Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Regina Jeffers...Where There's a FitzWILLiam Darcy...

It is always such a pleasure to have Regina Jeffers visit my blog. When I first started my path in the Austenesque community, I won one of Regina's books. When she sent it to me, she included another one of her books, a book plate, and other goodies. I was thrilled with my surprise. I devoured both books and haven't stopped reading her works since. Thank you for that, Regina!

This new release sounds really good. I always enjoy stories that throw Lizzy and Darcy in company with one another. The more time they can be together, the better. It sounds like this one will offer plenty of opportunity for them to get to know one another. 

Regina tells us a little about a legal term used in this story, then she shares an excerpt. Enjoy!

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In my latest Austen-inspired piece, I use a legal property term referred to as Lease and Release. The legal definition of Lease and Release says, “It is a species of conveyance, invented by Serjeant Moore, soon after the enactment of the Statue of Uses. It is thus contrived; a lease, or rather bargain and sale, upon some pecuniary consideration, for one year, is made by the tenant of the freehold to the lessee or bargainee. This without any enrollment, makes the bargainer stand seised to the use of the barginee, and vests in the bargainee the use of the term for one year, and then the statue immediately annexes the possession. Being this in possess, he is capable of receiving a release of the freehold and reversion, which must be made to the tenant in possession; and, accordingly, the next day a release is granted to him." The Free Dictionary
If I lost you, with all the legalese, bear with me for a few moments more. First the Serjeant Moore mentioned in this definition is Sir Francis Moore, a prominent Jacobean barrister and Member of Parliament. In parliament he was a frequent speaker, and is supposed to have drawn the well-known statute of Charitable Uses which was passed in 1601. The conveyance known as lease and release was his invention which remains one of two main ways to extend a lease, each with financial and physical demise advantages and disadvantages. [Goodwin, Gordon (1894).  "Moore, Francis (1558-1621)". In Sidney, Lee. Dictionary of National Biography. 38. London, Smith, Elder & Co.]
For Lease and Release to work, two agreements were required. First, a bargain (sale) contract was executed by the seller to convey a lease on the land...(Unlike an outright sale, short leases did not require enrollment in a public registry.) The seller then separately executed a release to grant to the buyer (who was now his tenant) the seller’s remaining interest. [This transfers] title to the buyer, since he now owned both the current and future interests in the land. ["A Bit of Deed History," Bob's Genealogy Filing Cabinet
In writing this story, I took some dramatic license by making a property in Cornwall on the Rame Peninsula available to the Bennets, after Mr. Bennet's unexpected death. I set up the terms of the property as a combination of lease and release (with no option to purchase the land, for, obviously, the Bennets could not afford it) and a leasehold, which customarily involves the owner of the property "leasing" it to a potential buyer for a period of time, generally 99 years in the western shires of England, during the early 1800s, but only 21 in the eastern shires. 
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Introducing Where There’s a FitzWILLiam Darcy, There’s a Way
ELIZABETH BENNET’s world has turned upon its head. Not only is her family about to be banished to the hedgerows after her father’s sudden death, but Mr. Darcy has appeared upon Longbourn’s threshold, not to renew his proposal, as she first feared, but, rather, to serve as Mr. Collins’s agent in taking an accounting of Longbourn’s “treasures” before her father’s cousin steals away all her memories of the place.
FITZWILLIAM DARCY certainly has no desire to encounter Elizabeth Bennet again so soon after her mordant refusal of his hand in marriage, but when his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, strikes a bargain in which her ladyship agrees to provide his Cousin Anne a London Season if Darcy will become Mr. Collins’s agent in Hertfordshire, Darcy accepts in hopes he can convince Miss Elizabeth to think better of him than she, obviously, does. Yet, how can he persuade the woman to recognize his inherent sense of honor, when his inventory of Longbourn’s entailed land and real properties announces the date she and her family will be homeless?
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Permit Mr. Darcy, in an excerpt from Chapter 11, to explain it to you as he did to the three eldest Bennet sisters and Mr. Gardiner in Where There's a FitzWILLiam Darcy, There's a Way
Their days became routine. There was no more talk of her experiencing the presence of Mr. Bennet during her quiet hours, nor of what plans she had made for her future. Instead, they spoke of favorite books and music. They shared tales of their childhood days. Often other members of her family joined them, adding their versions of what were now, for him, familiar tales. They had completed her father’s study and library, the essentials in the dining room, and two small cupboards, where brooms and such were stored. Unfortunately, they had yet to discover another clue, which by all appearances, played havoc with Elizabeth’s disposition.
