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Guest Post & Giveaway: Sue Barr Talks About Fitzwilliam Darcy Undone’s Cover

Please welcome Sue Barr, as she shares with us how this cover came to be:

What would Pride & Prejudice be like if Darcy and Elizabeth had a touch of magic in their lives?

First, thank you for hosting me today. Without support from you and your readers, we authors would limp along seeking an audience from all sorts of unsavoury sources… *snicker* As Lydia would say, ‘La! What a laugh.’

I thought I’d share how the cover of Fitzwilliam Darcy ~ Undone came about.

I have a wonderful cover artist, Teresa of The Midnight Muse, who excels in Regency cover art. Sometime, in 2018, I saw the image which is now the cover of my book and knew I’d found a future Mr. Darcy. At that time, I did not know when or how I’d use this image, but it called to me on a visceral level and I had to have it and also knew the story would contain a lot of heat. At the same time, I also found an image which makes me think of Wickham but haven’t reconciled a story to that wicked man – yet.

BTW: this is usually how my mind works.

I’m very visual and stories grow from the smallest kernel of thought. My first entry into the world of writing JAFF began with me finding a pre-made cover with the head shot of an absolutely beautiful red-haired woman. Without question, this was Caroline Bingley, but what to do with her? Then the question popped into my head, ‘Whatever happened to Caroline Bingley after her brother and Mr. Darcy got engaged to a Bennet sister?’, followed by this one line, which found its way into the book, ‘When did all the men in her life become so addlepated over two country misses?’

Fitzwilliam Darcy ~ Undone began from a magic themed Playground piece on the fan fiction site, A Happy Assembly. The minute I decided to turn the whole thing into a full-blown novel I knew my cover art had found a home. We all know that Darcy is handsome, and tall, and well muscled… Wait, did Jane Austen write he was well muscled??? She may have said well formed… Oh well, in my dreams he is sculpted and yummy. I also think our deep, dark Darcy is very passionate and once again, the cover reveals that.

Don’t we all secretly wish a passionate Mr. Darcy would turn his attention our way? It’s okay. You can dream a little in this safe place with other like-minded readers. I’ll wait over here in the corner with a cup of tea…

I’m well pleased with my cover and satisfied with how the story came about. I’d toyed with the idea of making this book more explicit, however, toned it down to sensual (one explicit section only, thank you) because it seemed right and the cover hinted at it being a little spicy. I hope you take a chance and delve into my magical world with Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth.

Thank you, Sue, for sharing the origin of your cover and a little bit of how your mind works (**wink**)

Book Synopsis:

She’s the outcast in her family…

Elizabeth knows she’s different from the rest of her family. She has visions and strange dreams and sees things others do not. With the advent of the odious Mr. Darcy and his friends from Netherfield Park, as well as the amiable Mr. Wickham of the _____shire Militia, her powers seem to increase and her greatest fear is that she won’t be able to contain them and will be discovered.

He has eight hundred years of tradition to uphold…

No Darcy has married a non-magical woman since arriving on the shores of England with William the Conqueror in 1066. However, his kind – Miatharans – are dwindling in numbers. Miatharan magic only flows through aristocratic blood lines, so his strange obsession with Miss Elizabeth Bennet is puzzling as she is not of noble blood. Just a country squire’s beautiful daughter who has him slowly becoming undone.

About the Author:

‘The prairie dust is in my blood but no longer on my shoes.’

Although it’s been over forty-two years since Sue called Saskatchewan home, her roots to that straight-lined province and childhood friends run deep. The only thing strong enough to entice her to pack up and leave was love. When a handsome Air Force pilot met this small-town girl, he swept her off her feet and they embarked on a fantastic adventure which found them settled in beautiful Southwestern Ontario when hubby retired from the military and began his second career as an airline pilot.

Sue started writing in 2009 and sold her first manuscript in 2010. Always a reader of Regency romance, she discovered Jane Austen Fan Fiction in 2014 and almost immediately wanted to know – Whatever happened to Caroline Bingley after her brother and Mr. Darcy became engaged to a Bennet sister? From that question, her first JAFF book was launched.

In her spare time, Sue cans and preserves her own food, cooks almost everything from scratch and grows herbs to dehydrate. Her latest venture is to create her own spice seasonings, experiment with artisan breads and make her own homemade vanilla. Hubby has no complaints other than his jeans keep shrinking. At least that’s what he claims…. Her sons, their wives and all seven grandchildren don’t mind this slight obsession either. Visit her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

GIVEAWAY:

Sue Barr will giveaway an ebook of this latest novel to 3 random winners for entire blog tour.

Follow the tour and join in the comments to be entered to win. Sue will choose the random winners and announce the winners on social media on December 5.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Linda Kass’s Writing Space

Linda Kass is visiting the blog to share her writing space with us today. She has a new novel, A Ritchie Boy, out in the world today from She Writes Press. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ll already know that I have an affinity for WWII era stories, and Kass’s novel fits into that desire to read about that historical period. Also, enter the giveaway below.

Synopsis:

In this moving and memorable novel-in-stories—inspired by her father’s life—Linda Kass shares the little-known account of the Ritchie Boys. Often Jewish German-speaking immigrants, the Ritchie Boys worked in US Army Intelligence and helped the Allies win World War II.

A RITCHIE BOY follows the life of Eli Stoff. From facing down the anti-Semitism of Austrian classmates in 1938 to his family’s lucky escape; from arriving and assimilating in America to joining the Allied war effort; from the heartbreak of leaving family behind in Austria to setting down his roots in the Midwest, this is the story of a boy becoming a man, and of Eli’s journey from one homeland to another. In A RITCHIE BOY, Kass crafts an achingly powerful, beautifully wrought novel about war, survival, immigration, and hope.

“I devoured A Ritchie Boy over a single weekend. What a rich, beautiful book Linda Kass has written. I found such poignancy and delight in every facet of these characters’ lives. This is first-rate historical fiction.” —Alex George, national and international bestselling author of A Good American and The Paris Hours.

Please give Linda Kass a warm welcome.

When I moved into our condo, I was determined that my writing space would allow me to be creative and comfortable. I wanted an entire wall to be a library for my prodigious book collection. Since I write historical fiction and do a great deal of research, it was important to me to have so many resources right at my fingertips. I even have a section of books on writing that includes everything from Robert Caro’s Working, about his experiences researching and writing The Power Broker and The Years of Lyndon Johnson to Aristotle’s Poetics and The Art of Time in Fiction (Joan Silber).

Speaking of time, given how much of it I spend sitting in front of my laptop, I wanted a stand-up desk that raises up at the push of a button. That desk surface faces a window so I can look outside and imagine. I can also look to the right of my laptop and see a framed photograph of my father in his ROTC uniform before he left his university to join the US Army. His life inspired my new novel, A Ritchie Boy, about one young immigrant’s journey to American in 1938 and his role as one of the Ritchie Boys, often Jewish German-speaking immigrants who worked in Intelligence and helped the Allies win World War II.

I can also pivot in my chair to a much larger and prettier desk where I can spread out all my papers and books. Under this desk, rests my mini labradoodle, Wally, who keeps me company every moment I am writing. When I hear him moving about, I know it is time to take a break from my writing space and take a walk around the neighborhood!

Photo Credit: Lorn Spolter

About the Author:

LINDA KASS, who began her career as a journalist, is the author of the historical novel TASA’S SONG, which Booklist praised, saying “Kass depicts a heartbreaking time with great sensitivity and detail in this beautifully rendered historical drama." Publishers Weekly called it “. . . a memorable tale of unflinching courage in the face of war—and the power of love and beauty to flourish amid its horrors.” Kass is the founder and owner of Gramercy Books, an independent bookstore in central Ohio. Visit her website.

You can also read an excerpt of A Richie Boy.

I previously reviewed Tasa’s Song.

Enter below with a comment about why you want to read A Ritchie Boy by Sept. 7  Sept. 23 at 11:59 pm EST. Must be 18 years or older and a U.S. resident with a U.S. mailing address.

Giveaway & Interview with Elizabeth Grace, narrator of Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl edited by Christina Boyd

Welcome to today’s blog post for Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl edited by Christina Boyd. New out on AUDIO. Stay tuned for a few surprises and a giveaway!

Book Synopsis:

With timeless verve, the heroine of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet, bares her intimate thoughts while offering biting social commentary through a collection of romantic re-imaginings, sequels, and prequels, set in the Regency to present day by ten popular Austenesque authors. Foreword by NY Times & USA Today bestselling author Tessa Dare. “I think her as delightful a character as ever appeared in print…” wrote Jane Austen in a letter, January 1813―and we think so too! Stories by Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James, Christina Morland, Beau North, Joana Starnes, Karen M Cox, Elizabeth Adams, Leigh Dreyer, J. Marie Croft, and Christina Boyd.

Our guest will be the audiobook narrator, Elizabeth Grace.

Check out this awesome interview with Elizabeth Grace:

1. Have you always wanted to be an audiobook narrator or how did you “fall” into the work?

Long story – No! When I was kid I really wanted to be an actress and did a lot of amateur dramatics and drama exams. I was taught how to speak with received pronunciation and perform poetry and prose for exams. When I got older it was drilled into me that acting was more of a pipe dream for a little girl from the midlands in the UK and so, I took the sensible route. I studied American Studies at University and joined the Drama Society on the side which is where I met my now husband. When I graduated, I got a job in Marketing and stayed there, steadily progressing for six years. Last year, when I was reviewing the future of my career, people kept asking what my dream job would be and I reassessed that old pipe dream and wondered if it could become a reality. I am lucky enough to have a partner who believes in me and has a job that can support us both to an extent so after we got married, we planned a long honeymoon and I quit my nine to five with the idea to focus on my acting career full time on our return from a 3 month South American adventure which was due to begin at the end of February this year. In January, I picked up a few projects here and there including some voice over work and audio dramas. I was told my voice would work well for audiobooks and while I hadn’t really considered this as an option for me, I was intrigued. Skip forward 2 months, my brand new husband and I are sat in Chile having the adventure of a lifetime when we are pulled back to the UK after completing 1/3 of our trip due to Covid 19. During lockdown, I had a lot of time to contemplate my next move, I bought some recording equipment, started auditioning for audiobooks and managed to get involved with some amazing JAFF authors and I couldn’t be happier with where I have ended up so far.

2. What is your favorite part about narrating audiobooks?

I love that I can bring the characters to life in the story. I like to get a visual of what a character looks like and then start to work on their voice. They obviously have to sound distinct from each other for the listener to know who is talking, and while that could be just accent and pitch, largely the distinction will become apparent in their demeanour and how they are as a person. So much goes into a person’s voice and it’s fascinating to see how this comes and develops even over the course of narrating a book – I sometimes don’t know where I will end up until I am there!

Elizabeth Grace

3. How much control do you have over the tone of your narration? Does the director provide a lot of guidance? Is the author heavily involved in the process?

