Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘victoria kincaid’

Hello, friends! I’m happy to have Victoria Kincaid as a guest again today to celebrate the audiobook release of When Mary Met the Colonel. Victoria is here to talk a little about the book and share an excerpt and audiobook giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!

****

Hello Anna and thank you for welcoming me back to visit your blog!  I am here to announce the release of an audiobook version of When Mary Met the Colonel, my first secondary-character P&P story and first novella.  I feel very fortunate that I was able to secure the brilliant Stevie Zimmerman to narrate the audiobook.

I’ve always believed that Mary deserved romance and was particularly interested in seeing her with a man whose character and temperament were dissimilar to hers.  I wanted her to have a HEA with someone handsome and dashing. Colonel Fitzwilliam perfectly fit the bill.  Below is a scene from the beginning of the book.

The Colonel and Mary meet by chance in Longbourn’s garden during Elizabeth and Darcy’s wedding breakfast.  I hope you enjoy it!

****

A crease formed between Mary’s eyebrows. “Sir, the events of this war will affect our country for generations to come. It will influence the futures of my nieces and nephews. Faced with such weighty matters, I do not understand why anyone believes I should care about the latest designs in lace!”

Abruptly, she bit her lip and blushed. “I apologize for that outburst. I have had a trying day. I am overwrought.” She stood quickly, straightening her skirts. “I will trouble you no—”

Without forethought, Fitz seized her hand in his. “Please do not leave just when you are proving to be an interesting conversational partner.” He remained seated, hoping it would encourage her to stay.

“I think I must.” She stared at the ground.

“Miss Bennet, if you will allow me to be frank, the majority of my visit has been occupied by your younger sister and her friend admiring the fine handiwork of the buttons on my uniform.” Her shoulders shook; had he provoked laughter? “Intelligent conversation about the happenings in the world would be quite welcome.”

Slowly, Mary’s head lifted. Her eyes traveled down her arm, paused on her hand—which he had not released—and then rose to meet his eyes. Whatever she saw there caused her body to soften slightly. Fitz took the opportunity to tug on her hand, encouraging her to sit once more.

It was wildly inappropriate to be holding her hand, although they both wore gloves. If anyone should happen upon them, their proximity could lead to all sorts of difficulties, including an accusation of compromising her reputation. Yet he could not bring himself to leave; he was too intrigued to allow the conversation to end.

She allowed him to pull her down on the bench beside him, and he instantly released her hand. “I pray you, ask your questions.” Mary regarded him warily, a wild animal that might be easily startled. “What did you wish to ask me?” he asked gently.

“Did you fight at Salamanca?” He nodded. Her eyes lit with interest. “The papers all claimed Wellington’s strategy was brilliant, but they never described the details. What did he do?”

Fitz was momentarily in the uncharacteristic position of being at a loss for words. This was her most pressing question? He expected a query about the Spanish people or Wellington’s character. Instead, she asked about…battle strategy?

“Well…he held some of his troops in reserve until later in the battle,” Fitz finally responded, an accurate but incomplete answer.

Miss Bennet scoffed. “That is a common enough strategy. There is nothing brilliant in that.”

Fitz blinked at her. How did she—? “Miss Bennet, what have you been reading?”

Instantly, her face was aflame, and she ducked her chin. “Do not say as much to my family, particularly my mother, I pray you!”

He nodded; as a rule he avoided conversations with Mrs. Bennet, who was almost as excited about a red coat as her daughter.

Miss Bennet’s eyes darted about the clearing, making sure of their solitude. “I have read both Brown’s and Gibbon’s histories. My father did not miss them from his library, but Mama would be horrified if she knew.” Her eyes were now downcast.

What an extraordinary woman!

“With every turn of this conversation, I am more and more amazed,” Fitz said.

Miss Bennet wrapped her arms around her waist. “I know it is not what a proper young lady would read.”

Fitz was horrified that she perceived these interests as a character deficiency but struggled to keep his tone light. “Perhaps more young ladies should read such subjects; I would far rather discuss military strategy than lace.” He did not garner the laugh he sought, but she rewarded him with a small smile.

Fitz stood. “If you have read Brown and Gibbon, a simple explanation of the strategy at Salamanca will not do. I will need to explain the terrain around the city.” He cast his eye about the clearing. “Here.” He gestured her to the side of the clearing, a small area of dirt not covered by the stone underfoot. With a stick, he drew a line in the dirt. “So, here is the city.” He made an X. “And these are Wellington’s troops…” She watched with rapt attention. It was very pleasant to have such an enthusiastic audience. “The French troops were here and here…”

****

About When Mary Met the Colonel

Without the beauty and wit of the older Bennet sisters or the liveliness of the younger, Mary is the Bennet sister most often overlooked. She has resigned herself to a life of loneliness, alleviated only by music and the occasional book of military history. Colonel Fitzwilliam finds himself envying his friends who are marrying wonderful women while he only attracts empty-headed flirts.

He longs for a caring, well-informed woman who will see the man beneath the uniform. During the wedding breakfast for Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, a chance meeting in Longbourn’s garden kindles an attraction between Mary and the Colonel.

However, the Colonel cannot marry for love since he must wed an heiress. He returns to war, although Mary finds she cannot easily forget him. Is happily ever after possible after Mary meets the Colonel?

Check out the audiobook sample on Audible

****

Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering an audiobook copy of When Mary Met the Colonel to one lucky reader. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, July 19, 2020. 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 audiobook release!

