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Guest Post & Giveaway: Jessie Lewis, Author of Speechless, Talks About Historical Buildings and Inspiration

Today’s guest is someone new to the blog — Jessie Lewis — and she will share with us some of the inspirational historical buildings she’s used to write her novels. First, please read what her new novel, Speechless, is about:

Could anything be worse than to be trapped in a confined space with the woman you love? Fitzwilliam Darcy knows his duty, and it does not involve succumbing to his fascination for a dark-eyed beauty from an unheard of family in Hertfordshire. He has run away from her once already. Yet fate has a wicked sense of humour and deals him a blow that not only throws him back into her path but quite literally puts him at Elizabeth Bennet’s mercy. Stranded with her at a remote inn and seriously hampered by injury, Darcy very quickly loses the battle to conquer his feelings, but can he win the war to make himself better understood without the ability to speak?

Thus begins an intense journey to love and understanding that is at times harrowing, sometimes hilarious and at all times heartwarming.

Being trapped in a confined space with Mr. Darcy, who wouldn’t love that? This sounds delightful, doesn’t it? If you agree, stay tuned for the giveaway. Please welcome Jessie Lewis.

Thank you, Serena, for hosting me on your blog today to talk about my new novel, Speechless. I love the Regency era and am lucky enough to be surrounded by historical buildings and places here in England, many of which have been inspirational to my writing. I thought it would be fun to share a few pictures of those that inspired the setting for this particular story.

In Speechless, Darcy and Elizabeth are stranded together at an inn called The Dancing Bear, owned by the kindly Mr Timmins. The inn boasts a large stuffed bear at the foot of the stairs, which Elizabeth nicknames Mr Collins. You would be forgiven for thinking this is a little odd, since bears are not native to the UK—or if they ever were, it was a really long time ago. In fact, I based The Dancing Bear on a real pub called The Bear of Rodborough, situated in the Cotswolds. It’s so called because it famously has a large stuffed bear in its foyer. (The bear was presumably hunted and imported at some point in the past, the ethics of which I shall not venture to discuss here!) A big scary bear just seemed to suit the location of Mr Timmins’ inn—on the outskirts of a village, surrounded by woods—as well as the events that take place there, which are, at least at the beginning, pretty frightening for our dear couple. Thus, The Dancing Bear was conceived.

The room in which Darcy and Elizabeth spend most of their time in the story belongs to Mr Timmins’ sister, who acts as a housekeeper-come-cook. Her role is pertinent because it demanded certain features be in the room that were essential to the story. I took the inspiration for this room from the housekeeper’s apartments at the beautifully restored Regency Townhouse in Brighton (a visit to which I heartily recommend to anyone interested in Regency life). The room at the townhouse (pictured) differs from the one in Speechless in that it is bright and airy as opposed to dark, dingy and cluttered—but it was the design of the space that really interested me.

Purpose-built for a housekeeper by the C19th architect, it has a large walk-in cupboard where she would have kept all the most expensive domestic items carefully locked away. You’ll have to read the story to find out why this was such an important feature to have in the room, though…

The taproom at The Dancing Bear is themed around the interior of a wonderful old hotel in my own hometown of Hertford. The Salisbury Arms (originally The Bell) is a coaching inn dating back to the fifteenth century. It has two front parlours, a taproom and a restaurant; three more rooms than I gave The Dancing Bear, which only has one taproom. The gorgeous old room in this picture shows the mixture of bricks, plaster and timber frame that I imagine made up the walls of Mr Timmins’ humble inn.

In complete contrast to all of this is Darcy’s townhouse. I admit, I have never visited the place in this picture. I’m not even sure where it was taken—it’s an image I stumbled across on the internet a long time ago—but I used it to help me envisage one of the most pivotal scenes in the story. Not, as you might think, for the splendour, though it is beautiful. In fact, it was, again, the layout that inspired me. The logistics of where things are in whatever imaginary world I’m writing about can prove problematic if I don’t have a clear idea of that space. Characters can end up whispering to someone too far away to hear, walking through a door that wasn’t there moments before, sitting down in a chair where another character is already perched … the potential for pitfalls is endless. I find that having in mind a particular room I’ve visited or seen in a photo, or even sketched out on paper, helps me better inhabit the space I’m describing, thereby ensuring that what I write makes sense. The way the furniture is arranged in a circle around this particular room, with one chair closest to the door, from which a person might hold a quiet conversation with someone half-in and half-out of the room whilst everyone else talks amongst themselves, proved remarkably useful to a certain gentleman protagonist in Speechless.

Of course, I also like to think of Darcy’s houses as tastefully and gorgeously decorated, so this photo was no hardship to work with.

So, there is a small glimpse of the world I lived in while I was writing Speechless. I hope your readers have just as much fun imagining their own setting for Darcy and Elizabeth if they have the chance to read the story themselves.

Thanks, Jessie, for sharing all of these glorious, inspirational buildings with us.

GIVEAWAY:

Quills & Quartos Publishing is giving away one ebook of Speechless per blog tour stop. All you need to do to enter the giveaway is comment on this blog post, and Quills & Quartos will randomly choose winners for the entire blog tour on December 19. So, make sure you join in the conversation!

About the Author:

Jessie Lewis, author of Mistaken and The Edification of Lady Susan, enjoys words far too much for her own good and was forced to take up writing them down in order to save her family and friends from having to listen to her saying so many of them. She dabbled in poetry during her teenage years, though it was her studies in Literature and Philosophy at university that firmly established her admiration for the potency of the English language. She has always been particularly in awe of Jane Austen’s literary cunning and has delighted in exploring Austen’s
regency world in her own historical fiction writing. It is of no relevance whatsoever to her ability to string words together coherently that she lives in Hertfordshire with two tame cats, two feral children and a pet husband. She is also quite tall, in case you were wondering.

You can check out her musings on the absurdities of language and life on her blog, LifeinWords.blog, or see what she’s reading over at Goodreads. Or you can drop her a line on Twitter, @JessieWriter or on her Facebook page, JessieLewisAuthor.

Guest Post & Giveaway: When Charlotte Became Romantic by Victoria Kincaid

I love reading Austen-inspired novels about secondary characters, and Victoria Kincaid offers readers a new take on Charlotte Lucas. Check out the book synopsis and an excerpt below before entering the international giveaway:

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?

Please give Victoria a warm welcome:

Hello Serena and thank you for welcoming me back to your blog! I always thought that Charlotte Lucas got a raw deal, marrying a man who was so unpleasant and less intelligent than she was. I had long wanted to write a story where Charlotte got a happier ending. Imagine my surprise when that story, When Charlotte Became Romantic, turned out to contain spies, vengeance, a mysterious man from the past, and a broken engagement. I knew my vision of Charlotte would be more romantic, but I hadn’t realized how much more romantic her story would be! Below is an excerpt from near the beginning of the book. I hope you enjoy it!

After a moment, James roused himself. “My congratulations,” he said stiffly. His expression was unreadable, although his countenance was quite pale. “I wish you both happy.” He nodded briskly. “Now, if you will excuse us, my aunt is quite parched, and I promised to obtain some punch for her.” He barely gave his aunt enough time to clutch his arm before he whisked them both into the crowd.

Elizabeth and Charlotte stared after them. “My goodness,” Elizabeth said. “What did you do in Bath to offend them? Did you insult Mr. Sinclair’s favorite waistcoat or put too much sugar in his tea?” She gave Charlotte an impish grin.

If you only knew.

What could Charlotte say without revealing too much? “We did not part on the best of terms.” That much was true. Elizabeth regarded her with a raised eyebrow. “He departed from Bath under something of a cloud.” Also true, although certainly not the whole story.

Now both of Elizabeth’s brows were raised. “Indeed? How intriguing.” She paused, but Charlotte divulged no further information. She avoided gossip as a general rule, and this was one story she was especially loath to share. “That does not account for why he would be so disturbed at the particular news of your engagement.”

