Linda Beutler stops by today on her blog tour for her second release, Longbourn to London. I am so pleased to be a part of this tour and to welcome Linda back to More Agreeably Engaged. Thank you, Linda, for sharing a tempting excerpt from your book. There is a giveaway too so be sure to leave a comment. The Blog Tour runs through August 30 so watch for Linda Beutler in other blog stops. Following is an excerpt from Chapter 7.
Excerpt from Chapter 7, Aunt Gardiner Saves the Day
WHEN THE BENNET CARRIAGE ARRIVED at Netherfield that evening, Mr. Darcy was awaiting it. With a great show of magnanimity, Mr. Bennet stepped aside so Darcy could hand Elizabeth down from the carriage and walk her into the house. They had seen each other only in company during the three days since Elizabeth’s revelations and the letters sent to Mrs. Gardiner. Elizabeth found she had to force herself to be easy with him in public. Not usually missish, she nevertheless had surrendered to her trepidation and changed the timing of her walks to start at midday, and she followed paths known only to the local populace. She had seen Darcy riding the day before—perhaps looking for her?—but she did not draw his attention. Now, having received her aunt’s missive, she began to feel her confidence returning.
Once they were a safe distance from her family, Elizabeth whispered, “I have had a letter from my aunt, Mr. Darcy. She says she will gladly meet, and that she has the deepest regard for you and high expectations of your behaviour.” She sent him an impertinent sidelong glance, “So you have deceived her, at least . . . ”
Darcy chuckled, pleased to have a few private words with her, and that she was teasing. “No, I do not suppose I have. Your Aunt Gardiner strikes me as a woman few can hoodwink.” Darcy held out his arm, and Elizabeth tucked her hand in his elbow. “Jane and I had an odd conversation with my mother yesterday afternoon before dinner.”
Darcy composed a tart comment but thought better of speaking it, asking instead, “Did you? And the topic?”
“The day I told you of my dream, Mama and Papa had a fearful row. Jane and I could not hear all of it, but the subject was what Jane and I have been told to expect of...” She paused and sighed. “...Of our wedding nights. Papa demanded she recant most of what she told us, else he would lock her in her bedroom until after the wedding! It seems she wished to prepare us for the worst. I am wondering how my father learnt of the nature of Mama’s advice to us, or perhaps he merely surmised?” Another sidelong glance was delivered.
They had entered Netherfield’s front hall, and servants advanced to take the Bennets’ outerwear. Elizabeth held back so her pelisse and bonnet would be taken last, and Darcy stayed behind with her. He was embarrassed to reveal his communication with Elizabeth’s father, but he would hide nothing from her as now several days had passed from that strange and sensational morning.
“It must be admitted, Elizabeth—I shall confess—Bingley and I were alarmed to learn of your ordeal at the hands of the local married ladies. We wrote to your father, asking him to do what he could to spare you too much time with your Aunt Phillips. And your mother.”
Elizabeth had taken his arm again and now they were nearly to the drawing room doors. She stopped their progress and looked at him with a knowing smile and a slight shake of her head. “I thought as much. I own I do not know whether to be grateful to you for the results or very cross for the interference. Mama is treating Papa with unprecedented deference, but she is annoyed with me although she tries to hide it. She blames me for expressing my concerns.”
“I hardly know how to respond, Elizabeth! I would not have you in your mother’s bad books.”
“It is hardly an unusual occurrence, sir.” She chuckled.
“Before we enter the drawing room, Elizabeth, there is something else you should know.”
“On the same morning of which we are speaking, the Bingleys also had a family set-to. I only heard part of it. Hurst and Bingley attempted to give Caroline some correction in her behaviour towards myself and to you. So far, I see no change, or if anything, she is worse, and I want you to be on your guard. Netherfield has taken on a surprisingly uneasy atmosphere unless Jane is visiting. She always lightens the mood.”
“That is what Bingley and I have been trying to persuade you: Jane is uniformly angelic! You should have wooed her when you had the chance, and you would have had a much more amiable wife than you deserve or are likely to get.”
Darcy chuckled. “I am getting exactly the wife I want and deserve. Of that I remain firmly convinced.” They smiled openly into each other’s eyes for the first time in days. Both breathed a sigh of relief.
When Darcy and Elizabeth entered the drawing room, Caroline swept to Darcy’s other side and offered to bring him some refreshment in an unnecessarily obsequious manner while ignoring Elizabeth. Darcy gave a curt bow and a brusque, “No, thank you, Miss Bingley,” before turning his back and seating Elizabeth upon the only settee in the room where there was space for her, which was next to Hurst. That gentleman made his allegiance clear by springing up in a rapid manner rarely seen and insisting Darcy take his place.
“I shall have the singular opportunity, Darcy, of taking the chair nearest my wife.” With a bow, Hurst strove to make amends for his sister-in-law’s rudeness. “May I bring you something to drink, Miss Eliza?”
“You are very kind, sir; yes, I would take some wine punch if that is what I see in the bowl.” Elizabeth turned her eyes to Darcy with a little surprise. His response was a raised eyebrow. “You see how matters lie?” he whispered. She nodded in reply then looked up to Hurst with thanks as he returned.
“Miss Eliza,” Louisa Hurst called as her husband settled himself with a generous goblet of wine in the chair next to hers. “Have you begun the selection of your wedding clothes?”
Elizabeth leaned forward to answer and did not notice, as Darcy did, the glaring look sent Louisa by Caroline. “Indeed, we have just had word from my aunt in London, who is bringing a fabric she has admired and thinks would suit me. She arrives the day after tomorrow. My Aunt Gardiner knows my taste well, and I am most pleased to have her exert herself on my behalf.”
