Thursday, July 18, 2019

Darcy in Hollywood...Victoria Kincaid

It's always good to have Victoria Kincaid visit and she's back this time with her latest release, Darcy in Hollywood. I'm glad we were finally able to get a date to work out for both of us, Victoria. :) 

The blurb and excerpt have piqued my interest. It sounds like Darcy as an actor might have as much to learn as Darcy as a gentleman. Then there is George Wickham, always at the ready to stir things up a bit. Oh, I do need to find some time to read this one. Thank you, Victoria, for stopping by and sharing with my readers, plus having a giveaway. 

 *****


Hi Janet and thank you for welcoming me back for a visit!  The scene below takes place early in Darcy in Hollywood after Darcy has nearly hit Elizabeth with his Ferrari (it’s their first meeting, not auspicious).  While dodging the car, she falls and hits her head.  He calls an ambulance so she can be evaluated for a concussion at the ER. I hope you enjoy it!

Rich and arrogant movie star, William Darcy, was a Hollywood heartthrob until a scandalous incident derailed his career.  Now he can only hope that Tom Bennet’s prestigious but low budget indie film will restore his reputation.  However, on the first day of filming, he nearly hits Bennet’s daughter, Elizabeth, with his Ferrari, and life will never be the same.  Okay, she’s a little sarcastic, but he’s certain she’s concealing a massive crush on him—and it’s growing harder to fight his own attraction….

Elizabeth Bennet has a lot on her plate.  She’s applying to medical school and running the studio’s charity project—while hoping her family won’t embarrass her too much.  Being Darcy’s on-set personal assistant is infuriating; he’s rude, proud, and difficult.  If there’s one thing she dislikes, it’s people who only think about themselves.  But then Elizabeth discovers Darcy has been doing a lot of thinking about her.

She might be willing to concede a mutual attraction, but events are conspiring against them and Darcy subject to constant public scrutiny.  Do Darcy and Elizabeth have any hope of achieving Hollywood’s elusive happy ending?


The minute the ambulance pulled up at the curb, two EMTs jumped out.  A short Hispanic woman immediately hooked Elizabeth up to a blood pressure monitor.  The other EMT, a tall man with wavy brown hair who could have been a model, gave her a smile straight out of a toothpaste ad.  “Can you tell me what happened?”
As she recounted the incident, not mentioning Darcy’s name, he took her pulse, shined a light into her eyes, and examined the bump on the back of her head. 
“That’s a nasty bump you’ve got back there,” he commented.  “I think we’ll need to take you to the hospital for a workup.”
Elizabeth nodded and then winced at the pain.  “I don’t think I lost consciousness and I’m not disoriented, so if it’s a concussion it’s a mild one.  But I should probably have a head CT to be sure.”
He blinked.  “Are you a doctor?”
“No, but I was pre-med in college. I’m applying to med schools now.”
“Ah.” He grinned at her as he and his partner pulled the gurney out of the back of the ambulance.  “I considered med school myself but decided I liked acting more.”
“Please don’t tell me you only play an EMT on TV,” she teased.
He laughed with big hearty guffaws.  Wow, a real, down-to-earth human being despite his acting ambitions.  Well, they didn’t usually turn into Darcy-sized bastards until they made the big time.  “I am a real EMT.  This is my day job until I get my big break.  What better place for an aspiring actor than on a movie studio?”  He helped her onto the gurney and strapped her down before offering his hand.  “George Wickham, EMT to the stars.”
She shook his hand.  “Nice to meet you, George.  I’m Elizabeth.”
George and his partner wheeled her toward the ambulance.  “Don’t worry, Elizabeth, we’ll take great care of you.” 
William Darcy had cared more about his Ferrari and his career than Elizabeth—and her own family had cared more about Darcy.  It was nice that someone cared about her—even if it was his job. 
The EMTs slid the gurney into the ambulance and locked it into place.  George’s partner jumped out and closed the doors; presumably she would drive.  After hooking her up to a heart monitor, George strapped himself into an adjacent seat with a clipboard in his lap.  “So I’m going to need to fill out a detailed report.  What was the name of the person driving that fancy ride back there?”
The ambulance lurched into motion.  “I’d rather not say.”
George frowned.
“He didn’t actually hit me.  I fell down and struck my head.  And, um, I’d like to keep his name out of the papers.”
George tapped his pen against the clipboard.  “Was it William Darcy?”
She gaped at him.
He gave her a knowing grin.  “I knew he was starting to film a new movie at the studio this week.  Who else would drive such an ostentatious red Ferrari?”
Had she already put the film in danger?  “Please don’t tell anyone.  I don’t care about Darcy, but my dad is producing the movie.  They don’t need bad publicity.”
He made a locking motion at his mouth.  “My lips are sealed.  This wouldn’t be the first time the studio had a car accident with ‘John Smith’ driving.” Elizabeth exhaled her relief.  “But between you and me, Darcy’s a bit of a dick, isn’t he?”
Finally, someone who understood!  “Hell to the yeah!  I guess he expected me to fall at his feet, but honestly it’s hard to be starstruck when your body gets a shot of adrenaline that will last until Christmas.”
George leaned closer.  “How did he hit you?”
Elizabeth started to shake her head before realizing that made it hurt.  “He didn’t hit me.  He almost hit me.  I was on the sidewalk, and his car was heading toward me.  When I tried to run away, I fell and hit my head.  His car hit the streetlamp instead of me.”
George chuckled.  “The man really is a menace behind the wheel of a car.”
Elizabeth’s thoughts were more than a little muddled.  But it occurred to her that George’s reaction was rather…gleeful. 
“Do you know Darcy?” 
George’s mouth twisted into a bitter smile.  “You could say that.  Our families were friendly when I was a kid.  We went on vacation together.  I played with both Darcy and his sister, although I was closer to his sister’s age.”
Now Elizabeth’s curiosity was piqued.  “But you’re not friends anymore?”
“Apparently there were limits to the friendship.  You know the Darcys are real blue bloods.  Hollywood royalty descended from a branch of the Vanderbilt family.”
Elizabeth nodded.  Everyone knew that Darcy’s mother was a famous movie star and that his father had been an award-winning director before he retired. 
“I made the fatal mistake of dating Darcy’s sister, Georgiana.  We went out for two months in high school, no problem.  But then her family found out.  They cut off all ties with my parents and threatened legal action if I ever went near Georgiana again.  Darcy even punched me.”   George rubbed his jaw as if remembering the pain.
“That’s terrible!  Just because you loved his sister?”
George shrugged.  “I guess I wasn’t what his parents had in mind for her.”
“How did she take it?”
His mouth twisted.  “I don’t really know.  I never saw her again.  I called her, emailed, texted, but she never responded.  I realized later that her parents probably made her change all her accounts.  And they took her out of the country; they really wanted to get her away from me.  All of this was years ago, though.  She’s an adult now.  I figure she can get in touch with me, but they must have convinced her that I’m the scum of the earth.”
“That’s terrible!”
“Yeah.” He sighed. “Although, it made me a stronger person.  And who knows?  If they hadn’t done that, I might not have become an EMT, and then I wouldn’t have met you.”  He gave her a coy smile.
She raised an eyebrow.  “Are medical personnel supposed to flirt with their patients?”
“Not usually, but it’s acceptable if they’re exceptionally pretty.” His smile could have coaxed anyone into mischief.
Elizabeth laughed.  “You’re incorrigible!”

