Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘victoria kincaid’

I’m delighted to welcome Victoria Kincaid back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Darcy and Deception. I’ve been a huge fan of Victoria’s since her first novel, and it’s been an honor to edit all of her books since then. I hope all of you love this book as much as I did. Victoria is here today with a guest post about Brighton and sea bathing during the Regency era, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!

One of the fun parts of writing a historical novel is doing research about the period and occasionally discovering nuggets of unexpected (and sometimes bizarre) information.  This was my experience when I researched Brighton during the Regency period.  In Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet talks longingly of going sea bathing; I always assumed this was another way of describing swimming in the ocean.  However, my research revealed that sea bathing was a very particular activity.

Brighton became a popular destination after the 1752 publication of Dr. Richard Russell’s Use of Seawater in the Diseases of the Glands, which described sea bathing as useful for curing various health conditions.  The prince regent became a frequent visitor, making the location even more fashionable.

Salt water was believed to be most effective when the subject was completely immersed.  This presented several problems since men and women needed to be separated (they often bathed in the nude), and many people did not swim.  In Brighton the sexes were restricted to different parts of the beach and they used bathing machines to ensure healthful immersion.

The bathing machine was basically a wooden structure that was pulled into the surf (during which time the bather changed into a bathing costume).  Once in the deeper water, the bather would be “dipped” by a professional dipper who not only ensured that the bather didn’t drown but would also advise about wave conditions, the best times of day to dip, and other considerations.

It doesn’t sound like the most pleasant way to enjoy the beach, but no doubt there were people (including women) who enjoyed swimming in the traditional sense as well.  One blog helpfully annotated a period drawing to show that some female bathers were scared of the water while others clearly understood how to swim.

I found the practice to be so interesting that I just had to include a sea bathing scene in Darcy and Deception.  Not surprisingly, Elizabeth loves the sea, while Lydia and her friend Mrs. Forster are more cautious.  Please enjoy the excerpt below:

Elizabeth had heard about bathing machines that allowed women to be “dipped” in the sea with the help of an attendant who ensured they did not drown. “I simply planned to swim.”

Mrs. Forster gaped at her.  “You know how to swim?”  Elizabeth might as well have confessed to witchcraft.

“Yes.”

The woman eyed the placid waves suspiciously.  “Risk it if you wish!  But Lydia and I shall use the bathing machine.  I have secured the services of Martha Gunn herself!”  She paused as though Elizabeth should be impressed.

“Very well,” Elizabeth replied, neither knowing nor caring who Martha Gunn was.

“She is the most famous dipper in Brighton!” Lydia exclaimed, proud to know something her sister did not.

“What an odd profession,” Elizabeth said to herself. But she mustered a smile for the other women.  “How exciting!  Please enjoy your sea bathing.”

Elizabeth hurried toward the water while the other women approached one of the machines perched precariously on the beach. Mrs. Forster stopped to speak with great animation to a sturdy, florid-faced woman who stood beside the door.  Mrs. Gunn presumably.

Most of the women on the beach wore casual morning clothes and sat on blankets, chatting and laughing.  Some held parasols to shield their complexions from the sun while others walked about the beach collecting shells.  Numerous women with damp and disordered hair attested to the popularity of the bathing machines.

Elizabeth made her way through the crowds to the edge of the water.  The sand and smooth stones under her bare feet were warm, but not too hot.  The cool water lapped around her feet as she waded deeper and deeper, up to her knees.  Shielding her eyes from the bright sunlight, she gazed out to the horizon, enjoying the view of endless ocean.

There were only a few women, perhaps a dozen in all, who dared to experience the sea without the assistance of a bathing machine—and five were merely wading.  However, a few women swam in earnest, including two who appeared to be naked.

Elizabeth waded deeper, gradually acclimating herself to the cooler temperature.  It was most refreshing.  When the water was deep enough, Elizabeth completely submerged herself, gasping slightly at the cold.  The waves were mild; perfect conditions for swimming.  Elizabeth swam back and forth, parallel to the shore, with strong, swift strokes.  How refreshing!  I have passed far too much of my time recently in drawing rooms.  Already she was wondering when she would be able to return to the beach for a swim. How could such an outing be arranged?

Ultimately her muscles tired of the unaccustomed exercise, and Elizabeth returned to the shallower water.  She stood in water to her waist as she caught her breath.

She had kept an eye on the bathing machine containing Lydia and Mrs. Forster.  Now she noticed as it was pulled into deeper water by a weary horse.

Once the machine’s back ramp was level with the water, one of the attendants freed the horse from its harness, walked it to the machine’s other end, and attached it there.  Clever.  Such a system allowed them to return to shore without needing to turn the vehicle in a circle.

Mrs. Forster, dressed in her shift, emerged from the small door at the machine’s end and sat on the protruding ramp, dangling her feet in the water.  Without ceremony, Mrs. Gunn reached over and plucked the woman from the ramp.  Goodness, she was strong!  The dipper waded a little distance into deeper water and then dunked Mrs. Forster—one, two, three times—all the way into the water, carefully ensuring that even the top of her head and her feet were thoroughly soaked.

I suppose only a complete dunking will benefit the glands, Elizabeth thought.

Mrs. Forster emerged spluttering after each dunking, appearing quite bedraggled and miserable by the time Mrs. Gunn set her back on the machine’s platform.  I wonder how much the colonel’s wife paid for the privilege of being treated like a biscuit in a cup of tea? Elizabeth found herself hoping that dipping did indeed have medicinal properties because the activity itself appeared to provide no obvious pleasure.

