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Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Rose Fairbanks back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Mr. Darcy’s Grieving Wife.

I’ve enjoyed reading and editing Rose’s books for the last several years, and Mr. Darcy’s Grieving Wife really touched me. Having lost my own father when I was around Elizabeth’s age, and just as suddenly as Elizabeth lost Mr. Bennet, Elizabeth’s grief felt real to me. And my husband was my rock during that time, just like Darcy was for Elizabeth. That being said, Rose does a great job keeping that grief from overwhelming readers, balancing it out with plenty of romance.

Rose is here to share two excerpts from Mr. Darcy’s Grieving Wife, and I do hope you enjoy them (and the entire book) as much as I did. Please give her a warm welcome!

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First, thanks so much for having me back, Anna! I appreciate all the hard work you did on editing this book and the chance to share two excerpts with your readers today.

Mr. Darcy’s Grieving Wife is a marriage of convenience story. As with many of them, Mr. Bennet dies, placing Elizabeth in a position of choosing marriage to save her family. However, I try to put my twist on it, too. Darcy’s proposal is just after Elizabeth and Jane’s stay at Netherfield and before Elizabeth has met Mr. Wickham. As such, Elizabeth hasn’t totally hardened herself against Darcy. It’s also a marriage of convenience for Darcy. I thought it would be most interesting to share excerpts from both points of view.

Excerpt #1 (Elizabeth) The day after Mr. Collins arrives at Longbourn.

Just as Elizabeth and the others reached the edge of Meryton, a servant from Longbourn came running after them.

“Oh, misses! Come quick! The master has fallen ill, and my mistress is sick with worry.”

Elizabeth felt her knees grow weak. It was unlike Sally to exaggerate, and she was not new to Mrs. Bennet’s antics. This must be serious indeed.

“Do not worry, my dear cousins,” Mr. Collins rushed to say before anyone else could speak. “I shall escort you home, and I will pray for your father’s recovery. If, however, the Lord sees fit not to answer that prayer, you will find I will not be an unkind master.”

He bowed to Elizabeth, and a terrible suspicion filled her. Had Mr. Collins meant for her to be the olive branch between the families? How dare he suggest it so callously! Paying him no heed, she turned to her sisters. Jane’s lip trembled while Kitty and Lydia clutched their eldest sister’s arms.

“Come, let us hurry.” Elizabeth put her arm around one sister, hoping the rest would follow.

“Has the surgeon been sent for?” she asked the maid.

“Aye, Miss Lizzy.”

Once home, Elizabeth spoke with Jane on how to direct the members of the family. Jane and Mary would sit with Mrs. Bennet while Kitty and Lydia were told to keep quiet. Elizabeth waited with her father, who was reclining in his library. Unfortunately, Mr. Collins chose to do so as well.

Elizabeth trembled as she saw how pale her father was. He could not walk or see very well. He could not raise his left hand and complained of a terrible headache.

The surgeon came and examined Mr. Bennet while Elizabeth waited outside the door. She questioned the man as soon as he exited, Mr. Collins hovering just over her shoulder.

“I fear it is the very worst, Miss Bennet. He has had an apoplexy and shall not recover. You must prepare yourselves.”

Elizabeth’s knees buckled, and she clutched the wall for support. “Wh-when?”

“It may be days, certainly not weeks.”

“Is there nothing you can do for him?”

“It is beyond my assistance now. I have left laudanum for the pain, and if you need more, Mr. Jones has a healthy supply. There is no need to measure the dose. He will not live long enough to become addicted.”

With a trembling lip, Elizabeth nodded at the surgeon, who chose to see himself out. Someone would have to tell her mother. Calling for a servant, she had Jane brought down. Elizabeth delivered the news to her eldest sister and asked if she would inform Mrs. Bennet.

“I shall have Hill draw up her salts and all the other things that soothe her. We ought to write to my uncle Gardiner and tell my aunt Phillips.”

Elizabeth agreed. “Send Kitty and Lydia to Aunt Phillips. Mary may write the Gardiners. That leaves you to sit with Mama, and I shall watch over Papa.”

Once Jane had left to see to her duties, Elizabeth turned to Mr. Collins, who had attached himself to her side like a leech. “Perhaps you can walk to Meryton with my sisters?”