*****

 What do you think of this scene? What about the blurb? What is the scandalous incident that derailed Darcy's career? I want to know. What is the "real" reason Georgiana's parents cut ties with Wickham and his family? So many questions, and so much I want to find out. Reading time better come quickly! 

Thank you, Victoria Kincaid, for thinking of my blog and my readers. We are always honored to have you drop in. Your book is already getting some good reviews and that has to be satisfying. One of you lucky readers will get a chance to read it yourself. Ms. Kincaid is giving away one eBook and the giveaway is international. Leave us your thoughts to be entered in the giveaway. If you want me to know who are and email you should you win, you need to leave me a way to do just that! :) Good luck to all. Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM on the 22nd of July.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Taking Another Chance...Brenda J. Webb

Brenda J. Webb is back at More Agreeably Engaged today, and is sharing an excerpt with us from her new release, Taking Another Chance. This sounds like such a good book, and it is on my TBR list. Readers, what do you think? Have any of you read Taking Another Chance yet? 

Thanks for stopping by, Brenda, and sharing with us. My readers and I welcome you.


~~~

Janet, I am so proud to be visiting More Agreeably Engaged again to share an excerpt of my newest book TAKING ANOTHER CHANCE. I always enjoy visiting with your readers and I am giving away four Kindle E-book copies to those who comment and can accept books from Amazon.com.

As to this story, I have always wanted to write a tale where an older Darcy and Elizabeth find each other again and TAKING ANOTHER CHANCE is the result. The blurb which follows sets the stage for the story; however, for those who hate stories where Darcy is married to someone before Elizabeth, allow me to hint that the marriage began with deception and was of short duration.

Those who read my books know that I never have ODC in love with anyone but each other. After all, Some Loves Are Meant To Be! 

~The Blurb~

Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet have suffered profound heartache in the fourteen years since parting in Lambton when word of Lydia’s folly reached her family.
At the age of forty, Darcy is now a widower raising a teenage daughter, whilst Elizabeth, a spinster, has spent the intervening years in service.
Unexpectedly thrown into each other’s company by circumstances not of their making, has time stood still when it comes to matters of the heart?
Can their timeless love survive the newest obstacles to happiness?

~~~*~~~
~The Excerpt~

To understand this excerpt, be advised that Colonel Fitzwilliam is now Lord Matlock, Isabelle is his wife, Amy is Isabelle’s sister, Marjorie is Lord Matlock’s oldest child and Marianne is Darcy’s (step) daughter.
.  
Lady Matlock’s sitting room

Once they were alone, Isabelle asked Richard about the governess, and he related all that Lady Gordon had said about Elizabeth’s abilities. He also explained that she had asked to begin her employment with them on Monday.

