Friday’s Feature: For Peace of Mind

Click the link to find this book on sale in your Kindle store.

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! Continue reading Friday’s Feature: For Peace of Mind

Thursday’s Three Hundred: Confounding Caroline, Part 5

You can find previous posts HERE.

Part Five

“Darcy,” Bingley said as Darcy finished his missive to Colonel Fitzwilliam, “perhaps you could help me with a little problem?”

Darcy glanced up from the paper he was folding and preparing to seal.  “Anything.”

“My sister…”

“Except that,” Darcy interrupted with a chuckle.

Bingley shook his head.  It was good to see Darcy so hopeful.   “I would not foist her on you.  If that were my intention, I would have done it long ago instead of suffering through these years with her airs.”

Darcy inclined his head in acceptance. He was thankful his friend had the good sense not to throw his sister in Darcy’s path.  Caroline Bingley was not the sort of lady that he had ever considered.  She was too… His brows furrowed, what was she exactly?  Devious, practiced, lacking in warmth? Any of those would do he supposed. Put simply, she did not possess a nature that appealed to him.

“I do not know what to do about her hiding Miss Bennet’s call from me,” Bingley continued.  “You know I am not the best at knowing how to deal with Caroline.”  He sighed. “I wish she would just marry and be someone else’s problem.”

Darcy lifted a brow. “You care for her,” he reminded him.

Bingley shrugged.  “Not as much at this moment as I did before I knew she was trying to keep Miss Bennet away from me.  I would rather fob her off onto the first chap to seem welcoming than have to keep her and act appropriately.”

“You would not fob her off on the first chap,” Darcy contradicted with a smile.  His friend really did care for both of his sisters, no matter how much they annoyed him.  “You would see her well-settled, at least.”

Bingley blew out a breath. It was true. If Caroline was not well-settled, he would have to abide her displeasure for the remainder of his life, and he honestly did not wish to see her utterly unhappy, he supposed, even if presently he was not entirely convinced of that fact.  “Then what do I do?” Continue reading Thursday’s Three Hundred: Confounding Caroline, Part 5

Music Monday: Pride and Prejudice – When I See You Smile

Today, I thought I would share one of the videos on my Music Meets Movies playlist since the song seems to go with a particular part of the story excerpt. I am drawing close to the end of my current WIP — or at least the conclusion of the conflict I had wished to resolve — and am now considering if the story ends here or not, as in, there might be a conflict which could arise as I move past this happy for now place in which two of my main characters find themselves.

wantingyounear. “Pride and Prejudice – When I See You Smile.” YouTube, YouTube, 26 Feb. 2007, youtu.be/-B0Po7-3rdE.

That’s about as clear as stagnant pond water, isn’t it? Well, you see, I don’t want to give too much away about my current story, but as you will see in today’s excerpt below, Georgiana is planning to go to Netherfield for Christmas, and Wickham will be there.  There is this niggling in my mind prodding me to explore what might happen in Hertfordshire.  However, I don’t think that doing so in my current story would be appropriate for a couple of reasons: my main characters would almost certainly shift and the initial intent of the story I have been writing has been met so adding another conflict would lend itself to a wandering storyline (something of which I am not fond). So, it appears I will have some serious thinking/plotting/story structure analysis to do this week.

In other story news, I have received Becoming Entangled back from my final editor and have begun the last pass re-read of that story, and now I must decide if my original publication date of November 21 is best or if pushing it out and adding a short preorder might be better for getting everything accomplished without losing my mind from the stress of making sure everything meets the rather exacting standards I strive to uphold at Leenie B Books. (I find myself excessively demanding at times.)  🙂

It seems I have a few decisions to make this week as I edit and write. While I open my calendar and being to ponder these things, I will leave you with this —

AN EXCERPT FROM Two Days before Christmas: Continue reading Music Monday: Pride and Prejudice – When I See You Smile

Thursday’s Three Hundred: Confounding Caroline, Part 4

You can find previous posts HERE.

Part Four

“Why would she not have you? I see no reason for her to reject you.” Bingley knew he was close to securing a solution.  He had learned from his father that there were always a few nagging details which threatened to sink any negotiation.  Hopefully, this obstacle would be easily overcome, although, with Darcy, even a small obstacle could become nearly insurmountable when he was in a dour state of mind, such as he was this evening.

“She believes George Wickham.” Darcy drained the remaining liquid from his glass and placed it firmly on the table next to him.  “Which means he has once again stolen from me that which is dear.”