“I do not think it would be appropriate for me to do so. My position is here with you.”

With a clammy hand, he reached for hers. Instantly, Elizabeth’s stomach revolted, and she attempted to draw it back.

“Cousin Elizabeth, I had not planned to speak so early, but you must see there is little time to waste. Lady Catherine does not support unwed rectors, and I entirely agree with her. I am conscious, too, of the hurt my now imminent inheritance will cause you and your sisters. I came to Longbourn to find a wife. I will admit you were not the first object of my interest, but I am very pleased with your conduct and attractiveness. I will not hold it against you in the least that you come to me with little money. I know you will honour me all the more for my condescension.”

Elizabeth could scarcely breathe. She could never ever marry Mr. Collins—or any man she did not love.

Until the unthinkable happened and her father was mortally ill, that is. Without allowing the man to finish, she raced out of the room. In a matter of minutes, she found herself knocking on the door to Lucas Lodge, requesting her friend Charlotte to join her for a walk. Elizabeth needed sensible advice, and she knew Charlotte would be the one to give it.

Excerpt #2 (Darcy) Darcy overhears Elizabeth’s conversation with Charlotte as they discuss Collins’ proposal. He uses the opportunity to speak with her.

“Miss Bennet, do you realise that you are consoling me about long ago hurts while you are in such a mournful position? You have a truly generous heart!” He looked at her intently and gently took her hand in his. “It is this reason as well as your intelligence, your lively wit, playful manners, and perfect loveliness that I find myself captivated by you.”

Darcy searched Elizabeth’s face for a sign of encouragement. Her eyes had widened when he first reached for her hand, and she seemed to be in a state of disbelief as he continued his speech. He supposed that she had felt unworthy of his notice. “It may surprise you to hear that I have decided to end my bachelor’s existence. I determined to do so just before arriving at Netherfield and had planned to devote time in the upcoming season to finding a wife. My estate needs heirs, and I wish to end the schemes of my relations once and for all.”

Elizabeth stared blankly at him. Deciding it was best to illustrate just how much he admired her, he brought her knuckle to his lips before continuing his unexpected proposal. “Why should I wait for London when a pleasing alternative is before me? Instead of offering for a titled miss, I find myself needing to be in your presence, to experience your joy for life.”

Once he had begun, he found he did not wish to stop speaking of his feelings. Indeed, they surprised even him, but he meant every word. “I have a very deep affection and regard for you. I have never felt such admiration for another woman before. Please be my wife. I am convinced you are the only one who can be the perfect mistress for my home and sister for my dear Georgiana. Let me care for you and your family. Please be my companion for life.”

Darcy waited with bated breath. He proposed only a marriage of convenience. He admired Elizabeth but would not call it anything more. Still, his heart raced, and he felt the same anticipation one feels before pushing their horse to jump over a fence for the first time. He was part dread, part elation.

Well, what do you think Elizabeth will say? Will she need any convincing to accept Darcy?

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About Mr. Darcy’s Grieving Wife

There was only one rule for their marriage. No falling in love.

Elizabeth Bennet thrives on finding the follies in life. The most beloved daughter of her father, she has lived a relatively charmed life with little to cause her pain or regret. That all changes the morning her father collapses. Forced to marry to save her family, Elizabeth’s only choices are men she can never love.

Needing a wife to end his overbearing family’s schemes, Mr. Darcy has settled upon the vivacious Elizabeth. When he overhears she is considering marriage to another man, he is inspired to act quickly, and soon finds himself in a marriage of convenience.

The agreement is supposed to be devoid of sentiment and love, suiting them both at first. However, respect soon blossoms to love for Darcy while Elizabeth remains convinced her heart is permanently broken. Suddenly, a match that was supposed to be convenient becomes painfully inconvenient. Can a marriage overflowing with such differing emotions be maintained, or will there be no other choice for Darcy and Elizabeth but to live separate lives?

Mr. Darcy’s Grieving Wife is Rose Fairbanks’ latest stand-alone novel. If you like heroes with unwavering devotion, stories that pull on your heartstrings, and romance amidst life’s pains, then you will enjoy this story full of heartache and joy.

Grab your copy today and settle in for an unforgettable read as Darcy and Elizabeth navigate their anything-but-convenient marriage.

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About the Author

Rose Fairbanks

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.