“You forgot to mention her name.”

“I did?”

Richard’s courtship of Isabelle began directly after William’s accident, so she was aware that her husband’s cousin was hurt in the service of a friend, whose sister, Lydia, had eloped with a cad who grew up at Pemberley—thus explaining William’s reason for getting involved in the matter.

Richard hoped against hope she would not recall Lydia’s last name. “Miss Elizabeth Bennet.”

“Bennet? Bennet? Where have I heard that name before?”

“I have met many Bennets in my lifetime, so I could not say. Rest assured, however, that this Bennet has been able to impress your mother in a short period of time, and that is no small feat.”

“Indeed, it is not.”

“According to your mother, Miss Bennet has breathed new life into our girls’ thirst for education.”

“I cannot fathom anything so grand, but I am willing to be proven wrong.”

“All I know is that our girls talked of nothing save their new governess on the way home. So much so, that Marianne asked them to find another subject.”

“Speaking of Marianne, I am pleased she agreed to come. I do not think I could stand another day of watching Marjorie sulk.”

Richard was relieved that Isabelle had changed the subject. “Then you will also be pleased to know that Darcy agreed to let her travel to Derbyshire with us and stay for several weeks.”

“It does please me, but I have to ask—what about the ball? If he does not attend, Amy will be devastated.”

“He agreed to attend the ball, but I feel I must warn you again that my cousin is not interested in your sister.”

“I know that Amy can be a bit giddy, but that can be reined in. Moreover, she is still young enough to give him an heir, and she is wealthy. What else could he ask for?”

“Darcy was never drawn to beauty alone; he values intelligence. Besides, he told me that he is not worried about producing an heir since Georgiana can inherit Pemberley.”

“Nonsense! Darcy is still young enough for children. He may be forty, but he does not look a day over thirty.”

“What about the silver in his hair?”

“It only serves to make him more devastatingly handsome.”

“If I did not know you so well, I believe I would be jealous of my cousin.”

Isabelle grabbed her husband’s hand, pulling him down beside her on the sofa. Framing Richard’s face with her hands, she kissed him soundly.

“I am not blind to Darcy’s attributes, but I only have eyes for you.”

A more passionate kiss followed before Richard pulled back. “You always know just what to say to make me love you even more, my sweet.”

“I am glad, for rest assured you are the love of my life, Richard Fitzwilliam.”

Consequently, the Matlocks were not in communication with the rest of the house until dinner was announced hours later. 

You can buy Taking Another Chance at:

