to the complexity and danger of Luddite revolts in Yorkshire, Sufficient Encouragement follows Darcy and Elizabeth’s journey of love and forgiveness.

*This story contains a scene of nonexplicit sexual violence.

Rose has kindly provided an excerpt from Sufficient Encouragement. Enjoy!

Thanks for having me! After surviving the plots of Wickham and a disappointing Mr. Bennet, Darcy and Elizabeth are engaged, but life throws another curve ball. During the year of 1812, factories in the North of England suffered attacks from a group now known as Luddites. Some sources say they were disgruntled laborers, unhappy with low pay; others say they were farmers who (rightfully) believed the new technology and factory system were taking away their side employment as textile workers in their own homes. Before this excerpt, Darcy and Bingley got a notice that there is an attack planned on one of the Bingley mills, and Darcy is a silent partner in the investment. They have come to Gracechurch Street to bid their ladies goodbye, although it means delaying Darcy and Elizabeth’s wedding.

Elizabeth led Will to the Gardiners’ sitting room. Before he could open his mouth to speak, she said, “I am coming with you.”

Will took a step towards her. “Elizabeth—”

She interrupted him. “No, I will not be parted from you.”

“That is impossible for a variety of reasons. Your uncle will never agree, and I would not blame him.”

“I believe the wife of Mr. Darcy is not beholden to the opinions of other men.”

“Yes, well, as I am sure you have gathered, the wedding must be delayed.” He frowned while speaking.

“Or moved ahead,” she said steadily while meeting his eyes. Anticipating his argument, she held up her hands to cease the words forming on his lips. “I do not require much rest on journeys. We shall travel swiftly. I suppose the moon is no help right now, but surely two days is sufficient.”

“I was hoping to talk with the local landowners. If they can be convinced to help alleviate the burden felt by their tenants, there would be no need for attacks. And the yeoman has to face high prices for goods as much as anyone.”

“So your solution would be to spend a week browbeating gentlemen and shopkeepers?” Elizabeth asked with an arched eyebrow.

“Do you have a better suggestion?”

Elizabeth sat and smoothed her skirts. “Do you even know them? Are you even acquainted with the owners at all? Do you know if they are even at their estates and not in London? Their stewards could not promise to do anything of that sort without approval. How can you work on shopkeepers? They have their own families to feed.”

She tugged Will’s hand, and he sat beside her. Seeing that Will looked unconvinced, she pressed her point again. “The trade components are more complicated than most are considering. The factory owners have to pay for the materials. Due to the war and the American embargo, we rely more on textiles made in England, but that will not be true forever. The shopkeepers buy their goods and must have a profit. Meanwhile, many of the other goods they used to sell are now unavailable due to the war. Our entire economy is built on ancient practices and is ready to collapse. Goods now travel around the world instead of remaining in a very local marketplace. Even the centuries-old trade of raw materials from America to England and goods to Africa has collapsed because of the Revolution and the abolition of the slave trade. There is something great for the future to be made out of this tangled mess, but we must live in harmony.”

Will listened quietly during her speech, so she continued. “Bingley or his uncle would know the principal landowners in the area, but it is possible they would defer to others who are even more influential. Your uncle is a powerful lord with an estate in West Riding and is the Lord Lieutenant. He must know many…” She trailed off. “You already know all of this, of course.”

“Yes, I have sent a note to my uncle and will meet with him soon. I do enjoy how passionate you become on subjects in which you are knowledgeable, though,” he said while lightly caressing her hand.

Resisting the pleasurable feeling, Elizabeth shook her head. “You will not distract me. You must see then that there is little for you to do. I know you will go. You cannot shirk your responsibilities and investments, but as you do not know the people on either side of the conflict, your uncle could put you to use just as well here in London for a few more days.”

Will ceased his movements and looked her directly in the eye. “It means a great deal to you that I do not leave without you and that we wed earlier than planned?”

Elizabeth ducked her head and whispered, “Yes.”

He pulled her into an embrace, and she fought back tears. “I would be happy to marry you any day of your choosing,” he murmured into her hair. “Although I would rather not be a means for you to avoid your feelings about your father or your mistreatment by Wickham.”

She sniffled, again willing the tears to hold back. “How would you know so much about it?”

“I have been disappointed in my father, and I have seen how long it took Georgiana to recover her spirits over Wickham.”

“She had thought she was in love with him, and I never did. I only hate that I did not see his true character and seemed so weak compared to him. It is so frustrating to be a woman. How many times have people attempted to take my power of choice away?”

“I know, love,” Will said while rubbing her back. “I will abide by your choice now if you are certain you truly desire to wed in a few days’ time and then go on this arduous journey with me.”

Elizabeth pulled back to meet his eyes. “I have already journeyed to London by my own choice to be with you. What are a few hundred miles more?”

He chuckled. “I wish I could assure you the roads are in good condition, but you will see things run differently in the North. It is not too far from Pemberley actually. We could return there when our errand is complete before returning for Bingley’s wedding—unless you would like to come earlier.”