Therefore, he had been elated when he received the letter from Mr. Tapapses, who had been approached by Darcy’s agent in Devon. It turned out Eugenia Gardiner’s property was located near the twin villages of Kingsand and Caswand on the border between Cornwall and Devon, near Rame Head.
“You wished to speak to me, Mr. Darcy?” Gardiner asked when Mrs. Hill had shown Darcy into Mr. Bennet’s former study. Elizabeth’s uncle was to survey her father’s legal papers and ledgers for clues to the man’s will.
“I did, sir.” Darcy glanced about the room. It had been polished properly for Mr. Collins’s eventual arrival. Gardiner gestured to a nearby chair. When Darcy was settled, he launched into the business he had with the gentleman. “When I discovered the piece on your great-grandmother’s bequest, I took the liberty of making some inquiries.”
Mr. Gardiner’s eyebrows lifted in surprise. “Is Elizabeth aware of your doing so?”
“We discussed my offer. Miss Elizabeth did not wish to impose on me, but Miss Mary thought my doing so a fine idea. As no one forbid me to act, I chose to proceed.”
“You realize, of course, Lizzy will chastise you properly,” Gardiner said with a sly grin.
“It will not be the first time,” Darcy admitted.
Gardiner folded his hands together and rested them on the desk. “Your remark to the effect that she was only tolerable and not tempting enough for you was poorly done, sir.”
Darcy forced himself not to squirm under the man’s steady gaze. “I had been dealing with a troubling family situation and was preoccupied with my own misery, but you are correct: My actions were unforgivable. I demonstrated a lack of regard for your niece’s feelings. I did not perform as a gentleman should.”
“I am certain, with Elizabeth’s nature, she has seized upon the opportunity to speak to your insensitivity. I shan’t reprimand you further,” Gardiner assured. “Instead, speak to me of what you have discovered.”
Darcy reached into his pocket to remove Mr. Tapapses’s letter. “I wrote to contacts I hold in Cornwall. That was a little over a week past. This morning an express brought me this response.” He handed Gardiner the letter.
“How did you know to whom to write?” Gardiner questioned.
“There were a series of numbers at the bottom of the page Mr. Bennet hid in the book on hunting. I held the suspicion the numbers designated points on a map or were related to the recording of a deed. Perhaps a date or the jurisdiction’s means of distinguishing one claim from another.” He would not mention the tidy sum he had offered for a quick reply.
Within the half hour, Darcy and Mr. Gardiner discussed Darcy’s findings with the Misses Bennet, Elizabeth, and Mary.
“I am accustomed to examining deeds to property,” he explained when Elizabeth asked him the same question as had her uncle. “According to my contacts, it appears Eugenia Gardiner’s transition to property owner was from parent to child, in the manner of a freehold property passing to the lawful heir; yet, in this case, the property passed upon the maternal side, from mother to daughter. I am assuming it was originally part of Mrs. Sommers’s marriage settlements, and the lady and her husband permitted it to pass to Eugenia, or Mrs. Sommers passed first, and Mr. Sommers claimed it in a tenant of the curtesy situation, and then it passed to Eugenia upon his death. However, it does not matter how the property came into Eugenia’s possession, but, rather, if you have any claims to it.”
“It was very fortunate you thought the numbers at the bottom of the page were significant to the search.” Miss Bennet continued to study the letter.
“In truth, I was not certain whether they indicated the collection of taxes, church tithes, the hearth tax, or land tax assessments,” he admitted. “All have been known to be used to identify property claims. It turns out the numbers indicate markings related to turnpike maps. The property has been properly registered by law with a Clerk of Peace in the appropriate shire. It was originally recorded in Chancery on Close Rolls.”
Legal records were kept in long rolls.Close Rolls group
(reproduced courtesy ofThe National Archives C54)
https://www.exploringsurreyspast.org.uk/themes/subjects/
crime/surreys_jps/1_keepers/national_archives
___c54_close_rolls_group-jpg/
“Close Rolls?” Miss Mary questioned.
He explained, “Close rolls are grants of land by the Crown to private individuals. In the 1300s, a large number of deeds between private citizens were enrolled on the payment of fees on the back of Close Rolls. The practice continued to the beginning of the last century, which would make sense in the disposition of the land given to the late Mrs. Gardiner. I am not certain how the property came to the late Mrs. Gardiner’s mother, but, after the 1730s, it became a popular practice to transfer properties once on Close Rolls to others to be used for charitable purposes. Many were converted to schools or burial grounds or some such purpose.”
“So this property could be one of these charitable ones?” Miss Elizabeth asked.