Amazon.com US

Amazon UK

~~~*~~~

Thank you, Brenda! It's so good to have you here again. I loved reading your delightful excerpt, and it was intriguing. You definitely have piqued my interest! I can't wait to have a little time so I can dive into Taking Another Chance. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. I loved reading your last two sentences in the intro to the post, "Those who read my books know that I never have ODC in love with anyone but each other. After all, Some Loves Are Meant To Be! "

It is giveaway time. Brenda has an impressive and generous giveaway. She is giving away 4 eBooks, and the giveaway is open to anyone who can accept eBooks from Amazon.com. Leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway. As always, be sure I can reach you should you be the winner. The giveaway ends the 13th of July at 11:59 P.M. Good luck to all.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley...Kelly Miller

I'm so excited about my stop on Kelly's Miller's Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley Blog Tour! Kelly is sharing an interview between Graham, the angel of death and Zoey Mills! I think you are going to have a good time reading this interview! Graham is quite a character, and he is quite fascinated with some "items" of the modern world! :) 

Kelly Miller is a debut author at Meryton Press. She has written and posted several stories at A Happy Assembly but this is the first one she has published. Be watching for Kelly as she will be releasing another novel in early 2020. Welcome to More Agreeably Engaged, Kelly. I'm honored to have you visit.

If you haven't read the blurb yet, I will post it first: then the interview with Graham will follow. Enjoy! 

Blurb:

What will the master of Pemberley do when confronted with the mercurial whims of an all-powerful angel?

Fitzwilliam Darcy's well-ordered life is about to become a chaotic nightmare. A man of fortune, property, and social prominence, he has everything he could desire. Blissfully married to his wife, Elizabeth, they have a two-year-old son. With so much to live for, Darcy is shaken by a near-fatal riding accident. After a miraculous escape, he is visited by an otherworldly being: an angel of death named Graham. Threatening dire consequences, Graham compels Darcy to guide him on a sojourn in the world of mortals. 

Darcy immediately questions the angel’s motives when he demands to be a guest at Pemberley. Can he trust Graham's assurance that no harm will come to his wife and child? And why does Graham insist on spending time with Elizabeth? How can Darcy possibly protect his family from an angel with power over life and death?

In this romantic fantasy, the beloved couple from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice must contend with both human and unearthly challenges. Are the fates against them? Or will their extraordinary love conquer all?

*****

Featured Interview: The Fascinating Mr. Graham

By Zoey Mills, Senior Writer, The Daily Looking Glass Online Newspaper

On June 6, 2019, I had the privilege of conducting an interview with Mr. Graham, the mysterious angel of death and breakout star of the new romantic fantasy novel and Pride and Prejudice continuation by Kelly Miller, Death takes a Holiday at Pemberley.

Having read the novel, I could hardly contain my excitement when the scheduled interview with the Mr. Graham showed up on my calendar. Just as enigmatic as the angel himself was the way in which the interview was scheduled. To this day, I do not know who contacted the angel―no one in the office took the credit for having made the arrangements.

Mr. Graham had specified that the interview would take place at one of the newspaper’s remote offices at the edge of town. My crew and I arrived at the designated site early to set up the interview area with a variety of food and beverages. Mr. Graham’s arrival was precipitated by a dazzlingly brilliant flash of light, similar to a bolt of lightning, followed by a cloud of smoke. When the smoke cleared, and Mr. Graham came into view, my legs grew so weak and shaky, I had to grab a nearby chair to remain upright. I had known, of course, to expect an exceedingly handsome man, but I was unprepared for how very alluring he was. It took all my concentration to look away from him. It is impossible to describe his appearance in a way that does him justice. When I discussed the subject with my crew afterwards, we all thought he resembled our favorite movie actor—despite the fact that we all named a different actor as our favorite!

Eventually, I gathered myself and welcomed Mr. Graham to California and thanked him for coming. He had arrived precisely on time. The stunning, blond gentleman was dressed casually, in J Brand jeans, a Rodd & Gunn button-down shirt, and a black leather racing jacket. A dazzling smile was in place as he greeted me and heartily professed his pleasure in meeting me. My heart ran a wild race as I shook his hand. He was fascinating, gorgeous, and compelling. His hypnotic blue eyes beheld me with such warmth that I quite lost my breath and was unable to speak for a moment.

I recovered from my lapse by the quick thinking of my assistant, who pinched my arm. I introduced my crew to Mr. Graham, and then invited him to make himself comfortable on the sofa where I had a table set up for him with the refreshments. He peered with great interest at the food provided and asked me to identify the various food items. Then he proceeded to fix himself a heavily laden plate filled with avocado toast, fish tacos, and assorted doughnuts.

After filling and setting down his plate, Mr. Graham turned to the assortment of coffee and tea drinks we had picked up. He lifted one in his hand and stared at it with wide eyes--it was clear he was unfamiliar with drinks popular in the 21st century. At his inquiry, I explained that the drink he held was called a black-and-white mocha Frappuccino. Mr. Graham released a raucous laugh, before stating it was the most ridiculous-sounding name for a beverage he had ever heard. However, from his first sip, he declared it to be delicious and amazingly refreshing. He took similar enjoyment from the food items, and his favorites among the selections proved to be the doughnuts, especially the raised, glazed variety.