I usually like to ask the authors I am working with for a little summary which includes the narrator’s tone as well as the characters’. Coming from a marketing background, I understand the importance of a brief! Oftentimes people know already what they want to hear, they know their characters inside out having created them from nothing so it’s important to respect that. Sometimes, a character may require a very specific accent, for this having some sources of reference is really helpful. Using this as a basis and reading through the book, I will do a sample of maybe one or two chapters then based on this I will receive feedback from the author. I will tweak the recording where necessary based on that feedback but Ultimately however, you have to consider your range as a narrator too and what is sustainable for you so because of that, it is very collaborative and super important that everyone is on the same page before you get too into the recording stage so you don’t waste anyone’s time.

4. What are some of your favorite ways to prepare for a narration project? (ie. listen to certain music beforehand, gargle with salt water, etc.)

I have some voice exercises I do before I begin narrating which I have learnt through my training, nothing too intense but some things that work for me on a day to day. There’s a lot of humming and huge facial stetches that go on behind closed doors. Definitely keep some water at hand and being hydrated is key, sometimes a little mid paragraph gargle is helpful but more often than not, taking a quick break and some deep breaths can set you right again. Dropping your breath (or breathing into your belly rather than your chest) is something that has taken me some time to learn but is essential to making sure you can get through those long sentences. Listening to your body and letting it tell you what it needs is my port of call, some days I will need more warming up than others.

5. Do you read through a certain number of chapters before taking a break? What’s the process and how many hours do you spend on narrating one book?

I record almost everyday, I have found that my voice sounds the best in short bursts and can tire easily after too many hours behind the mic and this becomes really evident in the post production. For me, a couple of hours each day is ideal and then it can then take three times as much time to edit those recordings into a finished version ready for the author to review. It keeps me busy all day and I can usually work this around my other commitments. I like to make sure the author I am working for has a steady drip of chapters to review so there isn’t too much down time on either side. I have learnt the importance of maintaining some “me time” more recently so I do take at least one day off at the weekends.

6. What does your recording studio look like if you have one at home (share photos if you like)?

My recording studio is in the bay window of my bedroom! It’s a cute little set up with a desk, and I have pop up screen that fits just nicely behind me to reduce some of that reverb. I would love a swishy, purpose built studio but for now, this works well for me and hopefully sounds alright on the finished edit you all hear!

7. What has been your favorite narration project and why?

I have loved all the projects I have worked on for their own individual reasons. I have to give a mention to Elizabeth Adams who was the first author I worked with within JAFF though that first book was a modern fiction called Green Card. We have a great connection and the way she writes is so easy to read – I guess we are similar in the way we speak. Elizabeth opened the door for me into the JAFF world and without her I wouldn’t have been introduced to all the amazing women I have worked with since then. Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl was the first anthology I have narrated and it really allowed me appreciate the concept of short stories. I adored picking each of them up and finding new tones, pacing and personality within them while staying true to Jane Austen’s characterisations. It has been such a privilege getting to know these talented authors and I am thrilled to be working with some of them again.

8. What is your favorite Jane Austen novel and why?

It’s a super basic answer but I love Pride and Prejudice, though that has definitely been rekindled after reading Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl. Like a lot of you, I have such an affinity with Elizabeth – we do share the same name after all! Tessa Dare put it so well in her foreword – “she is just like me, but awesome”. However, I do have an affliction whereby I become the biggest fan of the thing I am engaging with at any one time. I have noticed the BBC are rerunning a series of Emma from a few years ago that I am about to settle into again so I am certain I will be reviewing the answer next week.

Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing your insights about audiobook narrating. I loved reading this and I know that my readers will too.

About the voice actor:

Originally from the East Midlands in the UK, Elizabeth Grace now lives in South London (via two years in Amsterdam). She is a full-time actor, voice over artist, and narrator.

Elizabeth began her professional performing career a little later in life and has been studying at Identity School of Acting in London since 2019. Prior to that, she had a career agency side in Marketing which explains her penchant for client services.

Since 2019, she has been growing her professional portfolio on top of the amateur theatre work she began in her formative years. She has now been a part of many projects from short films and web series to audio dramas and audiobook narration. Visit her website: https://www.elizabethgraceofficial.com/

Here’s an extra treat, an audio excerpt from J. Marie Croft’s excerpt from “The Age of Nescience“.

About the audio snippet: “Character driven vignettes, Elizabeth looks back on her adolescence up to when she meets Darcy, and she comes to admit her own folly, how she has not been wise as she thought. In this short opening scene, Elizabeth is preparing for her coming out and what that means to her.”

The Audio Snippet excerpt:

“But in such cases as these, a good memory is unpardonable.
This is the last time I shall ever remember it myself.”—Chapter LIX

THE AGE OF NESCIENCE

J. Marie Croft

When I was ten, my father told me I was precocious.

Glowing with pride, I beamed at him.

Ten years later, another gentleman told me, “Where there is a real superiority of mind, pride will
be always under good regulation.”

Turning away, I hid a knowing smirk.

What becomes of pride, though, when real superiority exists purely in one’s own narrow mind?

Only now, after throwing a retrospective glance over my adolescence, do I comprehend how
prideful and energetically wilful was my youthful conduct, how flawed was my biased
discernment…and such it had been from the innocent age of ten to the equally nescient age of
twenty.

Coming Out
1806

In honour of a former merchant’s elevated status, a soirée was hosted in Meryton by my aunt and
uncle Philips. On that moonlit evening, I was permitted to attend in company with my parents
and older sister.

Those of higher circles might have argued I, at fifteen, was not of an age to be introduced into
society; but it was the country, and children often accompanied their elders to social events.
Upon any objection to the scheme, my mother defended the propriety of her decision by claiming
a certain right, as sister of the hostess, to bring whomever she pleased to the gathering.

Neither Mama nor I was satisfied with the results when I donned my first half-dress gown and
had my ringleted hair dressed rather than left loose. She lamented my looks were nothing to
Jane’s, and I experienced a mixture of excitement and mortification at being on display in such
an adult fashion…especially since boys I had romped with in childhood might be in attendance
as eligible men.

In the habit of running, I was saddened to relinquish spirited antics and submit to more ladylike
behaviour. How suddenly we are expected to emerge from girlhood to womanhood, from maiden

to wife. The thought of being viewed as marriageable was as uncomfortable as the hairpins
poking into my scalp and the lightly boned stays thrusting my bosom unnaturally upwards.

“Elizabeth Margaret Bennet! You are not leaving the house looking like that!”

“But… Mama!”

Tut-tutting, she removed the fichu I had tucked into my bodice and flailed the triangle of muslin
in my face. “What were you thinking, child?”

“Of modesty. You went against my wishes and had the bodice lowered. I cannot face our
neighbours with so much of my…with so much of me exposed. New meaning might be given to
my coming out.”

“Oh, pish! ’Tis the latest evening fashion. Every elegant lady wears that cut, and no daughter of
mine will be seen as a dowd. Compared to Jane, you must flaunt whatever meagre, redeeming
features you own.”

Despite my mother’s hopes upon launching a second daughter into the society of adults, my
coming out was not an overwhelming success. Although I had been well liked as a precocious
youngster, my new status was paid scant attention by the local populace. The guest of honour, Sir
William Lucas—my friend Charlotte’s father—did pay me a number of “Capital, capital!”

compliments; and, after imbibing too much port wine, Uncle Philips proclaimed my altered looks
charming.

Home from university, a friend bowed over my hand and, in doing so, his eyes came to rest on
my bodice. Eyebrows hitched, he smirked, saying little before turning to speak with my drunken
uncle. It took willpower to still my hand from cuffing the back of his stupid head. Being genteel
will require tremendous effort, I fear. Discomfited over my erstwhile playmate noticing the
changes in my figure, I was—as if of a contrary nature—annoyed he found me unworthy of
further attention. Well, I would not marry you anyway, William Goulding, even were you the last
man on earth.

 

 

⭐️Giveaway: The #OmgItsOHG (Oh-my-gosh, it’s Obstinate Headstrong Girl) Audiobook Tour begins August 18 with voice actress reading and we hope you will continue to join us and connect at each stop for continued readings, narrator interviews, excerpts, and giveaways. We’ve included a $25 Amazon gift card giveaway, open worldwide, so be sure to participate. Simply comment on the blog stops to be counted for the giveaway (you need not comment everywhere to be entered in that drawing, but we hope you’ll have your share of the conversation.) Ends September 8.

Groundhound Day Guest Post & Giveaway for Madness in Meryton by Jayne Bamber

Welcome to another guest post from Jayne Bamber on today’s blog about her new book, Madness in Meryton, which has a Goundhog Day theme. Before we get to her guest post today, let’s check out a little bit about the book:

When Jane and Elizabeth Bennet return home from Netherfield, two days of heavy rain confine them indoors with their unruly younger sisters, a mother in perpetual need of smelling salts, and the tedious Mr. Collins. When the rain clears, the ladies from Longbourn and the gentlemen from Netherfield are drawn to Meryton by the excitement of Market Day, setting in motion a series of significant events.

That night, Mrs. Phillips hosts a card party for officers of the local militia, where the charming Mr. Wickham tells Elizabeth his shocking history with Mr. Darcy, a man who has only given Elizabeth offense since coming to stay with his friend Mr. Bingley at Netherfield.

The next day, the same thing happens again.

And again, the day after that – and so on, for what begins to feel like an eternity. Elizabeth takes increasingly drastic measures to further the budding romance between her beloved sister Jane and their handsome neighbor Mr. Bingley. Along the way, she arranges improvements in the lives of all of her family, in a effort to end the relentless redundancy that only she seems aware of.

As Elizabeth’s frustration turns to madness, she soon realizes that her inexplicable dilemma is somehow connected to a certain officer and a certain gentleman of her acquaintance….

Elizabeth must forge unlikely alliances and devote her considerable wit to the task of achieving a perfect day for those she holds dear, while facing familiar Fitzwilliam friends and foes, as well as all the mortification and delight of falling in love.

Please give Jayne Bamber a warm welcome.

Hello, Janeites! It is a delight to be here at Savvy Verse & Wit to share a little about my new release, Madness in Meryton. This is my sixth Austen variation, and for those of you not following the tale on Happy Assembly, it is a Groundhog Day vagary – with a twist. If you have read any of my other novels, you will know I share Elizabeth Bennet’s fondness for human folly, and there is plenty of it to be had when dear Lizzy begins to repeat the dame day over again.

The day in question is the day that Elizabeth meets George Wickham and hears his tale of woe, and I have reimagined it as Meryton’s monthly Market Day to heighten the chaos of Elizabeth’s predicament.

The tension between Darcy and Elizabeth is unique in this story, as their predicament blurs the lines between frustration and friendship. To accompany the excerpt I am sharing today, I am also sharing one of my favorite writing playlists that has helped me set the mood for the romantic tension between our favorite couple… enjoy!