Charlotte silently cursed her friend’s powers of observation. Why could James not have encountered her in the hall with Jane Bennet or Maria? They would have remained oblivious to the undercurrents in the conversation.

“I do not take your meaning,” Charlotte responded.

A smile played around her friend’s lips. “If you say so.” She gave Charlotte a sly look. “I will only observe that he has obviously been thinking of you over the past three years. The question is…have you been thinking of him?”

“No, never,” she replied instantly. Fortunately, Charlotte had great practice in presenting an impassive face. “It was all so long ago.”

This was mostly the truth. Charlotte had a policy: she only allowed herself to think of James in her bedchamber during the last few minutes before she fell asleep. There she could indulge fantasies about what might have been without anyone being the wiser. Throughout the rest of the day, she worked ceaselessly to catch any stray thoughts about him and lock them carefully inside a box within her mind. Only at night—alone in bed—did she unlock that box and allow herself to examine those thoughts.

Glancing down, Charlotte found that her hands were still shaking. But how could she shut away her thoughts of James when he was here in Meryton? The Christmas season was full of dinner parties and balls of all sorts; no doubt they would be thrown together again and again. How could she police her thoughts of him while he was standing a few feet from her in the same room? She had no strategy for such a situation. She had never expected—allowed herself to fear or hope—that such a thing might come to pass.

She took a deep, soothing breath, reminding herself that the thoughts themselves were not the danger; it was the accompanying emotions. The perturbation of spirits, the endless regrets, and the forbidden longing. She might think about James without allowing herself to be dragged back into that emotional tumult. She had the armor of a betrothal now, relying on thoughts of Mr. Collins when thoughts of James threatened her equanimity.

Or … perhaps thoughts of the life she might have with Mr. Collins…the children …

I am in trouble.

She had only one recourse tonight, and she would discover other methods of coping tomorrow. Charlotte took her friend’s hand. “My head aches abominably. I must…retire to my bedchamber.” With her eyes, she implored Elizabeth not to ask too many questions.

Her expression instantly turned sympathetic. “Of course. Would you like me to accompany you?”

Bless Elizabeth for her tact and understanding; however, one person could slip away unnoticed far more easily. “No. I thank you. I pray you, remain and enjoy the party.” With a quick squeeze of Elizabeth’s fingers, Charlotte slipped out of the room and up the stairs.

Enter the Giveaway: (international)

1 ebook is up for grabs.

Leave a comment below with an email to enter.

Deadline Nov. 15, 2019 EST

Excerpt & Giveaway: The Perfect Gentleman by Julie Cooper

I love modern Pride & Prejudice spinoffs and continuations, but I also love Regency stories in which our romantic partners are forced to trust one another with secrets and it blossoms into something more.

Julie Cooper’s book, The Perfect Gentleman, fits the bill. Check out the book below and stay for the guest post and giveaway, too.

About the Book:

’Tis no secret that Lizzy Bennet has dreams. The uniquely talented daughter of a woman with a dubious reputation, Lizzy knows she must make her own way in a world that shuns her. Fitzwilliam Darcy carries the stains of his family’s disgrace upon his soul and only by holding himself to the strictest standards has he reclaimed his place in society.

Now Georgiana Darcy has gone missing. If his fifteen-year-old sister cannot be found quickly, the scandal could destroy Darcy’s years of perfect behaviour. Lizzy Bennet know just what to do to find Georgiana. She is willing to join the pursuit to get what she wants but will Darcy be willing to trust her with his secrets? And what will they do when the search for Georgiana reveals what neither expected to find?

The Perfect Gentleman is a romantic adventure so big it needs two volumes in one book. Follow the adventure in A Not-So-Merry Chase and discover the surprises and temptations that await at Pemberley in Love Wisely But Well.

Doesn’t this sound exciting? I love when Darcy and Elizabeth have adventures together. What better way is there to build trust when you have to trust the person you’re with on an adventure?

Check out how Cooper balanced this great societal gap and more below and please enter the giveaway.

In The Perfect Gentleman, our heroine begins life as the daughter of Fanny Bennet, a demimondaine supported by wealthy lovers. My original idea for this story was actually a challenge—to make the social gap between Lizzy and Darcy as wide as possible while not hopelessly stretching the bounds of believability. In order to do this, I had to create circumstances in Darcy’s past giving some leeway to support a gap the size of the Grand Canyon.

Of course, there are contributing factors to Mrs Bennet’s membership in The Real Regency Housewives of Ramsgate. Like canon, she is not clever—and an early, brief affair with a baron leaves her with a child, Jane, before she ever meets Mr Bennet. It is a fact of Regency life that a man might have mistresses, and any number of affairs, while a woman could be ostracized for a broken engagement. Fanny’s lies, and the baron’s unwillingness to stay out of Jane’s life, essentially doom Our Dear Girl Lizzy to social poverty and a fatherless existence. Nevertheless, she goes on to develop her talents with the goal of never being forced to repeat her mother’s choices. Through hard work, resourcefulness and determination, she is a fair way down the path of artistic competency before ever meeting Mr Darcy.

Early on in our novel, Lizzy is given a chance to write a letter to the father who abandoned her, and she experiments with different wording. However, due to space limitations, these letters were cut from the final version of The Perfect Gentleman. I believe that reading them, however, will give insight into her wit, the force of her personality, and her devotion to her dreams.

Excerpts from The Perfect Gentleman:

Dearest Papa,
It was kind of you to remember the bothersome fact of my existence. I hear it took a deathbed prompt, but I suppose fear of meeting your Maker with a possible daughter—for whom you never troubled to take any notice or make any provision—weighs on your conscience. By the by, if you supposed your baby’s mother to be a vile sinner, why would you leave an innocent child in her care?
Doubtfully,
Lizzy.

“Hmm. Too hostile?” she mused aloud. “I am not bitter. He is nothing to me.” Mentally she revised it.

Dear Sir,
It was kind of you to send an emissary. I hear you have been ill, and I hope you are on the mend. Unless, of course, I would now be an heiress if you had gone to meet your reward.

Possibly not that either. But why should she pretend an interest in the father who rejected her? She had shocked Mr Darcy, but truthfully, her only aim was to avoid her mother’s fate and lead a life she could control. Safety and peace. For that end, money was a requirement. A man such as he, spoilt with excess, could never understand. Even if he was unreasonably handsome.

Now, where had that thought come from?

Just a simple observation, she assured herself. One would have to be blind not to notice. I may be wicked enough to wonder what he looks like without his cravat, artistically speaking, but that does not mean I am dashing down the Path of Repeating Fanny’s Choices!

End excerpt.

As you can probably tell, Lizzy understands that small decisions can
have big consequences, and she stays true to her dreams and sense of
self throughout. It was probably my favourite part of writing The Perfect Gentleman—penning a heroine who truly believes in herself.

No matter the expectations of a rigid, unforgiving society, there is a
stubbornness about Lizzy Bennet that never can bear to be frightened at
the will of others. At its heart, The Perfect Gentleman is a story of her courage.

About the Author:

Julie Cooper, a California native, lives with her Mr Darcy (without the arrogance or the Pemberley) of nearly forty years, two dogs (one intelligent, one goofball), and Kevin the Cat (smarter than all of them.) They have four children and three grandchildren, all of whom are brilliant and adorable, with the pictures to prove it. She works as an executive at a gift basket company and her tombstone will read, “Have your Christmas gifts delivered at least four days before the 25th.” Her hobbies are reading, giving other people good advice, and wondering why no one follows it.

Giveaway:

You can win a $50 Amazon gift card from Quills & Quartos Publishing! The contest ends on November 13.

To be eligible, just comment on any of the blog tour stops and Quills & Quartos will select a random winner from the comments. You need not visit all the stops (one point per stop and comment), however, it does increase your chances of winning by earning more entries.