Read Full Post »

I’m thrilled to have Victoria Kincaid back again to celebrate her latest Pride and Prejudice variation. I’ve loved all of Victoria’s novels, but Rebellion at Longbourn is a particular favorite. I loved Victoria’s take on Elizabeth, and she never ceases to make me laugh at Collins and Lady Catherine. Victoria is here to talk about her inspiration for the book and share an excerpt. Please give her a warm welcome!

****

Hi, Anna, and thank you for having me back to visit!

Sometimes plots for my books are the result of ideas that have germinated and sprouted over a period of months or even years. And sometimes an idea hits me in the face, demanding to be written now, now, now! The impetus for Rebellion at Longbourn was in the latter category. I’ve spent a lot of time musing about the position of women during the Regency time period and thinking about how often in Western history women were able to carve out places for themselves despite the conventions of a patriarchal society.

For example, Artemisia Gentilleschi is often heralded as the only female painter of the Baroque period, when, in fact, there were a number of women painting at the time. Women often find a way to work around strictures of tradition, but their stories have frequently been lost to history.

So that led me to wonder what kind of resistance Elizabeth Bennet might show to the patriarchy. Obviously in P&P she already resists many conventions of ladylike behavior, and she calls out Darcy on his toxic masculinity. But she never has a reason for any overt acts of rebellion. I wondered what kind of situation would put her in a position where she needed to affirmatively buck tradition? She’s not a rabble rouser for the sake of stirring things up. She would need a good reason to push for change.

She wouldn’t do it for herself—only on behalf of other people. So what situation would make Elizabeth desperate for change on other people’s behalf? Of course, I thought about Longbourn being run by Mr. Collins. I’d frequently considered writing a Mr. Collins-owning-Longbourn book, but the prospect seemed so bleak. Who would want to read such a depressing story? Heck, I didn’t want to write it! But the idea of a book about Elizabeth organizing a covert resistance against Collins? That’s not bleak at all! In such a situation, Elizabeth, Mary, Charlotte, and other women at Longbourn could begin to carve out a space for themselves despite patriarchal conventions.

When all these pieces of the plot fell into place, the story demanded to be written—right now! So, I put the plans for another book on hold and started Rebellion at Longbourn.

Here is an excerpt from Rebellion at Longbourn where Elizabeth is speaking with Mrs. Greeves, the wife of one of Longbourn’s tenants.

“Why are you asking me these questions, miss?”

“I am hoping to find a way to help the tenants,” Elizabeth said, choosing her words carefully.

“Well, bless you, but you’ve already done so much. I can’t imagine there’s much more you can do.”

Elizabeth took a deep breath. “I believe there might be. My sister Mary and I spoke with Mr. Collins about using more modern agricultural methods such as the Norfolk four-field system and a seed drill.”

Mrs. Greeves eyes widened. “Bert heard about such things from a cousin down that way. He’d sure like to try it.”

“Unfortunately, Mr. Collins would not allow himself to be persuaded.”

The other woman’s face fell.

“However, I was thinking that perhaps the tenants of Longbourn might give it a try anyway.”

Mrs. Greeves stopped walking, and her mouth dropped open. “You mean do the Norfolk planting and the seed drill without telling Mr. Collins?” Elizabeth nodded. “No, it’s impossible!”

“I think they can manage it if we help them.”

Mrs. Greeves’s brows scrunched together. “We?”

“You and I and the other women at Longbourn—including my sisters.”

Mrs. Greeves frowned. “What might we do? We’re just women.”

Elizabeth snorted, an inelegant noise that prompted a smile from the other woman. “How many children do you have, Mrs. Greeves? Six?” The other woman nodded. “You gave birth to six children. You are keeping them alive and raising them to be good people.”

“I do my best.”

“Is that not far more difficult than anything Mr. Collins does any day? Could you imagine him doing your job even for one day?”

Mrs. Greeves laughed and then clapped a hand over her mouth as if her amusement were inappropriate. “True. Even Bert would be hard put to do my job for a day.”

“I assure you that nothing I ask of you will be as difficult as raising six children.”

“What do you have in mind?”

“My sister Mary has done all the reading and understands how to implement the four-crop system. I have a little money saved that I can use to buy a seed drill.   Mary can teach the tenants how the system works.”

Mrs. Greeves’s eyes were wide with amazement. “I don’t know if this is the most brilliant plan I have ever heard or the most foolish one.”

Elizabeth smiled. “I have the same problem, but I think it is worth trying.”

“What do you need our help for, then?” she asked, pointing to herself.

“Mary and I cannot make a regular habit of calling upon the tenants. My cousin will become suspicious very soon.” Not to mention alarmed. Gentlemen’s daughters should not be seen consorting with farmers.

Mrs. Greeves nodded slowly. “But nobody will blink if you’re talking to us…”

“Precisely! If we call upon the tenants’ wives, that is nothing so remarkable. You may pass along Mary’s information and whatever equipment we need to share. We must attend a few meetings with the men, but we shall do them at night in an out-of-the-way location.”

The other woman tugged on her bonnet ribbon. “Aye, that might work. But it’s his land, isn’t it? Mr. Collins?”

“Technically it is,” Elizabeth agreed. “But your family and the other tenants’ families are the ones who farm it. Mr. Collins has no notion about farming. Why should he tell the farmers what to do? Would it not be more sensible to have the tenants decide what to plant and when to plant it? They buy their own seed and fertilizer. Mr. Collins will never know.”