When it was Lydia’s turn, Elizabeth’s sister twitched and jerked.  She searched the area as if seeking an escape, but there was nowhere to go.  Noticing Lydia’s disposition, Mrs. Gunn enlisted the help of the other attendant so that they formed a kind of chair with their arms to carry Lydia. But the youngest Miss Bennet screeched as though they were about to feed her to a wild animal.  Completely ignoring Lydia’s antics, the two women hastily dunked the squirming girl three times before depositing her again on the ramp.

****

About Darcy and Deception

Returning home from Kent, Elizabeth Bennet is still distressed over Mr. Darcy’s insulting marriage proposal.  However, her attention is diverted by the local militia commander who asks her to observe Wickham, now suspected of being a French spy.  Pretending to be besotted with Wickham, Elizabeth accompanies the regiment when they relocate to Brighton.

Darcy arrives at Longbourn with the intention of making amends to Elizabeth, only to discover that she is now at Brighton with Wickham.  Desperate to save her from the scoundrel, Darcy follows her to the seaside, where he hopes to woo her away from the other man.

Deception piles on top of deception as Elizabeth attempts to carry out her mission without betraying confidences—or breaking Darcy’s heart.  However, the French plot runs deeper than she knows; soon she and Darcy are plunged into the confusing and dangerous world of international espionage.  Can Darcy and Elizabeth escape with their lives and their love intact?

Buy on Amazon

****

Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering an ebook copy of Darcy and Deception to one lucky reader! To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, January 20, 2019. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I just love seeing how many Pride and Prejudice-inspired holiday books have been published. They’ve certainly been keeping me busy every December for the last few years, and this year is no exception. Today, Victoria Kincaid is here to share an excerpt from Christmas at Darcy House to celebrate its audiobook release, and there’s a giveaway as well. Please give her a warm welcome!

Hello, Anna, and thank you for having me back to visit!  I love just about every part of the Christmas season (except for the crowds when shopping), and one of the most fun parts is writing and reading Christmas stories.  I published Christmas at Darcy House last year—after long imagining what would happen if Darcy and Elizabeth encountered each other in London after the latter fled Netherfield.  This year, I am pleased to announce the release of an audiobook version of Christmas at Darcy House, narrated by Julia Eve.  I hope you enjoy the excerpt below! 

Mr. Darcy hopes Christmastime will help him to forget the pair of fine eyes that he left behind in Hertfordshire.  When Elizabeth Bennet appears unexpectedly in London, Darcy decides to keep his distance, resolved to withstand his attraction to her.  But when he learns that Wickham is threatening to propose to Elizabeth, Darcy faces a crisis. 

For her part, Elizabeth does not understand why the unpleasant master of Pemberley insists on dancing with her at the Christmas ball or how his eyes happen to seek her out so often.  She enjoys Mr. Wickham’s company and is flattered when he makes her an offer of marriage.  On the other hand, Mr. Darcy’s proposal is unexpected and unwelcome.  But the more Elizabeth learns of Mr. Darcy, the more confused she becomes—as she prepares to make the most momentous decision of her life.

It’s a Yuletide season of love and passion as your favorite characters enjoy Christmas at Darcy House! 

Elizabeth hurried to the edge of the terrace, leaning against the balustrade to better view the Marlowes’ extensive garden.  Naturally, nothing was in bloom at that time of year, but the bare tree branches and ornamental bushes were decorated with a delicate covering of new snow.  Torches had been placed at intervals along the garden paths, providing a gentle golden illumination.

“How enchanting!”  Elizabeth sighed.  “A fresh layer of snow can make anything lovelier.  Do you not think so?”

Mr. Darcy regarded her with a most peculiar expression on his face; his lips were slightly parted and his eyes wide.  He appeared, for all the world, as if he gazed upon a most wondrous and unusual sight.  But he was staring at Elizabeth, not the snow.

“Is the snow not beautiful?” she prompted again.

“Oh yes, yes!”  His eyes shifted toward the snow-covered garden below them.  “Yes, it is quite pretty.”

“Pretty” was a completely inadequate word to describe such a sight, but Elizabeth was not of a mind to quarrel with him.  She turned her gaze back to the garden and the snowflakes illuminated in the torches’ glow.  Fortunately, the terrace was protected from the elements by a roof of sorts, and she was only struck by an occasional wayward snowflake.  “I wish I could have a painting of such a scene!” she exclaimed.  “It is altogether charming.”

“Indeed,” he breathed. The wonder on his face would have been more appropriate if he had never before seen such a sight.  “Do you know, Miss Bennet, I do not believe I fully appreciated the beauty of snow before this moment.”

At least he was finally gazing at the snow.  Why was the man so vexing?  Most of the time he seemed so distant, but occasionally he would demonstrate how he was not only attending to what Elizabeth said but also taking it to heart.  And it was most frustrating.  It complicated her propensity to dislike the man and caused her to rethink her opinion of him.  As she grew better acquainted with him, the more he puzzled her.

Only when Elizabeth felt a chill did she recall why they were outside: Mr. Darcy had professed a desire to say something to her.  What could it be?  Customarily there was only one reason a single man would ask to speak privately with a single woman.  Her momentary panic was quickly quelled.  Mr. Darcy would no more think of marrying Elizabeth than he would consider marrying his cook.

Now she was quite curious about the topic of his desired conversation.  And quite cold.  “Mr. Darcy, you wished to speak with me about something?” she prompted, wrapping her arms around herself.

He started as if in a reverie and slowly focused his eyes on her.  “Yes.  Yes, I did.  I…”  His voice trailed off as his eyes fixed on her…lips?  What an odd man.

Still, Elizabeth could not help noticing that he cut a fine figure in his well-tailored coat.  And a wayward dark curl over his forehead gave him a completely undeserved rakish appearance.  I could brush it away from his forehead.  How would it feel beneath my fingers?  Merciful heavens!  How could she entertain such thoughts about Mr. Darcy of all people? Her eyes sought the safer sight of the garden.

Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering an audiobook code for Christmas at Darcy House to one lucky reader! To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Saturday, December 15, 2018. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Read Full Post »

Hello, dear readers! I have a treat for you today! As many of you know, I’ve edited all of Victoria Kincaid’s Pride and Prejudice variations, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each one, but there was something special about her latest: When Jane Got Angry. Oh yes, an angry Jane! What a delight it was to see Jane act much differently in this novella, and I couldn’t help but cheer her on.

Victoria is here today to talk about women and anger and to share an excerpt and giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!

One of the reasons I like writing about the Regency time period is that it makes a great escape from the sometimes overwhelming and stressful news that we hear every day.  Their issues weren’t ours, so I can escape into their world for a while.  Except sometimes there’s unexpected crossover. The week that When Jane Got Angry was released, there was an interesting and thoughtful review in the Washington Post of two different books that analyzed why women are angry today.

Anger is usually something women are told to control because it’s not ladylike, but—as the Post reviewer pointed out—sometimes anger can be empowering for women.  Which is what happens to Jane Bennet in my story.

Most readers of P&P identify with Elizabeth—not just because she is the protagonist but also because she represents a kind of independent spirit that we would like to see in ourselves.  She becomes a middle way between Lydia’s heedless flouting of social norms (with attendant consequences) and Jane’s passive acceptance of what happens.  Compared to Elizabeth, Jane is dull, bland, too good.

When I thought up the plot for this book, I wanted a Jane who would fight back and shake things up a little, but I wanted it to be believable—to stay in character.  After all, I could have written a Jane who was suddenly as conniving as Caroline Bingley and turns the tables on the other woman.  But that wouldn’t be believable within the bounds of what we know about Jane’s character. The only way I could think of for Jane to change the course of her life—to be an active player—was for her to get angry.

Of course, she’s been fighting anger her whole life—it isn’t ladylike.  But when she embraces it, she finds it’s unexpectedly empowering.  I could just hear a whole chorus of female readers sighing and saying, “At last!  Jane finally got a backbone!”

Although we are frustrated with Jane’s passivity, I think we also empathize with her journey.  I’m not as passive or accepting as Jane, but I certainly have had moments in my life when I swallowed my anger and accepted what was happening. Later I would wish that I’d gotten angry.  I would wish that I’d fought for myself.  That I hadn’t stayed silent.  So, in writing this story I can share Jane’s angerand her empowerment as well.

****

An excerpt from When Jane Got Angry, courtesy of Victoria Kincaid

Aware of Jane’s scrutiny, the maid dipped her head but made no move to depart.  “Begging your pardon, miss.”  The girl bit her lip.  “But are you, perhaps, sweet on Mr. Charles Bingley?”

Jane’s eyebrows shot upward.  Her mother would have chastised a servant for such forwardness.  Not that Jane was surprised the maid had guessed the truth; servants were always eavesdropping and sharing gossip.  But never had a servant asked Jane about her personal life.

Recognizing Jane’s shock, Maggie started backing toward the door.  “I’m sorry, miss!  I shouldn’t have said anything.  Never you mind—”

The maid clearly had images of being sacked for her impertinence, but Jane was not so easily offended.  She held out her hand in a reassuring gesture.  “It is quite all right, Maggie.  I was merely surprised.  What prompted the question?”

The girl’s hands twisted in her apron as she considered for a moment before speaking.  “Well, I noticed what you and Mrs. Gardiner were saying today…and I couldn’t help but overhear some of what Miss Bingley said….”

Jane was tempted to smile.  She imagined that Maggie’s “overhearing” was not particularly inadvertent.  “Miss Bingley did seem out of spirits today.”

Maggie made an indignant noise. “She was awful, that Bingley woman.  If my friend treated me in such a way, I would give her the back of my hand.”

Jane could not quite picture it.  “That would have shocked Miss Bingley,” she said.

Maggie gestured wildly.  “I don’t know how you stay so calm about it.  Me, I’d be spitting mad by now.  If you don’t mind me saying so.”

Suddenly the accumulated tension of the day caught up with Jane; her legs could barely support her.  Sinking onto the stool of the dressing table, she caught a glimpse of her drawn face in the mirror.

Many other women would be angry, Jane supposed.  Lizzy.  Lydia.  Her mother.  But Jane was the sister who did not make a fuss.  She did not demand.  She did not protest.  Papa called her “the quiet one.”  Jane could be counted upon to bring Mama her tea when she had an attack of nerves.  Or to mediate any dispute between Kitty and Lydia.  To remain calm no matter what happened.  That was who she was.

Even when your friend was revealed to be false.

Of course, none of this could be shared with the maid.  “Are you at all acquainted with Miss Bingley?”  Perhaps Maggie had heard some rumors; Jane could conceive no other reason to raise the subject with her.

“No, miss.  Not at all.  But I am acquainted with Mr. Bingley’s valet, Joseph.  That is to say, Mr. Harvey.”  The girl colored faintly.  She had red hair and the very pale skin that often accompanied it.

Jane felt a faint spark of hope, although she did not know how Maggie’s acquaintance might benefit the lowly Miss Bennet.   “I see.”

“Miss Bingley gives her brother a world of trouble.  He has complained about her to Joseph.”

“Do you know if Miss Bingley encouraged her brother to leave Netherfield?” The words were out before Jane could have second thoughts.  She should not be gossiping with her aunt’s maid, but the question was one she often had wondered about—and it was such a relief to share her woes with a sympathetic listener.  Aunt Gardiner attended to Jane’s anxieties, but she was very busy with her children—and often inclined to give advice about “forgetting” Mr. Bingley. Jane did not believe such a feat was possible.

“I don’t know, but I can ask.”

