Friday’s Feature: For Peace of Mind

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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.

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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?

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Now for an excerpt. This portion is from chapter 3. I couldn’t resist giving you a little peek at the Gardiner children. Enjoy! Continue reading Friday’s Feature: For Peace of Mind

Music Monday: The Cello Song, The Piano Guys

What will you find in this week’s Music Monday post? Well, today, I have a musical selection from my Music to Write By playlist, news of a “new” book, and an excerpt (half of what is currently the first chapter) from a just started story. So, click play and while this beautiful song swells, read on to find out more.

ThePianoGuys. “The Cello Song – (Bach Is Back with 7 More Cellos) – The Piano Guys.”YouTube. YouTube, 14 June 2011. Web. 29 Jan. 2017.

New Beginnings: A Pride and Prejudice Variation Anthology

<– This happened this week.  🙂 I have compiled three of my stand-alone books into an anthology of stories focused on the theme of second chances.  Included in this collection are For Peace of MindThrough Every Storm, and Finally Mrs. DarcyNew Beginnings is available both in ebook (at a nearly 50% savings off the individual titles) and paperback. You can find it at this link: New Beginnings

In addition to publishing this anthology, I also began writing a new story this week. The plan is for this story to be a Dash of Darcy story, which means it should be about 20,000 words and will focus on a new way for Darcy and Elizabeth to get together. I have preliminary plot notes and a few thousand words written. I hope to have the first draft completed by the end of February so that this short novella will be available in March — perhaps in time for some March Break (Spring Break) reading! 😉

Here is a longish excerpt from the beginning of this story:

“Fitzwilliam,” Lady Catherine called to Colonel Fitzwilliam as he passed the door to her sitting room.  “Your ride can wait,” she said in answer to the reply she knew was coming. 

Colonel Fitzwilliam sighed and turned in to the room.

“Just Fitzwilliam.”  Lady Catherine looked down her nose and made a brushing motion with her hand indicating that her other nephew, Fitzwilliam Darcy, should leave the room.  “Close the door,” she called after him.  She waited until it was latched, and she heard footsteps moving away from the room.  Then, she took Colonel Fitzwilliam by the arm and pulled him further into the room. 

“Sit.”  She  motioned to a chair in a grouping in front of a window that looked out onto the front garden of the house. 

Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam rolled his eyes and did as instructed.  It was pointless to do otherwise.  Lady Catherine always had her way or there was a price to pay.  It was far cheaper and easier to just listen.  “To what might I ascribe the honor of this private conference?”

Lady Catherine’s eyes narrowed at his cheeky tone, but she did not reprimand him for it.  He was always attempting to stir her ire, but today, she would allow no such distractions.  She stood near the window.  She tilted her head to peer out and around toward the door where Darcy was just exiting.  “It is time he marries,” she said.

“Darcy?”  Richard’s eyes grew wide in surprise. 

She nodded and took a seat across from her nephew.  “Yes, Darcy.  Georgiana is not getting any younger and will need someone besides just her brother to guide her through her first season.”

“But Anne –“

“Not Anne.  They would not suit.” 

“But?” Richard was at a loss for words. His aunt had always insisted that Darcy would marry Anne.  In fact, it was a supposed engagement that had kept Darcy from feeling a need to begin looking in earnest for a lady to help him secure his estate for future generations. 

Lady Catherine picked at a small flower on the arm of her chair.  “He was not ready to begin a family. I had to keep him from rushing forward into his duty somehow.”

Richard’s mouth dropped open and then snapped shut.  There were still no coherent thoughts forming in his mind. What his aunt was currently saying was clashing with what she had always said previously.  Had she not taunted Darcy about doing his duty by marrying Anne? 

She shook her head as if reading his thoughts. “Darcy was never going to marry Anne, and Anne knew it.” 

Richard’s brows furrowed, and his lips pursed into a perplexed scowl.  “You will need to explain.”

Lady Catherine rose and walked to the window. Darcy was still pacing in the front garden.  “I promised his mother that I would see him marry well and for love.”  She raised a brow at Richard, causing his mouth to snap shut. “When his father died, he was not ready to take on the responsibilities of an estate and make a proper decision about a wife.  He would have rushed pell-mell into an untenable marriage that would have perhaps resulted in a family, but not a happy one.  He would have used some supposed list of qualifications of a proper wife and never thought once about the misery he would have faced as a result.” She tipped her head and gave Richard a firm look. “Do not tell me he would not have done so.  You know as well as I that he puts duty before everything.” She shook her head.  “I still think he has no idea what sort of wife he requires.” 