Before the interview started, Mr. Graham warned me that there would be a number of subjects that would be off limits. He proceeded to list all of the topics I was to avoid. When he was finished, I had to cross over half of my prepared questions off my list. What follows is the entirety of the interview.

Z Mills: Many people are unfamiliar with angels of death. What precisely does an angel of death do?

Mr. Graham: When mortals pass away, we attend them and ensure their souls are escorted to their designated locations. Alas, I am not at liberty to divulge the precise details of these final destinations. Suffice it to say that some people go on to more agreeable places than others. (He lifted another beverage from the table.) What do you call this beverage?

Z Mills: That is a hazelnut iced latte. During your sojourn at Pemberley, who took over your duties for you in your own world?

Mr. Graham: Hmm. This is very good too; I can taste the hazelnut! Anyway, there is a large crew of us who attend to this work. Because of all the wars you mortals continually get involved in, and the occasional natural disasters, we have found it necessary in our world to be prepared for many deaths to occur at once, and we have many more angels than we did when I was at Pemberley. However, even back then we had sufficient angels on hand to ensure no soul would go unescorted during my holiday.

Z Mills: Since your stay at Pemberley in 1815, have you taken other holidays with mortals?

Mr. Graham: I have not. Since then I have never observed an individual who so intrigued me that I was moved to leave my world again. Staying with Elizabeth, er, I meant Darcy and Elizabeth was a unique and unforgettable experience. On the other hand, I am not ruling it out. I never say never.

Z Mills: In Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley, you demonstrated to Mr. Darcy a rather startling example of your powers. Do you have other powers, and can you tell me of them?

Mr. Graham: Yes, I have other powers, and no, I cannot tell you of them. Was that not one of the items I listed?

Z Mills: No, it was not.

Mr. Graham: Well, I am sorry to be so cryptic, but we angels must have our secrets.

Z Mills: It is clear you are an aficionado of food and appear to be capable of eating far more than the average mortal. Do you ever gain weight?

Mr. Graham: No, I do not. You know, if you like, you may consider it to be a power that angels have on earth; no worry for ever gaining weight.

Z Mills: Are there other angels from your world who sometimes take vacations here on earth?

Mr. Graham: At any given time, angels are taking vacations all over the earth. I did it before it became popular, but now it is rather common in my world. (Mr. Graham stood) I am afraid it is time I took my leave now.

Z Mills: I thank you very much for stopping by and answering my questions. It was very nice of you.

Mr. Graham: It was a pleasure. I thank you for the delectable food and drink. Do you mind? (Mr. Graham picked up an old-fashioned glazed doughnut and a passion tea with raspberry syrup.)

Z Mills: Please, help yourself. You have a long trip back, I imagine.

Mr. Graham: (The angel’s cheeks became tinged with red) In truth, I will be back in a flash; I simply wanted to sample these.

Z Mills: You are most welcome to them. Good-bye, Mr. Graham.

Mr. Graham: Good-by, Ms. Mills.

Wasn't the interview delightful! What do you think of Graham? When you get a chance to read Ms. Miller's book, you will learn much about the angel of death. Why is he at Pemberley? What does he want? 

Now get to know a little bit about Kelly Miller. She is a lovely lady.

*****

Author Bio:

Kelly Miller discovered her appreciation for Jane Austen late in life, and her love of writing even later.  It was the 1995 miniseries of Pride and Prejudice that made her take notice and want to read the actual book.  It was many years later that she discovered the world of JAFF.  After reading a slew of wildly inventive stories featuring the beloved characters created by Jane Austen, she was inspired to write one of her own.  Now, writing is one of her favorite pastimes.  When not writing, she spends her free time singing, playing the piano, and working out.  (Yes, like Elizabeth Bennet, she is an excellent walker.)  Kelly Miller lives in Silicon Valley with her husband, daughter and their many pets.

Contact Info:

Amazon Author Page (coming soon)
Facebook  

*****

Buy Links:

eBook:

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Paperback:

Amazon US
Amazon UK

*****

Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley Blog Schedule

June 14 From Pemberley to Milton; Excerpt and GA
June 15 More Agreeably Engaged; Character Interview and GA
June 16 Open
June 17 Diary of an Eccentric; Guest Post and GA
June 18 So Little Time…;  Excerpt and GA
June 19 Austenesque Reviews; Guest Post, Excerpt, and GA
June 20 Savvy Verse & Wit;  Excerpt and GA
June 21 Babblings of a Bookworm; Excerpt and GA
June22 My Love for Jane Austen; Author Interview and GA
June 23 Open
June 24 My Vices and Weaknesses; Review, Excerpt, and GA


Giveaway:

Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley. The giveaway is international. Please enter with the Rafflecopter below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 3, 2019

Nefarious...Nicole Clarkston

Nicole Clarkston, author of the recently released and #1 Best Seller, Nefarious, is stopping by and sharing a vignette! You are going to love it! The scene is from Elizabeth's point of view instead of Darcy's. Since the book is written from Darcy's point of view, it is fun to get Lizzy's thoughts in this vignette. But first, let's talk a bit about the book and the blurb.

Have you read Nefarious yet? Did you follow along when Nicole was posting the first few chapters at Austen Variations? I did, and I couldn't wait for the next one. Everything about this book is fantastic - from the way it was conceived to the way it concluded, and everything in between! What a great read, and it is getting rave reviews! If you haven't read it, I hope you get to soon. It is not to be missed.

Nefarious blurb

He hates everything about her.
She despises him even more.
So why is his heart so determined to belong to her?