Darcy reminded her, “I cannot speak with assurance until I read the latest registration addressing the land’s use.” He spoke directly to the woman he loved. It was important to him for her to understand that Eugenia Gardiner’s property would not resolve all of her family’s problems. “It appears whoever set up the property’s use employed some form of a Lease and Release option.”
Her uncle explained, “With every exchange of property between individuals there is a legal obligation for the deed to be recorded, but this requirement can be evaded by granting a lease for a year on the land meant to be sold, thus avoiding the need to enroll, and then, a few days later, presenting the lessee the right of future possession of the land by a reversion of the lease. However, this property is unique, for although the lease and release is in effect, the person taking possession of the property is not purchasing it, but rather is leasing it for a specific time period. In truth, I would think this a challengeable condition, but as it has been effect, without complaints, for three generations, it could prove a precedence if a court case would be brought against Eugenia’s estate. Surely if the property was not so remote, someone would have brought it to the attention of the authorities before now. Then again, the property is not available to just anyone who wishes to lease, but rather only to Eugenia’s relations, and that may be the clause that protects it.”
Darcy was quick to add, “England has no standard means of recording deeds. Even within a shire the method differs. Various forms of tax records and church tithes are customarily used. I know the property was originally deeded to your great-great-grandmother. I am assuming it is still in her name, and the use of the land is still at her disposal. I imagine when we view her actual will, it will say something to the effect that the land cannot be sold until a certain year far in the future.”
“What Mr. Darcy says makes sense,” Gardiner affirmed. “The property is under the control of Eugenia Gardiner’s trust and controlled by the firm she employed some eighty years removed., one similar to the firm we recently employed to oversee your family’s incomes. The trust would be responsible for any disputes to the validity of our claim, and although I do not expect any, you must be made aware of this possibility.”
“This particular property,” Darcy continued, “employs what could only be termed as a modified lease for three lives, which is a practice popular in the west of England, and it does not surprise me to view it being used here. However, the modification comes in the form of the number of years one family can have use of the lease. Customarily, in England’s western shires, such a lease is good for ninety-nine years, but this one ends after twenty-one years, which is a practice generally found in land documents in the east of England. I suspect the use of ‘twenty-one‘ is employed as a means of permitting a family to know the house’s use and then move on, likely with the females marrying or passing away. That being said, there is a point of legal stability in that at the end of the twenty-one years, the terms may be cancelled, or there can be a change of terms or a simple renewal for an additional twenty-one years.”
“Then the lease would be made out in my name, along with Jane’s and Mary’s, as we are the three oldest and would be the ‘three lives’ you say are required for our acceptance of the lease. Am I understanding this correctly?” Elizabeth asked. She appeared quite pale, and so Darcy reached beneath the table to squeeze the back of her hand, and she rewarded him with a tremulous smile. Reality of what she meant to do to protect her family had, apparently, caught up to her.
“Names of your younger sisters may be added to the lease on the payment of a fee,” Mr. Gardiner told his nieces. “We can decide what is best in that manner if this proves to be how we wish to proceed.”
“The terms appear more reasonable than I first thought,” Miss Bennet observed.
“Except the stipulation that if one of the younger sisters marries before the elders, then the lease will be terminated immediately and without redress,” Miss Mary voiced her obvious concerns. Her plans not to marry would keep Miss Kitty and Miss Lydia from doing so. The girl would need to rethink her future.
“Such terms might force Mrs. Bennet into having second thoughts on permitting Kitty and Lydia so much freedom,” Mr. Gardiner remarked.
Darcy was glad there was, at least, temporary hope of salvation for Elizabeth’s family, but the terms of the agreement presented him an answer his heart openly rejected. Miss Elizabeth would never accept him until Miss Bennet married, and Miss Mary reached her majority.
Miss Bennet, with her customarily quiet acceptance, said, “As long as Lydia and Kitty can be brought in line, we could name our home for the immediate future. Mayhap, by then, one of us three, or all of us, will be in a position to see to our mother’s future.”
Miss Elizabeth added, “I suppose we should explain what Mr. Darcy has uncovered to our mother and sisters. We should set plans to remove to Cornwall as soon as one of our uncles can approach those who oversee the Gardiner property.”
Comment below to be entered into a drawing for two eBook copies of Where There's a FitzWILLiam Darcy, There's a Way. The giveaway ends at midnight EDST on Tuesday September 11, 2018. 