Please check the Quills & Quartos Facebook to find out about winners.

Guest Post & Giveaway: A Case of Some Delicacy by KC Kahler

I’m always intrigued when the boundaries of society are pushed to their limits and in this one we have Darcy and Elizabeth working together toward a common goal. How wonderful. Please check out the book and the excerpt. You’ll be rewarded with a giveaway.

Book Synopsis:

A secret alliance grows when an unwanted suitor arrives at Longbourn…

When rumours of Jane Bennet’s impending betrothal to her father’s heir begin spreading at the Meryton Assembly, Elizabeth vows to save her dearest sister’s happiness from being sacrificed in marriage.

She finds an unlikely accomplice in Mr Darcy, the taciturn man whose heroics on the cricket field have managed to turn Lydia Bennet’s infatuation away from redcoats. Upon overhearing a heated exchange between Elizabeth and Mr Bennet, Darcy is stunned not only by her devotion to her sister, but also by her defiant words to her father. An inexplicable desire to help Elizabeth draws Darcy into the match-breaking scheme, despite knowing that he should want nothing to do with a family like the Bennets.

As the new allies work together, their friendship deepens into mutual admiration. But they must navigate a complicated web of sisters, parents, friends, cousins, and aunts, some of whom may be attempting their own manipulations and romantic schemes. Eavesdropping and jealousy abound, cricket balls go astray, and love blooms in spite of Mrs. Bennet’s misguided matchmaking.

Please check out this awesome excerpt from Ch. 7:

Elizabeth was so tired—tired of listening to Mr Collins’s inanities, tired of this terrible rift with her father, tired of keeping secrets. In fact, she realised with no little astonishment, the only person from whom she kept no secrets was Mr Darcy. No one knew of her clandestine meetings with
him, for she could not tell Jane about such impropriety, and though she was eager for Charlotte’s opinion on the matter, they had had no privacy to discuss it. Yet Mr Darcy knew all of Elizabeth’s secrets. Mr Darcy, who disapproved of her family and found entertainment in her struggles. Mr Darcy, whose surprising dimples had been revealed that morning. Mr Darcy, who, via his unforeseen ability to say exactly what she needed to hear, had provided her only bit of sanity over these last two days. Mr Darcy, whose visit she eagerly awaited now. How had this ever happened?

So lost was Elizabeth in her thoughts that she failed to notice Mr Collins’s uncharacteristic silence and absorbed stare at Jane. Usually, this was precisely the moment when Elizabeth would employ him on some topic of interest. But in this instance, she allowed him to ruminate for too long—a huge error.

Mr Collins stood and cleared his throat. “If I may be so bold as to request the honour of a priv—”

“Mr Collins!” Elizabeth almost yelled his name before subduing herself. “Sir… I had hoped… you would tell us more about… Miss de Bourgh. Yes, Miss de Bourgh sounds like such an admirable young lady and we all wish to know more of her.”

“I would be most gratified to elaborate on her many charms, Cousin, but as I was saying, it is a very pleasant day out and—”

“Oh yes, do let us go into the garden where you can tell me about her! Does she play the pianoforte? Does she draw? She must have had excellent masters to teach her, for Lady Catherine would be ever so conscientious of the advantages offered by such an education.”

Elizabeth was certain her volley of questions and her last observation in particular had served the purpose of engaging him on his favourite subject, but then Mrs Bennet interfered. “Let poor Mr Collins finish a sentence!”

Lydia and Kitty snickered at the absurdity of such a command. Mrs Bennet ignored them. “What on earth has come over you, Lizzy? Why are you not out rambling in the woods on this fine day? Leave Jane and Mr Collins to their own conversation for a while, will you not?”

Elizabeth was truly in a panic.

Mr Collins suddenly remembered why he had stood up. “Oh, yes, I was about to request the honour of escorting Miss—”

“Mama!!” squealed Lydia from the window. “He is come! Mr Darcy is come with Mr Bingley!”

“Oh excellent, my dear Lydia! Here, pinch your cheeks—yes, just so. Lizzy, pinch your cheeks.

Go on… that will have to do.”

The next few minutes were spent pinching cheeks, smoothing hair, arranging skirts, and stowing away ribbons and bonnets. Even Mr Collins checked his cravat and smoothed his waistcoat.

“Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy, ma’am,” announced Mrs Hill as the two men stepped into the room, the former with a wide smile and easy greeting for all assembled, and the latter with an assessing look at Elizabeth. She knew she must appear positively wild, between the fright she’d had a few minutes earlier and all that ridiculous cheek-pinching.

“We are very glad you have come, Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley. Is that not so, Lydia, Lizzy?”

Elizabeth would have grimaced at Lydia’s enthusiastic, lash-fluttering affirmations, but she was too relieved by the sudden appearance of the gentlemen. She caught Mr Darcy’s eye as she replied, “Indeed, our moods are considerably lightened with your timely call, gentlemen.”

“We are pleased to be of service.” Mr Darcy glanced about the room, seemingly taking stock of the players. If he sought entertainment, he was bound to get it today.

“Yes, indeed!” said Mr Bingley as he looked at Jane, who, Elizabeth noted, had an uncharacteristically flushed face. Mr Bingley paused before addressing Mrs Bennet again, “We wished to inquire about Miss Lydia’s health. Darcy and I have been most concerned for her.”

Mrs Bennet was pleased by this admission. “How kind of you to worry for dear Lydia! As you can see, she bears her injury well. Lydia has always been full of vigour and good cheer, never one to complain.”

“Yes, but I’ve been ever so bored cooped up here, Mr Darcy,” complained Lydia. “Oh! But I wanted to thank you for carrying me off the cricket field! I was quite astonished to hear of it from my sisters, for I do not remember a thing from when that ball knocked me down to when I sat
with Jane in the shade. Lord, but my head hurt then! And you warned me about playing too silly not an hour beforehand! What a laugh!”

Everyone looked to Mr Darcy for a response. Elizabeth decided to intervene on his behalf. It was the least she could do for the poor man. “I suspect Mr Darcy is too much of a gentleman to say he told you so.

About the author:

KC Kahler lives in northeastern Pennsylvania and works in online education, after having dabbled in sandwich making, bug collecting, and web development. She discovered Jane Austen fan fiction in 2008 and soon began dabbling in writing her own.

KC blogs about Austen and other pop culture topics. In 2015 and 2017, her popular Austen + The Onion Headlines meme was featured in The Atlantic, Flavorwire, and AV Club. In 2017, she made the requisite pilgrimage to Jane Austen country, where she took the waters in Bath, walked the lanes of Steventon, didn’t fall off the cobb in Lyme Regis, and stood awestruck in Chawton.

KC’s first novel, Boots & Backpacks, was published in 2014. Her second, A Case of Some Delicacy, released in 2019. Visit her KC’s social links:
Blog, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Giveaway:

You can win a $50 Amazon gift card from Quills & Quartos Publishing! The contest ends on October 18. To be eligible, just comment on any of the blog tour stops. You need not visit all the stops (one point per stop and comment), however, it does increase your chances of winning by earning more entries.

Giveaway & Guest Post: A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods by Brigid Huey

Please welcome Brigid Huey today with her debut novel, A Chance Encounter in the Pemberley Woods. First, let’s check out the synopsis of the book before we get to the giveaway and excerpt.

A surprise meeting
A baby alone in the woods
And a second chance at love

Fitzwilliam Darcy returns to his beloved Pemberley with one thing on his mind ̶ to forget Elizabeth Bennet. Riding ahead of his party and racing a storm, he happens upon the very woman he wants to avoid. To his astonishment, she is holding a baby whose name and parentage are unknown.

Elizabeth Bennet never dreamed she had wandered into Pemberley’s Woods on her afternoon walk. But when she finds an infant alone in the storm, she turns to the last man in the world she wants to see ̶ and the only one who can help them both.

