Excerpt & Giveaway: Doubt Not, Cousin by Barry S. Richman

I love Jane Austen stories that involve the cousins — Colonel Fitzwilliam and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. They have such different backgrounds, and it always seems as though the Colonel is lively and happy. I am eager to see what Richman tackles in this novel.

Before we get to the excerpt, let’s check out the synopsis and an excerpt. Stay for the giveaway.

Book Synopsis:

Darkness, in many forms, must be conquered to emerge into the light and embrace one’s happily ever after.

Fitzwilliam Darcy. Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam. Two cousins, closer than brothers. One finds love despite his inner demons; the other resists love because of them.

Elizabeth Bennet. Kitty Bennet. Two sisters, strengthened by adversity. One willingly yields to love; the other pridefully misinterprets it.

An epic saga steeped in intrigue and gift-wrapped in romance, Doubt Not, Cousin chronicles the trials and tribulations of three extraordinary families during England’s Regency era.

… But who is the girl with the violet eyes?

Today’s excerpt:

Thank you, Serena, for hosting me today. The overwhelming interest in Doubt Not,
is incredible. I knew as I was writing that the characters and themes would be different and hopefully interesting. The following is an example of such. DNC has influences from several authors I have read throughout the years. The characterization of Col Fitzwilliam’s health issues stems from Stieg Larsson’s Millenium series. He presented a character, Randall Neiderman, who could feel no pain.

Congenital analgesia or congenital insensitivity to pain (CIP) is an extraordinarily rare condition in which a person cannot feel or has never felt physical pain. Because feeling physical pain is vital for survival, CIP is extremely dangerous. Without going into the physiological reasons, the pertinent subject is the two types of non-responses to pain: insensitivity and indifference. Master Richard Fitzwilliam is of the latter, as our readers shall see …


“Mr. Burton.”

A wiry man walked with purpose across the parlor, his posture ramrod straight. His arms hung at his sides—his right hand empty, his left carrying a black leather medical satchel. His light hair was short, and gold-framed spectacles were perched upon his patrician nose. He had been raised a gentleman and was comfortable in the current setting. He paused and waited for the aristocratic couple to take notice of him. Once the niceties had been completed, a young redheaded nurse entered the room and delivered her charge to the surgeon. He appeared quite comfortable as he briefly communicated with the child. She seemed reluctant to leave. The medico regarded her with kindness.

“He will be well, I assure you.”

Nurse curtsied and departed. The earl and the countess stood.

“If possible, I would like for you to remain. It reduces speculation.”

The earl and the countess returned to their chairs, unsure of what to say. The surgeon began his examination. He sat Richard upon a coffee table and opened his bag.

At first, the evaluation mirrored those made by the other London physicians. Seeing that, the earl and countess prepared themselves to accept another wasted afternoon. Yet, after measuring, weighing, and handling the child, this surgeon deviated from evaluations conducted in the past. He spent a considerable amount of time looking at and touching the boy’s tongue. He compared it to his upper and lower teeth repeatedly.

He used a set of calipers to measure the length and depth of each furrow. He opened a journal and made precise, miniature drawings of the scars. He showed them to his patient as he completed each one and asked for his opinion. The two exchanged whispers. At one point, the surgeon inclined his head; the boy nodded several times. They recommenced whispering, their heads nearly touching. The earl and the countess looked on in wonder, exchanging glances between themselves.

The surgeon next sat the child on a settee. From his bag, he removed a small jar containing clear fluid and thin needles. He set this on the side table next to the boy who watched the surgeon dispassionately.

“The best Damascene steel sewing needles in neutral spirits,” offered the surgeon to the couple. The earl’s eyebrows neared the top of his forehead.

Mr. Burton knelt until he was at eye level with his patient. The boy’s parents watched him whisper to their son and receive the same in return. The surgeon removed
a large black cloth, reassured the child all would be well, and blindfolded him. Opening the jar, the surgeon removed a needle and scratched it down each bare leg without breaking the skin. A pink trail remained. The patient displayed no reaction.

The surgeon next removed the child’s shoe and stocking. He grasped a bare foot in his hand. He leaned over and whispered again into his patient’s ear. Richard nodded back in return. He removed another needle, then looked at the countess briefly. She blinked. He pushed the needle deep into the child’s heel. The boy moved his head down as if looking at his foot through the mask but made no sound. The surgeon carefully eased the needle out and checked the heel for blood. He found none. He removed the blindfold, replaced the boy’s stocking and shoe, and congratulated young Richard on his bravery. The child looked up at Burton and smiled.