Thank you for being my guest, Regina. I always love having you stop by. The excerpt was great and the information about the Lease and Release was informative. You did some obvious research and quite a lot I would guess. I would not think that an easy topic to comprehend. 

Dear Readers, be sure to comment for a chance to win. If I don't have your contact info on file, you will need to leave it in your comment, just in case you are one of the winners! 

I believe the book, Where There's A FitzWILLiam Darcy..., releases on September 10th, so be watching for it! I know I will be watching! :)

64 comments:

  1. Your books are always entertaining and well-researched, Regina. I'm looking forward to reading this one. We should meet for lunch again soon.

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    1. I would love to have another leisurely lunch, Robin. That would be wonderful. Perhaps once the weather turns cooler...

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    2. I'm glad you stopped in, Robin. I hope you two get to meet for lunch soon. That sounds like fun!

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  2. I am glad you are doing better, Janet, and thank you greatly for sharing the post with others.

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    1. Thank you, Regina. I'm thankful for every day of improvement! I'll be walking again before we know it! :)

      It was my pleasure to share with others. I wish you much success.

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  3. Interesting information. Regina is a wonderful researcher, as we all know! I'd love to win a copy!

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    1. I love Regina's books. This one is so intelligently written and with such researchable information, it is mind-boggling! I am going to love digesting and reading this one!!!

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    2. Thanks for the kind words, Debbie. I have been gathering lots of information on entailments and inheritance laws because I am thinking of doing a non-fiction book on it for use by writers of the Regency period.

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    3. Isn't she an excellent researcher! It shows in her writing too.

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  4. Lots of copies available between now and new Friday, Pam. Friday, Sept 7, Monday, Sept. 10, and Wednesday, Sept. 12, I am on my blog: reginajeffers.wordpress.com. On Monday of next week, I am on Austen Authors, and on Tuesday, I visit with Maria Grazia. Those are just for starters.

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  5. Always eager to read one of your books, Regina.
    I am interested to learn why the discussion in this excerpt is relevant to the story.

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  6. The answer is simple, Ginna: The interest from Mrs. Bennet's £4000 will provide her only about £260 per year on which to live. That is not much when we consider there are five sisters and the mother for whom to provide. A note from Mr. Bennet, found among his belongings, on this property and its unusual binding lease could provide the Bennets a place to live - a place more in the style to which they have become accustomed. The problem is that the younger sisters cannot marry before the elders. They must marry in order of birth. We all know Lydia is not likely to agree. Moreover, Elizabeth cannot marry Darcy until Jane marries and Mary reaches her majority. If Darcy assists her to this property, which will keep her from penury, he destroys his chance of marrying her.

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  7. cannot wait for the release day, this book looks so good. Thanks for sharing you knowledge and the giveaway, Regina.
    Congratulations on the upcoming release.

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    1. I'm anxious for release day,too, Kate! I think this book sounds so good and I want to read it now! :)

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  8. Glad you followed me over here, Kate. Stop my blog next Monday and Wednesday.

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  9. Wonder how Mrs Bennet will react to having to move away from her friends and neighbours

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    1. More daunting than moving away from the neighborhood, at the Cornwall estate, her daughters will be in charge, not Mrs. Bennet.

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    2. That does sound daunting. I more curious now than ever!