Jane said nothing, torn between her need to learn the truth and her quite proper desire to avoid gossip.

She caught another glimpse of her wan reflection in the mirror.  What did it signify?  “No, it matters not.  My path and Mr. Bingley’s are unlikely to cross again.”

Maggie’s reflection—standing behind Jane’s—frowned.  “Why is that?”

“We do not run in the same circles, and Miss Bingley seems inclined to discontinue the acquaintance.”

Maggie shook her head, making her red curls bounce.  “Och, people of quality make everything so hard.  If I liked a fellow, I would just go up and knock on his door.”

Jane stifled a laugh.  “Would that it were so simple.”

Emboldened, Maggie stepped a little closer to Jane and lowered her voice.  “I could ask Joseph about Mr. Bingley’s schedule so you might find him and speak with him.”

Jane gave the maid a sad smile.  “I thank you for the offer, but I could not possibly approach Mr. Bingley.  It would be unpardonably forward.”

“But if you was to know where Mr. Bingley would be, you could arrange to encounter him—all accidental like—with him none the wiser.”

****

About When Jane Got Angry

When Mr. Bingley abruptly left Hertfordshire, Jane Bennet’s heart was broken. Since arriving in London to visit her aunt and uncle, Jane has been hoping to encounter Mr. Bingley; however, it becomes clear that his sister is keeping them apart. But what would happen if she took matters into her own hands? Defying social convention, she sets out to alert Mr. Bingley to her presence in London, hoping to rekindle the sparks of their relationship.

Bingley is thrilled to encounter Jane and renew their acquaintance, but his sister has told him several lies about the Bennets—and his best friend, Mr. Darcy, still opposes any relationship. As Jane and Bingley sort through this web of deceit, they both find it difficult to retain their customary equanimity.

However, they also discover that sometimes good things happen when Jane gets angry.

Buy on Amazon

****

Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering an international winner’s choice giveaway for When Jane Got Angry. One lucky winner will get a choice of an ebook or paperback. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, October 7, 2018. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you for being my guest today, Victoria! It’s always a pleasure to share your books with my readers.

Read Full Post »

Victoria Kincaid is visiting again today to celebrate the release of her latest audiobooks, Pride and Proposals and The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth. She has a treat for you today: an excerpt and an international giveaway! Please give her a warm welcome:

Thank you for having me as a guest, Anna!  Recently I’ve made a big push to get my stories made into audiobooks, which has been a rewarding process in many different ways.  Pride and Proposals was just released as an audiobook, and The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth was released over the summer.  The narrators for both books have done terrific jobs with the stories.  Below is an excerpt from the beginning of Pride and Proposals:

Miss Bennet, I must tell you that almost since our first …

No. Too formal.

You must be aware of my attentions …

Would that assume too much?

You must allow me to tell you how much I admire you …

This came closest to expressing his sentiments, but would she view it as excessive?

Darcy guided his stallion along the path to Hunsford Parsonage, anxiety increasing by the minute. Somehow the perfect words for a proposal must come to mind. He was close by the parsonage.

Almost out of time.

He took a deep breath. The master of Pemberley was unaccustomed to such agitation of the mind. But Elizabeth Bennet had a habit of unsettling his nerves as no one else could. Not for the first time, he wondered why that should indicate she would be the ideal companion of his future life. However, he had wrestled with his sentiments all day and finally concluded that it must be so, despite his objections to her family.

He had not slept the night previous and only fitfully the night before that. Practically his every thought was occupied by Elizabeth Bennet. Every minute of the day, he would recall a pert response she had made to his aunt or a piece of music she had played on the pianoforte. Or the sparkle of life in her fine eyes.

Yes, at first she had seemed an unlikely candidate for the mistress of Pemberley, but his passion could not be denied.

He no longer made the attempt.

Strange. He had been angered with himself for months that he could not rid himself of this … obsession with Miss Bennet. But once he had determined to surrender to the sentiment and propose to her, he felt almost … happy. Despite the fleeting sensations of guilt and doubt, he could not help but imagine how joyful it would be to have her as his wife.

He pictured the expression on Elizabeth’s face when he declared himself. Undoubtedly, she was aware of his admiration, and she had returned his flirtatious banter on more than one occasion, but she could have no serious hopes for an alliance. Her delight would make any of his misgivings worth it.

The woods on either side of the path thinned, and Darcy slowed his horse to a walk as he reached the clearing surrounding the parsonage. Initially, he had been bitterly disappointed when Elizabeth’s headache had prevented her from accompanying the Collinses to Rosings for tea, but then he recognized a perfect opportunity to speak with her alone.

Excusing himself from the gathering had not presented any difficulties. His cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, had received a letter that day with word of an unexpected inheritance of property following the death of his mother’s sister. Darcy was well pleased for his cousin, who had chafed at the limitations of a second son’s life. Richard had excused himself to plan for an immediate departure from Rosings the next day so he could soon visit his new estate. Darcy had seized on the excuse as well – since, naturally, he would be taking Richard in his coach and would necessarily need to prepare.

Darcy turned his thoughts to the task at hand.

You must allow me to tell you how violently I admire …

No.

You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you …

Perhaps …

Darcy swung his leg over the pommel and slid off his saddle, tying his horse up at a post outside the Collinses’ front door. Pausing for a moment, he breathed deeply, willing his body to calmness. Then he seized the door knocker and rapped.

The maid who answered the door appeared unnecessarily flustered. As he followed her down the short hallway to the Collinses’ modest drawing room, Darcy had a dawning sense of wrongness.

Voices already emanated from the drawing room. Darcy immediately recognized Elizabeth’s lovely soprano. But the other voice was male, too muffled for him to hear. Had Collins returned home unexpectedly?