***

Darcy smiled as Elizabeth approached him at last. She was smirking at him, her eyes wide and bright. “You must indulge me, sir,” she said. “I have told poor Charlotte that I intend to tease you mercilessly.”

He suppressed his mirth, but leaned closer, dearly wishing she would tease him. “You are still of a mind for mischief?”

“I am, and I expected that you, of all people, would understand – and after all, I am sure your cousin is a man of odd humors and japes – you cannot be so unaccustomed to such larks.”

Darcy only nodded, silently cursing Richard’s charm and verbosity.

“Charlotte observed you staring at me,” Elizabeth said.

“You know why I stare,” Darcy replied.

Elizabeth arched an eyebrow. “I do now – before, I was never quite sure. I always supposed you disapproved of me. And that is what you must do now, Mr. Darcy. Do scowl as though I have just affronted you, and see how Charlotte shall cross her arms and shake her head.”

Darcy did so, affecting a posture of disapprobation. “How is this?”

She grinned. “Very imposing! You look truly vexed. And if I come a little closer, and point my finger just so, she may think I am really giving you the business.” Elizabeth moved near, her slender, gloved finger nearly jabbing his chest, and she twisted her face into a cheeky grimace.

Keeping his countenance stony, Darcy said, “If mischief were an accomplishment, Miss Bennet, you would have no rival.”

She rolled her eyes. “You cannot flatter me while I pretend to be so very rude.”

“Please advise me what you would most like to hear. After all, you did come to speak with me.” A smile began to spread across Darcy’s face, until a waggle of Elizabeth’s finger reminded him to look stern.


He repressed the urge to grab her finger between his teeth, rip off the glove, and kiss her from her wrist to her lips. He cast a nervous glance around the room, thinking it odd that only last night it had been so different with her; he had held her hand, even drew her closer in unguarded moments. They had been lost together on a wave of chaos, and tonight was so drastically different. It was calmer, more sedate, and it made Darcy uncomfortable. He reflexively took a step back.

Elizabeth withdrew her hand and folded her arms. “Tell me about your day – have you had any success?”

Darcy considered before he answered, and here he was sure his face looked naturally grave. “I spoke with him, yes. He made similar allusions to some future scheme, as he did with you. But he left town very willingly. It has made me wonder.”

“What?”

“Well, I wonder if he is as significant in all this madness as I had originally thought. Could it be so simple, to merely send him on his way? Is it necessary that I discover what he is up to?”

Elizabeth knit her brow as she mulled this over. “I have always supposed I had some purpose, something to alter and improve, in the course of the day, and I had believed you must, as well.”

“And so I had thought,” Darcy agreed. “But I begin to wonder if it is Wickham, or perhaps something else.”

“Such as?”

Darcy involuntarily glanced over at Bingley, who was still sitting with Jane Bennet, conversing with animation as she smiled placidly at him. His heart raced. It could be that – but how could he tell her?

Elizabeth had followed his gaze, and something flashed in her eyes – hurt and anger and betrayal. And something very wild. Darcy shifted awkwardly, and caught himself reaching for her hand as if it were the most natural response. He stilled himself, watching her face as so many emotions played out there.

“I am not sure about anything, anymore,” he breathed. His fingertips twitched, brushing hers.

Elizabeth flinched, peering up at him curiously, almost fearfully. “Do not be too hasty, think it over,” she whispered. Her hand brushed his again, and she drew in a sharp breath.

It was torture for Darcy. All evening it had nagged at him, that Bingley could not be allowed to seriously consider Jane Bennet, and yet Darcy himself was in way too deep with Elizabeth. The woman who would despise him forever if she knew what he was thinking, what he was growing quite convinced he must do.

Again his eyes drifted to Bingley. The man was falling for a woman who thought of him as merely an amiable acquaintance, nothing more, no little difference from Darcy’s own situation. He would save Bingley to save himself, and if Elizabeth hated him tomorrow, at least there would be a tomorrow.

Several things happened in quick succession. Elizabeth’s countenance went cold, and he knew she was not pretending anymore. He also knew she could see what he was thinking. She looked away suddenly; Miss Lucas had apparently perceived the tension between Darcy and Elizabeth, and was moving that way as if to intervene. The music had stopped, and Mr. Collins abandoned Mary Bennet once he had Darcy in his sights.

Elizabeth gave Miss Lucas a little shake of her head, and her eyes flicked over to Mr. Collins, whose lips were moving slightly, as if rehearsing the lavish praise of Lady Catherine that he would soon bestow on Darcy. Miss Lucas quickly changed her course and intercepted the parson.

Bingley came from the opposite direction, Jane Bennet on his arm. He clapped Darcy on the shoulder. “Darcy, how are you enjoying the card party? Not quarreling with Miss Elizabeth again, I hope?” He laughed nervously, and the Bennet sisters exchanged a silent, knowing look.

“We were speaking of you,” Elizabeth replied, arching an eyebrow. She met Darcy’s eye just long enough to land her point. “I was wondering why you were not dancing. You enjoy the amusement so much more than your friend, Mr. Bingley.”

Bingley just smiled his affable, idiotic smile, nodded, and laughed. “Well,” he cried after a moment, “we have been lost to all the world in conversation!”

Miss Bennet smiled as well, and said nothing. Quite the conversationalist indeed. Poor Bingley had probably been pouring his heart and soul out to her, in exchange for diffident smiles and wide eyes hooded with long, dark lashes.

Across the room, Miss Lydia appealed to her sister, Miss Mary, to take up the instrument where Maria Lucas had left off. Darcy tried not to flinch at the girl’s grating voice, and he looked back to Elizabeth. “I fear Miss Elizabeth has not had as pleasant a partner in conversation as her sister,” Darcy replied. “Though I am not fond of dancing, I am rather better at it than speaking, when words often fail me.”

Again Elizabeth arched an eyebrow at him, her look so intent she could scarcely be aware of Bingley and her sister. There really was nothing he could say now, he knew. But he offered her his hand as the music resumed.

Bingley laughed. “Well, we shall not be outdone by Darcy here,” he told Miss Bennet before turning to Darcy. “Well done, you know, turning the table on me – it is always me, urging you to dance.” He guffawed again, “I shall not disappoint you, Jane.” He grabbed Miss Bennet’s hand and she gave a gentle laugh as he whisked her away to dance.

Darcy and Elizabeth had frozen at Bingley’s use of Miss Bennet’s christian name. Her hand hovered over his for a moment before she accepted it, and she kept her head downcast as he led her to join her sisters in the dance.

They began the movements in a heady silence before she finally looked up at him. He tried to smile, tried to convey some message of reassurance in his face, but something felt different now.

Elizabeth glanced over at her sister, and then back at him. They turned in time to the music. “Will he?” They spun again. “Disappoint her?”

Darcy placed his hand against hers as they went down the dance. He observed Bingley as they moved past him. Elizabeth stared probingly at him. Miss Mary fumbled the keys of her instrument for a moment, and Miss Lydia laughed. The dancers all attempted to recover the rhythm; they spun again. Elizabeth’s jaw tightened as he placed his hand on her back for the next movement of the dance. He knew he had not answered her, and she expected him to.

Darcy sighed. “I do not know yet.” Elizabeth averted her eyes, and did not speak for the rest of the dance.

Doesn’t this sound like a fun P&P variation? I think so. Thanks, Jayne, for stopping by. Readers please enter the giveaway below.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

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.

 

Guest Post & Giveaway: Writing in Times of COVID-19 and Social Protest by Valerie Fox and Lynn Levin

It seems like I’ve know Valerie Fox and Lynn Levin forever, and maybe I have, but I love their passion for teaching, especially for teaching students how to write creatively, especially when it may be hard to do so because of isolation and pandemics. Their second edition of Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets was published this month, and they’re kind enough to stop by with a guest post about the book, writing during the pandemic, and more. One lucky U.S. resident could receive their very own copy of the book, which includes workshop-tested prompts and poems from students, local writers, and more.

Please give Valerie and Lynn a warm welcome, and stay tuned for the giveaway:

Valerie Fox and Lynn Levin: Thanks, Savvy Verse & Wit, for inviting us to talk about Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets (2nd Edition) and to talk about our writing and teaching.

Lynn Levin: The new coronavirus has us living in strange and fraught times that will surely go down in the history books. And it’s the same for the Black Lives Matter movement that continues to gain power after the murder of George Floyd. As writers, many of us feel that it is vital to wrestle with these cataclysmic events, to engage them in our writing. We have some ideas for addressing these issues in your creative writing: some of them are based on our teaching and our own writing practice, some of them are adapted from our new book Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets, Second Edition.

Valerie Fox: Yes, the COVID-19 times have surely had an impact on so many aspects of our lives, in so many ways. Teaching-wise, I noticed in March and following, how it was really important for writers in my college classes to document their lives, in as you say, “fraught” times. In one class, we were reading and writing about flash fiction, and when given the choice between creative and critical writing, most students chose to write their own flash fiction, poetry, or creative non-fiction. And many were very eager to document their lives in isolation, their worries for friends and family most at risk, and so on. Importantly, as the Black Lives Matter protests intensified, many were taking part in demonstrations and documenting that, too.

The reflection, learning, and writing on race, as well as the reflection, learning, and writing on the pandemic—both deeply influenced these writers. One strategy that was helpful involved asking writers to create in a letter format (addressing their future self, for instance, or directed to a real person being affected by the virus, and so on).

Here’s one example. Some clever writers (as a collaboration) exchanged photographs representing their work spaces and feelings of isolation, and then they wrote poems about each other’s photographs. This got the writers thinking about perspectives, and their creative collaboration was a great way to connect.

Lynn, do you have some specific tips?

LL: Yes. There is a lot to be angry about these days, and the I-hate poem, a prompt from our book, may provide you with a stance by which you can address people who refuse to wear masks, who pack into virus-spreading events, who are responsible for taking innocent black lives, and who generally espouse all types of hate and bigotry. You could write an I-hate poem directed at the virus itself or prejudice itself. You might write your I-hate poem in list form or in stanzas with rhyme.

Turning specifically to the COVID-19 pandemic, we find ourselves having to social distance and stay at home as much as possible. This can be frustrating, and we have a prompt in the book called the paraclausithyron that is well suited to expressing how it feels to be separated. In the classic literary tradition, the paraclausithyron is a lover’s lament before the beloved’s closed door. In this case it may be your lament before your beloved hair dresser’s locked salon door, or the closed door of your school, or the closed door of your child’s school. To write a paraclausithyron for COVID-10 times, you might address the door or the person behind the door as you reveal your longing and imagine how you would like things to be. You could even use the paraclausithyron to express your frustration at needing to stay home behind your own closed front door.

Here’s a look at Serena’s junk drawer

VF: Yes, “Home” as an idea, sense of place, setting, or motivation for writing. For one online class, with Writers Room, we asked students to think about previous homes they had lived in and use memories and descriptions as the basis for poems. Another exercise was to write about the contents of junk drawer or medicine cabinet in their present home. The junk drawer writing inspired many writers to look closely at some part of their homes (or their lives) that they don’t usually inspect so thoroughly. Then, they could use the items/images/tools/mementos to jog their memories or help them come up with a story. Some poignant work came out of this.