Caroline moved in hopes of catching her sister’s eye to pull a face of scorn, but Louisa would not look in her direction. She asked instead, “This is the aunt we had the pleasure of meeting at Pemberley?”
“Yes, the same.” Elizabeth nodded. She was wary, but to all appearances, Louisa was distancing herself from the unbridled disdain that marked her sister’s discourse.
“She seems to be a lady of fashion. Her travelling pelisse was beautifully tailored. I am sure you could not be in better hands.” Louisa seemed sincere.
Elizabeth decided to try her further. “Yes, she has a modiste on Bond Street to whom she has extended her custom for many years: a Miss Camille. Have you heard of her?”
Louisa could not hide her surprise. The Gardiners must have a vast deal of wealth for Miss Camille to condescend to create gowns for the wife of a tradesman. Elizabeth chose not to reveal that her uncle’s company had made a fine carriage for Miss Camille’s use as she made calls for in-home fittings to London’s best addresses, and that a bargain by way of barter had been struck to keep Mrs. Gardiner in the latest fashions. Let them assume what they like, Elizabeth thought, and wondered whether, in her own way, she was not displaying a certain smugness she would have discouraged in her betrothed.
Louisa’s eyes flickered to those of her sister, who appeared thoroughly astonished and then looked away.
Dinner was announced. Darcy was further vexed when, after extending his right arm to Elizabeth, Caroline Bingley took his left, steering them both to where she wanted Elizabeth to sit, between Mr. Bennet and Mr. Hurst.
Again Louisa intervened. “Pray, excuse me, dear sister, but I thought I had informed you of my seating plan. Mr. Darcy, you are on Miss Bennet’s right, and Miss Eliza, you are to his right.”
Caroline blushed angrily. “How silly of me, Louisa. My apologies. I had thought you would sit as hostess tonight, rather than I.”
“Yes, dear,” Louisa responded, “and you will sit on my right, since we have too many ladies.”
Caroline was quietly livid; she was the extra lady!
A courtship is a journey of discovery, but what do we know of the official betrothal of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet? We may assume there were awkward social events to navigate, tedious wedding arrangements to negotiate, and Bingley’s toplofty sisters to accommodate. How did Darcy and Elizabeth manage these travails, and each other?
Longbourn to London is not a Pride and Prejudice “what if,” nor is it a sequel. Rather, it is an expansion of the betrothal of Jane Austen’s favorite couple. We follow Lizzy’s journey from spirited maiden scampering about the fields of Hertfordshire to nervous, blushing bride in Mayfair, where she learns the unexpected joys of marriage to a man as willing to be teased as she is to tease him.
Join us as IPPY award-winning author Linda Beutler (2013 Silver Medal, Independent Publishers Awards, for The Red Chrysanthemum) imagines the betrothal and early honeymoon of Jane Austen’s greatest couple.
Includes mature content.
Linda Beutler is an Oregon native who began writing professionally in 1996 (meaning that is when they started paying her...), in the field of garden writing. First published in magazines, Linda graduated to book authorship in 2004 with the publication of Gardening With Clematis (2004, Timber Press). In 2007 Timber Press presented her second title, Garden to Vase, a partnership with garden photographer Allan Mandell. Now in 2013 Linda is working with Meryton Press.
Linda lives the gardening life: she is a part-time instructor in the horticulture department at Clackamas Community College; writes and lectures about gardening topics throughout the USA; and is traveling the world through her active participation in the International Clematis Society, of which she is the current president. Then there's that dream job--which she is sure everyone else must covet but which she alone has-- curator of the Rogerson Clematis Collection, which is located at Luscher Farm, a farm/park maintained by the city of Lake Oswego. They say to keep resumes brief, but Linda considers Garden With Clematis her 72,000 word resume. She signed on as curator to North America's most comprehensive and publicly accessible collection of the genus clematis in July 2007, and they will no doubt not get shut of her until she can be carried out in a pine box.
And now for something completely different: in September 2011, Linda checked out a book of Jane Austen fan fiction from her local library, and was, to put it in the modern British vernacular, gob smacked. After devouring every title she could get her hands on, she quite arrogantly decided that, in some cases, she could do better, and began writing her own expansions and variations of Pride and Prejudice. The will to publish became too tempting, and after viewing the welcoming Meryton Press website, she sent her child before the firing squad. Luckily, the discerning editors at Meryton Press saved the child from slaughter, and Linda's first work of Jane Austen-esque fiction, The Red Chrysanthemum, was published.
Linda shares a small garden in Southeast Portland with her husband, and pets that function as surrogate children. Her personal collection of clematis numbers something around 230 taxa. These are also surrogate children, and just as badly behaved.
Author Blog: http://lindabeutler.merytonpress.com
I hope you all enjoyed the excerpt to Linda Beutler's new book. Longbourn to London. I can just hear Mrs. Bennet and Mrs. Phillips and only imagine what they must have told the dear girls. I guess we will have to read the book to find out for ourselves! Thank you for stopping by today, Linda. I hope you have a fun time on your blog tour and have much success with your new release.
Meryton Press is offering one eBook for giveaway and the giveaway is international. Thank you, Michele Reed and Meryton Press. We want to hear your share in the conversation so leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway. Be sure to include your email address in the comment. To prevent unwanted spam, put your email address with an (at) instead of @. Winners will be chosen in a random drawing. Giveaway ends at midnight on August 25, 2014. Good luck to all.