Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway: The Bennets: Providence & Perception by K.C. Cowan

The Bennets: Providence & Perception by K.C. Cowan focuses on Mary, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and one of the last children in the house. Stories about Mary often focus on her piety, but here Cowan takes that piety on a different journey.

Let’s read a little bit about the book, and then read the excerpt:

Poor Miss Bennet—with three sisters married, she will no doubt be left “on the shelf” unless she takes steps to secure her own happiness. So, with the arrival of Mr. Yarby, a handsome new rector for Longbourn chapel, Mary decides to use her Biblical knowledge to win his heart.

Meanwhile, her recently widowed fatherfinds himself falling for the older sister of his new reverend. But Mr. Bennet is officially in mourning for his late wife—what a scandalous situation! Unfortunately, Longbourn’s heir, Mr. Collins, has the antennae for a scandal and makes blackmail threats.

Will an overheard conversation between the Yarby siblings break Mary’s heart? Or will it impel her to a desperate act that threatens everyone’s hopes for lasting love?

Please check out this excerpt, which I hope will leave you wanting more:

Mary was walking towards the parsonage in hopes of another Bible study session with Mr. Yarby. It was an unusually sunny and warm day for February—a bit of a false spring—and Mary was in a happy mood as she walked along the lane. She had decided on this visit to ask Mr. Yarby whether they could discuss some of the women of the New Testament. Her plan was to then steer the topic from their love of the Lord to a discussion of love in general. She felt it was past time for him to declare himself, and she was quite certain he only needed the right prompt to feel able to speak his own heart’s feelings. After all, had he not comforted her tenderly when she was distraught after her father was shot? They had nearly kissed, after all—at least, Mary believed that was his intention. Would he have acted so if he did not care? Mary was certain he only needed the proper encouragement to declare himself.

As she approached the front door of the parsonage, she saw the rectory maid, Ellen, scrubbing the front steps. The girl looked up from her work.

“Beggin’ your pardon, Miss Bennet. This weather is so fine, I decided it was a good time to scrub the winter’s mud and muck off the stone steps. Have you come to pay a visit? Everyone is sittin’ outside in the back, enjoyin’ some cake and homemade wine in this lovely sunshine. Please go on through.” She gestured for Mary to step over her work.

“Oh, Ellen, I should hate to place my dirty boots right over your nice, clean steps and add to your work. I shall walk around; I know the way.”

“Thank you kindly, miss.” Ellen smiled and returned to her work.

As she walked around the side of the parsonage, Mary tried to think of a way she could get Mr. Yarby away from his sister and brother so they could have a private meeting.

I would much rather be with him alone than just have this turn into a social call.

Mary could hear laughter as she approached the back of the house, then familiar voices. She knew she should not eavesdrop, but an odd feeling made her slow her steps, and then hesitate a moment to listen to the conversation.

“It is quite pathetic, actually, feigning such an interest in the Bible just to get close to you, Robert,” Mary heard Amelia say. “Even if she has not done so of late.”

“Now, now—don’t be too hard on the poor girl, Amelia,” Phillip replied. “She is only seeking what all young women want — a husband. Although personally, I must question her choice. After all, I believe we can agree I am far more handsome than Robert.” There was loud laughter at this. “But at least he is respectable,” he concluded.

“She may see it as an advantageous match, I suppose,” Robert replied. “But I swear to you both I have given her no reason to think I see her as anything other than the daughter of my employer.”

“I absolutely agree,” said Amelia. “And I am proud that you have not been unguarded or careless in your behavior towards her at all. No one could call you out for toying with her affections; you have not compromised her one whit. Just take care you continue in such a manner. Otherwise, it could give rise to hopes and expectations that have no basis in reality and would just … complicate things. Well … perhaps she will give up this folly soon. You, of course, should pursue your choice of bride. When will you declare yourself to her, by the way? This constant mooning over her in private will not do!” she teased.

“I shall, but I must be certain of the lady’s own affections,” Mr. Yarby said seriously.

Amelia laughed. “Oh, there is little doubt of her feelings, I am confident.”

“Then there is her father to consider.”

“I can’t imagine there would be any objection on that score,” said Phillip. “Do not wait too long, little brother. That will clear the way for me, as well.”

Mary clasped both hands over her mouth to keep the moan that seemed to rise from deep within her from escaping. Her entire body began to tremble, and she was barely aware of her own steps as she carefully backed away. Hardly able to breathe, she turned and began to hurry away, stumbling out of the side garden, and only nodding in reply when Ellen called, “Oh, are you not staying then, miss?”

What do you think? I think Mary is on the road to self-discovery and learning how eavesdropping might not be the best idea.

