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Today’s guest is Jan Hahn, who is here to share an excerpt from her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, The Child. I’ve heard nothing but fantastic things about this book, so I hurried up and bought a copy and now just hope my schedule frees up soon so I can read it. I’m sure you’ll all feel the same way after reading this excerpt. Please give Jan a warm welcome!

Thank you, Anna, for participating in my blog tour and for posting an excerpt from The Child. Darcy and Elizabeth have entered into a marriage of convenience because of the child. They have not consummated the marriage. The following scene takes place at Netherfield Park where they have come for a visit. Bingley has innocently assigned them the same bedchamber, and to keep up appearances as happy newlyweds, Darcy has persuaded Elizabeth that they can chastely share the same bed. Darcy is the narrator.

I awakened before dawn the next morning. Slipping quietly from beneath the quilt, I hastened into the dressing room and put on my clothes without calling for the services of my valet. I wished to leave the chamber before Elizabeth awoke and thus afford her the privacy she desired.

In truth, that was not my wish. If I had my way, I would have remained beside her. I would have watched her sleep as the early light spilled through the windows and then awakened her with a kiss, but I knew that was not to be—not yet. Silently moving through the chamber, I reached for the doorknob so my wife might dream in peace.

“Is that you, sir?” Elizabeth whispered.

I stilled, my hand in mid-air. “It is. I did not mean to wake you.”

“Is it morning already?”

“Yes.” I remained in place, unsure whether to turn and face her. “But still quite early. You need not rise yet. The fires have not even been lit.”

“May I ask why you have risen at this hour?”

Slowly, I turned to see her sitting up in the bed. “I thought—that is, I assumed you would prefer me to do so.”

She laughed lightly. “That will hardly satisfy the servants, will it? I thought this pretence was for their benefit―that they should see us sleeping in the same bed. If you vanish almost before dawn, will that not cause gossip?”

I walked towards the bed in an unhurried manner. “I confess I had not thought of that. Your argument is valid. Shall I undress and return to bed?”

Instinctively, she leaned back, pulling the bedclothes higher. “I…do not think that necessary. But you might light a candle and remain in the room until your servant comes to help you dress.”

I fumbled in the dim light until I had secured a single taper and, after several attempts, managed to light it. Never had I felt clumsier.

“Oh, you have already dressed,” Elizabeth said as I lifted the candle and carried it to the mantel.

“I could hardly wander the halls of Netherfield otherwise.”

“Of course not,” she murmured, smiling again. “But will your manservant not find it strange you did not need his services?”

I sighed. “We appear to be going to great lengths to satisfy the servants. I suppose I could remove my coat.”

“Yes, and untie your cravat as well.”

I slid my coat off and untied the neck cloth, making a strong attempt to appear nonchalant, as though I did that sort of thing in Elizabeth’s presence every day. “I may as well remove my waistcoat,” I said, as I unbuttoned my vest, slinging each article of clothing across the back of the sofa. “There now, does my state of undress meet with your approval?”

I took several steps closer to her side of the bed and was pleased to see she continued to smile. Then, my heart skipped a beat as she beckoned me to come closer. Sitting up straighter, she leaned forward and patted the side of the bed, indicating I should sit there.

Light had brightened the room sufficiently for me to see how her gown lay precariously close to the edge of her shoulders, and her curls streamed down her back all in a tumble. Dear God, she was breathtaking in the morning, her countenance fresh and dewy! I could hardly breathe when she raised her hands to my neck.

“Let me open your shirt.” She loosened the button from its loop and pushed my shirt open. “There, you almost look as though you slept here. One more touch.” With her hand, she mussed my hair, causing it to fall across my forehead, and then she laughed. “Now, the servants will see that we are both, indeed, in need of assistance, and all will appear natural between us.”

I did not know what to say. Her actions surprised me to such an extent that I could not think. I feared any words I spoke might come forth as babble.

Just then, we heard movement in the hall. Instantly, I reacted.