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

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

Facebook fans! Join Rose’s reading groups:

Rose’s Reading Garden

Jane Austen Re-Imaginings Series

Christmas with Jane

When Love Blooms Series

Pride and Prejudice and Bluestockings Series

Loving Elizabeth Series

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Giveaway

Rose is giving away 2 (two) ebook copies of Mr. Darcy’s Grieving Wife. You must enter through this Rafflecopter link. Requirements for entry are following Rose on Facebook or commenting on this post. Good luck!

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

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I’ve not yet read Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, but I was intrigued to learn about a new collection of stories inspired by the classic, especially as it features some of my favorite Austenesque authors. I have the pleasure of welcoming several authors from the anthology to Diary of an Eccentric today to talk about their contributions to the collection and to share a giveaway. Please give them a warm welcome!

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Thank you so much for hosting us today, Anna, it is a pleasure to visit your blog!

Falling for Mr. Thornton is a book born out of love not only for John Thornton, but also for many subjects tackled in North & South and each one of us decided to take a different approach on our short stories. Today we decided to talk to your readers about our stories from our own perspective; we hope they feel motivated to give Falling for Mr. Thornton a try.

 

Trudy Brasure

My story, Once Again, focuses on the incredible moral courage of John Thornton as he summons the strength and determination to move forward in crushing circumstances. There’s a lot of loneliness and silent suffering in North and South. I dive into John’s agonizing desire to be understood–to love and be loved.

Devotion to family is another theme I touch on. Hannah’s concern for her son, and John’s care for his mother are important factors in keeping each of these characters moving forward during great trials.

And finally, I show how much John’s social conscience has grown. He has a deep desire to make a difference in the lives of others.

 

Nancy Klein

In “Looking to the Future,” I worked Margaret’s guilt, regret, and sorrow into the story. As a parson’s daughter, she was raised to do the right thing, to tell the truth, and to be true to her faith. When she conceals Frederick, and lies about the incident at the train station, it tears at her conscience. Although she does it out of love for her brother, it is still a sin and she can no longer pretend that she has taken the high road. Mr.Thornton’s intercession on her behalf doubles her guilt, and makes her realize she is no better than any other sinner. I believe this is a turning point for her, softening her pride and making her much more human than the proud young goddess she once was. This is what makes her see Mr. Thornton with new eyes; this is what helps alter her opinion of him.

 

Evy Journey

“Let me go to Cádiz, or else I die.”  Margaret says somewhat jokingly towards the end of Gakell’s  novel, after her father dies and she’s all alone. Her hopes of doing so rest on Mr. Bell’s  remark about taking her there to see her brother and his new wife. The hoped-for trip fizzles out in the  novel but my short story, Reeducating Mr. Thornton makes it happen for Margaret.  Not with Mr. Bell but with Mr. Thornton. My story goes further. The trip to Cádiz, a bustling center for international  trade at the time, sets the stage, first of all, for Mr. Thornton to widen his world view and gain precious insight for reviving his business (a subplot in N&S ). Second, it elaborates and continues events on another subplot, a second love affair,  in N&S—that of the felicitous union of Frederick and Dolores in Cádiz.

 

Julia Daniels

 From an early age, John Thornton became the patriarch of the Thornton family. He took this responsibility deeply to heart, and was proud of his rise to power, as it provided a stable home for his mother and sister. Fanny did not understand or appreciate the sacrifices her brother made for her, and her impetuous nature led her to commit a horrible mistake.

Margaret Hale deeply regretted her mistake in rejecting Thornton’s marriage proposal. Each time he came for his lessons with her father, she felt it keenly. Although Fanny always treated Margaret with condescension, in her darkest hour, she sought Margaret for help.

It is during that darkest hour when John and Margaret come together to repair the misunderstandings between them, while assisting Fanny to remedy her mistake. Mistakes and Remedies clearly illustrates that it is always darkest before dawn and all three characters are able to overcome the darkness and find happiness.

 

Damaris Osborne

Whilst the ‘Loose Leaves from Milton’ parody is steeped in tea leaves and all things tea, beneath the surface it does still pick up themes used by Elizabeth Gaskell- Hannah Thornton’s exclusive love of her son, which leaves Fanny emotionally out in the cold, John Thornton’s moral uprightness (the only act which wavers his moral compass is colluding with Margaret’s denial of being at the railway station when he himself saw her there, rather than corroborating the unknown witness), and Margaret’s mixture of social conscience and naïvety. The overarching cultural divide between Margaret’s idealised rural South and demonised industrial North also remain, to be broken down in the course of events.