She furrowed her brow. “Will Georgiana wish to go as well?”

“No, she hates Derbyshire in the winter. She may come if you desire it, though…” He trailed off.

She smiled. “No, I believe newlyweds ought to have privacy.” She blushed. “Rather, I had not wanted to make her feel unwelcome in her own home or abandoned.”

“Nonsense. She will stay with the Matlocks and have the company of my aunt, Anne, and Lady Belinda. I am certain Mrs. Gardiner and Jane would be welcome additions as well.”

“Then I think it is a splendid idea!” She beamed.

Will looked around the room. “Speaking of privacy…” He captured her lips for several minutes until there was a noise in the hall.

About the When Love Blooms series:

“Love is like a flower, for it is well worth the toil to cultivate it.” She shrugged her shoulders, “Love is beautiful.”

Take a stroll in the garden of love and enjoy the unique blooms of the intersecting lives of the Bennet, Darcy, Fitzwilliam, de Bourgh and Bingley families. Sufficient Encouragement follows Darcy and Elizabeth as they fight to save their love from an unexpected frost while Jane and Bingley’s love grows strong roots. The companion story, Renewed Hope, adds depth to the bouquet with the love stories of Darcy’s cousins and Miss Bingley. The third book in the series, Extraordinary Devotion, follows Darcy and Elizabeth’s marriage while their younger sisters experience a London Season.

About Rose Fairbanks:

Rose Fairbanks hears book characters talk in her head. They whisper to her of a time when the sun never set on the British Empire. More than having a love story for the ages, these characters face struggles inspired by historical events such as market crashes, Napoleon, embargoes, Luddites, the Year Without a Summer and more. Merging historical research with the timelessness of Jane Austen, Rose currently has ten Pride and Prejudice variations published with several releases planned for 2016 as well as an original Regency Romance series in the works.

Rose proudly admits her Darcy obsession and addictions to reading, chocolate, and sweet tea. Always in the mood for a healthy debate, she also dearly loves to laugh. Having completed a BA in history in 2008, she plans to complete her master’s studies…someday. At the moment, having a career combining her life-long interest in history and research with her love for Jane Austen and the Regency Era consumes all of her professional time. When not writing or reading, Rose runs after her two young children, ignores housework, and profusely thanks her husband for doing all the dishes and laundry.

You can connect with Rose on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and her blog.

SE blog tour final

Sufficient Encouragement Blog Tour Schedule

4/16: Excerpt & Giveaway at Stories from the Past
4/17: Excerpt at My Jane Austen Book Club
4/18: Excerpt & Review at The Ardent Reader
4/19: Excerpt & Giveaway at Diary of an Eccentric
4/20: Interview & Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews
4/21: Review at Half Agony, Half Hope
4/22: Guest Post at Babblings of a Bookworm
4/25: Review at Just Jane 1813
4/26: Guest Post at More Agreeably Engaged
4/28: Guest Post & Review at From Pemberley to Milton

Giveaway:

Rose is generously offering 2 ebooks (international) and 1 print copy (U.S.) of Sufficient Encouragement to my readers. To enter, please leave a comment telling me what you liked best about the excerpt and why you want to read the book. Please be sure to leave your email address and your desired book format. The giveaway will close on Sunday, April 24. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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

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RoseFairbanks-NoCauseToRepine-EBook-1I’m thrilled to announce the release of Rose Fairbanks‘ novel, No Cause to Repine, which I had the pleasure of editing earlier in the year.  We’re celebrating with an excerpt and a giveaway!

A misinterpreted accident threatens Elizabeth Bennet’s reputation and her fate seems sealed as Fitzwilliam Darcy’s wife. While the bride is resigned, the gentleman could hardly be happier until betrayals and schemes threaten to take the matter entirely out of their hands. Overcoming the plots before them will take all the patience, perseverance and collaboration they can muster, but a partnership requires truth. Self-discovery and trust await Jane Austen’s most beloved and willfully blind couple as they attempt to master their own destiny in life and love.

Here’s an excerpt, courtesy of Rose Fairbanks:

Mr. Bennet was just beginning to recover from his confrontation with Darcy, after confirming his family did not overhear him and finding himself thankful they were a noisy lot, when the butler showed his cousin, Mr. Collins, into his study. He did not attempt to stifle a groan and clutched his head between his hands for a brief moment.

Mr. Collins’ eyes seemed unusually glassy as he said, “Mr. Bennet, I have come with the express purpose of seeing to the safe reception of a letter of utmost urgency from my esteemed patroness. I shall allow you to read it without delay.” He fumbled in his pocket, even less coordinated than usual, before finding the sealed parchment and laying it on the desk in front of him.

Mr. Bennet looked on in annoyance at his cousin’s obvious inebriation. Given the circumstances of the previous few days, he felt it better actually to read the letter. He ignored his cousin sermonizing on the improper behaviour of his most favourite daughter. If he had not already expended so much interest and energy on Darcy, he might have even been moved to anger at the gentleman before him. Instead, he turned his attention to the note, praying fervently to find some amusement within.