Personally, I have a lot of unfinished writing, so in these recent days I’ve been spending a lot of time editing and striving to finish works. Earlier this summer, I felt paralyzed when it came to starting new pieces. So I am using our prompts, Lynn. Our “change a moment in time” chapter has been helpful, specifically. And I also created a poem based on our “Song-title” chapter, to develop a character in a series of linked flash fiction pieces I am currently working on.

One of the unexpected outcomes of not seeing people as much in person has been doing more online workshops. I enjoy that, a lot, including with my usual longstanding workshop I have belonged to for ten plus years. (Though I miss the snacks and wine and being in the same physical space.) I have tried a few other online workshops, as well. The deadlines are useful.

LL: If you are in an online poetry writing class at a school or through a literary organization, you are lucky because you are already in a community of writers. But COVID-19 makes building a community of writers more important than ever and more challenging, especially because you cannot congregate at a coffee shop or library or other physical space. That said, a blog like Savvy Verse & Wit gives writers and readers a special gift. It creates a dynamic gathering, and
it’s not bound by geography.

Serena, thank you so much for creating this beautiful community and for giving us a chance to share.

Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your insight.

About the Poets:

Levin and Fox co-authored Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets, Second Edition, which was published in 2019 by Texture Press. It was selected as a 2020 finalist by the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. It’s organized around twenty specific writing prompts, and includes numerous examples accompanying all of the prompts. The examples are from both established writers, up-and-coming writers, and even those from the tradition. Both Levin and Fox have been teaching writing at Drexel University for over twenty years and enjoy collaborating and teaching together.

Valerie Fox has published writing (prose and/or poetry) in Juked, Philadelphia Stories, Reflex, The Cafe Irreal, A3 Review, Across the Margin, Cleaver, New Flash Fiction Review, Sentence, Hanging Loose, and other journals. Valerie’s books include The Rorschach Factory, The Glass Book, and Insomniatic. A story she wrote is included in The Group of Seven Reimagined: Contemporary Stories Inspired by Historic Canadian Paintings. Her work has been selected for both the Best Small Fictions and Best Microfiction series. You can learn more about her work here.

Lynn Levin’s most recent poetry collection, The Minor Virtues, is listed as one of Spring 2020’s best books by The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her previous collections include Miss Plastique, Fair Creatures of an Hour, and Imaginarium. She is the translator, from the Spanish, of Birds on the Kiswar Tree by Odi Gonzales and co-author of Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets. Her poems have appeared in Boulevard, Artful Dodge, on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac, and other places. She teaches at Drexel University. Visit her website.

ENTER the Giveaway: Comment about why you’d like to win the book, Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets, Second Edition by Aug. 7 at 11:59 p.m. EST

Guest Post & Giveaway: Victoria Kincaid Shares Her New Audiobook Release, When Mary Met the Colonel

Please welcome back Victoria Kincaid to the blog today. She’s going to let us into the world of Mary Bennet and Colonel Fitzwilliam from When Mary Met the Colonel, a new audiobook with the fabulous narrator Stevie Zimmerman.

But first a bit about the book:

Without the beauty and wit of the older Bennet sisters or the liveliness of the younger, Mary is the Bennet sister most often overlooked.

She has resigned herself to a life of loneliness, alleviated only by music and the occasional book of military history. Colonel Fitzwilliam finds himself envying his friends who are marrying wonderful women while he only attracts empty-headed flirts.

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

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

Please give Victoria a warm welcome and stay tuned for the giveaway:

Hello Serena and thank you for having me back to visit! I am very pleased to announce the release of my audiobook of When Mary Met the Colonel – a love story between Mary Bennet and Colonel Fitzwilliam. I’ve wanted to make an audio version of it for quite a while and was thrilled that the wonderful Stevie Zimmerman became available to narrate it. She does a lovely job! At the beginning of the book, the Colonel meets Mary in the Longbourn garden during Elizabeth and Darcy’s wedding breakfast. The scene below takes place the next morning when the Colonel is having breakfast at Netherfield. I hope you enjoy it!

Here’s the excerpt:

All the things I could tell her about Ciudad Rodrigo….

“Colonel, are you feeling well?”

“Hmm?” Fitz looked up from his breakfast plate at Bingley. “Perfectly well, thank you.”

Why was Bingley inquiring?

“That was the third time I asked.” Bingley chuckled.

Fitz rubbed his forehead with one hand. “I apologize. I am not the best of guests. Perhaps I am overly tired.”

“Yesterday was a long day,” Mrs. Bingley said graciously as she poured him more tea. “I am certain Elizabeth and William were quite fatigued by the time they reached London, but they did not wish to delay their departure.”

Bingley smiled at his wife over the rim of his tea cup. “I believe most newly married couples prefer to be alone.”

Mrs. Bingley blushed but said nothing. Fitz had the sense of being outside in the cold, watching a family enjoying a warm Christmas dinner. Do not be bitter. You have a rewarding career, food, a roof over your head, and good friends and family. It is more than many have.
Somehow, such admonishments did not improve his spirits.

“I apologize that I could not secure a place in the post carriage for a departure today,” Fitz told his hosts. “It is very good of you to have me another day.”

“Think nothing of it!” Bingley responded. “We are quite pleased to have you visit. Darcy has mentioned you often, and I am happy to make your acquaintance at last.”

“And I you,” Fitz said. Bingley was quite an amiable fellow and seemed well-suited to his wife. Mrs. Bingley cut into her sausage. “Will you be going abroad again soon, Colonel?”

Fitz nodded. “I expect so.”

Bingley’s eyes lit with interest, but he said nothing. Fitz guessed that he preferred not to discuss the war in his wife’s presence.

She nodded. “My sister Lydia’s husband is in a Northern regiment. She expects he will be ordered abroad soon.”

Fitz said nothing. The Bingleys obviously did not know that he had helped secure Wickham’s commission, and Fitz had no desire to enlighten them. He sought a less fraught subject for the conversation. “How will your parents fare with only two daughters at home?”

Mrs. Bingley smiled gently. “It will be quite an alteration for them. Until recently, we were all five at home, and now three are gone within a short span of time. At least I am close here at Netherfield.”

“Have any of your other sisters formed attachments?” He cleared his throat, unsure why his voice cracked when he asked such an innocuous question.

“None that I am yet aware of,” she responded. “But Kitty is always out and meeting new people. Mary is more retiring.”

Fitz frowned. Why did nobody give Mary the credit she deserved? “I had a very pleasant conversation with Miss Bennet yesterday.”

Bingley’s eyebrows shot up. “Miss Mary Bennet? Are you sure?”

“Indeed, I have no difficulty differentiating the two ladies,” Fitz said dryly. Mrs. Bingley hid a smile behind her napkin.

“Are you much interested in theology?” she inquired.

“No, we discussed—” Abruptly, Fitz remembered that Mary’s interest in military history was a secret. “Uh…history…and the events of the day. It seems she reads the papers a great deal.”

Mrs. Bingley’s eyes widened. “Indeed? I thought she only read Fordyce’s Sermons.”

How was it that even Miss Bennet’s own sister did not know of her true cleverness? The poor woman was even more sadly misunderstood than he had first thought.

He found himself wishing to speak with her again. Soon he would return to London where the women of the ton only discussed gossip and gloves or sought to please his vanity—when they deigned to notice a second son at all. How lovely it would be to have one more conversation
with a woman of intelligence before returning to such dreariness! But how could it be contrived?

He was scarcely acquainted with the Bennet family; calling upon them would surely bring him unwanted attention from Miss Kitty.

“Do you plan to visit Longbourn today, Mrs. Bingley?” he asked, hoping he sounded casual.

She set down her fork. “I should. Mama’s nerves will be in a state after the excitement yesterday.”

He vowed to discover some means to manage Kitty. “I would be happy to accompany you and thank your parents for their hospitality yesterday.”

“That would be very pleasant,” she responded. “Charles, shall you join us?”

“I believe I will.”

Fitz could not account for the sudden rapid beating of his heart.

Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? I can’t wait to have a listen to this one.

Please leave a comment about your latest favorite read in the Jane Austen variation world? I’m looking for recommendations.

Entries for 1 audiobook will be accepted through July 31, 2020, at 11:59 p.m.

Guest Post & Giveaway: In Plain Sight by Don Jacobson

Please welcome Don Jacobson to the blog today with his latest Pride & Prejudice variation In Plain Sight.

As some of you may be aware, Don was challenged by Lory Lilian to write a D/L love story. Joana Starnes also kept pushing/encouraging him to do the same. Well, he finally did it.

Book Synopsis:

“At the end of the day when we are each of us lyin’ flat on our backs, lookin’ at the ceiling, and the vicar is whisperin’ in our ear, the greatest comfort we shall ’ave is to know that we loved well and were well loved in return.”

When Fitzwilliam Darcy’s father slides into an early grave, his son is forced to take on
Pemberley’s mantle. Brandy numbs his pain, but Darcy’s worst inclinations run wild. After tragedy rips everything away, he spends years finding his way back: a man redeemed by a woman’s loving understanding.

Elizabeth Bennet is afflicted with a common Regency ailment: observing the world about her but not seeing those beneath her notice. Then a clarifying act shatters the propriety that has denied her heart the transcendent love she craves.

In Plain Sight explores Jane Austen’s eternal love story by flipping social roles on their heads. From their first encounter, Elizabeth Bennet and the convict known as “Smith” must overcome their prejudices and break through their pride. Only then can they share the treasure hidden in plain sight.

Please welcome, Don, to the blog:

Thank you, Serena, for hosting me today as I continue through the blog tour for In Plain Sight. This vignette is actually an epilogue which could have been presented after the last chapter of the novel. However, I decided that the ending was so much stronger if I left Darcy and Elizabeth and the Pemberley family outside in the great driveway. We know that all will move into their HEA as they are in their Happily-Ever-Now at that exact moment. Yet, for those who might be interested in what happened to our characters in later times, I offer this selection.

An Epilogue of Sorts

Watson’s Mill, Meryton, August 8, 1819

The bread line snaked past the trestle tables set up by the mill’s chained and padlocked iron gate. The counters were staffed by a patchwork of neighborhood notables leavened by folk whose hands showed the wear-and-tear of daily toil. The continuing economic collapse had left those dependent upon the now-silent spinning jennies and looms on the brink of starvation. Even in the midst of this privation, scarecrow children clad in rags gamboled around the flagged mews laid between the five-story brick edifice and the great millpond. The sturdiest mother’s heart or aunt’s nerves palpitated when youthful exuberance overcame good sense as one little one or another streaked toward the greasy waters that usually fed the great wheel powering the factory. The watercourse was still now, its force unnecessary. On the far side of the pool, the Lea-Mimram Canal was filled with a brackish sludge. The refreshing surges of Mimram water that usually swept
through the channel were non-existent in this time of crisis. Great cauldrons of soup steamed in the morning air. Freshly baked bread contributed a yeasty aroma that spoke of brighter days. Granaries controlled by Meryton’s squirearchy had been thrown open to feed the unemployed. Estate mistresses turned out their attics to fill the levy for Longbourn Chapel’s poor box.