As the mystery of the baby’s identity intensifies, Elizabeth finds Mr. Darcy to be quite the reverse of what she expected. But when the child’s family is discovered, will the truth bring them together, or tear them apart?

Please welcome Brigid as she talks about her writing process:

Thank you, Serena, for welcoming me to your blog! I’m so happy to be here as part of my blog tour! Today I thought I would share a little bit about my writing process.

I do the bulk of my writing at my local coffee shop, White Oak Coffee House. It is the perfect spot for me! It’s less than a mile from my house, so I can walk up in good weather, and the place itself is delightful. There are huge windows that let in lots of natural light, and warm, darkwood tables that seem to call out for a writing session. Plus, the food and drinks are yummy!

My writing day is Thursday. I have two kids that I homeschool, so it’s a bit hard to squeeze in writing on any other day! On Thursday, my husband is home from work, so he takes on the homeschooling duties, and I head to White Oak Coffee House. I chat with the lovely folks that work there, order my drink, and head to a table. Once my Chromebook is set up, I plug in my headphones and bring up my soundtrack for whatever writing project I’m working on.

Yes, I create soundtracks! For A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods, the music consisted mostly of scores from my favorite period films, plus a bit of Chopin and Mozart. I was particularly enthralled by the music from the 2011 adaptation of Jane Eyre. Dario Marianelli is one of my favorite composers!

I find music helps my mind get into writing mode. If it’s a good day, the music and the space get me going and my fingers fly! If not, there’s always a yummy bagel to eat 🙂

Thanks, Brigid. I personally love pairing music with writing.

ENTER the Giveaway:

Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of Brigid Huey’s A Chance Encounter in Pemberley WoodsENTER HERE.

About the Author:

Brigid has been in love with Jane Austen since first seeing the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice as a young girl. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two kids, and spends her free time reading and writing. This is her first Pride and Prejudice variation, though many others live in her imagination. Visit her Website, Facebook, and Twitter. Buy the book on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Excerpt & Giveaway: Letters of the Heart by Kay Bea

Today’s guest is Kay Bea, a debut author in the Jane Austen Fan Fiction universe. She’s eager to share her first book, Letters of the Heart, and I’m eager for you to read this excerpt that will leave you wanting more.

Don’t forget to enter the generous giveaway from Quill & Quartos, her publisher.

Book Synopsis:

The Bennet sisters of Longbourn lack both decorum and connections and do not possess a decent dowry between them. Even the best of the them is in every way unsuitable for a man whose income is as a good as a lord. But love is not so easily set aside and in January 1812, Mr Darcy persuades Mr Bingley to reopen Netherfield Park, the country estate from which they both fled only two months before. On returning to Hertfordshire, they discover a near tragedy took place three days after the Netherfield Ball and has changed the lives of the Bennet family forever. Mrs Bennet’s relentless fear of losing her place in society has led her to condemn her least favourite daughter to a life of isolation and pain that will greatly complicate Darcy and Elizabeth’s journey to happiness. Old bonds are strengthened, family ties are severed, and unlikely allies emerge as each of them struggles to make sense of the changes they face.

Please give Kay a warm welcome and enjoy the excerpt below:

It was several minutes later that a question from Lydia shattered the fragile peace of his mind. “Did my sister and her odious husband travel with you?” There was a half-hearted admonishment of “Lydia! That was unkind,” from one of the sisters. Miss Bennet, he thought, but was not certain. Lydia simply ignored the reprimand and continued, “We were expecting Lizzy two days ago, but she has not come, and we thought perhaps they delayed their travel.”

Mrs Bennet chose that moment to join in, “Of course, it is just like that ungrateful girl to break her poor sister’s heart when my Jane has been so looking forward to seeing her after all this time. And not even a note to explain her absence. She has no consideration for my nerves, but I shall not complain.”

He ignored Mrs Bennet in favour of replying to her youngest daughter. “No, Miss Lydia, they did not. Your sister and her husband were in Kent when I returned to London. Like you, I believed they were to arrive here yesterday. I said as much in my letter to Bingley.” Darcy struggled to keep his composure. Unlike his first return to Hertfordshire, he could not hide his distress behind a display of taciturn incivility. These ladies were no longer strangers to him; they were his dear sister’s intimate friends, and ignoring them would be disgraceful.

He was drawn from his introspection with the announcement that Mr. Bennet, in fact, had recovered enough to escort his eldest daughter to her wedding. The news was bittersweet. For though he was glad to know the master of Longbourn was returning to health, he could not help but think how pleased Elizabeth would be at hearing the change. That thought took him directly back to considering all the reasons she might have for a late arrival, and none of them were pleasant.

Two days after the wedding, Darcy and Georgiana made a final call at Longbourn before beginning the journey to Pemberley. While his sister made her farewells to Lydia, Catherine, and Mary, Darcy requested an audience with Mr Bennet. He congratulated himself when he did not scoff at Mrs Bennet’s raptures over which of her younger daughters he had chosen to marry. He was admitted to Mr Bennet’s book room and found the older man sitting quietly, staring at a miniature of a young girl who could only be Elizabeth.

The silence had just begun to grow uncomfortable when Mr Bennet carefully placed the portrait on his desk and raised his eyes to meet those of his guest. “I am told my family and I owe you a great debt, Mr Darcy. Before she married, Jane informed me that the change in my care and, therefore, the improvement in my condition were due solely to your intervention. I would offer my thanks if only I understood your motivation.”

Darcy shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “I can assure you, sir, that my only motive was to see you restored to health for the comfort and well-being of your daughters.”

Mr Bennet gave the younger man a piercing look. “Nonsense. You made your opinion of my daughters quite clear when you first visited the neighbourhood.”

Darcy could not deny it. “I was wrong. Your daughters are very lively and their manners not fashionable, but they are good girls, all of them, and I had no right to judge otherwise.”

Mr Bennet nodded his acceptance and returned his gaze to the miniature on his desk. “Lizzy was always my favourite. Did you know? No, I suppose you would not. When I learnt of your insult at the assembly, I called for my horse and was ready to ride out before she stopped me. She said you were not worth her tears or my anger. I am her father, and I know she was not being entirely truthful. Your words wounded her, no matter that she tried to laugh them away.” His eyes never lifted from the image of Elizabeth.

“I should not have spoken them. I did not behave as I should have when I was first in Hertfordshire. I have since tried to be a better man, the man I ought always to have been,” Darcy confessed.

Mr Bennet inclined his head in acknowledgement and said, “Then I wish you success. Perhaps you will not wait, as I did. Perhaps you will not fail your sister as I failed my Lizzy. They told me she was visiting friends of her Aunt Gardiner’s in London. I knew, of course, it was a lie. But not in my wildest imaginings did I conceive of the truth, and now my Lizzy is bound to a man I know was raised without an ounce of kindness by my illiterate and miserly cousin.”

He finally raised his eyes to meet Darcy’s. “Still, you owe us nothing. You were under no obligation to return or to offer your assistance. So why are you come, Mr Darcy?”

“I made her a promise, Mr Bennet, and I mean to keep it,” Darcy answered solemnly.

I hope that leaves you ready to read more. I know I’m eager to read it.

About the Author:

Kay Bea is an administrative assistant and Jane Austen lover living in Kansas City with her husband of twenty-five years, her mother-in-law, and her fur kids. She has written several short stories and drabbles on fanfiction.net as “I Found My Mr. Darcy” and on A Happy Assembly as
MrsDarcy2032.

Kay grew up in Wyoming, enjoyed a two-year adventure in Maryland, and now calls Missouri home. When she isn’t writing, Kay enjoys photography, cooking, and spending time with her adult children and three granddaughters. Visit her on Facebook and GoodReads.