Mrs. Greeves laughed. “He might notice when turnips grow instead of wheat.”

“He pays little attention to the fields. They can plant the new crops at a distance from the lanes where he might walk.”

Mrs. Greeves started walking again, mulling over Elizabeth’s words. “But the tenants will be earning extra money off Mr. Collins’s land. Isn’t that against the law?”

This was the part of the scheme Elizabeth had fretted over the most. “I do not believe it would be…if we use the extra money to repair the tenants’ cottages, just as Mr. Collins should be doing. The cottages are his property, so the money will be an investment in his estate.”

Mrs. Greeves’s mouth formed a perfect “o.” “You have thought of everything.”

****

About Rebellion at Longbourn

Elizabeth Bennet’s father died two years ago, and her odious cousin Mr. Collins has taken possession of the Longbourn estate. Although Collins and his wife Charlotte have allowed the Bennet sisters and their mother to continue living at Longbourn, the situation is difficult. Viewing Elizabeth and her sisters as little more than unpaid servants, Collins also mistreats the tenants, spends the estate’s money with abandon, and rejects any suggestions about improving or modernizing Longbourn. After one particularly egregious incident, Elizabeth decides she must organize a covert resistance among her sisters and the tenants, secretly using more modern agricultural methods to help the estate thrive. Her scheme is just getting underway when Mr. Darcy appears in Meryton.

Upon returning from a long international voyage, Darcy is forced to admit he cannot forget his love for Elizabeth. When he learns of the Bennet family’s plight, he hurries to Hertfordshire, hoping he can provide assistance. Sinking into poverty, Elizabeth is further out of Darcy’s reach than ever; still, he cannot help falling even more deeply in love. But what will he do when he discovers her covert rebellion against Longbourn’s rightful owner?

Falling in love with Mr. Darcy was not part of Elizabeth’s plan, but it cannot be denied. Darcy struggles to separate his love for her from his abhorrence for deception. Will their feelings for each other help or hinder the Rebellion at Longbourn?

Buy on Amazon

****

Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering an ebook copy of Rebellion at Longbourn to one lucky winner, open internationally. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, June 7, 2020. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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

Read Full Post »

Victoria Kincaid is my guest again today, celebrating the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, When Charlotte Became Romantic. I truly love having the opportunity to edit Victoria’s books; I’ve enjoyed all of her books thus far, but When Charlotte Became Romantic is one of my favorites. I love when the secondary characters are given time to shine, especially when Charlotte Lucas has a chance for a happily ever after. Victoria is here to give her thoughts on Mr. Collins and share an excerpt from the book. Please give her a warm welcome!

****

Hi Anna,

Thank you for having me back to visit! My latest book takes place after Charlotte Lucas agrees to marry Collins but before the wedding takes place—a period in which I envision her having second thoughts about the wedding. Coincidentally, while I was writing this book there was a discussion about Mr. Collins on one of the Austen-oriented Facebook pages, and I was surprised to see how many people had a sympathetic view of the man. They saw him as bumbling but essentially well meaning (how he has been portrayed in some adaptations of P&P). Likewise, many JAFF stories imagine that he might be a good match for Mary Bennet, presumably since they are both moralistic and pious.

But if you look at the original book, Austen does not seem him as a nice person. The narrator tells us that he is proud, obsequious, self-important, and not sensible. Elizabeth describes him as conceited, pompous, narrow-minded and silly. And his behavior bears out these descriptions. But even more damning, he is a selfish, unkind person. In his proposal to Elizabeth, Collins tells her he wants to marry her because he believes it will add to his happiness, but the question of her happiness never occurs to him.   This is a mistake that Darcy makes as well—their similar proposal scenes allow the reader to compare the two men. But Darcy recognizes his error, corrects his behavior, and becomes a more caring person. Collins is incapable of that kind of introspection or change.

His selfishness is even more blatantly displayed in the letter he sends while Lydia is missing. As the family worries about the whereabouts and well-being of their sister, Collins tells them that Lydia would be better off dead than disgraced and congratulates himself on having escaped sharing the family’s shame. It is hard to see this gesture as anything other than intentional cruelty. Behavior like this makes me think he shouldn’t be married to anyone.

This is not to say that P&P’s Charlotte was wrong to marry Collins. It is quite possible that she can manage him in a way that makes her life quite tolerable, and she may place more importance on having a family and household of her own than having a sensible husband. She professes herself content with her situation, but of course that is partially because she deliberately avoids spending much of her day with her husband.

In When Charlotte Became Romantic, I imagine what Charlotte would do if offered another option. If romance is a possibility for her, will she take it? Below is an excerpt from near the beginning of the book. I hope you enjoy it!

****

Mr. Collins continued without drawing breath. “And now nothing remains but to assure you in the most animated language of my sincere admiration and love!” His smile was no doubt intended to appear besotted, but Charlotte thought perhaps his dinner had not agreed with him.

Idly, she wondered if he had used those identical words when proposing to Elizabeth.

When she did not immediately respond, he cleared his throat. “You are the ardent desire of my heart.” Then he added, “My soul longs for your touch.”

Charlotte was distracted for a moment as she considered how she might touch his soul and whether that could be interpreted as a lewd suggestion.

“I pray you, relieve my agony!” Mr. Collins’s smile was becoming more strained. “Consent to be my wife and make me the happiest of men.”

How fortunate that I am not romantic. If I had hoped for a romantic proposal—or indeed a sensible one—I would have been greatly disappointed. Not being romantic saves me quite a lot of heartache.