Mr. Benton, an archdeacon for the diocese, and Mr. Tomlinson, the town’s Methodist speaker, policed the queue, collecting tidbits of news from their female parishioners. This was not gossip, but rather a taking of the temperature of the neighborhood. Benton would gather tales of drunkenness, illness, pregnancy, and malnutrition and add them to his own
wife’s burden. Mrs. Mary would take that intelligence and confidently march into Meryton’s four-and-twenty parlors of note and prod ladies to do their Christian duty. She was not above leaning upon her connections. Elizabeth Darcy, Jane Bingley, and Georgiana Cecil often would add their considerable social weight through gently worded invitations to
events in town.

Tomlinson, lately a sergeant in His Majesty’s Army, leaned on his earlier experience to winkle out the scent of discontent. He had opened the Good Book when he had closed his military career. Tomlinson believed that a man served the Lord first, but he could also support the realm in second place. Women this day told of caravans rolling north to hear Henry Hunt speak. He knew that his former master, General Fitzwilliam, would take these threads and weave a tapestry that he would lay before Liverpool’s cabinet. The general was settled on a chair leaned against the bolted doors of the tavern opposite the manufactory. His equine companion, Imperator, was left gamboling in one of Purvis Lodge’s paddocks where four or five of his favorite broodmares competed for his affections. Fitzwilliam snorted as he recalled his old friend, nearly twenty he was, prancing about the stable yard, nipping at youngsters to remind them that he was king.

Like Impy, Fitzwilliam was no country squire, wide across the bottom. His usual bluff demeanor and partial deafness gave him an air of rusticated geniality. Yet, he frequently surprised regimental colonels as he explained the facts of life. No officer would ever forget that the horse-breeder at Purvis Lodge regularly cultivated his connections in town’s rarified high country. The militia never gave Meryton trouble.

Comfortably tilted back next to Fitzwilliam was James Foote. Foote’s invisibility, growing from his time as a Longbourn servant, had served the General well as he stage- managed the dark ballet that kept the Czar, Metternich, and Talleyrand in their respective boxes. Foote was adjusting to fatherhood as his wife, the former Miss Tomkins, had recently birthed their second son. She was seated beneath an oak that shaded the town square. Mrs. Foote, along with Charlotte Fitzwilliam, kept a weather eye upon a dozen children from various branches of the Longbourn family.

Also enjoying the shade were two old friends. The black and white board lay upon a portable table set between them. Moves were made, but both men, widowers now after the fever of in the year seventeen had swept off their ladies, spent more time chatting with each other about things of which old men often do, of the world as it was in their youth.

Michael Hastings, now retired, in the midst of his bereavement, had found himself taking advantage of a long-standing invitation to visit Pemberley. There he met his college friend, Tom Bennet, who likewise was draped in black. The two gentlemen sat side-by-side in the great library, a stack of books and a bottle of port between them. Before long, they
reignited their ancient comity. Realizing that loneliness was the quickest path to the grave for men of their ilk, an unspoken agreement was reached. Hastings closed up his Derby house and moved into Longbourn with Bennet.

The judge’s hand hovered above his castle—a staunch tory, Hastings always favored his bishops and rooks. A snuffling sound distracted him.

Affecting a grim look, he speared the miscreant with a beam from beneath bushy brows. The curly headed youngster, old enough to be out of leading strings but not so grown as to have escaped the nursery table, was unmoved. He had the courage of a child well-acquainted with the fact that the Moon and the Sun revolved around him.

Hastings growled. “Well, son, who do you belong to? All of your cousins look like Mr. Bennet here.”—he waved at his opponent who unsuccessfully tried to stifle his guffaw— “and I find myself at a loss.”

The little fellow stood straight and confidently began, “Of course I take after Mr. Bennet. He is my Grandpapa, after all! I am a Darcy!”

Then Master Darcy leaned in and confided. “My Mama told me that we were not Darcys today, but rather Smiths.” So saying he scurried off.

“And where are the…Smiths?” Hastings quizzed his housemate. Bennet pointed with his chin as his eyes returned to the chessboard. “Last I saw, Lizzy and Will were strolling on the towpath.”

###

The shingle crunched beneath their feet as they left Meryton behind and approached Longbourn. The lady was clearly with child.

Elizabeth looked up at Darcy and smiled. “You know how happy you have made Mary and Edward. They have been feeding and clothing the mill families for months. Usually it is just Charlotte and Richard manning the barricades.

“Mary knows that you would be loath to leave Pemberley in August with my pending confinement. I will own that I would have preferred the cooler Derbyshire climes to semi- tropical Meryton. However, you appeared in our sitting room one morning and stated, ‘You are yet able to travel. Edward wrote me telling of their work at Watson’s, and he is concerned that your sister was wearing herself thin. She could use our help.’

“And, you were correct, dearest. Mary is like a terrier and will just not let go or ask for aid.”

Darcy looked down at his wife. The toes of his worn work boots kicked out from beneath the simply hemmed cuffs of his canvas pantaloons. He shifted his shoulders beneath the red-checked cloth of his shapeless shirt. These clothes rarely saw the light of day except when Fitzwilliam Darcy wished to move about incognito, to be unseen by all except the crowd.

“Elizabeth,” he said, “I approached you because I knew that Mary’s silence was out of love for you. Her fear would be that you would become agitated with the knowledge and immediately rush to the stables to have the carriage horses harnessed.

“My own motivation was in a similar vein. I knew that if you had learned of this situation, you would have worried yourself trying to encourage me to overcome my protective nature and allow us to travel. I stole a march on you by acting first.”

He placed his hand atop hers where it rested in the crook of his elbow. “I knew that Bingley would never leave Thornhill, not with your sister so close to her confinement. I hoped to console myself with the thought that Mrs. Denny and Mrs. Keith would be in town, that we could let this opportunity pass. Then I wondered if the militia had relocated to Brighton.”

Elizabeth nodded, “Your instincts were correct. Kitty, as the Colonel’s lady is installed in her Regency Square house lording it over the regiment’s wives. As for Lydia, she has gone to her house in Bristol to await the Captain’s return from the Orient.”

Darcy smiled. “Acting on impulse was the right thing to do. I vow, Elizabeth, I am becoming more like Bingley every day! Speaking of things Bingley, and I ask this for informational purposes only, have you heard anything about the Soamses?”

Elizabeth peered up at him from beneath her brim. “It has been seven years. Not once in all that time have you asked about that awful man and his wife.”

“’Tis a time I would prefer to forget, dearest,” he softly replied, focusing his eyes toward where the arrow-straight ditch crossed onto Longbourn. His wife sighed and answered, “Sir Thaddeus’ son is at Cambridge. His eldest daughter turned seventeen in February. Jane tells me they wished to launch Miss Soames into society this past Season but had to wait until May. They took a house in Portman Square.

“Matlock wrote to say that she assisted, not wishing to punish the daughter for the sins of the parents. The countess found one of her friends to sponsor the girl at court. That acquaintance also threw a small soiree where Miss Soames played and sang. Apparently, that and her £22,000 dowry landed her an offer from a viscount’s second son.”

Darcy nodded as they continued walking. After several minutes he continued, “Lady Soames must had been thrilled with her stepdaughter’s success.”

Elizabeth could feel her husband’s arm tense beneath her hand. “William, it is ancient history. We have three darling children and another on the way. We are done with them.”

Darcy relaxed. “And how many children has Sir Thaddeus gotten upon his wife?”

Surprised at the sudden change in direction, Elizabeth replied, “Five.”

Darcy’s voice rumbled, shivering her entire being. “Hmmmpf. Five to your three, Mrs. Darcy. Miss Bingley, or should I say Lady Soames, is undoubtedly more accomplished than you.”

Elizabeth squeaked and slapped his arm in faux outrage.

He recaptured her errant hand.

Then husband and wife, convict and housemaid, moved down the path toward the manor house, its gables barely visible above a copse of oaks.

Giveaway:

Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of In Plain Sight by Don Jacobson.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years. His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television, and radio. His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards. He has previously published five books, all non-fiction. In 2016, he began publishing The Bennet Wardrobe Series—

  • The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey (2016)
  • Henry Fitzwilliam’s War (2016)
  • The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque (2017)
  • Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess (2017)
  • The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn (2018)
  • The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament (2018)
  • The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion (2019)

Jacobson is also part of the collective effort behind the publication of the upcoming North and South anthology, Falling for Mr. Thornton: Tales of North and South, released in 2019.

Other Austenesque Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” (2016) and “The Maid and The Footman” (2016). Lessers and Betters (2018) offers readers the paired novellas in one volume to allow a better appreciation of the “Upstairs-Downstairs” mentality that drives the stories.

Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations. As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization, and Research Writing. He is a member of the Austen Authors Collective and JASNA. He lives in Las Vegas, NV with his wife, Pam.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Rebellion at Longbourn by Victoria Kincaid

Hello readers. Today we have a delightful look at Victoria Kincaid’s latest Pride & Prejudice variation novel, Rebellion at Longbourn.

First, I want to share with you a little bit about the book before we get to Kincaid’s excerpt and the giveaway. Please give her and everyone at Longbourn a warm welcome.

Synopsis:

Elizabeth Bennet’s father died two years ago, and her odious cousin Mr. Collins has taken possession of the Longbourn estate. Although Collins and his wife Charlotte have allowed the Bennet sisters and their mother to continue living at Longbourn, the situation is difficult. Viewing Elizabeth and her sisters as little more than unpaid servants, Collins also mistreats the tenants, spends the estate’s money with abandon, and rejects any suggestions about improving or modernizing Longbourn.

After one particularly egregious incident, Elizabeth decides she must organize a covert resistance among her sisters and the tenants, secretly using more modern agricultural methods to help the estate thrive. Her scheme is just getting underway when Mr. Darcy appears in Meryton. Upon returning from a long international voyage, Darcy is forced to admit he cannot forget his love for Elizabeth. When he learns of the Bennet family’s plight, he hurries to Hertfordshire, hoping he can provide assistance.

Sinking into poverty, Elizabeth is further out of Darcy’s reach than ever; still, he cannot help falling even more deeply in love. But what will he do when he discovers her covert rebellion against Longbourn’s rightful owner? Falling in love with Mr. Darcy was not part of Elizabeth’s plan, but it cannot be denied. Darcy struggles to separate his love for her from his abhorrence for deception. Will their feelings for each other help or hinder the Rebellion at Longbourn?

Isn’t this always how we want to see Darcy? A dashing hero to the rescue.