Once trapped by marriage to a woman he loathed, Fitzwilliam Darcy is finally free again. Resentful, bewildered, and angry, he is eager to begin his life over—preferably with a woman who is the exact opposite of his wife.

He never imagined a short stay in Hertfordshire would bring him face to face with his worst nightmare; a woman similar in face, form, and name. He certainly never expected her to be so impossible to ignore.

Torn between what he believes he wants and what his heart cannot live without, his dignity begins to unravel. Will his desperation to escape his past drive a wedge into his closest friendship and destroy any hope of a future?

Will Miss Elizabeth Bennet prove to be as nefarious as his wife? Or, will the last woman in the world be his only chance at happiness?

Elizabeth Speaks

I counted to ten, very slowly. And then, I counted ten more… and still, I felt like erupting. Or, at least, throwing something heavy and expensive.
He was staring over the dinner table at me again. That dark, brooding fellow—the one who had so fascinated me when he first appeared at the Assembly with his thoughtful brow, his regal stature, and the clean, almost severe lines of his face.
But then, there was that mouth. Never had anyone mortified me so thoroughly, nor had so little reason to do so! It was not as if I had trod on his toes or uttered some impertinent remark—though, Heaven knew, I did that quite often enough. But this boor, he required no assistance whatsoever in making himself the most disagreeable, offensive, and arrogant specimen ever to grace the humble halls of Meryton’s Assembly rooms. Ah! Yes, they were humble, and he made certain we all knew it, proclaiming his disdain for the room, the people, the musicians, and most of all, for me.
“Can there be a more unfortunate name in all Christendom?” he had said of me. Yes! In fact, there was a more unfortunate name, and it was Fitzwilliam Darcy. What celestial injustice had endowed such a striking-looking man with a sharp mind, worldly possessions to spare, a voice that could melt wax and eyes that could look right through a woman, and then besmirched it all with such a contemptible, sour character?
Miss Bingley certainly did not seem to mind his manner. If I did not miss my guess, Mr Bingley’s sister was only waiting for the wine to pour freely enough to dull the man’s tongue into making her an offer, or even an off-handed compliment. What a fine match she would make for him! He seemed not at all averse to peppering his company with ill-tempered quips, and she provided him with ample cause to display his prowess.
I wondered if he even noticed how desperately pathetic the woman was, as she tried to lean farther over the table so that her feminine assets might be the more readily displayed. Probably not. Most men were clueless in that way.
I tried to focus my energies on making myself agreeable to the man I hoped would be my brother. I liked Mr Bingley for his own sake, not merely for Jane’s. Who could not like the man? Mr Bingley was genial, open, and solicitous—the perfect opposite of his sister and his friend. How he could suffer their company, I did not understand, but their very presence in the house proved one thing beyond any doubt: if Mr Bingley could tolerate their incivilities with good humour, my own family would seem a pleasant diversion in comparison.
“Upon my word!” Miss Bingley cried, fluttering her hand near her breast and making certain to catch Mr Darcy’s eye as she did so. “I should not have thought it possible! Can you really have an aunt and uncle in trade? No, my dear, I shall not believe you. You are the very picture of everything cultured and refined.”
Hah! As if she did not sneer down her nose at me every time she glanced my way! I laughed back, trying not to insult my hostess, for her brother’s sake. “I am afraid my arrival this morning was anything but elegant.”
I saw Mr Darcy’s rigid brow dimple in agreement with my own assessment, but he kept his eyes carefully averted. Provoking, vexing man! Either he stared in challenge or refused to look my way altogether. It made him wretchedly difficult to engage… not that I wished to engage him, or to have him become engaged with me, or… oh botheration!
Miss Bingley laughed, an annoying sound that made my shoulders clench and my spine shiver in revulsion. I might have noticed a faint roll of Mr Darcy’s eyes, had I been looking at him. A jolly good thing I was not, for he certainly deserved no notice from me.
Miss Bingley was still talking, trying to amuse us all with some tale from her youth… however long ago that had been. Was it kindness or condescension that made her observe—again—how my hems had been stained that morning, and how I must have very agreeable relatives living in Cheapside? I fixed her with a glassy stare and silently counted again. I made it to ten before I had to start over due to some newly outrageous remark.
Well, she was what she was, I supposed. If my hopes were to bear fruit, I would one day be related to the woman, so I had best not offend her all at once. And truly, I could bear her, far more easily than I could tolerate the man across the table. With any luck, he would see just what a stellar match she might make him, and take her away to wherever his estate was. Far away, I hoped.
I smiled at my hostess’ blistering superciliousness and praised her hospitality, all while trying not to look like I was stretching the truth until its seams would break. At least Mr Bingley was everything charming and generous, and I did so covet him for dear Jane. What a fine, understanding husband he would make for her! And he was smitten already, that much was plain—just as his friend’s interest was also obvious.
Poor Jane! She had been so uncomfortable dancing with Mr Darcy at the Assembly, with the way he stared at her and prowled about the room after her. I still congratulated myself with stepping into his path at Lucas Lodge, keeping him from seeking her out, and I fairly gloated when I recalled my triumph in forcing him to ask Miss Bingley to dance. The look he had shot me—part passionate indignation, and part dumbfounded awe—would forever stand as one of the grandest prizes I had ever won.
He was glaring at me again, a curious furrow between his eyes that he had not displayed with any of his previous scowls. It was almost as if something I had said puzzled him, and he was even more cross because he could not make sense of it. That was when a shaft of wicked inspiration struck.