Giveaway:

  • Up for grabs is a $50 Amazon gift card
  • To enter comment on any of the blog tour stops to earn one point per stop.
  • Giveaway ends on Sept 19.

Giveaway: Green Card & Other Essays by Áine Greaney

Source: the author
Paperback, 75 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Green Card & Other Essays by Áine Greaney is a look at the immigration experience from an Irish American. Although many cite economics as the main impetus for immigration, there are always secondary factors that push people to leave the countries where they were born. And many, even after many years of productive lives as Americans, still have that fear that they will be sent home where they no longer have a connection.

From “Introduction”:

“In the dream, my American venture has suddenly failed and now, I must repatriate to rural Ireland where, in middle age, I have no country and no money. The dream startles me awake. As I lie there staring at the ceiling fan above my bed, I wonder how many of us immigrants live with this persistent fear that one day, all that we have built and loved in America will disappear.”

While not an immigrant myself, I can see how this would be a major concern today and before today. Some of my immediate family are immigrants and struggled hard in their jobs to make ends meet. There many stories about their sacrifices — how my grandmother gave the meet to my father and his brother and ate next to nothing herself every evening. These are the stories of our country. The underlying darkness of these struggles is that not only are immigrants working hard, but they also face discrimination and bias at every turn. Whether its the passing comment about an accent or more blatant comments about their work ethic.

Greaney touches on all of these issues based on her own immigrant experience and her “ah-ha” moment when she realized she carries her own biases against other immigrants. But she also touches on how we all strive to hold up a mirror to the life we wish to have, rather than the reality of our lives. This is ever more pronounced in letters home from immigrants who focus on the moments of joy rather than the daily turmoil in factories, restaurants, etc., which are the main focus of their new lives in America. But all of this struggle is to have that dreamed of better life. Green Card & Other Essays by Áine Greaney is a must read — we need more of these voices to educate us about immigrant experiences to dissipate our false perceptions.

RATING: Cinquain

GIVEAWAY:

  • Comment with your own immigrant story or one from your family or books that stuck with you or changed your viewpoint below.
  • 2 winners will be selected to win a copy of this collection.
  • US Entrants Only
  • Deadline is Aug. 30, 2019 at 11:59 PM EST

Excerpt & Giveaway: His Choice of a Wife by Heather Moll

Today, I’d like to welcome Heather Moll to the blog today. She’ll share with us an excerpt from her upcoming novel, His Choice of a Wife. Also, stay tuned for a giveaway, too.

About the Book:

When a man’s honor is at stake, what is he willing to risk for the woman he loves?

After a disastrous marriage proposal and the delivery of an illuminating letter, Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet hope never to lay eyes on one another again. When a chance meeting in Hunsford immediately throws them in each other’s way, Darcy realizes his behavior needs correcting, and Elizabeth starts to appreciate his redeeming qualities. But is it enough to forgive the past and overcome their prejudices?

Jane and Bingley’s possible reconciliation and Lydia’s ill-conceived trip to Brighton pose their own challenges for two people struggling to find their way to love. When scandalous news threatens their chance at happiness, will Darcy and Elizabeth’s new bond be shattered, or will their growing affection hold steadfast?

Read today’s excerpt:

Thank you for hosting a stop on my blog tour Serena and giving me a chance to share an excerpt from His Choice of a Wife with your readers. This is the second part of an excerpt that was posted at Half Agony Half Hope on July 28. This excerpt stands well on its own, but if you want to learn what was going through Darcy’s mind and why Elizabeth is worrying about what he thinks of her, consider checking out that post.

Elizabeth had always been aware that her immediate connections were unequal to Mr. Darcy’s in behavior, but the display he had just witnessed was appalling. If he had been wavering before, he must certainly consider giving her up now. While in London, she had thought his affections and wishes were still unshaken, but she could not now be secure.

They walked towards Lucas Lodge where Lydia and Jane left them. Mr. Darcy had not spoken since he quit the drawing room, and she dreaded what was to come. She feared to speak to him lest her emotions should overmaster her, for her regret at the idea of the loss of Mr. Darcy was formidable now that she had begun to appreciate him. While her regard for him was ever increasing, her power over him must be equally diminished after her family’s behavior.

“Your mother is misinformed.” His steady voice interrupted her silent heartache. “How do you mean?”

“She implied you lack your sisters’ attractiveness and vivacity, and you would therefore not take my notice. I know not what I may do to inform her that you are of frequent notice to me, but I have for many months now considered you to be the handsomest woman of my acquaintance.”

Elizabeth stopped and looked up at him in astonishment.

“Do you not have sufficient confidence in my affections to believe me?” he asked.

She could hardly say, since she questioned the strength of her own precious feelings for him, that of course she could doubt his. “We are so very different. You have splendid property and noble connections, and I cannot offer you the like. My mother’s behavior to you bordered on uncivil, and all your doubts concerning my family’s lack of propriety and inferiority—”

He seized her hand and pressed it fervently into his chest. “I have no doubts about my intentions towards you. I may have considered your family’s situation and behavior, but there was no reason for me to speak of them when I was petitioning for your hand, and I am ashamed. I do beg you to forgive me.”

Elizabeth nodded, but Mr. Darcy was not done.

“I would have you know my every thought and feeling, had I the right to confide them to you. For the present, you need to know that, when I am assured your regard for me matches what I continue to feel for you, I will ask you again to be my wife.”

When Mr. Darcy last made an avowal of all he felt for her, he had no doubt of a favorable response. The way he now looked on her made Elizabeth believe he was truly apprehensive she would ever accept his hand, and she strove to give him an understanding of her intensifying attachment to him.

“I have never been more sensible of your good character. I have a real interest in your happiness, and I want it to depend a great deal on me. I ought to tell you, however awkward it may be, that I feel marriage is much more than an anxious concern for the well-being of one’s companion.”

“After all that has passed between us, I am grateful that you at least now have an interest in my happiness.” Elizabeth’s heart raced while Mr. Darcy still held a gentle grasp on her hand. Whatever feelings she had for him, they were more than simply wishing him health and happiness. She could see him as a devoted husband, a doting father, and a responsible landlord who cared for the happiness of everyone in his care. “What else do you feel an equal marriage of respect ought to entail?”

“I believe that marriage must entail love and depth of attachment.”

“You are a romantic.” It was not a question, and he was not wrong. “Do you—is it possible you could—do I have any reason to hope—”

About the Author:

Heather Moll is an avid reader with a B.A. in European history and a M.A. in library science, so it is astonishing that she did not discover Jane Austen until her late-twenties. Making up for lost time, she devoured all of Austen’s novels, her letters, and unpublished works, joined JASNA, and spent far too much time researching the Regency era. She is thrilled to have found fellow Janeites and the JAFF community, if only to prove that her interests aren’t so strange after all. Heather is a former librarian turned stay-at-home mother who struggles to find time for all of the important things, like reading and writing. Check out her Facebook Author Page, Twitter, Amazon Author Page, and GoodReads.

Buy Amazon US
Buy Amazon UK

Giveaway:

Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of Heather Moll’s His Choice of a Wife.

ENTER HERE.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Darcy in Hollywood by Victoria Kincaid

Let’s give Victoria Kincaid a warm welcome today. She’s been a regular here on the blog, and today we’re sharing a guest post about her latest modern Pride & Prejudice novel, Darcy in Hollywood.

Also, stay tuned for the giveaway below.

About the Book:

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?

Doesn’t this sound intriguing? I can’t wait to read it, especially since Darcy starts off trying to repair his own reputation.

Here’s today’s guest post:

Hi Serena! Thank you for having me as a guest today!

When writing a modern Pride and Prejudice variation, part of the challenge (and the fun) is finding contemporary roles for the Jane Austen characters we know and love. For Darcy in Hollywood, Mr. Bennet became a movie producer who usually makes B movies. This time he’s making a high-quality indie film which will feature a big Hollywood star, William Darcy, who is trying to rehabilitate his career after a scandal. Caroline and Charlie Bingley are co-stars in movie while Elizabeth is a production assistant behind the scenes.