Darcy quickened his stride, almost crowding against the maid as she opened the drawing room door. “Mr. Darcy, ma’am,” the maid announced before swiftly scurrying away.

Darcy blinked several times. His mind had difficulty understanding what his eyes saw. His cousin Fitzwilliam was in the drawing room. With Elizabeth. With Darcy’s Elizabeth. In actuality, Richard sat beside her on the settee, almost indecently close.

Why is Richard here? Darcy wondered with some irritation. Should he not be packing for his departure rather than preventing me from proposing?

Richard and Elizabeth had been smiling at each other, but now both regarded Darcy in surprise.

For a moment, all was silence. Darcy could hear the crackling of logs in the fireplace. He had the nagging sensation of having missed something of importance but could not identify it.

“I … uh … came to inquire after your health, Miss Bennet.” Given the circumstances, Darcy was proud that the words emerged at all coherently.

“I am feeling much recovered, thank you.” Her voice was somewhat breathless.

A look passed between Richard and Elizabeth, and she gave a tiny nod. Darcy’s sense of mystification increased. Finally, Richard sprang to his feet with a huge grin on his face. “Darcy, you arrived at just the right moment. You can be the first to congratulate me.” At that moment, Darcy started to get a sinking, gnawing feeling in the pit of his stomach. “Elizabeth has consented to be my wife!”

****

About Pride and Proposals

What if Mr. Darcy’s proposal was too late?

Darcy has been bewitched by Elizabeth Bennet since he met her in Hertfordshire. He can no longer fight this overwhelming attraction and must admit he is hopelessly in love. During Elizabeth’s visit to Kent, she has been forced to endure the company of the difficult and disapproving Mr. Darcy, but she has enjoyed making the acquaintance of his affable cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam.

Finally resolved, Darcy arrives at Hunsford Parsonage prepared to propose – only to discover that Elizabeth has just accepted a proposal from the colonel, Darcy’s dearest friend in the world. As he watches the couple prepare for a lifetime together, Darcy vows never to speak of what is in his heart.

Elizabeth has reason to dislike Darcy but finds that he haunts her thoughts and stirs her emotions in strange ways. Can Darcy and Elizabeth find their happily ever after?

Check out a sample on Audible

****

About The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth

What if Darcy and Elizabeth were plunged into the war between England and France?

It is 1803, and a treaty has allowed England and France to enjoy a brief moment of peace in the midst of the Napoleonic wars.

Darcy is despondent over Elizabeth’s refusal of his proposal at Hunsford, so Colonel Fitzwilliam proposes a trip to Paris as a distraction. At a ball, Darcy unexpectedly encounters Elizabeth, who is visiting Paris with the Gardiners. He sees this as his opportunity to court Elizabeth properly and rectify past mistakes.

Before he can make much progress, however, England declares war again, and Darcy must help Elizabeth flee France. As they make their way to the coast, Elizabeth and Darcy must battle brigands, French soldiers, illness, and their own mutual attraction – all without a chaperone.

When they return to England, Elizabeth and Darcy have their own secrets to conceal – even from those closest to them.

Check out a sample on Audible

****

Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering 1 audiobook of Pride and Proposals and 1 audiobook of The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth to my readers. Two winners will be selected, one for each audiobook. This giveaway is open internationally through Sunday, September 30, 2018. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and let us know which audiobook you’d prefer. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Victoria, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new audiobooks!

Read Full Post »

I had such a wonderful time editing Victoria Kincaid’s latest Pride and Prejudice variation, The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy, and I’m thrilled to welcome her back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate its release! Victoria is here to talk about her research on espionage and to share an excerpt from the novel. Please give her a warm welcome!

Thank you for having me visit, Anna!  While doing research for The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy, I learned a lot about espionage activities during the Napoleonic Wars.  In particular, I read about the Alien office (part of the Home Office) which was basically the British government’s first official spy agency.  I learned about a number of fascinating incidents which would make great scenes in novels but didn’t fit into this book.  Still, I think that anyone who is interested in the era would find them remarkable—and entertaining:

  • The Alien Office thwarted one actual domestic insurrection: an incipient Irish rebellion led by agents supported by the French government. The secret service placed agents in Ireland to infiltrate the organization. This enabled them to arrest all of the rebellion’s leaders in 1798 before the event took place this represented one of the office’s greatest success.
  • In 1800 the secret service helped one faction of the French royalists form the “English Committee” in Paris. The Committee was responsible for several assassination attempts on Napoleon’s life—the most famous of which was the Rue Nicaise bombing on Christmas Eve, 1800. By 1803 the Committee had detailed plans in place for Napoleon’s kidnapping or assassination.  These plans almost certainly could not have remained in place without the tacit complicity of Fouche, the well-known minister of police in Paris.
  • One of the Committee’s most successful agents was a woman, Madame Williams. An Englishman’s widow who made multiple Channel crossings, some disguised as a sailor, Williams was never captured or apparently even suspected of being a spy.
  • Napoleon had planted agents of his own. One double agent arrived in England with his own false plans for overthrowing the French government.  Aware of the ruse, the British government created an elaborate counter plan that was designed to fool the French authorities into believing the British had fallen for their trick.  For months they created correspondence and moved agents around Europe with the purpose of deceiving Napoleon’s spy.
  • Savary, the chief of Napoleon’s personal guard, was charged with Investigating the extent of a treasonous plot. He visited the home of a recently discovered traitor along the Channel coast and found early drafts of reports that he himself had given to the Emperor.  He realized then that the information in the reports he had been giving had been authored by the British Alien Office.

It is difficult to say to what extent the secret service’s efforts helped to bring about Napoleon’s eventual demise since it is the nature of espionage to have unseen effects.  Most likely the agency’s efforts helped to sow the seeds that eventually led to many French citizens to switch to the royalist cause, but at the time eventual success was attributed to diplomacy and conventional warfare.

