As part of her Virtual Blog Tour for Mistaking Her Character, author Maria Grace stops byhere today with a book excerpt and a giveaway. It is good to have you back for a visit, Maria, and especially since you have a new release. I enjoyed your excerpt and the book was excellent. Thank you for taking time to share this enticing tidbit with me and my readers.
They paused at the base of the narrow, roughhewn servants’ stairs. Slender rays of sun trickled from a distant window above, painting the confined space in wisps of light and shadow.
“Are you well?” Fitzwilliam asked sotto voce.
Darcy worked his tongue against the roof of his mouth. “Well enough. You have seen far worse.”
“Indeed.” Fitzwilliam’s lips molded into a tense, thin line. “At least, there was neither blood nor gunpowder.”
Darcy suppressed a shudder. “Do you think he will live?”
“I have never seen anyone ingest that much laudanum and survive, but he just might.”
“If Bennet can affect this cure, then—”
“There is hope for my brother. Still, one must wonder how much is Bennet’s expertise and how much is his daughter’s dogged stubbornness. She has the will of a general I once served under. One did not breathe—or die—without a direct order from him. She would make a formidable commander.”
Darcy sniggered. How did Fitzwilliam joke of death so easily?
“Should we leave her alone with him? The maid is there …”
“I do not like it.” Darcy flexed his fingers and released them several times. “She is a gentlewoman.”
“Indeed she is, acting more like the mistress of Rosings than its mistress. Are you in danger of her?”
Darcy grunted and shuffled his feet.
Fitzwilliam eyes narrowed, and he tilted his head. “You are considering more than merely a carnal attachment with her.”
“Our aunt may not see through your bluster, but I am not so easily beguiled.”
Darcy turned aside and stared at the wall. A small spider scuttled up from the floorboards and into a small crack. “She owns no fortune.”
“You do not need one.”
“She is without connections.”
“You do not care for the ones you have. Fewer for you to dislike?”
“Her mother is frightful.”
“And our aunt is not?” Fitzwilliam nudged Darcy’s foot with his own. “I ask you again, are you in peril of falling under her arts and allurements?”
“What arts and allurements? She has no artifice, makes no efforts to put herself forward, nor call attention to herself.”
“So you are in no danger—”
“Because you have already fallen.”
Darcy scrubbed his face with his hands. “I take offense at the way she is treated by our aunt—do you know Anne considers her—”
“To be Mrs. Jenkinson’s replacement? Yes, Anne spoke of it yesterday. She expects to bring Miss Elizabeth to Pemberley.”
Darcy’s eyes bulged. “How did you respond?”
“That Miss Elizabeth was not currently seeking a position and might be offended at such an offer. I suggested that Anne might rather stay at Rosings with me.”
“You cannot image it could be so easy? She has little intention of staying at Rosings when Pemberley is much pleasanter—and free of her mother. Still, she did not reject my offer outright. Though without a suitable home to offer her, I am not an appealing suitor. You are still her first choice.”
“I suppose I should be flattered.”
“Do not be. Her preference is less about your person and more about what you can provide. As it has ever been, Anne considers little beyond her own wants.”
“Not a desirable trait in a wife, is it?”
Fitzwilliam braced his shoulder against the wall. “No, but a fortune and an estate are. So I shall continue to press my suit.”
“I can help you lease a house in town, or elsewhere.”
“I would rather usher Lady Catherine to the dower house.”
Darcy choked back laughter. “I do not foresee—”
“Nor I. I shall keep your offer in mind.”
Moans and coughs floated in the stale air. They turned toward the butler’s rooms.
“You know, Darce, if Bennet gets word that Anne wants Miss Elizabeth for a companion, he will probably force her to accept.”
Darcy bounced the back of his head against the cold stone wall.
“If that happens, you cannot pursue your interests in her. No, no, hold your ire for a moment, and hear me out. Even were you to marry her, Miss Elizabeth would forever be stained by suspicion over how she got your proposal. Not to mention the taint of having been in service! Her reputation would be tattered, and the ton would treat her like rubbish. That would not be fair to you, your children, or her. Better to set her up under your protection—”
“I will do no such thing!”
“I will never understand your rarified notion of marriage. But if you insist upon it, you best act to secure your happiness quickly, or it may be forever lost to you.” Fitzwilliam brushed past him and climbed the narrow stairs.
Darcy sank down on the bottom step and drove his elbows into his knees. Bloody hell and damnation! Fitzwilliam was right.
Retching and liquid noises raced through the narrow corridor. He might join the chorus himself very soon.
No woman had ever been so well suited for him or Pemberley. But she was so unsuitable, with nothing but herself to recommend her. Would it even be fair to her to expect her to manage a place like Pemberley? She knew nothing about estates or—no, that was not true—she cared for Rosings, above and below stairs, as much as any proper mistress. With her quick mind and active nature, she would certainly rise to any occasion.
If only he had kissed her. Then he might—gah! He sounded like Fitzwilliam now. She had bewitched him utterly, mind and soul.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh is prepared to be very generous when it comes to medical care for her sickly daughter, Anne – generous enough to lure noted physician Dr. Thomas Bennet to give up his London practice and move his family to Rosings Park. But his good income comes with a price: complete dependence on his demanding patroness’s every whim.
Now the Bennet family is trapped, reliant on Lady Catherine for their survival. Their patroness controls every aspect of the Bennet household, from the shelves in the closet to the selection of suitors for the five Bennet daughters. Now she has chosen a husband for headstrong Elizabeth Bennet– Mr. George Wickham.
But Lady Catherine’s nephew, Fitzwilliam Darcy, is not so sure about his aunt’s choice. He is fascinated by the compassionate Elizabeth who seems to effortlessly understand everyone around her, including him. Lady Catherine has other plans for Darcy, though, and she forbids Elizabeth to even speak to him.
As Anne’s health takes a turn for the worse, Darcy and Elizabeth are thrown together as Dr. Bennet struggles to save Anne’s life. Darcy can no longer deny the truth – he is in love with Elizabeth Bennet. But Lady Catherine will do anything to stop Darcy from marrying her – even if it means Elizabeth will lose everything she loves.
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Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.
She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six more novels in draft form, waiting for editing, seven published novels, sewn eight Regency era costumes, shared her life with nine cats through the years and tries to run at least ten miles a week.
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Thanks again for popping in, Maria Grace. I am sure my readers will be curious about the questions raised in your excerpt. Who is sick from laudanum? Why would Anne want Elizabeth for a companion? Who is this Anne anyway? Where is Mrs. Jenkinson going? What? Mr. Bennet a doctor? There are many questions that need to be answered. This dialog between the cousins is telling and offered some insight but still, the book must be read! Well done, Maria Grace.
Maria Grace is offering an eBook of Mistaking Her Character to one lucky winner. The giveaway is international and you must 'have your share in the conversation' to be entered. Please leave your contact information in your comment so you may be informed if you are the randomly selected winner. Good luck in the giveaway. It will end at 11:59 PM on Thursday, 25 June, 2015.