“He has not,”  Bingley refuted.  “He did not succeed with Georgiana, and he will not succeed with Miss Elizabeth either.”

Darcy’s jaw clenched as he shook his head.  “He has already influenced her against me.”

“How do you know?” With any luck, there would be a great leap that had been made by his friend who could be overly pessimistic about things at times and see one small error as the ruin of a project.

“She questioned me about Wickham at your ball.”

Bingley leaned back in his chair and bit his cheeks to keep from smiling with satisfaction.  He had heard about Miss Elizabeth’s questioning as Darcy had vented his frustration on an innocent set of billiard balls. It might be challenging to overcome the obstacles of George Wickham and Miss Elizabeth’s poor opinion of Darcy, but from Bingley’s position when considering the whole scheme of Miss Elizabeth and George Wickham, there was at least one way in which he knew he could very likely prod Darcy into action. Continue reading Thursday’s Three Hundred: Confounding Caroline, Part 4

Thursday’s Three Hundred: Confounding Caroline, Part 3

You can find previous posts HERE.

Part Three

Bingley crossed the room quickly and, taking Darcy by the shoulders, led him back to his chair.  “Sit,” he said.

Darcy sighed and did as instructed.

“There is no reason for us to part,” Bingley reiterated as he handed Darcy a refreshed glass of brandy.

“But ─”

“No,” Bingley cut Darcy off.  “Duty be hanged.”  He dropped into his chair.  There was absolutely no way while the sun still shone that he was going to lay aside his own chance at happiness with Miss Bennet, but it was equally unlikely that he was going to let a man who was more brother than friend walk out of his life. How would he be able to be completely happy if he knew he was the cause of such pain to Darcy?

“Your family ─”

“No,” Bingley cut in again.  “My family, just like yours, expects me to marry well, and I shall.”  He smirked.  “It shall, perhaps not be as well as certain members of my family would wish, but it is I who has to live with my choice of bride, not them.  At least, I hope Caroline does not always live with me.” He shuddered.  She would be the next problem he would have to sort out.

“My family expects…” Darcy attempted to speak once again only to find Bingley talking over him once more.

“I know what your family expects.”

He had heard his friend wax eloquent on it many times — usually when explaining why he could not consider this or that lady whom Bingley had suggested.  They were all excellent ladies.  Very pleasant.  Not at all stuffy and overbearing.  But, none had interested Darcy in the least. Indeed, even some of the stuffier well-positioned ladies Bingley had mentioned in passing had never gotten more than a sigh and a reluctant agreement to consider them if it became necessary.

Bingley’s brows drew together, and a small smile played at his lips.  None of them had ever flustered Darcy as much as Miss Elizabeth had.  She had drawn him out, caused him to debate, and even to dance.  And now she was the one woman that Darcy would regret all his life if he did not pursue and win her.

With a most serious look on his face, Bingley sat forward in his chair, leaning toward his friend.  “What would happen if you did not fulfill your family’s expectations?  Would you be cut off?  Disinherited? Shunned by society? What would the consequences be?”  He asked.

Darcy shrugged and sipped his drink.  “I suppose it would cause a family rift.”

“Meaning you would have fewer functions to attend because they would not invite you?”

Darcy nodded.  “Yes, there is that.”

“Who would refuse to see you?”

Darcy drew a deep breath.  “I cannot say with any certainty who would do so besides Aunt Catherine.”

“But,” Bingley persisted. “She will be displeased no matter who you marry unless it is her daughter.  You have said so yourself. Do you intend to marry your cousin?”

“No, I have no desire to marry Anne.”

“Then marrying Miss Elizabeth would be no different than if you married some duke’s daughter.”  Bingley cocked his head to the side and settled back in his chair.

“It might make it more challenging for Georgiana when she comes out if my connections are not of the first circles.”

Bingley shrugged.  “Will she not still have her thirty thousand?”

“Of course, she will.”

“Will your family’s ties to the land and aristocracy not still be of long standing?”

Darcy shook his head. “That is a foolish question. How would my heritage change?”

Bingley smiled. “I do not know, but you seem to think that marrying a gentleman’s daughter will somehow change how a prospective husband will view Georgiana.”  He shrugged, rose from his chair, and paced to the window before presenting his next argument.  “Actually, I am rather surprised that you would even consider a gentleman who offered for your sister only because she would be a feather in his societal cap.”