****

An excerpt from The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy, courtesy of Victoria Kincaid

Darcy returned his attention to Elizabeth’s still form, aware that the doctor’s eyes were upon him.  After a long moment the Frenchman spoke.  “You are not a laborer searching for work.”  It was a statement, not a question.

Darcy stiffened.  “No?”

“Your hands are too soft, with callouses only from a horse’s reins.”  The doctor’s voice was matter-of-fact, not accusatory.  “A farm laborer’s hands are calloused everywhere.”

Darcy cursed himself silently for not having anticipated that detail.

“And you have an English wife.”  No doubt myriad explanations occurred to the doctor: spies, expatriate nobles, smugglers.

Darcy readied himself to fight.  Were he alone he could simply flee, but he could not leave Elizabeth behind—and traveling might kill her.

But Martin spread his hands, giving Darcy a gentle smile. “I am not your enemy.  To me, you and your wife are simply patients in need of care, and I have taken an oath to care for all who need it.”  Darcy regarded the doctor steadily.  Did he dare take the other man’s word?  Did he dare put his life—and Elizabeth’s—into this man’s trust?

Darcy sighed, and his shoulders slumped.  In truth, he had no choice.

“I swear I will not give you up to the authorities.  I have no love for them.  I would not give a rabid dog into their keeping.”  For a moment Martin’s expression was quite fierce.

Darcy nodded, somewhat reassured.

Martin looked at him sidelong.  “But will you tell me how an English gentleman and his wife came to be in Saint-Malo in the midst of a war?”

An English gentleman.  Darcy rubbed his face with both hands.  Despite his clothing, Darcy apparently might as well be wearing a sign proclaiming his name and rank.  Very well. The doctor had guessed enough of the truth; Darcy might as well tell more.  “Elizabeth was on a ship that exploded near the Channel Islands. It was reported that everyone on the ship was lost.  I am seeking the man responsible for the explosion, but I did not expect to find…” He gestured to Elizabeth’s still form.

“Yes, I remember hearing word of that.  An explosion would explain the blow to the head, but her survival is wonderful indeed.  I know of no other survivors.”

The rise and fall of Elizabeth’s chest fascinated Darcy, and he allowed himself to revel in the simple fact of her breathing.  Although he did not like the soft rattle in her exhales or the convulsive coughs.  “It is a miracle.  I had no hope.”

Martin clasped Darcy’s shoulder.  “If someone killed Marguerite, I would hunt him down as well.  I wish I knew this man so I could help you seek revenge.”

Darcy continued to regard the other man warily.

Martin chuckled.  “Our countries may be at war, but I have no quarrel with you, sir.  Your secret is safe with me.”

Did Darcy even dare to trust the man?  “I cannot ask you to take such risks…”

“The risk is not so great.  Bretagne only grudgingly supported the revolution or the emperor.  My sentiments are very common.”

Darcy was humbled by the man’s generosity and trust.  “I thank you, sir.  I will be forever in your debt.”

The man took the necklace from the table and poured it into Darcy’s hand.  “You must keep this safe until your wife may wear it once more.” Darcy stared dumbly at the pendant in his hand.  “I am afraid the chain broke when we removed it from her neck.”

Darcy threaded the chain of his watch fob through the loop at the top of the pendant.  He had chosen his plainest, cheapest watch and fob for the journey, but the doctor’s sharp look suggested it was still out of place.  Hopefully the future of Britain did not rest on Darcy’s abilities to pass as a common Frenchman.

Darcy heard a knock sounding on the front door.  Martin looked toward the source of the noise.  “Ah, I have a patient for a return visit.”   With a nod to Darcy, the doctor slipped through the door and closed it behind him with a quiet click.

Darcy was alone in the room with Elizabeth—his sleeping miracle. His eyes sought out her face once more, savoring the features he had never thought to see again in this lifetime.  His heart was so full that it felt ready to burst from his chest. Yes, Elizabeth was ill, and they were trapped in a country at war with an unknown enemy threatening them.  But Elizabeth was alive, and for the moment that was more than enough.

****

About The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy

A Pride and Prejudice Variation

Mr. Darcy arrives at Longbourn, intending to correct the mistakes he made during his disastrous proposal in Hunsford. To his horror, he learns that Elizabeth Bennet was killed in a ship’s explosion off the coast of France—in an apparent act of sabotage. Deep in despair, he travels in disguise to wartime France to seek out the spy responsible for her death.

But a surprise awaits Darcy in the French town of Saint-Malo: Elizabeth is alive!

Recovering from a blow to the head, Elizabeth has no memory of her previous life, and a series of mistakes lead her to believe that Darcy is her husband. However, they have even bigger problems. As they travel through a hostile country, the saboteur mobilizes Napoleon’s network of spies to capture them and prevent them from returning home. Elizabeth slowly regains her memories, but they often leave her more confused.

Darcy will do anything to help Elizabeth reach England safely, but what will she think of him when she learns the truth of their relationship?

Buy on Amazon

****

Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering a reader’s choice giveaway of either an ebook or paperback copy of The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy. One winner will be selected. This giveaway is open internationally, and will be open through Sunday, August 5, 2018. To enter, leave a comment with your email address. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Victoria! It’s always a pleasure to have you visit. Congratulations on your new release!

Read Full Post »

I’m thrilled to welcome Victoria Kincaid back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate the release of the audiobook of Mr. Darcy to the Rescue. It’s wonderful to see a book I’ve edited released in audio, and Victoria has a fantastic story to share about it. Please give her a warm welcome!