Charlotte managed a smile, which likely bore no resemblance to sincerity, but he would not notice. This is all a charade after all. He pretends he loves me; I accept his offer with a similar pretense of love. Neither of us admits that love is not possible with such a short acquaintance. Indeed, Charlotte was not certain that a creature such as Collins was capable of love—or that she herself was anymore. At least not romantic love; she was certain she could love children.

She straightened her spine. I have made my decision. This is the best course, far better than the alternative. “I would be honored to be your wife,” she said softly.

Mr. Collins sprang up from the bench. “Excellent! This is excellent news!” He dithered awkwardly before taking her hand and shaking it enthusiastically. “I must speak immediately to your most worthy father.”

Charlotte ignored how he stumbled over a flowerpot in his haste to achieve the front door, only allowing herself to wilt against the back of the bench once he had disappeared.

Had the wind turned cool suddenly? The weather was mild for December, so she had merely wrapped a shawl about her shoulders. But now a chill seeped through her skin and into her bones.

Well, it is no matter. The decision is made; I am an engaged woman. There was no hope her father would decline his permission. Having hoped to marry her off for more than ten years, her father would probably dance a little jig at the news.

No doubt the Bennet family would perceive her as calculating, believing she had taken advantage of Mr. Collins’s disappointment over Elizabeth to catch him for herself. And Elizabeth would never understand why Charlotte had accepted such a man. But they did not understand the truth of Charlotte’s life at Lucas Lodge. She had given Elizabeth some hints; however, she knew little of the daily reality. Nobody could possibly understand the dread that settled over Charlotte’s shoulders when she contemplated continued dependence upon her family.

No, she had decided. Others would not understand, but she must give no consideration to their perceptions. As Mr. Collins’s future wife, she must inure herself not only to disappointment but also to embarrassment, ignoring how that thought made her stomach knot. Soon enough she would leave Meryton and the opinions of those she had known all her life. In Kent, they would not expect anything else of her; they already knew Mr. Collins’s nature.

There was no point in second thoughts or fantasies about how her life might have been different. Fairy tales were for girls—for women who were romantic, who could afford to be romantic. Charlotte was not among their number, although once she had made the mistake of believing she could be. But no more.

Charlotte sat demurely on the bench until Mr. Collins returned, a lightness in his step announcing that her father had approved the match. Awkwardly, he sat beside her once more and took both her hands in his sweaty grip. “I know you are as pleased by these events as I, my petunia, my marigold!” Somehow his smile was as oily as his hair. “For, at seven and twenty, no doubt you had little hope of ever receiving a request for your hand.”

He proceeded, oblivious to any harmful consequence of his words. “And you are not a great beauty like the eldest Miss Bennets. Still, I believe you will be acceptable to Lady Catherine, being an active and useful sort of woman.”

Charlotte closed her eyes and reminded herself that she must accustom herself to disappointment.

Ignorant of her inner thoughts—or perhaps unaware that she possessed any—Mr. Collins continued unabated. “And now nothing remains but for me to make a slightly impertinent request for…a kiss.” His smile contained a hint of a leer. “Such things are permitted for betrothed couples, as you know.”

Charlotte considered refusing, using the excuse of excess modesty, but she needed to demonstrate every appearance of enthusiasm for the match.

For a mere brushing of the lips, it was startling how wet and cold a kiss could be. Mr. Collins’s lips were thin and slimy. Perhaps Charlotte would have thought it an acceptable kiss if she had possessed no basis for comparison, but as it was… She momentarily considered that she lived in a reverse of the Princess and the Frog fairy tale, and she had somehow turned her fiancé into an amphibian.

However, when Charlotte opened her eyes, Mr. Collins was smiling beatifically. She found a sort of consolation in the thought that he had not found the kiss disappointing. I will be bringing happiness into his life, she thought. And I will have children—and a home of my own.

****

About When Charlotte Became Romantic

Desperate to escape her parents’ constant criticism, Charlotte has accepted a proposal from Mr. Collins despite recognizing his stupid and selfish nature. But when a mysterious man from her past visits Meryton for the Christmas season, he arouses long-buried feelings and causes her to doubt her decision.

James Sinclair’s mistakes cost him a chance with Charlotte three years ago, and he is devastated to find her engaged to another man. Honor demands that he step aside, but his heart will not allow him to leave Meryton. Their mutual attraction deepens; however, breaking an engagement is not a simple matter and scandal looms. If they are to be happy, they must face her parents’ opposition, Lady Catherine’s disapproval, dangerous figures from James’s past…and Charlotte’s nagging feeling that maybe she should just marry Mr. Collins.

Charlotte had forsworn romance years ago; is it possible for her to become romantic again?

Buy on Amazon

****

Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering an ebook copy of When Charlotte Became Romantic to one lucky reader, open internationally. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, October 27, 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!

Read Full Post »

I’m thrilled to welcome Victoria Kincaid back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate her latest release, Darcy in Hollywood. I’ve enjoyed editing all of Victoria’s books thus far, but her modern-day Pride and Prejudice variations are especially fun. I hope you enjoy our interview, as well as the excerpt from Darcy in Hollywood. Please give Victoria a warm welcome.

What inspired you to bring Darcy and Elizabeth to Hollywood?