Rosings, Kent

Monday, March 30

Mr. Bennet,

You can be at no loss to understand my reason for writing to you. I understand your second eldest daughter, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, has presumed an engagement with my nephew, Mr. Darcy. This union cannot take place. He is engaged to my daughter. I am ready to settle twenty five thousand pounds for the silence of your household on this matter and to supplement your daughters’ dowries so they might make beneficial matches. You may rest assured that no scandal shall come from the compromising position in which they were found yesterday morning, as my staff and clergyman’s household have all been instructed to silence. You may relay your acceptance of the arrangement and the particulars of your choosing to me when Mr. Collins returns to Hunsford.

The Rt. Hon. Lady Catherine de Bourgh

Mr. Bennet was more than a little tempted by her ladyship’s offer. He certainly could use the money, and he would not need to lose his Elizabeth to the despicable Mr. Darcy. He did have his reservations about his cousin, among others, and his ability to abide by Lady Catherine’s edict of silence on the matter.

“Mr. Collins, has Lady Catherine commanded your silence on a matter of some delicacy?”

“Yes, Mr. Bennet, and she is worthy of all obedience…” Collins had to cease his speech due to a round of hiccoughs.

Mr. Bennet seized the opportunity, giving Collins a stern look. “Then I suggest you practice that silence now. My wife and youngest daughters remain ignorant on this subject, and so do the servants. If you do not wish to incur her ladyship’s wrath, then you must control your tongue.”

“You are, of course, correct, sir! And it is so affable of you to remind me so diligently. May I presume that you have agreed to her ladyship’s proposal?”

Mr. Bennet had not entirely decided. In fact, he was rather tired of the subject for the day and just about to make a request for more time to decide when Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy barged into his study.

“Papa! I must speak with you at once.” He immediately recognised Elizabeth’s glare of disdain at Mr. Collins as she spoke.

“Yes, and I should like to speak with you.”

Elizabeth continued to eye Mr. Collins, insisting, “I must request a private audience.”

“And so I agree.” Mr. Bennet’s lips curled up in amusement. “Mr. Darcy, could you show Mr. Collins the way to his wife? Afterwards, you may wish to sit with the ladies in the morning room again or leave entirely.” Mr. Bennet did not trust Collins near his wife and daughters and hoped Mrs. Collins could convince her husband to depart for Lucas Lodge.

Mr. Bennet was annoyed that his attempts at baiting Darcy were unsuccessful. He had expected the man to be more affronted when asked to leave the library and told to escort Collins, as a servant would. And wonder of wonders, the proud man showed no reaction to being forced into more company with Mrs. Bennet or to leave for Netherfield. Darcy only looked towards Elizabeth and gave her a little smile and a nod, then graciously obliged.

Once alone, he looked at his daughter and began, “You shall not have to marry Mr. Darcy, Lizzy. Her ladyship has graciously condescended to ensure silence on the subject.”

“How can you trust a woman who so carelessly demanded to send me away? Who insulted me and our family with the vilest language? You must see we cannot be so assured! If gossip were to get out, it will materially harm the reputations of my sisters.”

“With a dowry of six thousand pounds, surely they shall draw the attention of some respectable men. It shall be more if I invest wisely.”

Elizabeth gasped in disbelief. “Of what are you speaking?”

“Her ladyship confirms Mr. Darcy’s engagement to her daughter and, in the interest of seeing that union preserved, has offered a sum of twenty five thousand pounds in addition to her earlier assurances.”

“Mr. Darcy has vigorously denied any engagement with Miss de Bourgh. He refuted it to his aunt’s face!” Elizabeth’s face took on an unexpected expression of panic. She soon recovered and calmly stated, “He has declared our engagement just as openly.”

“The general expectation of Mr. Darcy’s marriage to Miss de Bourgh is well-known. I daresay few would believe any gossip of an engagement with you.”

“Can you not see this is an outrageous attempt at bribery? I very much doubt that, should there be no scandal and I release Mr. Darcy from our understanding, he shall marry his cousin. Lady Catherine would be incensed, and I believe her to be vindictive.” She paused a moment and narrowed her eyes. “In fact, she might act against us even if he would marry her daughter. I also find it hard to believe she would honour the payment or that she even has the monies.”

“I would do anything, rather than see you in so unequal a marriage guaranteed to bring you nothing but misery.”

“Even putting all of my sisters at risk? You must be sensible!”

“I know you can never respect the man after all he has done.”

“You know nothing of the sort! Pray, have you read my uncle’s letter?”

Mr. Bennet snorted in disgust. “I am sure your uncle has only been intimidated, or perhaps charmed, by Mr. Darcy in coming to his defence. There is little use in my reading it.”

Elizabeth snatched the letter from her father’s desk and began to read aloud…

scrolls greenGiveaway: Rose is generously offering one ebook copy (open internationally) and one paperback (U.S. only) of No Cause to Repine. Simply leave a comment about what intrigues you most about this novel, and please include your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, May 24.

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

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