Hi Anna, thank you for having me as a guest. As I was preparing this guest post, I thought about the fact that we both had daughters graduating from high school this year and that led me to musings about the role of audiobooks in my family. Of course, they are handy to have in the car. My husband listens to books in his commute, and I often listen during my multiple daily drives. As a family, we have listened to a number of audiobooks together on long car trips.

But I never realized the real importance of audiobooks until I had a daughter who had difficulty learning to read.

She was in first grade and was supposed to do 20 minutes of reading a day. I had to split up these 20 minutes into 3-4 chunks because reading was such a chore to her. As someone who has found books to be an important part of my life and endless source of joy, I was alarmed. Eventually we traced her difficulties to a vision problem known as Convergence Insufficiency (CI) in which the eyes do not function well together. The doctor who examined her found that she couldn’t focus her eyes more than nine seconds without great effort. Can you imagine trying to learn to read under those conditions?

We started her on vision therapy—with tremendous results. But the process took three years. In the meantime, I worried that she would lose interest in reading. How could she not when it was such a struggle? I read books aloud to her, which was very rewarding. (I read the entire Harry Potter series to her and then did it all over again when my son wanted to read it.) But she often wanted to read when I wasn’t available.

Thank God for audiobooks. They allowed her to be an independent reader—choosing what to read and when to read it without depending on another person. We were fortunate that our public library had many books on CD (eventually they started getting e-audiobooks and she now has a well-used Audible account).

I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have audiobook technology available. If I had experience CI as a child, I would have been out of luck. But with the help of audiobooks, she still read eagerly—and learned to enjoy reading—even when it was difficult and painful to put her eyes to paper. When she graduated from vision therapy, she was able to read print books on her own—and she wanted to. With the help of audiobooks she had become an avid reader. Her problems aren’t gone and probably never will be. Her eyes tire easily, which is a great challenge in school. She still “reads” audiobooks for pleasure because she needs to save her “eye time” for school-related tasks. Fortunately a lot of textbooks and works of literature (for English class) are available on audio; audiobooks are one of the major factors behind her success in school.

Now that I have one of my novels on audio, it will make it easier for my daughter to read my writing. I’m not holding my breath, though. Although she liked Pride and Prejudice, she has a long list of books in her preferred genres that she would rather read. I don’t mind at all; I’m just glad she’s reading.

(One in 20 people suffers from Convergence Insufficiency, but most don’t know it. For more information on CI symptoms and other information, visit CIHelp.org.)

Thank you, Victoria, for sharing your daughter’s story with us. I’m so happy that she was able to become an avid reader despite the challenges. Congratulations on your latest release, and best wishes to your daughter as she goes off to college!

****

About Mr. Darcy to the Rescue

When the irritating Mr. Collins proposes marriage, Elizabeth Bennet is prepared to refuse him, but then she learns that her father is ill. If Mr. Bennet dies, Collins will inherit Longbourn and her family will have nowhere to go. Elizabeth accepts the proposal, telling herself she can be content as long as her family is secure. If only she weren’t dreading the approaching wedding day.

Ever since leaving Hertfordshire, Mr. Darcy has been trying to forget his inconvenient attraction to Elizabeth. News of her betrothal forces him to realize how devastating it would be to lose her. He arrives at Longbourn intending to prevent the marriage, but discovers Elizabeth’s real opinion about his character. Then Darcy recognizes his true dilemma: How can he rescue her when she doesn’t want him to?

Check out Mr. Darcy to the Rescue on Amazon and listen to the sample!

****

Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering an audio download code for Mr. Darcy to the Rescue to one lucky reader. Please note: the promo code will only work for the U.S. Amazon site. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, July 1, 2018. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Read Full Post »

I’m delighted to welcome Victoria Kincaid back today to celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Christmas at Darcy House. As with all of Victoria’s books, I had a lot of fun editing this one. I loved that there were some devious schemes at work, but she perfectly balances it with passion and even some humor. Victoria is here today to discuss the traditions featured in all of her novels, and to share an excerpt and giveaway of Christmas at Darcy House. Please give her a warm welcome:

Christmas at Darcy House is my tenth Pride and Prejudice Variation.  I find this hard to believe—in the same way that I find it hard to believe that my daughter is old enough to apply to college.  Where did the time go?   How in the world—with everything else that is going on in my life—did I find time to write ten books?   Intellectually I know that it’s the product of many hours spent at my computer, but emotionally it still bowls me over.

Christmas at Darcy House also continues two traditions that I have kept up throughout all my books.  That first is that the epilogue of every one of my books takes place at a wedding.  Usually it’s Darcy and Elizabeth’s wedding, but not always.  In The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth, the wedding at the end was Bingley and Jane’s.  And, of course, When Mary Met the Colonel ends with the eponymous protagonists marrying (although, it starts at Darcy and Elizabeth’s wedding). 

I didn’t start out to have all my books end with weddings; it just sort of happened.  After the third book with a wedding epilogue I figured I had a trend going and should keep it up.  Weddings are great subjects for epilogues since they’re usually festive and joyous—helping to counteract the angst earlier in the book.

The second tradition—also unintentional—was to have Elizabeth engaged to every eligible man in Pride in Prejudice.  Of course she is betrothed to Darcy in every book.  But, in addition, she is engaged to Colonel Fitzwilliam in Pride and Proposals, to Collins in Mr. Darcy to the Rescue, and to Bingley in Chaos Comes to Longbourn.  

In Christmas at Darcy House she is engaged (fortunately, briefly) to Wickham.  Aside from Denny, I don’t believe there is another single male character mentioned in Pride and Prejudice (please let me know if you think of one).  It’s possible that a future book will have Elizabeth engaged to Denny, but I think it’s unlikely.  I haven’t used him much as a character and it’s hard to envision a scenario in which such an engagement would make sense.   