I could not confront him directly—not only would it be an insult to my father and my family if I were to condescend so, but I would surely come off the loser. But I could needle him… irritate, exasperate, and cause him to fret in impotence. What could he do but fulminate in silence? And so, when we adjourned to the drawing room that evening, I made straight for the book on the side table.
I knew very well whose book it was. As if Mr Bingley would moon about for hours reading essays on morality and human nature! And certainly, it would never have belonged to Miss Bingley or Mrs Hurst—a fact evidenced when Miss Bingley claimed a different book for herself and held it upside-down for the first ten minutes. No one else from this house would have such a book in his possession, nor so proudly display the Cambridge ribbon as a marker.
How fortunate for me that I already enjoyed Samuel Johnson! It made my own pursuit so much more satisfying, particularly when I deliberately twirled that ridiculous ribbon through my fingers. How red his face turned! I thought he would leap from his chair and snatch it out of my hands that very instant, but he only turned and tried to write a letter to someone. Probably some count or some-such, and no doubt his letter contained a series of laments about the backwards Hertfordshire set among whom he found himself trapped. The scoundrel. He would make little progress on his letter, for every other moment he was glancing over his shoulder at me.
I drew a luxuriant sigh and turned the page. There, marked with a bold stroke in the margin, was a passage that made me stop and read it over.

“Men know that women are an overmatch for them, and therefore they choose the weakest or the most ignorant. If they did not think so, they never could be afraid of women knowing as much as themselves.”

What could he have meant by marking that? Either he appreciated Johnson’s satire—perhaps had seen the practice played out in reality—or he had taken it as serious advice for a man on the hunt for a bride. I narrowed my eyes and read the words again. Only a fool would misunderstand it… and whatever else he was, Mr Darcy did not appear to be a fool. A cynic, a misanthrope, and a bit of a peacock, in all his elevated opinions of himself, but not a fool.
That left only the possibility that at some point in his life, Mr Darcy, the disdainful and irascible one, must have possessed a glimmer of good sense, and possibly even humour. I could not help seeking his face again, hoping to trace some semblance of whimsy or wit in those marble features—a face that could have been sculpted by Michelangelo—but he was slanting a bold and confrontational look back at me. I felt almost like he was willing me to despise him… as if I needed any help in that regard! His cheek twitched and I could see his jaw shift in challenge.
I stole my gaze quickly away, vowing never to repeat that mistake. Handsome as he was, intelligent as he might be, I would not permit myself to wonder about him again. I kept my eyes studiously to the book page… but did not neglect to toy with his bookmark, just to aggravate him. Some minutes passed in silence
Miss Bingley seemed to have missed his irritation, because she kept hovering around him. She had given up on her own book, and was flitting about, trying to make him acknowledge her existence. “How fast you write, Mr Darcy!” she praised him.
“You are mistaken,” he growled. “I write rather slowly.”
Indeed, I could see the position of his hand on the notepaper, and it was still near the top. Why on earth would it take him so long to scribble out a few lines? He glanced round, as if he were only looking at his inquisitor, but he happened to catch my eye. I gazed back only briefly, then pretended to ignore him, making a great show of turning the book’s page and then toying with his blue ribbon. He turned away and bent again to his letter, but his hand was not very diligent in its task.
Miss Bingley was pacing around his chair, casting glances my way now and again. “And how does Miss Darcy do? I presume it is she to whom you write?”
I was trying to keep my eyes on the book and not credit the brute with more attention than was his due, but this caught my notice. A sister? I studied the hunched posture of his shoulders, heard the affirmative grunt as he acknowledged Miss Bingley’s assumption, and mused on this piece of intelligence. She must be a fearsome creature, indeed. I pictured a second Miss Bingley—a woman of perhaps six and twenty, burdened with far too much fortune and pride to bestow either on some unwitting earl’s son.
“And she is to come away from school soon, of course,” Miss Bingley continued. “Shall she join us for the festive season, Mr Darcy?”
“She is to arrive in less than a fortnight. I am presently writing to inform her of the final arrangements,” was his brusque answer.
Ah, so this was a much younger sister. And if Mr Darcy was her primary guardian, she must have been subjected to all manner of conceit and disdain during her formative years. The poor child! I felt a softening in my heart at once for this unknown maid—though, heaven knew, she was probably just as arrogant as her brother. However, it pleased me to conceive of some creature I might pity for her helpless relationship to such an ogre.
I continued to listen as Miss Bingley drew each unwilling bit of information from Mr Darcy. Then, she was turning to me, and declaring that Miss Darcy had not her equal for elegance and accomplishments. At this, I was forced to enter the conversation.
“Indeed, she must be a remarkable young lady to have drawn such praise,” I replied. “She is very young, I presume?”
“Not yet fifteen, is she, Mr Darcy?” Miss Bingley asked.
“She is just turned sixteen,” he answered, his head still bent over his page.
“How the years have flown!” Miss Bingley cried. “Is she much grown since I last saw her? Is she as tall as I am?”
“She is now about Miss Jane Bennet’s height, or a little taller.”
“Ah!” mused the lady, “you are so good, Mr Darcy, to recall our poor guest upstairs. How does she do this evening, Miss Eliza?”