The earl was doubly stunned, both by the ordeal he had assumed his son had undergone and equally so by Richard’s reaction. He looked at the countess, who had her right hand over her mouth; her left gripped the sofa’s arm. Her expression showed her agony, and her eyes were filled with tears. She reached out to her husband for comfort. The earl encompassed her trembling hand.

Mr. Burton bowed to the earl. His examination was complete, but he remained silent.

Matlock called the butler into the room. “See that Richard is served his favorite treat.

He has done very well—very well, indeed.”

“Yes, my lord.” Smythe closed the door. A few moments later, Richard’s young nurse entered and swept up her charge, humming a melodic Irish ballad. Richard’s little arms wound around her neck. The door closed, and silence again settled in the room.

The earl put the question to Burton, not arrogantly but in a quiet, hopeful manner. “Well?”

“I shall require time to conduct some rather specific research. For now, I can extend a hypothesis.”

“Please do.”

“Your son does not feel physical sensations like others. This is clear in his minute reaction to painful stimuli.”

The surgeon nodded to the couple to ensure their understanding. They both replied in kind.

“There is more evidence as seen by the scarring on his tongue. The teeth marks match his inner mouth shape. I conjecture he chewed his tongue while teething. I speculate his weight loss, coupled with his failure to demand to feed, also stems from this high, or in my opinion, indifferent pain threshold. His diminished response to pain concerns me.” Burton gestured with his forefinger in the air. “He must be taught that blunt trauma is a danger to him. Pain is our body’s warning mechanism. Your son, as he grows, will not acknowledge the everyday bumps and bruises children encounter while playing.”

“Pray continue,” directed the countess, her focus on the surgeon.

“I should like to spend more time with the young master in his familiar environment. Together, we shall develop a protocol for him to self-assess throughout the day. We desire to prevent smaller incidents from growing into larger injuries. The French have a name for this protocol.”

The earl curled his lip curl in disgust. “Odious lot. You have my permission to speak the words, sir, as this is your area of expertise. What is this practice you are describing?”

“The French use the word ‘triage.’ We shall instruct the young lord to continuously self-triage throughout the day. It will become second nature to him.”

The earl nodded.

The surgeon continued. “I would also recommend that family and staff begin the courtesy of requesting physical contact rather than initiating it.”

“Even his mother?” the countess blurted, then covered her mouth with her hand.

“I believe individual family members will find a happy balance.” The surgeon returned the countess’s smile.

She continued. “Is this indifference to pain related to his slow development to speak?”

“I believe not, your ladyship.”

“What prompts this opinion?” she inquired.

“Your son Richard, if I may, is not reticent to express an opinion or an observation in the short time we have spent together. He chooses when to speak and how much. As time passes, he will become more comfortable and, therefore, will speak more. He is aware that the scarring on his tongue delays, but does not prohibit, speaking normally.

What that manner is, only time will tell. He is alert, bright, and strong—quite strong. He will adapt.”

The countess relaxed, a slight smile playing around her mouth.

The earl stood. “Burton, see my man of business today. We welcome you as a Matlock retainer.”

“Yes, Mr. Burton. You have lightened my heart. Please join the earldom,” invited the

Burton nodded his assent. “Thank you, your lordship, your ladyship. I shall.”

“Smythe.” Again, the Matlock butler entered the study. “See to Mr. Burton’s comfort and requests.” Burton bowed and exited the study. Lord Matlock resumed his place.

The earl looked at his wife and opened his arms. She nestled in, laid her head on his shoulder, and succumbed to his embrace. Together, like their youngest son, they sat in silence.

About the Author:

Barry S. Richman is a military veteran and corporate logistics professional. While he was recuperating at home after having his wisdom teeth extracted in 2003, he picked up a copy of Pride and Prejudice and has yet to put it down.

In the past twenty years, he has read thousands of Pride and Prejudice variations. Watching him complete a book every other day, his wife of thirty years suggested he write one. Doubt Not, Cousin is his first book.

Barry and his “Jane Bennet” live in Los Angeles and Alaçatı, a small seaside town in southwestern Turkey. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, GoodReads, Amazon, and YouTube.


Meryton Press will give away one eBook of Doubt Not, Cousin per blog stop.

The giveaway is international.

To enter, leave a comment with viable email to be entered by July 28 at 11:59 p.m.

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