 

Elaine Owen

For this story I tried to work in several of Gaskell’s original themes: the tension between the workers and masters; Margaret’s role as a peacemaker; selflessness and sacrifice; and of course the love that bridges all divides! All of these things came together, along with one significant event in the original story, to create a different way for our dear couple to finally unite.

But I also wanted to introduce a couple of new ideas into the mix. Gaskell’s original work can be quite dark, with sad endings far outnumbering the happy endings. So I decided that at least one beloved character should get a new chance at life. And not only a new life, but a new romance! Also I really liked the idea of Thornton having a friend who is neither a master nor a worker, someone who can see right through Thornton and encourage him to pursue his heart’s desire. I really liked the way these two new ideas came together in the story.

 

M. Liza Marte 

Margaret’s remark that John asks her to marry him because he wants her as a possession always stuck with me. Saying she should have expected that behavior from someone in trade wasn’t just an insult. She really sees them as different, as opposites. She did not take the time or effort early on to see beyond his tradesman appearance and as such, misjudges his character and worth. Much like Elizabeth’s quick prejudice against Mr. Darcy because of his haughty, snobbish manner, Margaret never notices that little things that sets John Thornton apart from the mill owners. In my story, I wanted her take her out of her comfort zone. Without her father and the familiarity of her home, Margaret now must depend on John to be her protector and companion. In his company she begins to see all the little things that escaped her notice before. Now she notices the hand carved, twirling trinkets that have adorned their home all this while. She notices how often he works late at night. She sees the nicks and cuts on his hand and fingers. Her eyes have opened to the man behind his trade. While in the book, it is John’s assistance in concealing Frederick’s presence that thaws her heart. In my story it is simpler than that. Living in the same house with him, she is at his level. At home, John hides nothing. He is an open book. His every emotion is on display for Margaret to see. Maybe I did force them into a tight corner so they had to interact, but I always suspected, once Margaret saw the real John, she will like what she sees. After that, there is no turning back for her.

 

Kate Forrester

When I thought about the story line for Passages in Time I really wanted to explore two things; firstly how the unbending stiffly polite Mr Thornton would feel in 2019 and secondly how he would feel nor knowing what had happen to his mother and his sister.

Manners in modern times are so much more casual in modern times than they were in Victorian Britain. I remember the uproar the railway station kiss caused in the television adaptation, although strangely enough most people chose to overlook it – I can’t imagine why. It got me thinking, how would Mr Thornton cope with our casual speech, casual use of first names without introduction, casual clothing, and the casual way in which we now treat the opposite sex. I hope I managed to convey not only his distaste and horror of these things but also his confusion when he finds himself attracted to Miss Hale.

One of the most touching themes of the Mrs Gaskell’s novel is the bond between Mr Thornton and his mother Hannah and the responsibility he feels towards his sister Fanny. I wanted to show how he would feel compelled to make sure they were alright – it is this above all else that drives him to seek a way back to his own time.

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About Falling for Mr. Thornton

 

Amidst the turbulent backdrop of a manufacturing town in the grips of the Industrial Revolution, Elizabeth Gaskell penned the timeless passion of Mr. Thornton and Margaret Hale. A mixing of contemporary and Victorian, this short story anthology by twelve beloved authors considers familiar scenes from new points of view or re-imagined entirely. Capturing all the poignancy, heartbreak, and romance of the original tale, Falling for Mr. Thornton is a collection you will treasure again and again.

Stories by: Trudy Brasure * Nicole Clarkston * Julia Daniels * Rose Fairbanks * Don Jacobson * Evy Journey * Nancy Klein * M. Liza Marte * Elaine Owen * Damaris Osborne * Melanie Stanford ** Foreword by Mimi Matthews **

Buy on Amazon: Kindle | Paperback

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Giveaways

The authors will offer a grand prize to one reader following the entire blog tour. This prize will contain 13 different ebooks: one copy of Falling for Mr. Thornton and one other ebook from each author. To enter for the grand prize, you must use this Rafflecopter link.