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  10. I love all of your books. This one is intriguing. I would love to win an e copy.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words, Jane. This is only the first of several opportunities to win, so join me at Austen Authors, my blog, and at My Jane Austen Book Club.

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    2. Thanks for stopping by, Jane. Good luck.

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  11. Very interesting excerpt. I can’t wait to read how it all works out! I love your books Regina.

    Kbetz209@yahoo.com

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    1. Thank you for your patronage. I guarantee there are lots of twists and turns in this one.

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    2. She is holding us all spellbound until the 10th, isn't she! I can't wait either! :)

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  12. I have never heard of this before! Sounds like the kind of thing Lady C would devise to keep daughters marrying in order of age. If an older daughter died unwed, would that stop all others from marrying at all? However the title of the book tells me that Mr Darcy will find a way around this.

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    1. There were set rules of inheritance and land use during this time, but there was no set way of registering deeds. It was Yorkshire and, I believe, Middlesex, that took the first steps in identifying proper deeds. Notice in the excerpt above that Darcy speaks of the notation on the deed, uncertain whether they indicate church tithes, points on a map, turnpike roads, etc. Lease and Release was a common practice. The "3 Lives" was also used. In fact, it is still used. Even today, when buying property in the UK, the deeds typically include a clause that ownership "expires" after 99 years. It means you are buying a 99-year lease on the property, rather than the property itself. At the end of the 99 years, the property reverts to the lessor, who still owns it, typically including all the “fixtures”. Fixtures include the house and everything attached to the house or the ground. The furniture and the silverware you can take with you when you leave, but you can’t take away or destroy the house or the outbuildings or the fences. You can read about it HERE: https://www.quora.com/When-buying-property-in-the-UK-the-deeds-typically-include-a-clause-that-ownership-expires-after-99-years-Why-is-this

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  13. Sounds great! Look forward to reading it!

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  14. I'm always impressed by how much I learn from the research and historical backdrop that goes into her books. Ha! Just like you, I first read her books when I won a copy and then went out and bought three more for a binge. :)

    This one looked good and I was into that excerpt. :)

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    1. You and Janet are too kind with your words of praise, Sophia. I just keep plugging along. I would write even if I were my only audience, so I am more than pleased to have friends travel this road with me.

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    2. I agree, Sophia! I love Regina's books and all the research is obvious in her writing. Interesting that we have similar experiences with first reading her books!

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  15. What in the...This book sounds amazing! I can't wait for the release!!! I love JAFF with twists like this!

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    1. You know me, Leah. I can never simply write an "easy-going" love story. LOL!

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  16. Enjoyed the excerpt. What an interesting premise and one I’ve never read before.

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    1. Like you, I have read lots of "reduced circumstances" pieces for Elizabeth and her family, but I wanted her bit of hope to be the obstacle between her and Darcy.

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  17. Thank you for the excerpt!! I love Regina’s books and am curious to read this one! Congratulations on your new book!

    danielaquadros@gmail.com

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    1. I am happy you followed me over here, Daniela. I am excited finally to have this one on paper. It has been floating around in my head for nearly a year.

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  18. I simply cannot wait!! Always love Regina’s books. I am excited about this variation!! Congratulations!!

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    1. Hello, Becky. I do appreciate your continued patronage. You have been a steady force throughout my writing career.

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  19. Hi Janet and Regina. Thanks for sharing this fascinating information and excerpt with us.

    Speaking as someone who could be described as a modern-day Mrs. Phillips (my husband is a solicitor, now retired though), the law relating to land and property always seemed a bit of a minefield to me. I often used to proofread documents for him, mainly for spelling and grammar, and most of the time hadn't a clue what the legal terms meant! At least we now have the Land Registry in the UK, where all properties will eventually be registered. For instance, though our house is over 250 years old, it wasn't registered there until we took over ownership after my mother-in-law passed away in 2004. The previous change of ownership happened in 1983, when her mum died but compulsory registration didn't start until 1990 and it only happens when there's been something like a change of ownership.

    Regina, speaking of typos, I did notice that Cawsand had been spelled as Caswand, and possibly a couple of instances of statute being spelled as statue.

    Looking forward to reading more on your other posts.