Below is a scene from near the beginning of the book. The cast has just finished reading through the screenplay of the film they’re about to shoot, and Darcy is eager to escape the room. He’s already had a bad day after nearly hitting Elizabeth with his car on the streets of the studio.

Chitchat was simply intolerable. He’d had to endure it when he was new to Hollywood, but now it was better left for people with time to burn and careers to build. Darcy could tell people what he wanted them to do. Small talk was pointless.

Unfortunately, he got trapped by Tom Bennet, listening to the man drone on about the problems he’d encountered with special effects for War of the Worms.

“Worm genitalia aren’t easy to work with. I bet you didn’t even know they have genitals. Well, let me tell you—”

Someone grabbed Darcy by the elbow; he didn’t resist. Charlie made an apologetic face at Tom. “I’m sorry, I need Will for a minute.”

His friend drew him out of the conference room and into the empty corridor. “This better take more than a minute,” Darcy threatened his friend, “or I will tell your sister what really happened with the EZ Bake Oven and the stapler when you were eight.”

Charlie gasped. “You wouldn’t!”

“As long as you don’t make me go back in there and talk about worm genitalia.” Darcy shook his head in disgust. “Sometimes I can’t believe this is my life.”

He stared disconsolately at the scarred surface of the yellowing hallway. If he’d stayed with the French Resistance movie, he could have been filming in the glorious, state-of-the-art Perspective Pictures studio instead of crammed into Worldwide’s lot—the best that Tom and the
other producers could afford to rent.

“Dude, this is a lot of negative energy. We should go somewhere to lighten the mood.”

Charlie snapped his fingers as if a thought had just occurred to him; Darcy wasn’t fooled. “I know! Peter Moore has a nightclub opening tonight. He’d freak if I brought you.” Darcy’s presence at a new nightclub would give it terrific publicity and draw crowds, while being
Darcy’s wingman would give Charlie the pick of the best booze and the hottest women.

“I don’t know.” Darcy didn’t actually enjoy the club scene all that much. “Josh wants me to stay out of the spotlight.”

“C’mon!” Charlie leaned forward so he could whisper in Darcy’s ear. “There will be Victoria’s Secret models.”

All the attention from women had been heady and exciting when Darcy first achieved superstar status. It was easy to believe you were hot stuff when women were falling at your feet, although he hadn’t taken advantage of what was offered nearly as often as everyone believed.
But he’d soon grown weary of the hot-and-cold running women and everything else that came with that scene. He’d tried longer-term relationships, but it hadn’t been much better. Everyone just wanted the glamour and the proximity to fame. They didn’t know Darcy or want to know him.

Nobody had even caught his eye for the longest time. God, that was a depressing thought; he was too young to be that jaded.

Nobody…except Elizabeth Bennet.

Huh.

She did have intriguing eyes. And she hadn’t fallen at his feet—well, tripping didn’t count.

But she was…difficult and sarcastic. Who wanted that? And he couldn’t imagine walking into a film premiere with her on his arm. No, it was just an idle thought.

“C’mon!” Charlie’s shoulder bumped Darcy’s. “You’re too young to stay home at night.”

What else would he do with himself tonight? Play a video game? Nap? Sit alone with his thoughts? Darcy shuddered. “I’ll think about it. Text me the info.”

“You’re slowing down, man,” Charlie said as his thumbs flew over his phone. “Should we get you a prescription for Viagra?” Darcy didn’t rise to the bait, a bit bored with the teasing.

But Charlie wasn’t finished. As a group of chattering actors pushed their way through the conference room door, he pulled Darcy further down the corridor and lowered his voice. “What do you think of the prospects for hooking up?”

It took Darcy a moment to realize his friend was wondering about the women in the cast.

Charlie managed to get involved with at least one woman on every film. He picked them up and dropped them with alarming regularity, and managed it all with such charm that somehow they were never angry at him. Darcy had no idea how he did it.

“I’ll just be happy if I can steer clear of Caroline,” Darcy muttered. Charlie laughed; his sister’s interest in Darcy was a long-running joke. “Who do you have your eye on?”

Charlie discreetly tilted his head toward a group of departing cast members that included Jane Bennet. “Do you think Tom would mind if I made a move on his daughter?”

Darcy snorted. “I don’t think Tom would notice.”

Charlie rubbed his hands together. “I am on it!” He watched Jane disappear around a corner and then turned to Darcy. “What about you? Identified any hot prospects?”

“What am I? A talent scout?” Darcy joked.

Charlie shrugged. “Aren’t we all?”

A couple of years ago, Darcy would have been scanning the conference room for women who might be interested in a night of fun, but today he hadn’t even considered it. “No. I’m keeping it loose on this set. No hooking up with costars.”

“Man, you are always so serious!”

Darcy stuffed his hands in his pockets. “I’m supposed to be rehabilitating my image. I’m not going to ruin it by being a horndog on set.”

“You know that attitude will not keep the chicks away, don’t you?”

Darcy gave his friend a sly smile. “Nothing I can do about that. It’s my natural alpha dog magnetism.”

“Nah, that’s not it. It’s the brooding thing you’ve got going on.”

Darcy’s eyebrows lifted. “Brooding thing? I wasn’t aware I did a brooding thing.”

Charlie waved a hand impatiently. “Oh, c’mon! You were doing it during the table read—all profound and brooding.”

“I was just sitting there.”

“No, definitely brooding, even if it was unintentional. Which is totally unfair.”

“Why?”

“I can’t brood.”

“Sure you can. Anyone can brood if they try hard enough.” Darcy reflected that this had turned into a bizarre conversation.

“Nah. It’s the face. I look like the guy who skateboards all day. Or who only drinks and smokes weed.” That was not an inaccurate description of Charlie’s lifestyle. “With this face, I’m perpetually stuck in ‘mellow boy-next-door’ mode. And next-door boys don’t brood.”

“That’s deep, man. You should put it on a bumper sticker.”

Charlie punched Darcy’s arm. “Asshole! I’m unburdening the deep existential dilemmas of my life, and you’re mocking me. Now you owe me! You owe it to me to come to the club tonight and help me round up some chicks.”

GIVEAWAY:

Leave a comment below and let us know what you think will happen in Darcy in Hollywood.

Up for grabs is 1 ebook of Darcy in Hollywood.

Deadline to enter is July 8, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Good Luck!

Excerpt & Giveaway: Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley by Kelly Miller

Kelly Miller will share with us an excerpt from her new novel, Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley.

About the Book:

What will the master of Pemberley do when confronted with the mercurial whims of an all-powerful angel?

Fitzwilliam Darcy’s well-ordered life is about to become a chaotic nightmare. A man of fortune, property, and social prominence, he has everything he could desire. Blissfully married to his wife, Elizabeth, they have a two-year-old son. With so much to live for, Darcy is shaken by a near-fatal riding accident. After a miraculous escape, he is visited by an otherworldly being: an angel of death named Graham. Threatening dire consequences, Graham compels Darcy to guide him on a sojourn in the world of mortals.

Darcy immediately questions the angel’s motives when he demands to be a guest at Pemberley. Can he trust Graham’s assurance that no harm will come to his wife and child?

And why does Graham insist on spending time with Elizabeth? How can Darcy possibly protect his family from an angel with power over life and death?

In this romantic fantasy, the beloved couple from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice must contend with both human and unearthly challenges. Are the fates against them? Or will their extraordinary love conquer all?

Please give Kelly Miller a warm welcome and stay tuned for the giveaway.

As Graham exited the house, Elizabeth prepared to enter her carriage. Descending the stairs two at a time, he called her name. She stopped and spun around, her features exhibiting surprise and delight.