Additionally, the authors would also like to offer 2 bookmarks of Falling for Mr. Thornton at each blog. To enter for a bookmark, please leave a comment below with your email address. I will choose 2 winners randomly after the blog tour ends. The winners will be announced in the comments section of this post.

Both giveaways are international. Good luck!

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It’s always a pleasure to have Rose Fairbanks as my guest, and today she comes bearing gifts: an excerpt from her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Courtship at Rosings, and a giveaway! I really enjoyed this sweet Darcy and Elizabeth story, and I hope you all do as well. Please give her a warm welcome!

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Hello, readers! It’s always great to be on Diary of an Eccentric, and I regret that it’s been so long since I was last here. Courtship at Rosings was the first JAFF story I ever began. I hammered away at it for an afternoon, the words flying from my fingertips. After a few thousan words, I sat back and read, grimaced, closed the file, and promptly forgot about it for about five years. I stumbled across it earlier this year, and despite the extreme amount of editing needed, the concept intrigued me. It is low-angst, almost fluffy, but lured me in to ask my favorite question regarding Pride and Prejudice, “what if?”

I hope you enjoy this excerpt and participate in the giveaway!

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“I suppose I would always have viewed you with suspicion. Perhaps I would have imagined you to be a rake. Why else would you take a fancy to a country gentleman’s daughter with no money or connections?”

“Do you truly think so meanly of yourself?”

Elizabeth shrugged. “I do not know that I would persist in that way of thinking. Only it would be one thought which crossed my mind. I would not likely believe you admired me at all. Charlotte has argued the very thing, and I never saw it.”

“Perhaps if I had not attempted to hide it.”

“And what would your open admiration look like?” She arched one brow, a playful smile on her lips.

Darcy assessed her before replying. “I can be a very determined man, Elizabeth. If I openly courted you, then I would not stop until you were mine.”

Elizabeth beamed. “It is too bad you never had the opportunity. Something tells me that would have been a sight to behold.”

“May I begin again?”

“You are leaving for London tomorrow.”

“Yes, and you will be there in a few weeks.”

“I will be staying at Gracechurch Street.” Elizabeth lifted her chin and squared her shoulders. “I know you find my relations unworthy of your notice.”

“I would be pleased to meet them.”

“Would you really?”

“If it would secure your hand, then I would go through any matter of things.”

“I cannot be bought.” Elizabeth pulled away and began to walk off.

Darcy quickly caught up with her. “I do not mean that you can.”

“When I marry, it will be for great love. I will respect my husband. I will not be indebted to him or constantly reminded of the condescension he has shown me by rescuing me from my supposedly low and inferior state.”

Darcy caught Elizabeth’s hand. “Elizabeth, wait. I would be happy to meet them because they are your family and you love them. I wish to please you. I desire to show you that I am not so mean as you first believed and am correcting the faults in my character which you did justly assess. How else could I show you that?”

Elizabeth remained unconvinced and crossed her arms over her chest.

“If you would rather I wait to court you until you return to Longbourn, then I will. If you had hated the idea of my courtship, you would have said so. That can only mean that you are not set against me. I will not quit the field now.”

“And manipulating me into loving you is part of your design?”

“No. I wish to share a life with you and everything that means-all of your relations. You should meet mine as well. Together, we would form a family of equal parts yours and mine.”

“And your relations would approve of this match?”

“I really do not care.”

They were now in view of the parsonage, and Elizabeth saw the curtain of the front sitting room flutter. Discreetly gathering her hand in his, he squeezed it whilst staring into her dark eyes.

“I am yours to command. If you do not wish for me to court you, then tell me so at once. If, however, your feelings have changed, only tell me where and when I may next see you.”

Elizabeth took a long moment before replying. All the while, her heart hammered, and her head pounded. She felt as if she were about to jump off a cliff. “Very well, Mr. Darcy. I accept your offer of courtship. I will see you in a fortnight in London.” She turned and walked to the parsonage without a backward glance.

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About Courtship at Rosings

A man truly in love is a sight to behold.

Despite Fitzwilliam Darcy’s better judgment, he asks Elizabeth Bennet to marry him. Instead of retreating upon learning her heart, he decides to use everything in his power to woo her.