That’s a good question which is always hard to answer since usually the idea for a book has been gestating in my brain for at least a year before I start writing it.  There are a lot of contemporary romances with movie stars as protagonists as well as a number of movies (like Notting Hill).  I really enjoy that subgenre; I think it’s particularly interesting to see the clash between the Hollywood lifestyle and the lives of ordinary people.  I also wanted to write another modern after President Darcy since that one was so much fun, and I thought Hollywood would make a good setting for the P&P story.

How difficult was it to adapt P&P to this setting? Did you find it difficult to insert timely themes, of which there are many throughout the book?

Writing a modern P&P variation is definitely harder than writing one set in the Regency time period because I need to find modern equivalents for the events, places, occupations, etc. that happen in P&P.  I didn’t set out to insert any modern themes in the story—any more than I did with President Darcy.  But they do have a way of creeping in.  The storyline about drug addiction was a natural fit with Hollywood, where so many people struggle with addiction issues, and it helped motivate a lot of character behavior.

Other themes came about in different ways.  I wanted Elizabeth to be committed to a charitable cause so that she would see a contrast between her beliefs and Darcy’s.  Originally I planned to have her become a worker in a nonprofit, but then decided it would be better if she was becoming a doctor.  One of the reasons I had her pick LGBTQ issues as a cause was personal.  My daughter has a friend whose parents disowned them when they came out as nonbinary.  This person is just a sweet, loving human being and that kind of rejection just struck me as so wrong.  That sense of injustice wouldn’t leave me alone, so it ended up as a subplot in the story.

You have a way with humor in your modern variations, from the Bennet family’s business in President Darcy to my favorite in Darcy in Hollywood: Bill Collins and Catherine de Bourgh. I don’t want to spoil it for readers, but oh how I laughed whenever Collins came into the picture…and Catherine’s advice to Darcy…priceless! That being said, what was your favorite scene to write? Do you have a favorite secondary character in your variation?

I always enjoy writing humor in my variations.  I actually think it’s an important part of Pride and Prejudice since Austen herself made humor an integral part of her stories.  With Collins and de Bourgh, in particular, it’s almost impossible to go too far with their characters—which makes them very fun to write.  I can make Collins can be as sycophantic and as stupid as possible, and it still works with the character Austen wrote.  Similarly, Catherine de Bourgh can never be too imperious or oblivious.

The joy of writing a modern novel is that I can think up new contexts for them to display those same character traits.  For instance, in Darcy in Hollywood, Collins becomes Mrs. de Bourgh’s personal assistant who has literally given up his life so he can devote it to hers.  He doesn’t even see his parents at Christmas (they just exchange cards) because de Bourgh needs him to sing carols to her on Christmas day.

This is your second modern P&P variation. Do you have plans to write another? (I sure hope so!) Do you find the moderns more difficult to write? To me, the moderns seem to give more freedom in the plot and characterization. But does that freedom make it harder since you lose the confines of Regency social rules?

Right now I don’t have an idea for another modern variation, but I’m sure another one will occur to me at some point.  Before I wrote President Darcy, I would have said that moderns should be easier to write since the writer doesn’t have to do as much research or worry about period details and period language.  But I would have been wrong.  In fact, Darcy in Hollywood took me longer to write than any book since my first one—and I deleted sixty pages from my drafts of the novel.

Regency-set P&P variations are easier in part because I can start partway through the story and the reader will know what has happened before.  For instance, I could open the book with the proposal at Hunsford, and readers wouldn’t bat an eye.  But in a modern, I’d have to explain how Darcy and Elizabeth met and got to the point where he was making some kind of offer (probably not an offer of marriage so early in their acquaintance). So modern variations end up being longer because I need to include more of the original P&P narrative.

The other thing that makes moderns hard is trying to remain true to Austen’s characters while having their behavior make sense in a modern setting.  A modern mother isn’t likely to want to marry her daughters off like the original Mrs. Bennet.  So I made her into a stage mother instead—someone who’s convinced that Lydia will be a big movie star.  Likewise, Mr. Bennet went from being a fairly well-to-do landowner, to a producer of B-movies.

But I ran into major problems with Darcy in this respect.  I discovered he really didn’t want to be a movie star!  With his personality, he didn’t fit with the Hollywood culture of self-promotion, screaming fans, and glitzy parties. I’d originally seen him as someone who was so proud of his work that he believed he deserved the adulation, but Darcy is too private for that.  So I had rewrite the early parts to make him into a kind of Masterpiece Theatre, classical actor who starred in one movie that made him a heartthrob to teenage girls—much to his embarrassment.  That worked much better for Darcy’s character.

****

Here is an excerpt from the beginning of Darcy in Hollywood—right after Darcy nearly hits Elizabeth with his car. Enjoy!

Darcy stomped on the momentary flare of irritation.  “Is the sarcasm really necessary?”

She regarded him through narrowed eyes.  “Yeah, I think it is.  What’s the alternative?  That I should be honored to be knocked over by your car?  Because I don’t think your identity would have been much comfort to my parents.  ‘We don’t have a daughter anymore, but at least she was killed by a celebrity.  Maybe he can autograph her coffin.’”

Why did she have to be so difficult?  He was already putting up with so much doing an indie film.  “That’s not what I meant.  You don’t have to put it that way—”

“I almost got hit by a car.  I can put it however the fuck I want to!”

Darcy was so over this woman. She wasn’t nearly as pretty as he had initially thought. If only he could leave.  But he needed to make sure she wouldn’t talk to the media; another car-related incident would be a disaster for his career.  From now on, I only travel by train or boat.  Pity about her personality; she had fine eyes.