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    1. Yes, I sent the post to Janet before the edits were finished, Anji. I wanted to give her plenty of time to set this up.

      I appreciate your remarks on the Land Registry. I was amazed in my research that Yorkshire was one of the few shires that had a standardized method of registering deeds at this time. Naturally, such made it easier for me to tell the tale, and I jumped on that fact when it popped up in my research.

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    2. I appreciate that you gave me plenty of time, especially this time! Thank you.

      Hi, Anji! I'm glad you stopped by and I enjoyed reading your comments on the Land Registry.

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  20. I'm sure this book will be fascinating to read. Look like another great work from Regina. Congratulations on your new book

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  21. Oh, this was a lot of important information that will help the Bennet family. Poor Darcy, he wants to help Elizabeth so desperately. I hope the news puts the kibosh on Lydia wanting to marry before her sisters. Her lack of concern for the feelings and well being of others may prove to be a problem. She doesn't think through consequences to her actions. However, this situation makes it to Mrs. Bennet's advantage to rein in her younger daughters. Man, this is complicated.

    My first experience with JAFF was a Regina Jeffers' book. I didn't even know there was such a genre and it has simply exploded since. I love Austenesque books. Thanks for this delightful post. Blessings to Regina on the launch of this new work.

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    1. I am so honored by so many saying their first JAFF read was one of mine. Doing my happy dance, my dear.

      Darcy uses the time in the Bennet household learning more of Elizabeth and her learning more of him. Wait until you read how Mrs. Bennet looks for Mr. Bennet's missing will. Or of Darcy and Elizabeth's first kiss. Their second kiss. All the good parts.

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    2. I was already eager to read this, now you have me "all anticipation!" What teasers you just left us! :)

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  22. What a unique story concept. It sounds fascinating. I would love to be one of the winners of this book!

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    1. Good Morning, Randi. Thank you for joining me today.

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  23. Regina, your knack for research always astounds me. This premise is to interesting. So it looks like they are off to Cornwall and I have visions of Poldark in the back of my mind. BUT... how will they ever keep the younger two in line? I can't wait to read your new book. And yes, one of my first JAFF books was your, as so many others. Thanks for so many wonderful tales. Jen Red

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    1. It is quite humbling to learn of my influencing others to follow JAFF. I am presenting on the JAFF phenomenon to a group of high schoolers in January. It will be great to assure them how fan fiction can open up the publishing world to many.

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  24. such a fascinating excerpt...love learning history while reading, too

    denise

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    1. I am saving the "juicy" parts for the reader to discover on his/her own, Denise.

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  25. Congratulations, Regina! I love how they talked about their favorite books and childhood memories :) Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

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    1. Although Darcy is at Longbourn to assist Mr. Collins, Elizabeth learns to trust him and depend on him. Notice how by chapter 11, he is quick to squeeze the back of her hand where it rests under the table. Their relationship matures through the tragedy of her father's death.

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  26. Your wealth of knowledge and research gives your stories unique plot lines. I love it! Looking forward to this one and wonder what problems, Lydia may cause!

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    1. Lydia causes several problems, but you will be pleased with her "transformation," or maybe not, Carole. LOL!

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  27. Hi Regina and Janet,

    A new book penned by your good self, Regina? Fantastic news!!!

    What a joy it is to read your books, meticulously researched,often presenting us with a new and somewhat surprising premise,peppered with the necessary angst that results in the requisite tension and the spice of the 'will they,won't they?',only for everything to be remedied to everyone's satisfaction and the HEA joyfully received at the end!!!!

    Best of luck with your book,Regina.
    I've read many of your stories,one of my all time favourites has to be 'The Road to Understanding'......sigh!!!

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    1. Mary, you will be happy to know I am working on a "Persuasion" vagary set in the same area where Darius and Eliza reside. It is outlined and started, but I have not gotten very far. I have two other deadlines to meet before I can continue that one.

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  28. Congratulations on the release of another P&P variation, Regina! Another new thing to learn and add to my knowledge. Thanks for sharing this legal research and incorporating it to the novel. And the excerpt you have chosen is great too.

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    1. I am glad you followed me over here, Sylvia. It is great to meet new people, but equally as satisfying to know others look out for my stories. Much appreciated.

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