Richard laughed.  “And you do?” 

Lady Catherine returned to her chair. “I do, and I have found her.”  She chuckled at the way Richard’s mouth dropped open again.  “A simple county miss with a keen mind.” 

“And you found her?”

Lady Catherine raised one shoulder and let it drop slightly.  “I believe, I have.” She leaned forward as she prepared to tell him how she had done it.  “My parson is the heir to an estate that is entailed — a distant cousin or some such thing.  It is difficult at times to follow his meandering.” 

Richard raised a brow and smirked, earning a rap on the knee.

“I am not meandering.”

Richard inclined his head in acceptance although the smirk did not fade from his lips.

“Anyway, this cousin has five daughters — three of a good marriageable age and two just reaching it.” She smiled as the smirk dropped from Richard’s face and was replaced with amazement.  “I sent him to find a wife from among them because I reasoned that if he could marry one, then the others might be asked to visit on occasion, and I might be able to select one for Darcy.” 

Richard shook his head.  “How did you know these ladies would be simple country misses with intelligence?” 

Lady Catherine shrugged.  “Collins had said their father eschewed town and spent the chief portion of his time in his study. I thought it likely that at least one daughter might have inherited her father’s love of books and learning.” 

Richard nodded.  That made sense. It was unlikely that all five daughters would be completely unlike their father.  “Was he successful?”

Lady Catherine laughed.  “No, he was not, and I really should have known he would go about it wrong.  He tends to bungle things, but in his bungling, he has made my task of selection most easy.”  She laughed again. “She refused him — soundly, and she is not taken with Darcy.  Quite the contrary. She thinks him proud.”  Her eyes fairly danced with mirth.  “Collins did secure a wife, however, and Mrs. Collins happens to be Mrs. Darcy’s particular friend.  That is how I know so much about my choice.  Mrs. Collins is a lovely lady, very sensible — quite the opposite of her husband.” 

Richard’s head tilted to the side.  “Your parson has a guest.” 

A smile split Lady Catherine’s face.  “Upon my urging, he does.” 

“The lady you have selected?” 

Lady Catherine’s brows flicked up quickly. “Clever is it not?”

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Music Monday: The Holly and The Ivy, Mannheim Steamroller

“The Holly And The Ivy- Mannheim Steamroller.” YouTube. YouTube, 10 Dec. 2012.

THE LINK BETWEEN MUSIC AND STORY:

Twenty-four years ago today, this song was one of several that comprised the prelude music at my wedding. It may seem a strange choice to have The Holly and The Ivy played at a wedding in June, but there was a reason.

My husband and I met at college.  The first “off campus” date (other than taking a walk or going rollerskating) was to see A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. It was a special night, and this song reminds me of that night.

Another thing that this song reminds me of is the time of year when my boyfriend finally made me “officially” his fiance.  We had known we would marry for some time, but it was on COLD winter’s night during our Christmas holidays from teaching, as we took a short walk in a park, that he asked me to marry him.

And that brings us almost to the story excerpt from a book published one year ago today — For Peace of Mind.  The dedication of this book reads:

To my husband, the love of my heart

It is the first book I dedicated to him, but not the last. He is the hero of my love story and as such really could have every book dedicated to him since he is the one who has taught me what it is to be loved truly and completely.  And it is his support and belief in me that has led (or is that pushed 😉 ) me into publishing my stories and continuing to follow my passion for writing.

Ok, now to the excerpt.  This is the scene where Darcy, on a cool night in December, takes Elizabeth for a short walk in the garden at Netherfield and makes their betrothal official.

EXCERPT FROM For Peace of Mind

Elizabeth pulled her shawl a little tighter around her shoulders and rubbed her injured arm as she watched the carriages pull away from the front of the house.

“Are you well?” asked Darcy. “Is your arm paining you?”

“I am well, Fitzwilliam. My arm is just a little sore from yesterday.”

“Yesterday?”

“We have a small Feast of Stephen for the staff at Longbourn each year. The ladies of the house prepare the meal. I think my arm is just sore from the stirring and washing. Nothing a bit of rest and Charlotte’s tea will not cure. Do not worry, sir.” She laced her arm through his and snuggled closer to him than was entirely proper.

“It is a warm night for December,” commented Darcy. “Would you care for a quick turn around the side garden? It is in view of the drawing room.”

“I would like that very much, sir. I was getting tired of sitting in the same attitude for so long and since Miss Bingley is not here to escort me about the drawing-room, I shall have to fall on your mercy.”