BONUS Guest Post on Language by KC Cowan:

I enjoy reading all sorts of books. But I have a particular fondness for Regency-based stories and Jane Austen—both the original and the many, many variations and sequels of her classics. The reason these books appeal to me is because of the wonderful characters and plots, of course. But if I’m being entirely honest, it also nearly always comes down to this one thing: the lovely and genteel manners of the era. There were so many “rules” of etiquette and behavior back then and while it must have been difficult to navigate in some ways, what I like most is how polite people generally were to each other.

Being polite doesn’t mean there was never any criticism — indeed, Jane Austen herself was renowned for her wit and for poking fun at many  — from the snooty elites of the era as well as the lowly, but pompous parson. But were people crude? Rude? Almost never! It all comes down to the elegance of the language.

For example, in our current times, you might say, “What the heck are you talking about?” when confused about something. However, it is so much more elegant to say, “Forgive me—I do not have the pleasure of understanding you.”

How about “I abhor him in every way,” rather than “I can’t stand his guts?” Or “What an amiable gentleman” versus “He’s a pretty good guy.” Or my very favorite: “I am all astonishment!” So much classier than “I couldn’t believe my ears!”

The lovely language just immediately takes you back to a place and time when good manners and courtesy were valued and practiced with regularity. We all know what a tremendous insult it was when Lizzy accuses Darcy of his lack of gentlemanly behavior during his offer of marriage. A greater slight one cannot give to a man who considers himself a true gentleman.

There is a marvelous new book, Say it Like Miss Austen by Stefan Scheuremann. It is a Jane Austen Phrase Thesaurus. You can look up any topic to find the correct language of the time. For example, under Not Communicating you learn that the Austen way of saying “I was speechless” would be “I could not frame a sentence.” I only recently found this book, but I certainly could have used it when writing The Bennets!

Of course, the other challenge of writing a period story is that you must also be careful not to choose words that were not in common usage in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. That is where a good dictionary is invaluable. Down at the very bottom of a definition of a word you will usually find when the word first came into practice and common use. I learned that while “excite” was used in Jane Austen’s time—as in “I should not wish to excite your anticipation,” the first person description “excited” was not used until 1855! So, instead of “we are so excited to have you come visit,” you’d have to write “We are filled with eager anticipation.” And once again, it’s so much prettier than modern speech.

I had an initial editor who marked up my first draft with “WC” (word choice) by anything she wanted me to check. More than half the time, she was correct! Does it take more time? Yes! But if you are a true lover of the Regency Era language, it’s so important to get it right.

Isn’t the English language and its evolution so fascinating? I know I’m intrigued. I have an entomology reference guide, but I may need to pick up these books if I ever write a regency romance.

About the Author:

KC Cowan spent her professional life working in the media as a news reporter in Portland, Oregon for KGW-TV, KPAM-AM and KXL-AM radio, and as original host and story producer for a weekly arts program on Oregon Public Television. She is co-author of the fantasy series: Journey to Wizards’ Keep, The Hunt for Winter, and Everfire. The Hunt for Winter and Everfire were both awarded First Place OZMA citations from Chanticleer International Book Awards for fantasy writing.

KC is also the author of two other books: “The Riches of a City” – the story of Portland, Oregon, and “They Ain’t Called Saints for Nothing!” in collaboration with artist Chris Haberman, a tongue-in-cheek look at saints. She is married and lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


Meryton Press will be giving away 1 eBook. Enter below with a comment by April 3.

Please leave an email for me to contact you.


  1. Poor Mary, I feel for her. If I were in her shoes, I would also run away from the scene and reflect on my conduct. I cannot wait to know her reaction and whether she will rise up from this challenge.

    Thank you for sharing the bonus guest post, KC. It was enlightening to know what some of the Regency phrases that can replaced some of the more modern language.

  2. Thanks for putting this on my radar. I love books about Mary and Collins starting trouble. 🙂

  3. Interesting (especially for the uptight Mary). Wonder what else she/we will discover about her. thank you for sharing an excert and the chance to win a copy

  4. DarcyBennett says

    Sounds like a wonderful book. Congrats on the release!

  5. Great post and excerpt! Thanks K.C. and thank you, Serena, for hosting. I enjoyed reading about Regency language. It makes so much difference in a good book. This excerpt was a good revealing scene. It was a shock. Wickham has stooped to a new low.

  6. I’ve read this book and loved it! Poor Mary, proving that eavesdropping is never a good thing! What on earth will she do now? Hmmm, I didn’t see that coming. I can’t say I’m a big fan of Mr Collins in this story but nobody else seems to be either! This story certainly deserves to do well, I gave it five stars!

  7. Oh wow, an uncomfortable moment for Mary! It’s so true that in writing Regency stories, the right words make all the difference! Thanks for sharing, Kc!

  8. Suzan Lauder says

    I had to read the excerpt twice. Wow! That was difficult for Mary. I hope it turns out better than it seems at the moment. Excellent writing, K.C. Thanks for hosting, Serena!