Guest Post and Giveaway: Handsome, Clever, & Rich by Jayne Bamber

Today, Jayne Bamber is back with a guest post and excerpt from her new novel, Handsome, Clever & Rich.

Let’s check out a little bit about this tale:

What if Elizabeth is not a Bennet by birth, but by marriage?

When Netherfield Park is let at last, the village of Meryton is inveigled in romance, intrigue, and a few less-than-happy reunions. The Bingley siblings return to the home of their youth, an estate purchased just before the death of their father. The neighborhood, especially the Bennet family, is ready to welcome them back with open arms, but Mr. Bingley’s attempt to make a good impression on his community backfires so badly that it is his awkward friend Mr. Darcy who is obliged to salvage the situation in the aftermath of Mr. Bingley insulting Jane Bennet at the Assembly.

Young widow Elizabeth Bennet begins her acquaintance with Mr. Darcy on amiable terms, but the reckless folly of his friend and the regrets from her own past create a bumpy path to Happily Ever After for them.

Not long after an injury obliges Elizabeth to recover at Netherfield Park, her estranged sister finally discovers Elizabeth’s whereabouts, and journeys from Highbury to Meryton in all haste, suitors in tow.

When one unexpected betrothal arises out of necessity, Jane Austen’s most notorious matchmaker is inspired to work her magic at Longbourn, Netherfield, and Lucas Lodge – but she, too, will have met her match in matters of meddling & mischief.

Please give Jayne Bamber a warm welcome:

It’s great to be back at Savvy Verse and Wit! Today I am here to share another excerpt of my new release, Handsome, Clever & Rich, which is now available on Kindle Unlimited.

As you may guess from the title, this Pride & Prejudice variation features appearances from several characters from Emma, including the titular heroine herself! That’s not the only big change you’ll see in Meryton in this variation. The Assembly at the beginning of the novel takes a very different turn when that notorious insult, “She is tolerable, I suppose…” is spoken not by Mr. Darcy, but by Mr. Bingley – in reference to Jane Bennet! This moment of bad judgement plagues Mr. Bingley for much of the book, and sets Mr. Darcy on an unlikely course of being better liked than his friend in Meryton.

Darcy first rescues Jane from the mortification on Mr. Bingley’s insult, and later he rescues Elizabeth in a much more significant way. Today I am sharing an excerpt from the novel; this scene takes place at the Meryton Assembly, just after Mr. Bingley insults Jane. While Darcy stands up with Jane, he witnesses Elizabeth “accidentally” spill her wine on Mr. Bingley. Now, he has asked Elizabeth to dance as well.


A rosy blush spread across Elizabeth’s cheeks as she realized he had seen her little act of revenge.

“It was childish of me – I ought not to have done it.”

“I have done worse in defense of my own sister, and would do so again without hesitation,” Darcy replied.

“What age is your sister, sir?”

“Just lately sixteen.”

A trace of something deeply sorrowful flashed in her eyes, before Elizabeth looked away. “It is a difficult age for any young lady.”

Darcy quietly considered her words. Elizabeth looked to be about twenty years of age; she would have been about sixteen at the time of Benjamin Bennet’s death, which their mother indicated had been four years ago. A difficult age indeed for the beautiful creature before him. He knew better than to speak of it, for Miss Bennet had gone silent and sullen at his attempt to relate to her through a loss of such magnitude.

Before Darcy could manage to say something profound enough to convey that he understood her sentiments, Elizabeth turned the conversation with a pert smile and a twinkle in her eye. “Am I to understand, sir, that you do not begrudge me my lapse in civility toward your friend?”

“The first offense was all his – even Bingley would surely admit as much,” Darcy replied.

“How magnanimous of him,” she drawled.

Again Darcy paused to consider how best to word his response. Unwilling to give voice to the other sentiments Bingley had expressed, which must constitute a betrayal of his friend, Darcy could only wish the words of affection had been spoken as loud as those of censure. And yet, he knew that there was no amount of praise or affection that could justify the comments Bingley had made so publicly, for the lady herself as well as her entire community to hear. Darcy was still pondering the best way to assuage his friend’s dilemma, when an arch look from Elizabeth captured his attention.