Darcy laughed. “I am glad Miss Bingley is not here, Elizabeth.”

“As am I.”

They had come to a bend in the path leading past a stand of tall bushes surrounding a sitting area. Darcy pulled Elizabeth off the path and behind the bushes. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her gently. Stepping back he reached into his pocket and drew something out.

“I spoke to your father.”

Delight filled her eyes, but he placed a finger on her lips so he could continue without interruption.

“My love, you hold my heart. Though I faltered in my behaviour and disparaged with my words upon our first meeting, I believe you have held it since then, and it shall never truly be mine again ─ nor do I ever wish to have it returned.” He opened his hand revealing a band of gold engraved on the outside with entwined hearts and flowers. “Elizabeth Bennet, would you do me the honour of standing at the end of a court under a gauge with me and promise to be my wife?”

She placed her hand on top of his open one. She blinked back tears and nodded. “Fitzwilliam Darcy, I love you with every piece of my being and shall continue to do so for as long as I live. I would be honoured to be your wife.”

“My father gave this ring to my mother on their betrothal. It is inscribed. Love of my heart.” He placed the ring on her finger and a kiss on her hand before drawing her to him and giving her a long and passionate kiss.

“Are you cold?” he asked when he felt her shiver in his arms.

“No,” she said softly, “But I think we should go inside anyway.”

“Is something wrong?” asked Darcy in concern.

“Nothing a marriage will not fix, sir.” Elizabeth gave his hand a tug, urging him to follow her back to the house. “Might I suggest a short engagement,” she threw over her shoulder.

“Oh,” was all Darcy said as he followed behind her, a very satisfied look upon his face.

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Elizabeth’s Gift to Lady Matlock

In For Peace of Mind, the Gardiner and Bennet families have a tradition of giving gifts at the end of each year.  As Elizabeth explained to Georgiana,

“The gifts must show thankfulness for and give blessing to the receiver.  Uncle says that is the most important part of the tradition.”(For Peace of Mind, Chapter 9)

I wanted Elizabeth to give  a gift of homemade sweets to Lady Matlock.  This sent me wandering around the internet in search of information about sweets in Regency England.  Happily, I stumbled across the third edition of a cookbook published in London, England in 1827 which contained a recipe for chocolates!  Below is that recipe.

Conserve of Chocolate—Conserve de Chocolat.

Boil-down two ounces of chocolate de santé or of vanille, in a quarter of a glass of water; have ready half a pound of sugar on perlé; mix it with the sugar, and work as the other: or all sorts of wet conserves, follow the directions given for cherries, currants, gooseberries, raspberries, oranges, lemons, &c. &c.

Of course, my research could not stop there. I had to try it. I needed to know how hard it might be for Lizzy to make her gift.  So, I read the recipes for the other types of conserves as listed and gathered my tools.  The results were edible, but not very good.

After a bit of thought, I decided perhaps I could find a similar recipe in my grandmother’s cookbook (printed in 1934)and use those instructions.  This is the recipe I found.

Cocoa Fudge

1/2 cup cocoa

2/3 cup cold water

2 cups sugar

2/3 cup milk

3 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

nut meats

 Place the cocoa and cold water in a sauce pan.  Stir over low fire until chocolate is melted.  Remove from fire and stir until smooth.  Stir in sugar gradually and add milk.  Then stir over fire until sugar is dissolved.  Boil over medium flame until it reaches 226 degrees F. or until a soft ball will form when a teaspoonful of syrup is dropped in cold water.  When test is obtained place pan in cold water to cool for a few minutes.  Add butter and vanilla.  Remove pan.  Beat until it begins to thicken and lose its shine.  Add nut meats.  Pour at once onto a damp cake pan (greasing is unnecessary). 

Marjorie M. Nelson

I gathered my tools again and began my second attempt.  In this second attempt, I used 1/4 cup of cocoa, 1 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of cold water, and a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.  I followed Marjorie’s directions as written omitting the information about the milk, butter and nut meats; making sure not to stir while the mixture boiled; and pouring it not into a damp pan but into a pan lined with wax paper. The results were not only edible but declared good by my teenage son!

Next time, I think I might try adding dried fruit or nut meats, or perhaps I will pour the chocolate into some pretty moulds, or….

 

Sources:
The Art of French Cookery by A.B. Beauvilliers, Restauranteur, Paris, Third Edition, printed for Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green, Paternoster-Row.
Friendship League’s Book of Tested Recipes (Swedish Tabernacle Church, Minneapolis, MN published by Independent Press.