This month’s Friday Feature holds a special place in my heart as it is the first Pride and Prejudice variation book I wrote at the very beginning of my writing/publishing journey. It is not, however, the first book I published. That honour goes to Oxford Cottage. I honestly never thought this book would be published. It was in pretty desperate condition when I completed it and needed a lot of revision and editing — probably the most I have had to do on any book. However, a friend challenged me to do that editing work, and I accepted and set aside my November back three or four years ago to complete the task. I am glad I did. There is something about this book that continues to draw me along while reading — even though I know where the plot is going. 🙂 I also really enjoyed creating a relationship for “my boys” (Darcy, Bingley, and Colonel Fitzwilliam) that is not stuffy, formal, or rigid but relaxed and fun. AND THEN there is Master Andrew Gardiner and his relationship with his favourite cousin and the gentleman who loves her — it’s rather special. 🙂 But enough of my reminiscing, let me share the description of the book and then an excerpt.
Let’s begin with the book’s description:
Elizabeth Bennet has thrown away her one and only chance at marriage, or so her mother laments over and over again until finally, to restore a measure of peace to his house, Elizabeth’s father sends her to London to stay with relatives.
Fitzwilliam Darcy has fled Netherfield and its enchanting neighbour, hoping to hide away in town until his heart is no longer in danger of being lost to Elizabeth.
Of course, neither expects to see the other. In fact, after having been so harshly insulted at the Assembly, Elizabeth rather hopes that, with Darcy’s departure from Netherfield, she has seen the last of the arrogant man.
However, it is not to be.
When a chance meeting throws the tantalizing Elizabeth and haughty Darcy together, how will each respond to the other? Will her opinion change? Will Darcy get a second chance? Or will the plans and desires of others keep them apart forever?
Now for an excerpt. This portion is from chapter 3. I couldn’t resist giving you a little peek at the Gardiner children. Enjoy!
Elizabeth ruffled his hair. Truth be told, he was not the only one anxious for the outing ─ and not merely for the sake of the exercise it afforded. “I need my pelisse, and you need your hat and gloves. The air is crisp today.”
“Glubs, glubs, glubs.” Michael waggled his gloves in front of her. She took them and helped him get his fingers in the right places.
Elizabeth smiled with satisfaction as she fastened her pelisse. “I think we are all ready to go. Four children, one governess, one maid, and two visiting cousins. Oh, and a treat for later.” She held up a small parcel, causing the children to clap their hands in glee.
“Good luck,” said Mrs. Gardiner. “Give my greetings to the gentlemen, and remind them that I expect them to call. A warm cup of tea will be welcome after an outing in the park.”
As the group of adults and children from Gracechurch Street wove their way through the streets of London in Mr. Gardiner’s carriage, a trio of gentlemen was climbing into Darcy’s carriage in another part of town.
“So, Bingley, the dinner went well?” asked Darcy.
“Very well, my friend, very well. I was invited to join you on your outing to the park, was I not?” asked a beaming Bingley. “I understand you wish to meet Master Andrew, Colonel?”
“‘Twas the excuse,” said Richard. “Though I do hope to find out why Miss Elizabeth said she was here until her mother forgave her. And, it seemed like a good way to throw the unsuspecting couple together.” He winked at Darcy.
“Well, Darcy, you may wish to tread carefully. Master Andrew has laid claim to Miss Elizabeth. Stood between us when I was speaking to her last evening and never left her side until it was time to go back to the nursery,” said Bingley.
“Thank you for the warning. I shall try not to get called out,” said Darcy dryly.
“Uh, Darcy?” Bingley started cautiously.
“There is something else of which you should be warned. Hmmm. Let me see, how do I put this? Errr. Seeing Miss Elizabeth with the children could be somewhat distracting.”
“Distracting? What are you talking about, Bingley?”
“Well, seeing Jane with little Michael on her lap last night made my mind wander to the possibilities in the future.”
“Oh,” said Darcy.
“Miss Bennet was interacting with the children so sweetly–it was quite a beguiling picture. But Miss Elizabeth, well, she really gets into playing with them, and they follow her around like little ducklings. And they seem to have her colouring as well. I thought you should be prepared.”
Richard chortled. “Oh, this is an even better idea than I thought.”
“Thank you, Bingley. It is good to see I have some friends who care about my well-being.” Darcy glared at his cousin.
“Oh, I have your well-being in mind, too. Pemberley needs a mistress; you need a wife; and I have never, in all my years of going to balls and parties and plays and various other soirees, met a woman more suited to you than Miss Elizabeth,” said Richard in a serious tone.
The carriage had arrived at the park just as the Gardiner party was coming down the street. Elizabeth had Michael on her hip; his curly dark head snuggled into her shoulder. Andrew’s hand was clasped firmly in hers as he occasionally looked up to her, his head tilting slightly, obviously asking a question. Jane and the girls followed behind, Amelia occasionally tugging at Elizabeth’s sleeve to get her attention. Darcy sat frozen, his jaw slack. He had never seen a more beautiful sight. His heart was racing. Richard was right. He did need a wife, a particular wife.