The woman’s smile was magnificent—such astounding beauty! No wonder Darcy had fallen for her. Could any mortal resist the opportunity to bask in her shining bloom? It was fortunate he was not a mortal; otherwise, he might have been in some danger. He took rapid steps towards her.

“Elizabeth, would you mind if I joined you? I have a great desire to see the town of Lambton.”

Her luminous eyes held a teasing gleam as she greeted him. “I understood you to be keeping company with my husband. Did you not find the interview with a prospective new steward stimulating and informative?”

He displayed a sheepish smile. “Oh, it was informative enough, but the opportunity to travel to a new town with a lovely guide like you is much more tempting.”

Her cheeks flushed with colour, and her visage lost a portion of its mirth. “You are welcome to join me.”

As they rode in the open landau towards Lambton, Elizabeth asked him of his life in Calabria. Pulled out of his study of her long, thick eyelashes, he coughed. Drawing from the memories of the man whose body he had borrowed, he described in scrupulous detail a merry existence with plenty of social engagements and diverse entertainments. Of course, given the Lothario’s proclivities, he could not mention all of the man’s most favoured activities.

The perfect listener, Elizabeth displayed an expression of rapt interest and posed questions that displayed a curious and intelligent mind. As he answered her queries, a peculiar sensation overcame him that hampered his breathing.

In that moment, comprehension silenced him. Without question, the main source of Darcy’s happiness, despite being rich, well connected, rather handsome, and blessed with a healthy son was his captivating wife. With this conclusion came the resolution to spend at least as much time with her as with her husband to comprehend her influence on the man. Darcy might object to this, but that was of no concern; he did not have a choice in the matter.

***

As they walked along the main street in Lambton, followed by two footmen, it was soon obvious that Elizabeth and Graham were the subjects of uncommon interest. More people walked the cobblestoned thoroughfare on this day than on any of her prior visits to the town. It was strange—as if the entire neighbourhood had the same intention at once. Many of the local landowners appeared before them to pay their respects to the mistress of Pemberley and obtain an introduction to her dashing, handsome companion.

The lack of an acquaintance with her did not act as a deterrent. A number of people passed by with the apparent goal of obtaining a closer look at the mysterious and attractive man providing her escort. Not that it would remain a mystery for long. Soon after being introduced to Graham, her neighbours could be seen in close conference with others. Before long, all of Lambton would be aware that Mr. Graham was a good friend of Mr. Darcy, visiting the area from Calabria, and walking out alone with Mrs. Darcy.

About the Author:

Kelly Miller discovered her appreciation for Jane Austen late in life, and her love of writing even later. It was the 1995 miniseries of Pride and Prejudice that made her take notice and want to read the actual book. It was many years later that she discovered the world of JAFF. After reading a slew of wildly inventive stories featuring the beloved characters created by Jane Austen, she was inspired to write one of her own. Now, writing is one of her favorite pastimes.

When not writing, she spends her free time singing, playing the piano, and working out. (Yes, like Elizabeth Bennet, she is an excellent walker.) Kelly Miller lives in Silicon Valley with her husband, daughter, and their many pets. Follow her on GoodReads and Facebook.

Giveaway:

Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley.

ENTER HERE

Guest Post & Giveaway: Nicole Clarkston, Author of Nefarious,

Please welcome, Nicole Clarkston to the blog with her new variation, Nefarious.

About the Book:

He hates everything about her.
She despises him even more.
So why is his heart so determined to belong to her?

Once trapped by marriage to a woman he loathed, Fitzwilliam Darcy is finally free again. Resentful, bewildered, and angry, he is eager to begin his life over—preferably with a woman who is the exact opposite of his wife.

He never imagined a short stay in Hertfordshire would bring him face to face with his worst nightmare; a woman similar in face, form, and name. He certainly never expected her to be so impossible to ignore. Torn between what he believes he wants and what his heart cannot live without, his dignity begins to unravel. Will his desperation to escape his past drive a wedge into his closest friendship and destroy any hope of a future?

Will Miss Elizabeth Bennet prove to be as nefarious as his wife? Or, will the last woman in the world be his only chance at happiness?

Today’s guest post and stay tuned for the giveaway:

This is the last vignette in the blog tour, and I had to write it at a pivotal moment in Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship. He has returned from London, patched things up with Bingley (spoiler!) and is now hoping to win Elizabeth’s good opinion.

This same scene is present in the book in Chapter 21, but here it is again, told this time from Elizabeth’s point of view. If you’re wondering whether they understand each other any better by now, perhaps you might try comparing their mutual embarrassment and hopes, as presented in the two accounts. For now, just enjoy Elizabeth in Love.

Thank you to everyone who has followed the blog tour, and thank you so much to Serena for hosting today! It has been great fun chatting with everyone, and good luck in the drawings!

I watched him from across the room as I poured yet another cup of tea. Fitzwilliam Darcy—the man who had been so repugnant and hateful when he first came to Hertfordshire that almost no one could speak well of him. And yet, there he stood now with Sir William, and… I blinked two or three times so I might verify what my eyes told me. He was laughing!

Had I not seen Mr Darcy in his own home or borne witness to the earnest affection with which he regarded his sister, I could not have credited it. I would have assumed his good humour to be a fabrication, designed to please in the moment for some untold purpose of his own. But I had seen him—moreover, I had heard him. I had read his words—honest, heart-felt words that still broke my heart when I read them over again. And I had seen that crushed, desolate look in his eyes when I spurned him.

My hand trembled on the pot when I sensed his gaze sweeping over me again. I looked down, hoping he would not have seen how I watched him. A moment later, when I dared to raise my eyes, I found that my mother had come to stand beside him, and that Sir William had excused himself. When I heard her gushing “Five thousand a year!” my humiliation found new lows.

Yet, Mr Darcy stood patiently speaking with my mother as she lauded Jane’s good fortune in securing Mr Bingley. He praised his friend, spoke warmly of his hopes for my sister’s happiness, and affirmed all my mother’s wishes.

I had to peer at him again. No… I was staring, open-mouthed and astonished. Occasionally, his eyes would rove beyond my mother’s face, but I was spared the mortification of discovery when, at each occasion, my mother moved to stand before him. She seemed determined to have his undivided attention, and he, with a graciousness I would not have supposed him to possess, obliged her.

Maria Lucas drew near, and I offered to fill her cup for her. She cast a glance over her shoulder, then whispered, “Lizzy, is that the same Mr Darcy we saw before?”

“Of course, it is, Maria. Did you suppose him to be a changeling?”

“No,” she hissed softly. “But I thought perhaps it was a relation. He looks like the same Mr Darcy, but then, he does not. Are you certain this is not Mr Darcy’s younger brother?”

“Quite certain, Maria. He greeted us all when he arrived, and we were not strangers to him.”

“I suppose.” She looked doubtful, then brightened. “Why, if it is the same Mr Darcy, that means he is vastly wealthy, is he not? Perhaps I ought to try to catch his notice.”

I chuckled quietly. “I wish you success, then.”

“Oh, I fancy I shall be far beneath his notice, but no more will Lydia be able to please him. Look at her, Lizzy! She has smeared some of Kitty’s paints on her gown. Oh, dear, what will your mother say when she sees it?”

I set my teeth grimly and looked down. “Likely it is Hill who will make the complaint about the stain.”

“Why, Lizzy, whatever is the matter? You look put out over something. Have I said something wrong?”

“No, Maria,” I apologised. “Do forgive me. I am not quite feeling myself this evening, that is all.”

“Oh.” She lifted her shoulders. “You must be falling ill. I suppose you will be in bed all day tomorrow with the head ache. That is how it comes on for my mother, and it is always due to some great disappointment. Are you sorry that Jane is to marry?”

“How could I be? No, Maria, I am perfectly happy for her. See how she smiles? Why, she is radiant! I shall miss her, I will confess, but I could not be more delighted for her.”