Darcy’s head pulled back, and he blinked.

Bingley smiled. The comment had done its work. It had startled his friend and would hopefully get him to begin to see duty for what it was ─ a weight that could drag a person down into wretchedness.  Perhaps Darcy would consider such a fate for himself, but he would never do so for his sister.

“You must consider her happiness,” Bingley continued, leaning against the bookshelf that was near the window.  “I know people often think of me as obtuse — do not deny it,” he challenged as Darcy opened his mouth to speak.  “To be fair, I often am. I am not as quick to catch on to things as some, but I am not oblivious to the world around me.  I do spend time in observation and contemplation.” He smirked.  “Not as much as you, my friend, but I do practice the skills occasionally.”

Darcy chuckled.

“You know I care for Georgiana, although not as my sister would wish for me to care for her,” Bingley said.

Again Darcy chuckled, and Bingley joined him.  They knew that Caroline wished for not just one connection to the Darcy family through marrying Darcy herself. She also wanted her brother to marry Darcy’s sister.  To her, there was no better way to ensure they had risen above their roots in trade than to secure ties to the aristocracy and ancient lands and money.

“I care for her as a brother might care for her. I would not wish to see her harmed in any fashion.” Bingley came back to where Darcy still sat swirling and occasionally sipping his drink.  “She still feels the weight of disappointing you, Darcy.  I can see it in her eyes when she looks at you when you are unaware.” Darcy had shared with him about Georgiana’s ordeal with Wickham at Ramsgate.

“But she has not disappointed me. I have failed her.”  Darcy’s brows furrowed, and he shook his head.

“Yet, she perceives she has disappointed you, and it still plays upon her spirit.  Imagine how her spirit would suffer if she were to learn you had given up happiness for her. You know as well as I that she would never be happy no matter the match you might make for her.” He shrugged.  “And what match will you make for her?  Will it be one of duty and obligation, or do you wish for her to find felicity and love?  And with time, might you not grow to resent the fact that you gave up the possibility of your own felicity for your sister?”

Darcy gaped at his friend.  “I had not thought of it in those terms.  But, I fear, it does not matter. Miss Elizabeth would not have me anyway.”

~*~*~

Leenie B Books

KOBO      AMAZON      NOOK      IBOOKS      MAILING LIST

Thursday’s Three Hundred: Confounding Caroline, Part 2

You can find previous posts HERE.

Note: I have included a few lines from last week’s post to help you remember where we left Darcy and Bingley last week.

Part Two

“She is here in town.” Darcy placed his empty glass on a side table and allowed his eyes to remain on it rather than look at his friend.”Who is here in town?”

“Who is here in town?”

Darcy drew a deep breath and spared Bingley only a glance before returning his gaze to his glass. “Miss Bennet.”

“Miss Bennet?”

Darcy nodded.

“How do you know?”  Bingley was on his feet and pacing. “Have you seen her?”

Darcy shook his head and sighed.  “No, I have not seen her, but your sisters have.”  He turned once again toward the window.  Bingley’s reaction to the news was as expected and proved to Darcy how deeply attached his friend was to Miss Bennet.

“My sisters?” Bingley stood beside his friend, his brows drawn together in question.

Darcy turned toward him. “This afternoon, while you were out, I came by to drop off those papers.” He pointed to the packet sitting unopened on the somewhat cluttered desk. “Caroline informed me that Miss Bennet had called.”

“She was here? Miss Bennet was here?”  Bingley’s eyes were wide with astonishment.  “Why did Caroline not tell me?”

Darcy wished to walk away from his friend so that he could not see the pain in Bingley’s eyes, but he would not.  “It seems your sister is actively trying to separate you and Miss Bennet.  She seemed to think I would be impressed by her belittling of the inferior society of the country.” He paused and drew a deliberate breath. “At one time I would have agreed with her, but I no longer do.”

Bingley crossed his arms and studied his friend.

Darcy winced under the examination, but it was not more than he deserved.  Unable to bear both his shame and the scrutiny of his friend any longer, he turned back to the window. “I have to make a confession, Bingley.  You may wish to throw me out of your home when I am through, and I will fully understand if you do.”  Darcy continued to stare out the window, but he could feel the eyes of his friend boring into him.