“You say you would do far worse in defense of your own sister, Mr. Darcy – what would you have done if you had heard your nearest neighbor speak of Miss Darcy in such a way?”

Darcy did her the justice of genuinely considering the question, and replied with a wry smile, “You can hardly duel him at dawn.”

Elizabeth arched an eyebrow at him, as she had done from across the room when she had caught him staring. “I am sure Benjamin left a pair of pistols somewhere in the house. Jane might even make a fine second, unless she was obliged to face a man who had been so kind to her.”

There was a tone of challenge in her voice, which only strengthened Darcy’s rapidly increasing admiration of the headstrong enchantress. “I would not second any man so unequivocally in the wrong, even if I understood the deeper reasons behind his grievous blunder.”

He could see at once that he had made a misstep in his address, and a moment later, in the movement of the dance. Elizabeth clenched her jaw in righteous indignation. “I am sure I understand the reason behind his blunder perfectly, sir. Nothing could be plainer.”

“I beg you would not base your estimation of his character solely upon his behavior this evening,” Darcy said with a sigh. “I fear the endeavor would reflect no credit on either of you.”

“If I do not take his likeness now, sir, I may never have another opportunity. He ought not expect a warm welcome at Longbourn, any more than I should presume my own family to be received at Netherfield, such as things are.”

“I shudder to think what your estimation must be of myself,” Darcy said, testing his luck from another angle.

Elizabeth was momentarily taken aback by such a direct statement, and she bubbled with startled laughter. “I had always supposed it a woman’s prerogative to fish for compliments in such a way –  though I can hardly do such slander to my own sex at such a time, given the prevailing weaknesses of the men this evening. But you need not fear for yourself, Mr. Darcy, so long as you do not take to the field, should it really come to pistols at dawn with your friend. The key to securing a place in my esteem is and always shall be Jane, and all my family at Longbourn – therefore, you are quite safe at present.”

“At present,” Darcy replied, suppressing a surge of admiration for the diminutive but ferocious woman before him. He could hardly account for how either of them managed to move in time to the music, amidst such a conversation as this – it was nearly too intense to bear, yet he wished to press on still. “I suppose by this you mean that your opinion, however favorable, might be altered by some future offense?”

“Have you any particular assault on my regard planned, sir?”

“No indeed – I merely mean to make out your character in turn.”

Elizabeth grinned at him. “Very well – but of course my good opinion, so newly formed, might rise or fall, depending on subsequent revelations. I am sure anybody might say the same. That is generally how first impressions work, Mr. Darcy.”

“I am quite in agreement. But does it not follow that the reverse must also be true – that an unfavorable impression might also rise or fall? Or is your resentment, once created, unappeasable? Is such implacable animosity not a shade in character?”

Laughing heartily, Elizabeth missed a step of the dance as she wagged her finger playfully at him. “You tease me into praising you, only to repay me by finding fault in my reasoning? Pistols at dawn, Mr. Darcy.”

“If your good opinion, once lost, is lost forever, I should call that a failing indeed. But in cases where one is blinded by a strength of affection that is, by itself, a charming virtue, this faulty reasoning may be forgiven. Your attachment to your sister does you great credit.”

Elizabeth smiled at him still, but now there was steel in her voice. “And yours to Mr. Bingley does not.” “Has Miss Bennet not ever accidentally given offense to anyone?”

“Not once, in the whole course of her life, I am sure,” Elizabeth said cheerfully. “As the Bingleys have
known her for much of it, you might apply to them for confirmation of the fact.”

She was dancing circles around him in more ways than one; it was frustrating, and tantalizing in a way Darcy had never before experienced. The movement of the dance required them to move closer and spin in time together, and for a moment his desire to defend Bingley’s character was lost to other impulses. Darcy was attracted to Elizabeth Bennet, despite their brief acquaintance, the vast difference in their situations in life, and a thousand other obstacles – but for a brief, blissful minute he managed to push past his pragmatism and simply bask in her mesmerizing company.