“You forgot one final necessity,” I whispered as I leaned across Elizabeth. Her eyes grew wide. Grabbing the pillow that had separated us throughout the night, I tossed it across the room, where it landed upon the chaise. Her eyes danced, and she stifled a giggle as though she thoroughly enjoyed our artifice.

At that moment, the servant knocked softly and then opened the door, carrying a fresh supply of logs for the fireplace. Elizabeth’s maid followed closely behind. Both servants bobbed a curtsy and halted within the doorway.

“Beggin’ your pardon, sir,” the older maid said. “Shall we return later?”

Slowly, I returned to a seated position. “No, go about your duties. All is well.”

I could not but see the knowing look that passed between the servants as they busied themselves laying the fire and filling the ewers with hot water. I continued to stare at Elizabeth, and she did not break our gaze, that enchanting smile still playing about her lips.

“Well, sir, if I am to call upon my father, I suppose we cannot lie abed all morning, can we?”

“No, that is why I rose early,” I replied for the servants’ benefit. “I knew you wished to call at Longbourn as soon as may be.” I stood and looked around the room. “Is Rodgers on his way?”

“Yes, Mr. Darcy,” Elizabeth’s maid answered. “He’s fetching fresh towels.” She looked towards the hall door just as my valet entered. Shortly thereafter, I was ready to depart the chamber. Leaving my dressing room, I saw Elizabeth had risen and secluded herself behind the closed doors of her boudoir. I stared at the rumpled bedclothes and regretted the fact that we had done nothing more than sleep side by side.

At least she awakened smiling, I thought.

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About The Child

Will Darcy ever grow to love a child he never wanted?

In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth Bennet at Hunsford is disastrous. In Jan Hahn’s The Child, Darcy flees England soon afterward, striving to overcome his longing for her. Upon his return two years later―while standing on the steps of St. George’s Church in Hanover Square―he spies the very woman he has vowed to forget. But who is the child holding her hand?

Darcy soon discovers that Elizabeth and her family are suffering the effects of a devastating scandal. His efforts to help the woman he still loves only worsen her family’s plight. His misguided pride entangles him in a web of falsehood, fateful alliances, and danger.

Will Elizabeth be able to forgive Darcy for his good intentions gone awry? And what effect will the child have on Darcy’s hopes to win Elizabeth’s love?

Buy The Child: Amazon / Amazon UK

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About the Author

Jan Hahn

Award-winning writer Jan Hahn is the author of five Austen-inspired novels. She studied music at the University of Texas, but discovered her true love was a combination of journalism and literature. Her first book, An Arranged Marriage, was published in 2011, followed by The Journey, The Secret Betrothal, A Peculiar Connection, and The Child. The anthology, The Darcy Monologues, contains her short story entitled Without Affection. She agrees with Mr. Darcy’s words in Pride and Prejudice: ‘A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.’

Jan is a member of JASNA, lives in Texas, has five children and a gaggle of grandchildren.

Connect with Jan: Facebook | Author Page

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Giveaway

Meryton Press is generously giving away 8 eBooks of The Child as part of the blog tour, and the giveaway is open to international readers. This giveaway is open to entries from midnight ET on March 21 – until midnight ET on April 4, 2018. You must use this Rafflecopter link to enter.

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

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Each entrant is eligible to win one eBook. Good luck!

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March 21 My Jane Austen Book Club/ Guest Post & Giveaway

March 22 From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway

March 23 More Agreeably Engaged / Excerpt Post & Giveaway

March 24 My Vices and Weaknesses/ Book Review & Giveaway

March 25 My Love for Jane Austen / Vignette & Giveaway

March 26 Of Pens and Pages / Book Review & Giveaway

March 27 Just Jane 1813/ Author Interview & Giveaway

March 28 Austenesque Reviews / Character Interview & Giveaway

March 29 So Little Time / Guest Post & Giveaway

March 30 Diary of an Eccentric / Excerpt Post & Giveaway

March 31 Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review & Giveaway

April 1 Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway

April 2 Laughing with Lizzie / Vignette Post & Giveaway

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

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