Maria looked and nodded agreeably, then found something more diverting. After she went away, I turned my ears to catch Mr Darcy’s words again when I heard my mother speaking my own name. “… But I am afraid my poor Lizzy is not quite in looks these days,” she was lamenting.

My cheeks flamed, and I gripped the sides of the tea cart for support. How could she say such a thing of me, and before him, of all people? But then, Mr Darcy’s voice lifted in my defence, and I heard his answering praise with a hope flickering in my bosom.

“Miss Elizabeth is looking exceptionally well,” he said, and I, who had come to know his tones so well, could discern a thickness to his voice that had not been present before.

“Oh, but she was so greatly diminished when she came away from London,” my mother protested. “It was the news of poor Mr Wickham going that did it, I am sure. Else she is overcome with concern for my brother, Mr Gardiner. Do you know, it is likely that he will lose his warehouse! Oh, but you mustn’t be interested in that. Surely, you need more tea. Lizzy, dear, look sharp! Mr Darcy’s cup is cold.”

My stomach was twisted into knots. How dare she slander my uncle, and in the same breath, ascribe care for that scoundrel to me! And then to pronounce her beliefs to Mr Darcy, claiming some affection for Mr Wickham!—a man I could not think of but with disrespect—it was everything intolerable. But she had tasked me to perform to our guest now, and I could not refuse with good grace—nor did I wish to permit her to continue bending his ear.

I lifted my head and steadily met his eye, but then, my mother was leaning confidentially towards Mr Darcy. She was whispering something to him, gesturing apologetically towards Lydia while directing him to receive a fresh cup from me. I saw the pained look cross his face, the dimple of his brow as he glanced once more to Lydia… and then the desperate relief when she at last permitted him to step away.

I dropped my gaze as he approached, pouring studiously, but then I thought better of the cup I had meant to serve him and drew out another. I swirled the pot so the dark richness would rise from the bottom, then poured it for him. Then, recalling how he preferred only a hint of sugar, I began to break a lump for him, but he surprised me by staying my hand. I watched in fascination as he took the whole lump and dropped it unceremoniously into his cup.

“Would it be gluttonous of me to ask for a second lump?” he asked.

I hid a smile from him—did I dare tease and jest with him as we had done in London? I glanced up once in curiosity, then looked instantly away as I gave him the sugar. Was it possible that he no longer savoured the bitter as he had once done? I wondered if that meant something more consequential than a simple alteration in his culinary tastes.

“Am I unwelcome, Miss Elizabeth?” that voice, rich as molasses, enquired. “I had dearly hoped that would not be so.”

I looked back up. “Unwelcome, sir?”

“Yes, I have been here half an hour, and you have spoken to me only once, when I first arrived. I hope my presence does not distress you.”

Distress me… oh, how it distressed me! But not in the conventional way. My tongue was an insensible mass behind my teeth, my stomach was a useless snarl of nerves, and my head felt full of light flashes and irrepressible memories of better days and worse days. I swallowed and lied, “Not at all, Mr Darcy.”

“You did encourage me to write to Mr Bingley,” he added, as if he credited me with his entire presence here in Hertfordshire.

“I did,” I confessed slowly, “and I am glad you have done so. It has made him very happy.”

My hands itched in their idleness, so I began preparing a second cup without knowing precisely who was to drink it. Perhaps I ought to be so bold, to step away from the cart and draw near to the mantel with Mr Darcy so that we might talk…

“Dare I hope he is not the only one to be made happy?” Mr Darcy asked, with a faint hitch in his voice.

I stopped pouring and caught my breath. “We ought always to rejoice when a friendship has been restored,” I answered carefully.

I wanted to say more… to welcome him with open pleasure, to call him my friend—or perhaps something infinitely more dear—but my eye happened to catch my mother across the room, as she was swatting at Lydia’s fichu and fussing that it was too low. Oh, I could not speak of lovely, important things with my own family’s impropriety forever in my mind! Best not to speak at all, or to wait… yes, perhaps I would defer the pleasure.

And so, I said all I knew to say. I tried to distract him, to dismiss him, and I ached as I said the words. “Is your tea strong enough, Mr Darcy, or would you like a different cup?”

I looked up to him again, and I could not quite read what was in his eyes. Hurt, surely. Doubt… insecurity… but there remained a flicker of hope there.

“Thank you, Miss Elizabeth, it is perfectly satisfactory,” he replied, slowly backing away.

I dipped my head. “You are welcome, Mr Darcy. Quite welcome.”

He stopped in the midst of turning away, and I offered him a careful smile. Not too revealing, not too warm, but enough, I hoped, that he might resume the conversation another day.

I stared at his back as he found my father and engaged him in a discussion about poetry. Another day… perhaps the morrow. I glanced at the window, where the sky was already beginning to grow dim for the day. If the rains did not come overnight, I would walk towards Netherfield in the morning, and hope.

GIVEAWAY: (Choose your option and leave a comment)

  1. Signed Paperback of winner’s choice (US only)
  2. $10 Amazon Gift Card plus eBook or Audiobook of winner’s choice (International)

Deadline is June 21, 2019 by 11:59 PM EST

Giveaway: President Darcy by Victoria Kincaid

Source: Audible
Audiobook, 11+ hours
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President Darcy by Victoria Kincaid, narrated by Lucy Emerson, explores what would happen if Mr. Darcy was a single man from a wealthy family who became president with an agenda that Elizabeth Bennet and her family support, but then he slights her by calling her unintelligent and ugly. Kincaid has created an untenable situation for Darcy in which he has vowed not to date while president and professes not to be lonely, even though he is. When he misjudges Elizabeth and it becomes fodder for the Twitterverse, how can he overcome his ill-timed statements about Elizabeth and get her out of his heart and mind for the good of the country and his presidency?

Kincaid’s narrative is in deft narrative hands with Lucy Emerson, whose portrayal of both male and female characters is spot on throughout the book. Darcy is proud and snobbish, as well as quick to judge, but Elizabeth is stubborn and oh so oblivious to his attraction to her when he clearly takes his time to greet her warmly, apologize for his previous words, and have her favorite wine waiting on Air Force One.

I love how Kincaid navigated the restrictions of being the president in this one, even if there is one moment when protocols were thrown right out the window. The scandal that ensues makes it all worthwhile, even if it is wrapped up neatly. The scandals in this book are pretty tame compared to our daily news reports.

President Darcy by Victoria Kincaid, narrated by Lucy Emerson, is my favorite of Kincaid’s books so far. I love modern variations, so if you are a puritan in the world of Austen, this is not for you. There’s humor, moments of sexual tension and release, and a lot of miscues between Darcy and Elizabeth. And Lydia….oh, Lydia…you’ll like her even less in this one.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Victoria Kincaid is the author of several popular Jane Austen variations, including The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth, Pride & ProposalsMr. Darcy to the Rescue, When Mary Met the Colonel, and Darcy vs. Bennet. All of her books have been listed in Amazon’s Top 20 Bestselling Regency Romances.  The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth was nominated for a Rone award and Pride and Proposals was recognized as a top Austenesque novel for 2015 by Austenesque Reviews.

Victoria has a Ph.D. in English literature and has taught composition to unwilling college students. Today she teaches business writing to willing office professionals and tries to give voice to the demanding cast of characters in her head.

She lives in Virginia with an overly affectionate cat, an excessively energetic dog, two children who love to read, and a husband who fortunately is not jealous of Mr. Darcy.  A lifelong Austen fan, Victoria has read more Jane Austen variations and sequels than she can count – and confesses to an extreme partiality for the Colin Firth miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

***GIVEAWAY***

Victoria Kincaid is offering 1 audiobook copy of President Darcy to one lucky reader.

Leave a comment below with your email by March 13, 2019, at 11:59 PM EST.