Finally, Darcy recovered what little of his equanimity he could – he was here for Bingley’s sake, and not his own. He furrowed his brow as he tried to pick up the thread of conversation and salvage the situation before he was utterly lost. “Do you credit their opinion so well? You would still suppose the Bingleys might be honest about that aspect of Miss Bennet’s character, despite what you have heard them say tonight – despite your own unshakable certainty that they are pretentious, ill-mannered, standoffish, inconsiderate snobs?”

“And you would find fault in their estimation of my sister, yet it is my own logic you assault so assiduously – I might as well inquire as to why a man of your intelligence and position, who has lived in the world, might keep such company. But if you mean to tell me that your friends will not give me an honest answer, we might ask anybody in the room to name a circumstance where Jane has been unkind, or anything short of perfection. Nobody could do it.”

Elizabeth let out a peal of confident, self-indulgent laughter and nodded her head vigorously as she spun to the music with the other dancers – Darcy nearly collided with Richard as he froze in place, watching Elizabeth’s sheer glee in utterly devastating his every argument. He forgot how to move until his cousin gave him a gentle shove and a look of curiosity that promised to plague him later.

“Then she is a lucky young woman – but this I already knew, for she has you as a sister,” Darcy replied in a desperate bid to regain the upper hand. “The material point is that everybody makes mistakes – we are none of us perfect, yet all deserving of forgiveness.”

“That can have nothing to do with you or I, sir,” Elizabeth chided him, shifting her gaze pointedly to Mr. Bingley, who still lingered at the edge of the room with his sisters.

“You are absolutely right, and I am sure he feels it most keenly.”

She smiled wolfishly at him as the music faded away. “Be sure, Mr. Darcy – be very sure that he does.”

The excitement of the other dancers ebbed around them as they all applauded the musicians and began to disperse in search of new partners, but Darcy and Elizabeth stood rooted in place, staring at one another in perfect understanding. “I can assure you I shall,” he said softly, so swept up in the moment that he caught her hand in his and began to raise it to his lips – the approach of his cousin George forestalled him from completing the gesture.

Elizabeth flinched and withdrew her hand at once. “Thank you for the dance, Mr. Darcy; it was most invigorating.”


Darcy and Lizzy are certainly off to a better start this time around! But poor Bingley has not made a good first impression on his neighbors, despite having some history in the area. Will Bingley recover his reputation in the neighborhood? Will Jane forgive him? And will Mr. Darcy continue to be more amiable than his friend? Follow my blog tour for more glimpses into the twists and turns of Handsome, Clever, & Rich – and don’t miss your chance to win a free digital copy of the book!

Thank you, Jayne, for sharing your new book with us.


About the Author:

Jayne Bamber is a life-long Austen fan, and a total sucker for costume dramas. Jayne read her first Austen variation as a teenager and has spent more than a decade devouring as many of them as she can. This of course has led her to the ultimate conclusion of her addiction, writing one herself.

Jayne’s favorite Austen work is Sense and Sensibility, though Sanditon is a strong second. Despite her love for Pride and Prejudice, Jayne realizes that she is no Lizzy Bennet, and is in fact growing up to be Mrs. Bennet more and more each day. Follow Jayne on Facebook.


  1. ForeverHis says

    Intriguing excerpt. Elizabeth can dance around Darcy, both literally and figuratively. This will be an interesting story.

  2. Ooo, a crossover with Emma!

  3. Michelle David says

    A delightful story and a lovely cover

  4. Michelle David says

    A delightful story

  5. I think Darcy needs to keep on Elizabeth’s good side! From the blurb I think he may have a problem with that, probably thanks to the Bingleys! I enjoyed their chat while dancing, maybe they should have stayed on the dance floor and ignored all others?