“I wished to separate you from Miss Bennet when we left Hertfordshire.” He closed his eyes as he heard his friend’s muttered oath.  “I told you she seemed indifferent to you.  While it is true that I did not notice any particular regard for you on her part, it is not the reason I wished to separate you from her. It is not even the connection to her family or the supposed inferior society of Meryton that led me to take the actions I did.”  He swallowed and drew a deep fortifying breath before continuing. “I did not wish for you to become attached to Miss Bennet as it would place me in an awkward situation.  I was being completely and utterly selfish.”  He turned to look at his friend.  “I am sorry,” he whispered.

“An awkward situation?”  Bingley wore a look of displeasure Darcy had rarely seen.  “You would separate me from the woman I loved because it would somehow make your life awkward?”

Darcy nodded slowly. “Yes.”

“Explain yourself,” Bingley demanded, “for I do not have the pleasure of understanding your meaning.”

Darcy shrugged one shoulder.  “I thought if we left, if you and Miss Bennet were not allowed to become attached, I could avoid the danger, but I have discovered that the danger is not confined to Hertfordshire. It has followed me here to town. It haunts me day and night.”  He turned back towards the window as he continued.

“I am expected to marry well, to make a match that will increase the wealth and position of my family.  It is what my father and uncle have always taught me.”

“You are still making no sense.”

Darcy could hear the exasperation in his friend’s voice. It was rather how he had felt since leaving Hertfordshire — annoyed, disturbed, and vexed by the memory of Miss Elizabeth Bennet.

“How would my being fortunate enough to marry a lady such as Miss Bennet,” Bingley continued, “impose upon some imagined need of yours to marry a lady of wealth and standing?”

“Miss Bennet has sisters,” Darcy said to the darkness of the night before him.

“Yes, four,” Bingley retorted. “I still do not see ─”

“But only one,” Darcy interrupted, “with the musical laughter of a brook, eyes as expressive as any the masters have painted, and a mind that is…” he shook his head “so quick, so very quick and keen.”

Darcy blew out a breath.  “I imagined one day I would find a woman that would meet all the qualifications my uncle and father had taught me were necessary and that we would eventually learn to esteem one another.  But, I cannot fathom such a match after…” His voice trailed off.

A hand grasped his shoulder. “After meeting the one person you find you do not wish to live without.”  It was not a question that Bingley asked but rather a statement of deep understanding.

Darcy gave his friend a sad smile and nodded mutely.

“Now you know why I am longing for the country,” Bingley said softly.

Darcy nodded again.  “I will not stand in your way.  You deserve happiness.  You have been a good friend to me, and I would not want to part for any other reason.”  Darcy turned to leave.

“What do you mean part?” Bingley asked.  “I do not hate you for what you have done if that is what has you worried. I am not happy, but I am not angry.  There is no reason for us to part.”

Darcy stood with his hand on the doorknob.  “I do not think I can bear hearing of her, especially when she belongs to another. It is just too much.”  His shoulders slumped.  “You shall always remain my friend, Bingley.  I will always be ready to serve you in any way, but please…please, do not ask me to be a witness to that.”

~*~*~

Leenie B Books

KOBO      AMAZON      NOOK      IBOOKS      MAILING LIST

 

Thursday’s Three Hundred: Confounding Caroline, Part 1

Welcome to a new Thursday Three Hundred story! This story begins in London after Jane has called on Bingley’s sisters and Darcy has heard about it.  Now, how does one deal with a sister who has interfered with her brother’s happiness? And how does a gentleman convince the woman he has discovered he can’t live without to give him a second chance? You’ll have to read Confounding Caroline to find out.

[Remember, as with all Thursday Three Hundred stories, these posts are pieces of a work in progress. There will be errors. Each post will be about one thousand words in length and not just three hundred.]

Part 1

Fitzwilliam Darcy handed his coat and beaver to Bingley’s butler.  “I had hoped you would be home, but I did not expect it,” he said in greeting to his friend, who leaned nonchalantly against the door to the sitting room he had no doubt just exited since the lamps were still lit.  “Reading?” Darcy asked with some surprise as he took note of the book in Bingley’s hand.

Bingley shrugged.  “I do read on occasion.”

“I would not wish to keep you from your amusements.”  Darcy smirked slightly. If he knew his friend, Bingley would likely not mind the disruption.  Bingley preferred people to books.

Bingley shook his head and chuckled. “Come, my study would be more comfortable than the sitting room, and less likely to be invaded by females should Caroline return early.”

“I am surprised you did not accompany her to the Graham’s soiree,”  Darcy said, following Bingley into the study.