Hello Serena and thank you for welcoming me back to your blog! Rebellion at Longbourn takes place two years after the events in Pride and Prejudice. Darcy never had a chance to propose at Hunsford. Instead he has been on an extended tour of Canada with Bingley and Georgiana; they have heard nothing of the Bennet family during this time. In this scene they have just returned to London and are awaiting a visit from Bingley’s sisters. Enjoy!

“No doubt your sisters will arrive any minute. I could not allow you to loll about in bed one more minute.” A messenger had been sent to the Hursts’ townhouse very early, and Darcy knew Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst would be eager to share the latest on dits. He experienced a pang of regret; Bingley would be leaving them to stay with his sisters. Darcy and Georgiana had relished his company on their travels.

Bingley sighed and pushed around the eggs on his plate. “I expect I shall receive another lecture about how irresponsible it was for me to gallivant off to North America.”

Darcy grimaced. “At least you have had more practice in saying no to them.” They had criticized Bingley’s decision in every letter. No doubt Bingley would have collapsed into scribbling abject apologies if Darcy had not stiffened his spine. But being on his own had been good for his friend. Bingley had grown far more decided and sure of his tastes when he was away from his sisters’ influence.

“It shall be quite trying when I relocate to Grosvenor Square,” Bingley mused.

“You are welcome to remain at Darcy House for as long as you like,” Darcy remarked.

“It is no imposition.”

Bingley straightened up in his chair. “I may accept that offer.” Darcy knew his sisters would not like it, but obviously Bingley was willing to risk their wrath.

Briggs, the butler, entered the room and announced, “Miss Bingley, sir. And Mr. and Mrs. Hurst.”

Bingley sighed deeply, not like a man pleased to be reunited with his family after a year and a half. Both men stood as the three visitors entered.

The two women gave their brother perfunctory kisses on the cheek, and the men exchanged handshakes. The newcomers helped themselves to breakfast from the sideboard and settled into chairs around the table. Darcy and Bingley talked a little about the details of their trip, but the sour expression on Miss Bingley’s face and the disapproving purse of Mrs. Hurst’s lips suggested they were not particularly interested in that subject. Mr. Hurst was primarily interested in the kippers.

When the weight of disapproval had caused the conversation to wane, Bingley gamely asked, “So, what is the news, eh?”

“You would know if you had ever bothered to write,” Miss Bingley answered tartly.

“I did write.”

His sister rolled her eyes. “I declare it was not above four times! I am overwhelmed by your fraternal devotion. And, of course, the letters were short, dashed-off affairs.”

Bingley rubbed his forehead. “I am a poor correspondent. I acknowledge it, but I am here now. What have I missed?”

This was all the encouragement his sisters needed to launch into twenty minutes of gossip, primarily about people Darcy did not know or could not care about. Eighteen months of freedom from the obligations of the ton had not endeared him to the social whirl, although he supposed he should pay more attention now that Georgiana would be launched in society. Still, he found himself thinking longingly of Pemberley.

His absence had apparently not dimmed Miss Bingley’s hopes of Darcy, for she still addressed the better part of her remarks directly to him, although he had not asked her any questions.

There was only one person he would consider inquiring about, and he did not dare.

Fortunately, Bingley unwittingly assisted him in this endeavor. “What is the news from the Bennet family? You did not mention them in any of your letters.” He leaned forward in his seat.

Miss Bingley blinked. “Why should I?”

“You are Jane Bennet’s friend.”

His sister fluttered her hands. “Friends, Charles? Certainly we were acquainted, but friends…” She gave Mrs. Hurst a sidelong look.

Mrs. Hurst actually giggled. “It is for the best if we do not acknowledge the connection. Thank goodness you gave up the lease on Netherfield!”

Bingley exchanged a glance with Darcy but did not correct his sister’s mistake. Darcy restrained the urge to fidget in his chair as he imagined everything that could have befallen the Bennets.

“Surely you have heard some news from Longbourn,” Bingley said.

“Indeed…” Miss Bingley drew the word out. She was taking pleasure in the suspense.

Darcy’s heart beat faster, knowing that whatever she said would be bad. She would not derive such pleasure from relating news of the family’s extreme felicity. “Shortly after you departed, the father died.”

Darcy could not prevent a gasp. If he had known, he never would have left. If he had known, he would have returned. He was angry with himself for not discovering the news and with Bingley’s sisters for not relaying it. During the early part of the voyage, he had been so intent on endeavoring to forget Elizabeth that he had not sought to know about her family, and this was the result.

“Did Mr. Collins take possession of Longbourn?” Darcy attempted to keep his tone neutral and disinterested.

“Mr. Collins?” Miss Bingley asked. “Oh yes, the clergyman. I suppose so.”

Bingley’s pale face mirrored Darcy’s own distress. “How terrible for Ja—all the Bennets!” Bingley exclaimed. “Where do the sisters reside now?”

A fist clenched around Darcy’s heart. Although he knew change was inevitable, some part of him had secretly expected to find Elizabeth dwelling with her parents at Longbourn just as she had when he departed.

Mrs. Hurst rolled her eyes. “They are hardly the sort of family we would maintain a connection with. How should we know?”

Bingley frowned. “I thought at least you would condole with them, write them a note expressing your sympathy, invite them for tea when they visited town.”

“I am not aware that anyone from the family has been to town,” Mrs. Hurst replied. Strange. Darcy remembered clearly that the Bennets had relatives in Cheapside.

Although Elizabeth might have guessed at Bingley’s sisters’ insincerity, Miss Bennet seemed to believe them true friends. Surely she would have written to them if she visited town—at the very least to maintain a connection with Bingley. Was it possible she had remained sequestered in Hertfordshire all these months? It was scarcely thirty miles’ distance!

The sisters were sharing a conspiratorial smile that triggered Darcy’s suspicions. Surely anything that made these two so very gleeful could not be good for the Bennets.

He crumpled his napkin in frustration. I cannot ask them. I cannot betray too much interest. Patience, he counseled himself. I will learn everything soon.

Aren’t you eager to find out what happens? I know I am.

GIVEAWAY:

One Lucky Reader can receive an e-book of Rebellion at Longbourn. Please leave a comment with email so I can contact you. Deadline to enter is June 24 by 11:59 p.m.

Good Luck, everyone.

Guest Post & Giveaway: The Austen Interviews – An Interview with Captain Frederick Wentworth by Jack Caldwell

Welcome to today’s guest post and giveaway for Persuaded to Sail by Jack Caldwell. This is the third book in this series of books about Jane Austen’s fighting men. Persuasion is my second favorite of Austen’s novels. Caldwell has crafted an excellent interview with Captain Frederick Wentworth and there is a giveaway.

But first, as always, here’s the synopsis of the book:

The long-awaited sequel to Jane Austen’s final novel, Persuasion. After an eight-year separation and a tumultuous reunion, Anne Elliot marries the dashing Captain Frederick Wentworth. The pair looks forward to an uneventful honeymoon cruise aboard the HMS Laconia.But the bride and groom find the seas of matrimony rough. Napoleon has escaped from Elba, the country is at war with France again, and the Admiralty imposes on Wentworth a mysterious passenger on a dangerous secret mission. The good captain is caught between duty to his country and love for his wife. All eyes are trained for enemies without, but the greatest menace may already be on board…

Without further ado, check out the interview:

JACK CALDWELL – Hello, everyone. Jack Caldwell here. It has been a few years since I’ve done one of my famous interviews.

COLONEL FITZWILLIAM (off stage) – Famous in your own mind!

JC – Quiet in the peanut gallery! Now, where was I? Oh, yes. To celebrate the launch of my tenth novel, PERSUADED TO SAIL, a sequel to Persuasion and Book Three of Jane Austen’s Fighting Men, I have returned to this studio outside of time and space to interview the second most romantic man in the Jane Austen Universe. Let’s have a big hand for Captain Frederick Wentworth!

CAPTAIN FREDERICK WENTWORTH – I thank you, Mr. Caldwell. But the second? Who would be the first?

JC – Number One in the fans’ mind would be Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

FW – I do not know the gentleman.

JC – No, you wouldn’t, being stuck out in the middle of the ocean all the time.

FW – I would not refer to serving in His Majesty’s Royal Navy as being “stuck” anywhere.

JC – Her Majesty’s.

FW – I beg your pardon? Has something happened to King George?

JC – Queen Elizabeth II rules Britain now. This is the year 2020.

FW – I see. But Britannia surely continues to rule the waves.

JC – Not anymore. That would be the United States Navy.

FW – What? The colonialists? That cannot be!

JC – Hold your horses there, Freddie. The Royal Navy’s a solid Number Two. Besides, we’re allies now.

FW – My name, sir, is Wentworth. And I must say I do not care for this “Number Two”
business.

JC – You’ll get used to it. It’s better than what happened to France. But, let’s get back to you. You may not be the JA fans’ ideal lover, but you write a mean letter. You’ve been melting hearts for two hundred years. How did you come up with that note?

FW – I simply wrote the words emblazoned upon my heart for eight years.

JC – Wow, that’s a good one. I have to remember that for my anniversary. Which brings me to my next question. Why’d you wait eight years?

FW – I was jilted in 1806, if you recall.

JC – Yeah, but you were just a commander. Two years later you made post. Why didn’t you try again in 1808?

FW – I suppose I could use a broken heart to excuse myself, and there is some truth to that. But I must own it was my pride.

JC – If I understand you correctly, your success, which led to your advancement and wealth, made you too proud to return to Miss Anne Elliot?

FW – Yes. In my pride, I thought myself above the daughter of an impoverished baronet, especially one who was persuaded to jilt me only two years before.

JC –Anne would have welcomed a renewal of your attentions.

FW – I know it well, and it tortures me! What a fool I was! Years of happiness I could have had with my sweet Anne wasted because of my stupid pride!

JC – Not just pride. Weren’t you just a little jealous when you did return to Kellynch Hall?

FW – Yes, I was. Pride and envy—are they not two of great sins we are warned against? Upon my return, I wished to prove that Anne had no power over me, that I was free of her. My pride got me nearly entangled with Miss Louisa Musgrove. How ill-used that poor girl was! Thankfully, she recovered from her fall, fell in love with Benwick—an outstanding gentleman—and forgave me my caddish behavior. And when I knew myself, I thought I was too late, that Anne would accept Mr. William Elliot. The pain my jealous heart caused me! I was well paid for my foolishness.

JC – You were fortunate that Anne figured out Elliot’s game. And you were fortunate no one saw that letter before Anne got it.

FW – Boldness has served me well, both at sea and on shore.

JC – Looks like you and Mr. Darcy have something in common. I refer to writing awesome letters.

FW – I must meet this Mr. Darcy someday. He is married, I trust?

JC – He sure is. Now, my new novel, PERSUADED TO SAIL – on sale now! – chronicles your honeymoon cruise with Anne to Bermuda. But there are surprises—

FW – Chronicles? You write about my voyage? Were you on board?