Darcy helped the woman limp to a nearby bench and gently lowered her to the seat.  “Maybe I should call for an ambulance,” he suggested.  He would have preferred to discuss having her sign a nondisclosure agreement, but it seemed a little insensitive.

“Let me sit for a minute.”  Leaning forward, she cradled her head in her hands, providing a good view of the blood matting the hair on the back of her head.  Huh, maybe she wasn’t wrong about the possible concussion.

Darcy settled on the bench beside her despite a desperate desire to cross the street and slip into Building 4, where they were holding the table read.  They won’t start without me, he reminded himself.  But being late wouldn’t impress them with his professionalism.

He took the opportunity to check her for other injuries.  She had a scrape on her right arm and favored her left ankle.  Of course, her clothes were disheveled—and a fashion disaster.  The sleeve of her t-shirt was ripped where she had fallen.

“I can get you a new t-shirt.”

“Huh?”

He gestured to the rip.

Her mouth hung open.  “I don’t give a shit about the t-shirt!”

“I don’t think that kind of language is called for.”

“That kind of language?” she echoed and then squinted at him.  “Are you drunk?”

“It’s 7 a.m.”

“Yes, it is.  Are you drunk?  Or high?”

Damn, you have one scandal…

“No,” he said sharply.

“The car was moving rather erratically.”

“I was…trying to work the stereo.  It’s complicated.”

“You almost killed me because you couldn’t work the radio?”

“To be fair, it’s satellite radio.  And I didn’t almost kill you!”

“To-may-to, to-mah-to.”

His jaw clenched so tightly he could grind glass.   “This isn’t a matter of opinion!  You would have been fine if you hadn’t fallen.”

“I also would have been fine if your Ferrari hadn’t come hurtling toward me.”

Darcy didn’t respond; arguing was futile.  After a moment she gave him a sidelong glance.  “You don’t need to babysit me; I can call myself an ambulance if I need one.”

“I shouldn’t leave you alone.”

“Oh!  You don’t want me talking to the press.  Don’t worry.”

“That’s not what I’m worried about,” he lied.  “My primary concern is your well-being.”

“I bet you say that to all the girls you almost run over.”

Darcy stifled a smile.  Under other circumstances, he’d think she was funny.  “I assure you that you’re the first.”

The woman examined the scrape on her arm.  “I accept your apology, by the way.”

“I didn’t apologize.”

Now she turned her blue-green gaze on him.  “I noticed that.  Why didn’t you?  Do you think this is my fault?  That your car had the right of way on the sidewalk?”

Darcy would have apologized—if he had thought of it—but now he couldn’t without losing face.  “I didn’t hit you.  You agreed I didn’t hit you!”  I sound like an idiot insisting on that point.  

“You. Are. Unbelievable.”

Darcy had heard that before but usually in a more complimentary tone.

****

About Darcy in Hollywood

A modern Pride and Prejudice variation.

Rich and arrogant movie star, William Darcy, was a Hollywood heartthrob until a scandalous incident derailed his career. Now he can only hope that Tom Bennet’s prestigious but low budget indie film will restore his reputation. However, on the first day of filming, he nearly hits Bennet’s daughter, Elizabeth, with his Ferrari, and life will never be the same. Okay, she’s a little sarcastic, but he’s certain she’s concealing a massive crush on him—and it’s growing harder to fight his own attraction….

Elizabeth Bennet has a lot on her plate. She’s applying to medical school and running the studio’s charity project—while hoping her family won’t embarrass her too much. Being Darcy’s on-set personal assistant is infuriating; he’s rude, proud, and difficult. If there’s one thing she dislikes, it’s people who only think about themselves. But then Elizabeth discovers Darcy has been doing a lot of thinking about her.

She might be willing to concede a mutual attraction, but events are conspiring against them and Darcy subject to constant public scrutiny. Can Darcy and Elizabeth have any hope for a happy ending to their Hollywood romance?

Buy on Amazon

****

Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering an ebook copy of Darcy in Hollywood to one lucky reader. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Wednesday, July 17, 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 book!

 

Read Full Post »

Hello, dear readers! You’re in for a special treat, as Victoria Kincaid is back twice in the same week with more Mr. Darcy and audiobook goodness! Today, she is here to celebrate the recent audiobook release of The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy. Please give her a warm welcome!

****

Hi Anna!  Thank you for welcoming me back to your blog!  Recently I released the audiobook version of The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy which was narrated by Stevie Zimmerman.  Stevie also, coincidentally enough, narrated The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth—my other Pride and Prejudice variation that is set in France.  She does a lovely job with The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy.  You can listen to an audio sample here, and please enjoy the excerpt below.

****

His attention wandering, Darcy’s eye was caught by a bookcase opposite his chair. There were several volumes of poetry, plays of Shakespeare’s, and books about English history.  The doctor and his wife were well read.

The doctor’s eye followed Darcy’s.  “You read English?” he asked.  Only then did Darcy realize that every title on the bookshelf was in English.  He flinched.  I am a truly terrible spy.

Martin chuckled softly.  “Do not worry, my friend.  Many of us have studied English, even if it is not fashionable these days.”

Darcy covered his confusion with a sip of coffee.  What could he possibly say in response?  A simple laborer like Guillaume D’Arcy should not be able to read English.  Many men of that class would not read at all.  Richard would laugh at Darcy’s ineptitude.

“My mother was English,” he mumbled.  That was true enough.

“I say, do you speak English?” Martin’s eyes widened.

Nothing to do but continue the charade.  “Yes,” he admitted.