I sighed and closed the book, for it was apparent that Miss Bingley would no longer permit me my pleasure in frustrating Mr Darcy with it. I was not at all happy to be disclosing Jane’s progress in the hearing of that she-vulture, nor that of Mr Darcy the Black Cloud, but I was somewhat gratified to see Mr Bingley sitting up to take note of my response.
“I am afraid she is not at all well, Miss Bingley,” I replied. “She was very uncomfortable this evening.”
Mr Bingley made some gallant offer of calling for the apothecary, which I politely declined, but I confess, my attention was not on him. I was sensing the other gentleman, the dark and sombre one, whose frame seemed to swell like a gathering storm from that corner of the room. How did a man possess such… such presence? Little wonder Miss Bingley was fascinated by him, for I would have been so myself, if I were not so despairing over the travesty of his woeful character.
Mr Bingley at last relented in his concerns and returned to his card game. His sister, however, did not mean to lose her chance of provoking Mr Darcy into conversation. “What a considerate sister you are, Miss Eliza,” she praised me. “I always say that family are the greatest comfort anyone could have. Do you not agree, Mr Darcy?”
What occurred next perplexed me in the extreme. Mr Darcy refused to answer. It was not as if he had not heard her—indeed, he could not have failed to do so—but he absolutely rebuffed her. From where I sat, I could even catch the hint of a shadow at his jaw, indicating that he was clenching his teeth. Then, I saw the top of his pen jerk sharply at an odd angle. He had bent it beyond repair!
I watched him as he drew two or three deep breaths and searched for another pen, ignoring Miss Bingley all the while. What could she have said to anger him so? But this was Mr Darcy, a man who seemed always to be angry over something, so I sighed and forced myself to look away again.
“Miss Bingley,” I said, “do you not find that family can also be a great source of enjoyment as well as comfort?”
She looked puzzled. “How so?”
“Why, perhaps it is merely because I have so many sisters, but we engage in much teasing and merriment when at home. Is it so in your family?”
Miss Bingley, the aspiring lady of class and composure, actually snorted. “Merriment! I do not understand what you can mean. Are cards and reading insufficient to such an enterprise?”
“I do not claim they are insufficient, but what of less formal enjoyment? Do you not simply tease and jest with one another for the sake of pleasure?”
She appeared to be at a loss. “Tease? Miss Eliza, surely you know that my brother cultivates enough ridicule of his own without requiring another to take note of it.”
“Mr Bingley is everything light-hearted and engaging,” I conceded, “but what of Mr Hurst? What of Mr Darcy?”
“Tease Mr Darcy? Why no, my dear, it is impossible. The very idea!”
I shook my head in mock sadness. “That is a pity, for I dearly love to laugh.”
This had the result I had expected. Mr Darcy himself spun round in his seat and fixed me with such a surly, agitated expression that I nearly giggled aloud.
“You think it proper to ridicule someone who has made it the study of his life to avoid the sort of weaknesses that would expose him? To make light of an honourable figure, purely for your own amusement?”
Ah, if he only knew how very amusing he was just then, as he tried to stand on his affronted dignity! “Not for my personal amusement, but for the enjoyment of the whole room,” I replied. “I hope I never ridicule what is wise and good. Most of my associates take much delight in their own follies, for none regard themselves so seriously that they cannot admit to some fault. Have you no faults at all, sir?”
That nearly pushed him over the edge. I saw his eyes flame, his nostrils distend, and his teeth even flashed for a glimmer of a second. Oh, but he was so easy to infuriate!
“Faults?” Miss Bingley protested. “Mr Darcy! He is a man perfectly without fault.”
I watched Mr Darcy seethe, his fingers clenching again on another hapless pen, and I could not help but to smile in victory. “Indeed,” I congratulated him, “you are to be commended for living so long on this earth without cultivating a few aberrations. I now no longer wonder at your lack of good humour, sir, for if I were similarly cursed with perfection, I should think myself the dullest person in the world.”
Miss Bingley’s eyes popped, like one of the hens when she has just dropped an egg, and she absolutely glared at me. Mr Darcy, however, had turned quite red. His breathing had quickened, and those dark eyes were on fire with indignation.
I knew when to withdraw. I rose, adopted a sweet expression, and informed Miss Bingley that I meant to retire for the night. To Mr Darcy, I delivered his book, thereby confessing my understanding that it was his possession, and that I had knowingly co-opted it for my own purposes. I leaned low and whispered to him, “You are not so very difficult to understand, Mr Darcy.”
I distinctly heard him hiss with exasperation as I left the room.




 Didn't you just love the vignette! Wow! Lizzy was not happy with Darcy! I could just see her counting to ten repeatedly! I believe they were almost shooting daggers with their eyes! Poor Darcy! He has no clue what is happening to him. At this point, it certainly doesn't seem like Lizzy and Darcy will ever have a chance at a HEA. I'm so glad there is the rest of the story! :) (and what a story it is, too!)


Nefarious Blog Stops
June 3rd - More Agreeably Engaged; Vignette, Giveaway
June 4th From Pemberley to Milton; Guest Post and/or Excerpt, Giveaway
June 7th - Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, Giveaway
June 8thBabblings of a Bookworm; Vignette, Giveaway
June 11thSo Little Time…; Guest Post, Giveaway
June 13th - Savvy Verse & Wit; Guest Post, Giveaway
June 15thDiary of an Eccentric; Review, Giveaway


Giveaway

Now it's giveaway time, and Nicole has a great giveaway for one lucky reader! 

Option 1: $10 Amazon Gift Card plus eBook or Audiobook of winner’s choice; International
Option 2: Signed Paperback of winner’s choice; US only

The giveaway will end at 11:59 P.M. on the 8th of June. Good luck to all!

Thank you, Nicole Clarkston, for stopping by and letting us read Lizzy's thoughts. She was an impertinent mess! 

Thank you also for the generous giveaway for my readers. Best wishes with your new release, Nefarious.