JC – Of course, I was. I’m the author. As I was saying—

FW – Sir, I must ask your meaning! Were you spying on Anne and me?

JC – That’s my job.

*** (SOUND OF SWORD LEAVING ITS SCABBARD) ***

FW – Stand up, sir! I will have satisfaction!

JC – Wait! You don’t understand! That’s not how this works! I write about Anne and you, the readers read it, and they fall in love with the both of you all over again!

FW – No one spies on my Anne! No one!

COLONEL FITZWILLIAM (off stage) – Need any help?

JC – Oh, wonderful! SECURITY! Thanks, everybody for stopping by this episode of the Austen

Interviews! I think Serena is offering a giveaway for you. Just check below. SECURITY!

FW – Fitzwilliam, hurry along! He is getting away!

JC – SECURITY!!

Giveaway

Leaving your comments and your e-mail address below this post you can get a chance to win one (1) physical copy and one (1) e-book copy of PERSUADED TO SAIL. (Note: Only U.S. addresses are eligible for physical copy, so please add the country you are writing from in your comment).

This giveaway ends on June 23, 2020, at 11:59 p.m.

Excerpt & Giveaway: Outmatched by Jayne Bamber

Today’s guest is Jayne Bamber and her new book, Outmatched, which is a mash up of Mansfield Park and Sense & Sensibility. New alliances are formed in this novel, and there are elements of self-discovery, redemption, and conspiracy.

Before we get to today’s post, check out the book synopsis below:

When Sir Thomas Bertram returns home to Mansfield after his year in Antigua, he expects respite from his many troubles, in the bosom of his family. Instead he is met with blackmail, collusion, and the ominous threat of scandal.

When Mrs. Margaret Dashwood takes her daughters from Norland to Barton Park, she carries with her a secret hope that they might someday return, though she is not yet ready to pay the price for it.

A mutual connection bent on manipulation and revenge sets the stage for heartbreak, intrigue, and plenty of surprises as the worlds of Sense & Sensibility and Mansfield Park collide. Alliances shift along the way as familiar characters, bound by family ties, descend on Norland Park. There everyone has their own agenda, and constant peril looms as a large party of relations all scheme to outwit, out-maneuver, and outmatch their opponents.

Please welcome, Jayne Bamber:

Hello, readers! It is a pleasure to be welcomed here at Savvy Verse & Wit. It is Release Day for my fifth novel, Outmatched, a fusion of Mansfield Park and Sense & Sensibility, and I am particularly excited about the excerpt I am sharing today!

I have never wanted to admit how very much I like Mary Crawford, but I am sure readers will detect it over the course of the story. She has all the wit and sparkle of Elizabeth Bennet, though with sharper edges to be sure, but I cannot think her indefensible. She cares for her roguish brother, perhaps to a fault, but I am willing to argue her loyalty does her some credit. I cannot completely fault her in her dealings with Edmund Bertram, either – she knows what she wants, and bristles at the prospect of having to compromise. In truth, I think it brave of her, and quite right – she knows she does not wish to be a parson’s wife, and no community would be served by the parson’s wife not fulfilling the obligations of her position begrudgingly. Even at the end, when Tom is very ill, perhaps she ought not to speak as she does, but come on, we were all thinking it!

If my attempt at vindication has not entirely put you off, I do hope you will enjoy this little glimpse at my rendition of Mary Crawford. This scene takes place a few days after the large cast of characters converges at Norland, with one fairly logical friendship for Mary, and another that, though far from obvious, hold some promise….

***

Edmund was not amongst them in the drawing room, but Mary was determined neither to notice nor mind his absence; she played her harp for herself, and for her new friend Marianne. After a few minutes it was not such an effort. She had always loved playing, loved the feelings of peaceful pride that came with willing the strings to do her bidding. She played a piece she knew by heart and closed her eyes, shutting out her audience to lose herself in the music.

The effect might have been too engrossing, for when she opened her eyes at the end of her song, she was almost startled at the applause from more than a dozen people.

Marianne, who had been most insistent on the use of Christian names, rushed toward Mary at once. “Come, you must play a duet with me at the pianoforte,” she cried. She caught Mary by the hand and led her to the instrument, where she assaulted Mary with a tremendous quantity of sheet music to look over. The conversation in the room started up as Mary looked over the music; with so many people, it was all just a strange, euphoric buzzing in her ears.

All this had transpired within but a moment of Mary’s song, and she was still nearly in a trance from the emotion of her performance. This tranquility was now abruptly cut through by the voice of Mrs. Jennings, an old widow who had shown a peculiar obsession with the Dashwood sisters, and a delightful degree of conversational indiscretion.

“Colonel Brandon,” she cried, and every head in the room turned toward the doorway.

Mary felt the sheet music she was holding fall through her fingers, and looked down, watching the handful of papers slowly float toward the carpet until they were strewn at her feet, and then her head snapped back up. Had she conjured this man into existence with her silliness before?

Beside Mary, Marianne let out a low squeak, and behind the cover of the pianoforte Mr. Willoughby, looking rather startled himself, placed his hand atop Marianne’s.

Mary could not take her eyes off the handsome newcomer, and felt instinctively that he had been watching her for some time. John Dashwood was beside him, and now led the colonel into the room. “Yes, well, sisters, here is your friend from Devonshire come to call. What a fine thing for you girls! I have invited him to stay and dine with us.”

Mary glanced over at Marianne with some astonishment. How could the girl have an acquaintance such as this and not spoken of it during their fanciful conversation before? She looked back at Colonel Brandon, savoring the expression upon his countenance, pensive and enigmatic, sorrowful and yet hopeful – and such intelligence about the eyes. What a man! He made his introductions to those of their party he did not know, and spoke to the other Dashwoods – but now he was coming toward them.

Marianne moved away from Mr. Willoughby and linked her arm through Mary’s, as Mary continued to wonder why her friend could look so unhappy to see such a man as this seeking them out. He was on the wrong

side of five-and-thirty, perhaps an ill thing for a girl so young, and yet he wore his silvery hair so well. His stride was graceful, the curl of his lips almost outrageously sensual, his attire very fine but not ostentatious, and his voice, when he spoke, was deep and sonorous. 

“Miss Marianne, I hope you are well.”

“I am.” Marianne forced a smile. “I have just been getting better acquainted with my new friend, Miss Mary Crawford. She and her brother accompanied my Bertram cousins to Norland.”

“And what a lovely destination,” said the colonel. He bowed to Mary, and she dropped into a curtsey, keeping her head low enough to conceal her blush. She suddenly recollected the sheet music scattered about her, and dropped to the floor to gather it back up. Colonel Brandon must have seen her acting quite the fool, and she was heartily embarrassed for it. 

The colonel instantly mirrored her gesture, and began to assist her, but this only heightened Mary’s mortification. She focused on not letting her hands tremble, and wondered what had come over her to be so affected by this great pillar of masculinity. “I am afraid I took you all by surprise,” he said softly.

“Indeed, I had grown rather lost in the music, and was not thinking at all – what a silly mess I have made.” Mary gathered the last of the sheet music and stood. She handed the pages off to Marianne as the colonel did the same; Marianne received the rumpled sheets with a nervous laugh. 

“Yes, I saw,” Colonel Brandon replied. “That is, I came in at the end of your performance – I did not wish to interrupt what was so delightful to so many, including myself. I hope to hear you play with Miss Marianne, if that is your intention.”

Seeming to recall Marianne, the colonel returned his attention to her with an odd look about him. “I happened to be in the area – I have been in Sussex since leaving you all last week. When I realized Norland was so near, I thought it right to pay my respects, and I have heard such praise from all your family of the place.”

“Pray, what brings you to the area?” Mr. Willoughby smiled at the colonel, but Mary sensed something hollow in it – something strange indeed. 

They were to receive no answer, for Mrs. Jennings was bustling over to them. “Well, Colonel Brandon, what a to-do! Are we not a large and cozy party here? But what a perfect addition you make! I hope you mean to stay amongst us!”

The colonel looked uneasy, though Mary supposed such a reaction must be perfectly rational. “Mr. Dashwood has invited me to stay the night and dine with you all.”

“Very good, very good,” Mrs. Jennings cried, even as Marianne and Mr. Willoughby exchanged a look betraying the opposite sentiment entirely. “It is the finest house I have ever seen, I am sure – but you must stay more than a night! We are all snug and easy here, and you will not want to be going away so soon.”

The colonel smiled wistfully, and Mary was intrigued by what dolorous sentiments might engender such an expression. “I have no doubt you get on very well. The house is most impressive – Mr. Dashwood was so kind as to show me about the public rooms. You were all out of the house when I arrived, and I had no wish to interrupt your excursion. But one night must be enough, for urgent business calls me away again tomorrow.”

“Impossible,” Mrs. Jennings cried. “Surely not the same great matter that drew you from Delaford the day of our poor picnic!”

The colonel’s lips tightened. “It is a matter that requires my immediate attention,” he said firmly. “Indeed, Mr. Willoughby, as it involves a mutual acquaintance of ours, perhaps I might speak privately with you. At once.”

Mr. Willoughby grew very pale indeed, but had not time to reply before Mrs. Jennings cut him off. “What mutual acquaintance? Oh, dear me – not Lady Allen! La, but she is so very old – I do hope she is quite well!”

He bowed again. “Mrs. Jennings, Miss Crawford. Miss Marianne. I hope we shall speak later.” Mary was inclined to agree as she watched him lead Mr. Willoughby from the room, but had little time to ruminate on the matter before Marianne latched onto her.

“Forgive me, Mrs. Jennings, but I think my cousin Maria is calling for a game of whist. I do not mean to play myself, though I know you favor the game. Mary, might we take a turn about the room?”

Mrs. Jennings laughed and fixed them with a knowing look. “Well, keep your secrets – I am sure I know them all already, or very soon shall!” At that she turned her attention to the card party that was forming, and Marianne hastened to draw Mary in the opposite direction.

“Oh, Mary,” Marianne whispered as soon as they had walked some distance. “I am sure I should have fainted dead away!” Mary arched an eyebrow and smiled – no little resemblance to her own feelings indeed! And yet she was, more than anything else, recovered enough from the oddly flustering encounter as to be intensely curious.

“Why should you do such a thing? Surely you prefer your Mr. Willoughby to the colonel, even if he is so very handsome.”

“Colonel Brandon, handsome?” Marianne laughed. “Surely you mean to tease me worse than Mrs. Jennings.”

“Certainly not! If I ever did such a thing as that you should be obliged to lock me up.”

Thank you, Jayne, for sharing this excerpt with us.  We hope you’ll all check out your own copy and enter the giveaway.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

 

Excerpt from Mr. Darcy’s Clan by Lari Ann O’Dell & Giveaway

I just love the supernatural and well-written vampire novels, so when I heard about this P&P variation, I couldn’t resist hosting. Today’s guest Lari Ann O’Dell is going to share with us a scene from her new book, Mr. Darcy’s Clan for today’s blog tour stop. Please check it out and enter the giveaway.