“I have a patient who speaks only English, and I cannot understand her.  I read English well, but my conversation leaves much to be desired.”

Darcy hesitated.  Revealing anything more about himself was dangerous, and he should return to Dreyfus’s house, but the doctor had been very hospitable.  Darcy could spare a few minutes to repay the man’s kindness.

“I would be glad to be of assistance.” Only belatedly did the request strike him as odd.  “How did you acquire a patient who speaks only English?”

“She is a bit of a mystery. She washed up on the beach some time ago, half drowned.  She has been quite ill, and we have been unable to communicate with her. We do not even have her name.”

Darcy froze.  Was it possible the doctor had found the Black Cobra?  No, surely the spy would be a native French speaker—and male. “She could not even tell you her name?” Perhaps the woman was touched in some way.

“When one of the fishermen found her on the beach, she had suffered a blow to the head and nearly drowned.  She wavered in and out of consciousness for many days; I feared for her life.  Then, just as she seemed to improve, she contracted a lung fever. Her moments of consciousness have been brief, and she does not seem to understand where she is.”

“Understandable,” Darcy murmured.  Poor woman.  Now Darcy wanted to lend assistance for her sake as well as the doctor’s.

“Indeed,” the doctor said.  “She is often feverish and incoherent.  But perhaps she will say enough that you may ascertain her identity.”

Darcy stood.  “Take me to her.”  He would not allow his mission to stand in the way of assisting someone so unfortunate.

The doctor led Darcy up the polished staircase and down a corridor to a room at the back of the house.  Mrs. Martin met them at the door.

“How does she fare?” the doctor asked.

His wife’s expression was grave. “Feverish again.  Sleeping or unconscious, I do not know which.”

Darcy felt a pang of regret.  If he could not speak with the woman, he could not be of much help to her.  “Perhaps I should return another time,” he said.

Martin considered.  “At least come into the room for a minute.  Sometimes she speaks in her delirium.”  He opened the door.

The room was dim, illuminated only by the sunshine peeking around the edges of the heavy curtains. Closed up as it was, the chamber was airless and quite warm.

On the bed, the woman lay very still, her hair a dark tangle over her face.  Even from a distance Darcy could discern that her complexion was not good—pale and waxy.  The covers were pulled up to her chin so that only her face was visible.

She moaned and shifted slightly as they entered, but her eyes remained closed.  “Come closer.” The doctor gestured to the bedside.  “Perhaps she will say something.”

Darcy joined the doctor reluctantly.  It was the height of impropriety to be in any woman’s bedchamber, particularly that of a stranger.  Of course, Darcy had no intention of taking advantage of the situation, and nobody need ever hear about it.

This close, Darcy could see that the woman was quite young; her skin was smooth and unmarked.

She moaned again, turning her head toward Darcy. A shaft of midday light struck her face, and he instinctively reached out to brush the hair from her cheek.

Darcy froze, unable to do anything but stare.

Briefly he catalogued what he could see of the woman.  Her hair was a jumble of dark brown curls, and her skin was slightly tanned under the pallor.  The nose…the sprinkling of freckles on her cheeks…was achingly familiar.  If she opened her eyes, he knew they would be a bright forest green.

Elizabeth was lying in the bed.

****
About The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy

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?

****

Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering an audiobook copy of The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy to one lucky reader. The code is good for the U.S. or U.K. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Friday, March 8, 2019. The winner will be announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Read Full Post »

Hello, dear readers! Victoria Kincaid is back to Diary of an Eccentric today with a special treat to celebrate the audiobook release of her first modern Pride and Prejudice variation, President Darcy. I had a blast editing this book, and I’m thrilled to see it released in audio. Please give Victoria a warm welcome!

****

Hi Anna. It’s lovely to be back visiting your blog again!  The audiobook of President Darcy was released at the end of 2018 but kind of got lost in the end-of-the-year hustle and bustle as I released another new book.  But this audiobook deserves to be noticed.  President Darcy has proven to be one of my most popular books, and narrator Lucy Emerson does a terrific job with the characters.  You can listen to an audiobook sample here and enjoy an excerpt below.

****

Hilliard scanned his iPad.  “How about one of the Bennet girls you just met?  Elizabeth Bennet? Her father donated to your campaign.  She’s pretty, and you seemed taken with her when you shook her hand.”

Elizabeth froze in horror while Lydia and Maria shot her amazed looks.  Would he tell Hilliard about the broom closet?

President Darcy snorted.  “Ha!  I don’t think so.  You didn’t have to speak with her.  I don’t think there’s anything going on upstairs.”  He tapped the side of his head.  “Intellectual lightweight.  And she’s not that pretty.”

Elizabeth stumbled further into the alcove until she couldn’t see the men anymore.  Lydia convulsed in silent laughter, her hand stuffed in her mouth to muffle the sounds, while Maria gaped at Elizabeth, wide-eyed.  Elizabeth reviewed the words in her head, but they remained the same.  Yes, the president—the president!—thought she was ugly and stupid and had voiced the sentiment out loud.

She heard President Darcy blow out an exasperated breath.  “Bob, I know you have my best interests at heart, but would a few dances with some wallflower from a nouveau riche family make much of a difference to your average voter?”

Elizabeth peeked around the corner again in time to see Hilliard sigh and tuck the iPad under his arm.  “Will you at least dance with someone?  Pretend you’re having a good time for a few minutes?”

“Fine,” the other man muttered.  “I’ll dance with Caroline again, okay?”