In Elizabeth’s mind, Darcy has always been haughty and arrogant. When he approaches her with humility and an apology on his lips, she can barely contain her astonishment. When he expresses his love, she is nearly incredulous. Realizing she has misunderstood the man, it only seems right to give their acquaintance another chance—even if that means accepting a courtship.

Of course, it would take a miracle to change Darcy from the last man in the world she would be willing to marry to the conqueror of her heart. Luckily, the Master of Pemberley can be quite the romantic. However, when Darcy goes missing, it will take more than Darcy’s charm to see these two finally united.

Courtship at Rosings is another delightful novella from the author of Mr. Darcy’s Compassion. If you have ever wanted to see Mr. Darcy romance Elizabeth, this book is for you! The perfect length to read before bed, it will ensure sweet dreams and a sigh-worthy experience. Download today!

Universal buy link: books2read.com/u/

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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, Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog.

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

Facebook fans! Join Rose’s reading groups:

Rose’s Reading Garden

Jane Austen Re-Imaginings Series

Christmas with Jane

When Love Blooms Series

Pride and Prejudice and Bluestockings

Loving Elizabeth Series

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Giveaway

Rose Fairbanks is offering two ebooks of Courtship at Rosings. You must enter through the Rafflecopter link Best of luck!

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

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Source: Review copy from author

Reunited is the second book in Rose Fairbanks’ Loving Elizabeth trilogy of novellas that reimagine the events of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It takes place five years after the first book, Pledged.

It has been five years since Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy parted ways, having pledged themselves to one another before he was to leave on a summer trip to Ireland with his father, Elizabeth’s father and brother Sam, and Mr. Bingley and his father. They were just 16 and 22 when they first met, and despite knowing each other only a matter of days, they forged a connection that they were sure would last.

However, tragedy befell the Bennet, Darcy, and Bingley families on that trip, and the effects linger years later. Still grieving her family’s loss, Elizabeth also mourns the loss of her relationship with Will, as he had written only once to her family and never went to Longbourn to claim her hand. Since their betrothal was secret, she must hide her feelings from the rest of the world, but everything is pushed to the surface when Darcy and Bingley arrive at Netherfield.

It’s not long before Elizabeth and Darcy realize that someone has been conspiring to keep them apart, but despite learning their feelings had never changed, Elizabeth must fight her insecurities and the opposition of her mother and her best friend to their relationship.

Fairbanks has me on the edge of my seat with this trilogy. There is a sense of danger as Elizabeth and Darcy seek to determine who attempted to sabotage their relationship, and there is so much passion between them. I love how they have known each other since Elizabeth was a young woman, and Fairbanks does a great job showing how they and their feelings for one another have matured. I plan to read the last installment, Treasured, soon, so stay tuned for my review.

Disclosure: I received Reunited from the author for review.

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Source: Author ARC giveaway

Pledged is the first book in Rose Fairbanks’ Loving Elizabeth trilogy of novellas, and it is a delightful reimagining of Pride and Prejudice that greatly deviates from canon. Here, the Longbourn entail has been broken, as the Bennet sisters have an older brother, Samuel. He is in London with his father and sisters Jane and Elizabeth prior to his departure for a summer in Ireland with his school friends, Fitzwilliam Darcy and Charles Bingley. Elizabeth is just 16, but despite her youth, the 22-year-old future master of Pemberley is entranced. She can hold intelligent conversations, is not silly like Bingley’s sisters — but she is his friend’s sister, and one does not look toward a friend’s sister in a romantic fashion.

There’s a lot going on here for such a short book, and Fairbanks does a great job setting the stage for the next installments. Not only is there a growing attraction between Will and Elizabeth, there also is increasing tension between Will and his father over George Wickham. Meanwhile, Will is worried that Sam is involved with the wrong sorts of people, namely Lord Harcourt, whose attention to Elizabeth seems less than honorable.

Pledged ends with an important declaration, but most of the storylines will be resolved in the later installments. It’s a solid start to the trilogy, with a unique take on Austen’s beloved hero and heroine, intriguing original characters, and plenty of suspense regarding Wickham’s next move and Sam’s shady dealings. I only hope the next installments come out soon because I’m dying to know what happens next!

Disclosure: I received Pledged from the author’s ARC giveaway. While I have edited several of Rose Fairbanks’ books, I did not edit this one.

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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.”

****

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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