About the Book:

The upper echelon of English society—comprised of vampires, or Firstborn Sons—is a world Elizabeth Bennet has no desire to join. She has little exposure to Firstborn Sons until Mr. Bingley arrives in the neighborhood and falls in love with her sister Jane. His mysterious friend, Mr. Darcy, attracts Elizabeth’s attention but she is convinced he is hiding a dark secret. In spite of this, powerful feelings draw her to him. She learns a shocking truth when Mr. Wickham appears and disaster strikes at Netherfield. Forced into Mr. Darcy’s supernatural realm, a confusing new world of danger threatens their deepening love. How can they find eternal happiness when members of his illustrious clan are plotting her demise? Can Mr. Darcy rise beyond his past to save her or will he lose her for all eternity?

Please welcome, Lari Ann O’Dell:

Hello dear readers and followers of Savvy Verse & Wit. I am grateful to be here today to share an excerpt from my newest release, Mr. Darcy’s Clan.

The scene I am sharing today is one of the first scenes of my book to exist and immediately became my budding inspiration for this untraditional rendition. When I was watching the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice for the umpteenth time, the line “Your hands are cold,” jumped out at me. Recently, I had just finished rewatching all the episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so naturally, I thought, what if Mr. Darcy was a vampire? The idea continued to intrigue the muse.

In this excerpt, we find Darcy and Elizabeth alone in the Netherfield gardens. It is early on in their acquaintance, and instinctively, Elizabeth becomes suspicious when she sees him out in the middle of the night. She is currently unaware of his true identity as a vampire, and her suspicions that he is hiding something are only further aroused when she discovers that his hands are cold.

Elizabeth could not sleep. Jane was slumbering in the room next to hers, and the book Elizabeth had chosen was not diverting. She changed from her nightgown into a dress, and put on her pelisse. The Netherfield gardens were beautiful, and she had not seen them in many years. Perhaps some fresh air and a bit of exercise would help her sleep.

A full moon hung in the velvet sky. A slight breeze rustled the trees and the two fountains in the garden gurgled softly. Elizabeth walked beneath a rose-covered arbor and down an immaculate promenade. The gardeners at Netherfield were certainly talented.

She was startled by a noise behind her and turned to discover she was not alone. Mr. Darcy stood several feet away, fully dressed but rather disheveled. A trail of blood ran down his chin and dripped onto his starched cravat.

Elizabeth longed to escape. Civility did not allow that yet propriety demanded it. She could not be discovered alone, in the middle of the night, with Mr. Darcy. Even so, she stood rooted to the ground as he approached.

He wiped away the blood before speaking. “Miss Elizabeth, forgive me for startling you. I did not expect anyone to be in the garden at this hour.”

“Nor did I,” Elizabeth said, eyeing him suspiciously.

Darcy seemed to sense where she was looking. “I fell on my way back to the stables.”

“Perhaps you should not be riding in the middle of the night then, sir. If you will excuse me …” Elizabeth was intent on brushing past him and running back to her room before her reputation could be tarnished … but she stumbled on a stone.

Darcy grabbed her hands and caught her, helping her to right herself.

Elizabeth was startled, for neither of them wore gloves. His hands were like ice. It was an unseasonably warm night, so the weather did not account for it.

“Your hands are cold,” she said.

Darcy seemed to remember himself and quickly released her hands. “I apologize. Is your sister showing any signs of improvement?” he said, looking rather abashed.

“She is asleep; and we should be as well. Good night, Mr. Darcy.” With that, she hurried back into the house.

Darcy’s blood pounded in his veins, urging him to follow her. He had not been sure until he had taken her hands, but it was undeniable now—his blood cried out for her, and he longed for her in a visceral manner. Elizabeth Bennet was meant to be his Eternal Partner. Darcy was mortified. What chance did they have? She was undoubtedly beneath him. Pride, honor, and duty revolted against such a match.

He should not have come into Hertfordshire.

Oooh, what a titillating moment for this duo. I cannot wait to find out what happens next. Enter the giveaway below.

About the Author:

Lari Ann O’Dell first discovered her love of Pride & Prejudice when she was eighteen. After reading a Pride & Prejudice variation she found in a closing sale at a bookstore, she said, “This is what I want to do.” She published her first novel, Mr. Darcy’s Kiss, two years later. Born and raised in Colorado, she attended the University of Colorado in Boulder and earned a bachelor’s degree in History and Creative Writing. After graduating college, she wrote and published her second novel, Mr. Darcy’s Ship. Her third novel, Mr. Darcy’s Clan, is her first supernatural variation, and she is working on two more fantasy variations. She is now back at school and pursuing a degree in Nursing. She adores her two beautiful nephews, Hudson and Dean. She currently works at a middle school and writes whenever she can. Visit her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.

GIVEAWAY:

Lari Ann O’Dell is giving away 8 eBooks of Mr. Darcy’s Clan. The giveaway is international.

ENTER HERE.

Deleted Scene from When Duty Calls by Belén Paccagnella & Giveaway

Writers can write entire scenes or even more than one scene that they have fun writing, but soon discover it has no place in the novel they are writing. When this happens, authors are left with delightful deleted scenes. Thankfully, Belén Paccagnella is one of those writers who saves her deleted scenes.  She’s going to share with us one such scene from her new book, When Duty Calls for today’s blog tour stop. Please check it out and enter the giveaway.

About the Book:

The Netherfield ball brings about many changes for the population of Meryton, and more so for the female residents of Longbourn. Mr. Bingley’s departure leaves the eldest, Jane Bennet, heartbroken whilst Mr. Collins’s proposal induces Miss Elizabeth to make a hasty escape. During her flight, she happens upon Mr. Darcy, a gentleman she despises. A moment of solitude in the woods leads to rather improper behavior, and the couple departs with the promise they will tell no one about their minor indiscretion. When their secret is finally uncovered, marriage becomes the only solution to saving Elizabeth from social disgrace. Her other grudges against Mr. Darcy are amplified by resentment and the prospect of spending her life with a man she can never respect. Nonetheless, the marriage takes place, forcing the young couple to deal with their pride and prejudices as husband and wife.

Please welcome, Belén Paccagnella:

Thank you, Serena, for having me at Savvy Verse and Wit. It’s always a pleasure for me to share new material with the readers. For today’s post, I selected a scene that I had a lot of fun writing but that I finally decided to cut. I think it’s perfect for this stop of the blog tour.

With all matters concerning Miss Lydia’s elopement settled, and the special license obtained, Miss Lydia’s wedding to Lt. George Wickham finally took place. The couple was married on a rainy Friday morning of April in a discreet and simple ceremony with only the Gardiners and Mr. Darcy in attendance. Mrs. Wickham’s displeasure for not having the entire regiment present at her wedding was great, but of short duration. Her spirits were restored when she was informed that she would spend her first night as a married woman in a fancy hotel in London, courtesy of her wealthy brother-in-law.

“You have been too generous with them, Mr. Darcy.” Mr. Gardiner commented that night during dinner. “After all you did for the Wickhams, sending them to a hotel is a much better wedding present than they deserve.”

“I fear I was not being generous to them, but to you and to your family. You have endured Miss Lydia’s presence in your home for an entire week, and I thought best to spare you from the displeasure of receiving her husband here as well, even if for only one night. Of all the expenditures I made on Mrs. Wickham’s behalf, this is by far the most pleasurable one.”

“Still, I do believe it is unfair that you should carry the entire financial burden of this wretched business upon your shoulders.” Proceeded Mr. Gardiner. “Mr. Bennet ought to know, as well as Lizzy, that it was you who found Lydia and the one who granted her a better future. I cannot agree with your decision to withhold this information from them.”

“Please, grant me this favour, if you may. I feel highly responsible for Mrs. Wickham’s fate. Had I exposed Wickham’s true character before, none of this would have happened. By helping the Wickhams and securing them a better future, I am also preserving the harmony of my own home. Elizabeth had suffered enough because of this and knowing the extent of my dealings might only add to her distress.” Darcy was determined. “The Bennets must not know, nor should Elizabeth. I trust that you will never tell her.”

“You have my word, sir.” Mr. Gardiner sighed, clearly disapproving of Darcy’s decision.

“I do not think Lydia has come to realize the trouble she had brought upon herself —to all her family!” Mrs. Gardiner interjected, addressing Darcy. “Such an unfortunate match!”

“It was prone to happen sooner or later. She should be happy and grateful that she has a generous brother-in-law to come to her rescue,” said Mr. Gardiner while cutting his meat. “I have always found reproachable the liberality and general permissiveness my brother and sister bestowed upon their children. Lydia has always been a reckless child, spoiled by her mother and ignored by her father. She would have benefited from more restraint and discipline in her upbringing.”

“Your children are still small, my friend. You will soon learn the difficulties of educating an adolescent lady. Sometimes all the discipline in the world cannot preserve a girl from making the wrong decision.” Darcy offered smilingly. After what happened to Georgiana,
who almost suffered Lydia’s fate, he was not in the place to judge his father-in-law for his want of severity and parental guidance.

“Your hand looks much improved now,” Mrs. Gardiner changed the subject, much to the younger man’s relief. “The swelling is almost gone. Does it hurt?”

“Not at all,” Darcy replied. “I can move my fingers quite well.”

Mr. Gardiner chuckled. “You did what many other men would have liked to do: punch George Wickham in the face! Pity it cost you a broken hand.”

“Watching that scoundrel bite the dust was worth the inconvenience. He certainly got some of what he deserved,” Darcy laughed along.

“It was such a charming wedding,” Mrs. Gardiner observed while passing the bread to her husband. “And Lydia looked so pretty! Even though we had little time to find her something suitable for the occasion, I think she was a lovely bride. Do you not think so?” The question was meant for Mr. Gardiner, who was sitting across from her at the table.

“Yes, I do.” It was Darcy who was the one who replied, much to the Gardiners’ amusement. “I must say that I was impressed with her gown. The colour of choice was very convenient. It matched perfectly with the purple on Wickham’s eye.”

Wasn’t that delightful?! I hope you enjoyed the deleted scene. Please leave a comment below and enter the giveaway for When Duty Calls.

About the Author:

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Belén Paccagnella discovered the world of Jane Austen fan fiction after watching the 1995 BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice. In her teens, she lived in Brazil when her family moved to the city of Curitiba due to her father’s work. She moved back to Buenos Aires a few years later, where she studied agronomy but finally pursued a different career and started working in the development and administration of shopping centers.

In 2001, she began writing both Regency and modern stories, adapting the Pride and Prejudice storyline to different backdrops, merging drama, humor, and adventure while creating characters with unique traits. Almost two decades later, she published Obstacles, a modern variation released in 2018 by Meryton Press.

Belén still lives in the suburbs of Buenos Aires where she shares her home with her pets while spending her time working, reading, and writing. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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