“Caroline is not an ordinary Amer—”

“Enough, Bob.” The president’s voice brooked no disagreement. The conversation was over. He straightened his jacket.  “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some governing to do.”  As the president started to walk, the whole group of men moved en masse down the hallway.  Soon they were gone.

Elizabeth remained frozen in the alcove, plastered against the wall.  She probably should have bolted for the exit, but her muscles felt loose and unattached as though she might fall to pieces if she tried to move.

Finally, Lydia grabbed her arm, pulled her through the ladies’ room door, and pushed her up toward the sinks.  “OMG!  You just got dissed by the president!” she laughed.

Maria viewed Elizabeth with a kind of awe.  “Presidential dissing.  Executive dissing.  Wow.”

Elizabeth fell onto the padded bench and drew her knees up to her chest despite the tightness of her dress.  “Can’t we just forget it—?”

Eyes glued to her smartphone screen, Lydia interrupted.  “Nah. It’s too good.  I already texted Amy about this. She’ll scream.”

“Please don’t!” Elizabeth pleaded.

Lydia regarded her sardonically.  “Yeah, uh, that’s not going to happen.”

Shit.

“She’s not that pretty.” Maria imitated the president’s precise tones perfectly.

Lydia giggled.  “I’ve got to send it to Jordan, too!”

Maria nodded vigorously.  “Ooh, ooh!  And Olga!  It’ll crack her up.”

First the closet, now her father, and then this… Was it possible to induce a heart attack through accumulated mortification? Her chest ached, and she couldn’t catch her breath.  “What did I do to deserve that?” she wondered aloud.

Frantically texting away, Lydia snorted. “Some people get presidential pardons.  You get presidential shade.” Her phone buzzed.  “Ryan thinks you should get a picture with him.  Then we could add speech bubbles and…”

Great.  The group of people in the know included Ryan, whoever he was.  “Maybe we should go back to the East Room.  Dinner will be ready soon,” Elizabeth said.

Perhaps she should slip discreetly out the back door, but that seemed cowardly like she was allowing his rudeness to chase her away.  Instead, I should stay and show the president I’m not vapid and unattractive.  Even if he doesn’t know I overheard him.  As revenges went, it was rather feeble, but it was all she had.

“Ooh!  I wonder who I’m sitting with!” Maria exclaimed in a too-loud voice.  “I bet they’ll think it’s hilarious.”

“By all means, tell everyone you can find,” Elizabeth remarked dryly.

Lydia gave her an ironic salute.  “I’ll do my best.”

As they opened the bathroom door, Elizabeth scanned the corridor, but it was empty. “You don’t really mind if we tell everyone, do you?” Lydia asked breathlessly as they hurried toward the East Room.

Elizabeth’s feelings were moot at this point, so she bit back an angry retort.  Being a good sport would give her family less fodder for future teasing.  “Nah.  It’s kind of funny,” Elizabeth said through gritted teeth.  “It’s not like he knows me.”

“Yeah,” Maria agreed absently as she thumbed another message into her phone.  “I mean, you’re not as pretty as I am, but you wouldn’t make someone lose their lunch or anything.”

“I feel better already,” Elizabeth mumbled.

“I’m glad you’re being so mature about this,” Lydia said in all seriousness as they reached the entrance to the East Room.  “’Cause I already posted it on Twitter, and it’s been retweeted 168 times already.”

“Twitter—!” Elizabeth sputtered.  But Lydia and Maria had already disappeared into the crowd, no doubt in search of a greater audience for the tale of Elizabeth’s humiliation.

Elizabeth ambled around the edges of the room, avoiding eye contact and seeking a dark corner.  It’s not like I ever thought of myself as a great beauty, so that part shouldn’t rankle. He doesn’t know the first thing about my intelligence or conversational abilities. He’s just making assumptions. Most people would get tongue-tied when caught in a White House broom closet. Arrogant jerk. 

Of course, most people wouldn’t get caught in a White House broom closet.  Maybe that did say something about her….

No.  It would be stupid to get upset.

Just stupid.

****

About President Darcy

President William Darcy has it all: wealth, intelligence, and the most powerful job in the country.  Despite what his friends say, he is not lonely in the White House.  He’s not.   And he has vowed not to date while he’s in office.  Nor is he interested in Elizabeth Bennet.   She might be pretty and funny and smart, but her family is nouveau riche and unbearable.  Unfortunately, he encounters her everywhere in Washington, D.C.—making her harder and harder to ignore.  Why can’t he get her out of his mind?

Elizabeth Bennet enjoys her job with the Red Cross and loves her family, despite their tendency to embarrass her.  At a White House state dinner, they cause her to make an unfavorable impression on the president, who labels her unattractive and uninteresting.  Those words are immediately broadcast on Twitter, so the whole world now knows the president insulted her.  Elizabeth just wants to avoid the man—who, let’s admit it, is proud and difficult.  For some reason he acts all friendly when they keep running into each other, but she knows he’s judging her.

Eventually, circumstances force Darcy and Elizabeth to confront their true feelings for each other, with explosive results.  But even if they can find common ground, Mr. Darcy is still the president—with limited privacy and unlimited responsibilities—and his enemies won’t hesitate to use his feelings for Elizabeth against him.

Can President Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet find their way to happily ever after?

****

Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering an audiobook copy of President Darcy to one lucky reader. The code is good for the U.S. or U.K. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, March 3, 2019. The winner will be announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Read Full Post »

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!

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 »

Older Posts »