“I have had my fill of ferrying her around only to have her turn up her pert little nose at every gentleman she meets, so I sent her with Louisa and Hurst.”  He tucked his book away on a shelf behind his desk, and then opening the door on the right side of his desk, he pulled out a bottle of amber coloured liquid and two glasses.  “I find I tire of society.  It is always the same.  The same ladies in different dresses with different coloured hair and hats, but the same gossip, the same weather, the same pleasantries. It’s just the so much of the same, over and over and over and over.”  He handed a glass to Darcy and smiled. “Besides, if I am not mistaken, I will not be the only one who will enjoy this Caroline-free evening.”

Darcy chuckled “The quiet is agreeable to me, but you have never enjoyed silence as much as I.”  There was something different about Bingley the last few weeks.  He did not smile as much as was his usual wont, and he seemed to tuck himself away in his study more and more.  Darcy swirled the liquid in his glass and threw one leg over the other. The leather squeaked as he shifted in the chair across from Bingley.

Bingley sighed. “I find I am longing for the country, but Caroline will hear nothing of leaving town when there are so many functions to attend.”  He took a draught from his glass.  “If I thought she meant to find a husband, trotting her around to the various venues might not be so bothersome, but she is not intent on snaring anyone but you.”

Darcy nodded slowly.  Caroline had never been reserved in demonstrating her preference for him over every gentleman she met.  “A title and a larger fortune might dissuade her.”

The hint of bitterness in Bingley’s laugh surprised Darcy almost as much as Bingley’s wishing to leave town and avoid society.  These were not Bingley actions. They were behaviours that were more likely to be attributed to Darcy rather than his gregarious friend.

“She is as stubborn as a mule,” Bingley muttered, “and almost as bright.”

Darcy’s brows rose.  He had heard Bingley complain about Caroline before but never about anything more than her incessant need to purchase fripperies and dresses or the way she nattered on about this person or that person.  There was something decidedly wrong with his friend, and Darcy had a sinking feeling that he knew just what it was.

“You surprise me,” Darcy said. “Was it not you who claimed to be happy wherever you were, be it town or country?”

“That was before,” Bingley said over the rim of his glass.

“Before what?” Darcy prodded.

“Before I took an estate.” Bingley shifted in his chair uneasily, studying the painting above the fireplace for a few moments before allowing his attention to return to his friend.  He watched Darcy’s foot bounce up and down slightly, and sighed deeply.

Darcy surreptitiously glanced at his friend.  He recognized Bingley’s sigh for it was the same groan of uncertainty that had taken up residence in his chest.  It was a new and unwelcome feeling, and it was not something he could command away,  though he had tried.  He had not been able to erase it with busyness or wash it away with drink.  There remained only one option.  It must be acknowledged.  The root of it must be exposed.

“So, is it the estate or the society in Hertfordshire that you miss, my friend?” Darcy’s voice was quiet, and he fixed his eyes on the wall beyond Bingley’s head.  A small smile played at his mouth as he contemplated the image that always came to his mind when he thought of Hertfordshire.  “Netherfield seems like a fine estate, and the neighbourhood was not without its enchantments.” He sipped his drink and then swirled it again, watching the liquid swirl up the sides of the glass.

“I thought you loathed the inhabitants of Hertfordshire.”  Bingley’s voice was filled with incredulity. “Is that not why you and my sisters were so hasty in joining me in town ─ the people are beneath us, there is no society worth keeping, that sort of thing?

Again Darcy’s brows rose at the rancor in Bingley’s voice.  He sighed heavily, and colour crept up his cheeks.  This would not be a pleasant discussion, but it was a necessary one. “I did not loathe all of the inhabitants. Actually, I found some of them to be quite delightful, so delightful, in fact, that leaving seemed safer than staying.”  He rose and walked to the window.  Admitting his folly and weakness would be easier if he were able to move about and not have to face the friend he had, he suspected, unknowingly harmed.

Bingley drummed his fingers on the arm of his chair and raised a brow in anticipation of an expected explanation.

“She is here in town.” Darcy placed his empty glass on a side table and allowed his eyes to remain on it rather than look at his friend.

“Who is here in town?”

Darcy drew a deep breath and spared Bingley only a glance before returning his gaze to his glass.  “Miss Bennet.”

~*~*~

Leenie B Books

KOBO      AMAZON      NOOK      IBOOKS      MAILING LIST