Anna has been with me on this journey almost since the beginning—for which I am very grateful.  And thank you to those of you who have been my readers for a long time—and to those who’ve started reading my work recently.  I couldn’t do it without you!

Thanks, Victoria! It’s been a pleasure taking this journey with you. Can’t wait for the next book! 😉

****

An excerpt from Christmas at Darcy House, courtesy of Victoria Kincaid

The knowledge that Elizabeth Bennet was in London had not allowed Darcy a moment’s rest that night.  As he sat behind his desk that evening, he envisioned what she might be doing.  Perhaps she was having dinner with her aunt and uncle.  Now she might be sitting in the drawing room reading.  Did they have children for her to play with?   When would she retire for the night?

After brooding in his study until long after midnight, he had tossed and turned in his bed before falling into a fitful sleep in the early morning hours.  A mere ten minutes in her presence, and he was in danger of becoming as obsessed with her as he ever was.

Upon awakening, his first thought was that he knew where Elizabeth stayed; he could call upon her and the Gardiners.  Indeed, a visit was polite—nearly obligatory—given his acquaintance with her family.  She had been gracious enough to call on the Bingleys despite knowing that she would receive a frosty welcome, but the Bingley sisters plainly would not return the call.  If Darcy visited, at least Elizabeth would know that the entirety of the Netherfield party did not hold her in such low esteem.  Also, she might have been brought low by the Bingley sisters’ insults; it was only right that Darcy visit and ensure that she was in good spirits.

Given new life by these thoughts, Darcy sprang from bed and addressed himself to his toilette with dispatch.  In the midst of splashing water on his face, he had a new thought.  If I visit the Gardiners’ house alone, will I appear to be courting Elizabeth?  He had taken great pains in Hertfordshire to avoid the appearance of favoring her; he did not want to give rise to expectations he could not fulfill.

And yet his own reaction surprised him. The idea of creating such an expectation should fill him with dread, but instead a thrumming excitement surged through his veins.  Suddenly light-headed, Darcy grabbed the edge of the washstand.  Was there some part of him that wished Elizabeth to believe he was courting her?  Or worse yet, wished to court her?

Darcy regarded his own rather pale face in the mirror.  What could he do?

He pried his gaze from the mirror and stumbled to the closet in search of fresh clothing.  I am being foolish.  He was simply returning a social call for the sake of politeness.  Elizabeth would understand that he only visited because of his connection with her family.   He might happen to enjoy Elizabeth’s company…quite a bit…more than any other woman he had ever encountered…

But that was beside the point.  His object was to help her feel welcome in London.

As his valet entered the room, Darcy thrust such thoughts from his mind.  Within minutes he was dressed and downstairs breaking his fast.  Another half an hour saw him driving his curricle toward Gracechurch Street.  The curricle was a bit of an indulgence; it would have been simpler to take a horse.  But he had a vision of offering Elizabeth a chance to tour some of his favorite sights in London.  It was a ridiculous thought, yet Darcy found he could not dismiss it from his mind.

Guiding the curricle through the streets of London, he even found himself humming a tune that Georgiana had played the day before.  It was pleasant to have one of his Hertfordshire acquaintances in London.  There was nothing remarkable if the anticipation of her company pleased him.

The Gardiners’ home was not large, but it was well kept and more fashionable than Darcy had expected.  He had never ventured into Cheapside before and had been prepared for far less genteel surroundings.  This appeared to be a quite respectable neighborhood.

Darcy was still humming as he approached the Gardiners’ door and knocked.  Perhaps he should have purchased flowers.  Women liked flowers, did they not?  But flowers might suggest he was courting her, which he most definitely was not.  They were simply friends.

A maid answered the door and took his coat.  Darcy gave his card and inquired if Miss Bennet and Mrs. Gardiner were at home.  The maid replied that they were in the drawing room with a male visitor whose name she had not caught.

Darcy’s interest was immediately piqued.  He could not imagine Elizabeth had a large circle of acquaintances in London.  Could she have acquired a suitor already?  But the maid had not mentioned the age of the visitor.  He might just as easily be some friend of her father’s or a business acquaintance of her uncle’s.  Darcy frowned at the thought.   A widower of that age might prefer a younger wife.

Or perhaps it was Bingley, visiting to apologize for his sisters’ behavior the previous day.  Yes, Bingley would be quite acceptable.

Darcy followed the maid down the narrow hallway to the drawing room.  She opened the door and announced, “Mr. Darcy, ma’am,” before withdrawing and allowing Darcy to enter the room.

His eyes immediately fell upon the male visitor, and he realized he had been far from imagining the worst.

Wickham.

****

About Christmas at Darcy House

Mr. Darcy hopes Christmastime will help him to forget the pair of fine eyes that he left behind in Hertfordshire.  When Elizabeth Bennet appears unexpectedly in London, Darcy decides to keep his distance, resolved to withstand his attraction to her.  But when he learns that Wickham is threatening to propose to Elizabeth, Darcy faces a crisis.

For her part, Elizabeth does not understand why the unpleasant master of Pemberley insists on dancing with her at the Christmas ball or how his eyes happen to seek her out so often.  She enjoys Mr. Wickham’s company and is flattered when he makes her an offer of marriage.  On the other hand, Mr. Darcy’s proposal is unexpected and unwelcome.  But the more Elizabeth learns of Mr. Darcy, the more confused she becomes—as she prepares to make the most momentous decision of her life.

It’s a Yuletide season of love and passion as your favorite characters enjoy Christmas at Darcy House!

Goodreads | Amazon

****

Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering a reader’s choice (ebook or paperback) giveaway of Christmas at Darcy House, open internationally. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. We’d love to hear what you think of the excerpt. This giveaway will close on Sunday, December 17, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thanks, Victoria, for being my guest today!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »