Regina Jeffers is generously offering a paperbook or ebook, winner's choice, to one lucky person whose comment is randomly chosen. This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you.
Now, please welcome, Regina Jeffers.
Imagine if you will, Darcy and Elizabeth having been married for some six months. They have weathered the Derbyshire winter in wonderful marital bliss, and spring brings hopes of continued harmony. Only two events have marred their special “paradise”: Elizabeth’s recent miscarriage and the pressing news of the death of his father’s favorite cousin, Samuel Darcy, a renowned archaeologist.
As April approaches, Darcy is determined to share special moments with Elizabeth in King George III’s favorite watering hole, Mudeford, while seeing to his cousin’s will and estate. However, things are never so simple for our favorite couple. Samuel’s body has gone missing, and no matter how many other bodies Darcy discovers, there is no sign of the one he most wishes to see returned to its proper resting place. Add in a gypsy band, a witches’ coven, and a baker’s dozen unclaimed corpses, and Darcy and Elizabeth are one step behind in a very clever mystery.
Book Blurb: A thrilling story of murder and betrayal filled with the scandal, wit and intrigue characteristic of Austen’s classic novels
Fitzwilliam Darcy is devastated. The joy of his recent wedding has been cut short by the news of the sudden death of his father’s beloved cousin, Samuel Darcy. Elizabeth and Darcy travel to Dorset, a popular Regency resort area, to pay their respects to the well-traveled and eccentric Samuel. But this is no summer holiday. Danger bubbles beneath Dorset’s peaceful surface as strange and foreboding events begin to occur. Several of Samuel’s ancient treasures go missing, and then his body itself disappears. As Darcy and Elizabeth investigate this mystery and unravel its tangled ties to the haunting legends of Dark Dorset, the legendary couple’s love is put to the test when sinister forces strike close to home. Some secrets should remain secrets, but Darcy will do all he can to find answers—even if it means meeting his own end in the damp depths of a newly dug grave.
With malicious villains, dramatic revelations and heroic gestures, The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy will keep Austen fans turning the pages right up until its dramatic conclusion.
Excerpt: (Setting) Elizabeth and Darcy have quarreled regarding how their investigation is going. She has retreated to a “bit of wilderness” upon Samuel Darcy’s estate to think upon the argument and how best to come to terms with what she sees as a slight to females. She stands upon a rock face overlooking a waterfall and a small lake.
Elizabeth spun around to find the face of danger. She automatically retreated two steps to the rear as the dark-skinned man stepped onto the cliff face before her. She surveyed the area. She had unknowingly boxed herself in. When Elizabeth had sought the waterfall’s peacefulness, she had chosen a complementary cliff face where she could watch the stream form high in the surrounding rock configurations to slide over the jutting edge to a tranquil lake below.
Unfortunately, the space she occupied was not only solitary, but also very narrow. The stranger easily blocked her retreat. “Who are you?” Elizabeth caught her breath and defiantly challenged the man’s gaze. She was pleasantly surprised her voice had not betrayed her fear. “This is private property.”
A bemused smirk turned up the man’s lips. “I hold an invitation from the land’s owner,” he said in a highly accented speech.
Elizabeth knew undoubtedly this stranger was one of the gypsy band. Suddenly, her earlier romantic musings regarding the Roma appeared quite foolish. It was clear the man’s presence spoke of danger. She worked hard to disguise her fears. “I understood your group planned to leave your camp behind.”
He took a half step closer, and Elizabeth’s back stiffened in response. “Not for three more days, Milady. Andrzej has spoken to the house’s master regarding our departure.”
“My husband,” she said as a means to warn the man away.
He said with a sneer, “Then you are Mrs. Darcy.” Elizabeth swallowed hard, fighting off the impending dread, which had crept along her spine. “Andrzej did not speak of your beauty.”
If the situation had not been so dire, she might have enjoyed listening to the man speak. There was a soft roll of the r’s and a growling hiss on each s, but she could find no thrill in the intended threat in the stranger’s tone. “I think it best if I return to the house.”
“You do not care for my company?” he asked as if she had disappointed him, but Elizabeth recognized the ruse.
She set her shoulders with a haughty slant and started around the man. “Mr. Darcy will be most displeased if you impede my return.”
But the stranger did not withdraw. Instead, he caught her arm and forced Elizabeth to grasp his shirtsleeve to right her stance. “Do you think I care what will or will not please your husband?” he growled. He caught her chin in his large palm and shoved it upward. He said seductively, “I would give a care if I displeased Mrs. Darcy, however.”
Elizabeth jerked her head to the side. “Then you should know, Sir, I am greatly discontented. Unhand me immediately.”
He laughed lightly. “Ah, my pet. You will not be so prickly when you know me better.”
Elizabeth cringed. “If you persist in this folly, ‘prickly’ will be an understatement,” she declared. “I have no desire to know you now or ever. I shall ask you once again to unhand me.”
“And if I choose otherwise?” he asked in a sinisterly low tone. Elizabeth could smell the stink of his breath and the unusual spicy scent of his slicked-back hair.
“I shall fight you with every breath of my life. Whatever you plan shall not come easily,” she said with conviction. And she would. Elizabeth would fight this man. Fight through the paralyzing fear that had locked her knees into stone fortresses.
The man tightened his hold on her arm and pulled Elizabeth closer. He whispered into her ear. “Where is the amusement in such actions?”
Without considering the consequences, Elizabeth spun away from him. Jerking hard against his hold, she used a counterbalance move Darcy had shown her one evening when they had playfully wrestled before the fireplace in her sitting room. She jerked hard to throw her attacker off balance and followed that move with a firm shove against the man’s chest. She turned to run, but the Rom caught her skirt to pull her toward him.
Elizabeth wound up her small fist and struck the interloper between the eyes, at the bridge of his nose. It had hurt her hand more than she had anticipated, but she had no time to nurse the pain. The gypsy had loosened his grasp as he automatically reached for his nose; therefore, she shoved hard and darted around him.
Unfortunately, her attacker recovered quickly. He caught her about the waist and jerked Elizabeth hard against him. Her back plastered his chest. The Rom viciously dragged her toward the tree line to the right. Soon he would have her under the cover of the bushes, and her chances of escape would decrease dramatically. She scratched at his hands and dug her nails into his wrist, but the man did not relent.
Panic had replaced determination in Elizabeth’s veins. As a last effort, she twisted to elbow the Rom in his ribs. With all her strength, she hit him solidly in the side and was rewarded with a brief lessening of his hold on her. Elizabeth reacted immediately. She broke from his grasp to run, but there was no easy retreat. Her assailant remained between her and freedom. The cliff face and the lake remained at her back. It was a long way down, but she would take it if necessary. Her hands came up to ward off his next attack while she edged toward the drop off.
“You do not want to jump,” he placated, but she noticed how he leaned forward. He would pounce in a heartbeat if she allowed her guard to slacken.
Elizabeth’s foot searched for solid ground as she widened the distance between them. “What I want and what I am willing to do are not necessarily in alignment,” she said in warning. “I shall ask you again to walk away. To leave me be.”
His eyes gleamed. A lock of damp hair fell across his forehead. He leaned close. Skeptical. “It is not so easy, my pet. The Roma are never seen to be in the right. Even if I leave, your husband will hunt me down.”
Desperately, she pleaded, “I shall speak to Mr. Darcy. If you quit the area, my husband will not pursue you.”
The Rom smiled with regret. “Such a great man would bow to the wishes of a woman? You have married for love, Milady?”
Elizabeth nodded her hopes. “It is as I said. Mr. Darcy will listen to my pleas.” Of course, it was only last evening that Darcy had ignored her wishes, but Elizabeth would never admit her reason for being alone on this cliff had been her irritation with Darcy for posturing before the Woodvine household. Her husband had chosen his pride over his loyalty to her.
She and the Rom stared at each other for a long time. Elizabeth watched a gamut of emotions cross her attacker’s countenance. Finally, he said, “Mr. Darcy may wish to grant your request, but his conceit would never permit him to forget how a Rom had abused his wife. The stain would haunt him. Therefore, if I am to die at your husband’s hands, it should be for more than a physical disagreement.” A sadness crossed his countenance, and Elizabeth knew they were both doomed.
Without further ado, he lunged at her. Automatically, she braced herself for the blow. The impact knocked the air from her lungs as she fell backward into the open arms of sunlight and a sweet mist. The prism of light through the water was never more beautiful, and Elizabeth closed her eyes to forever cherish the image. Beside her, she heard the Rom say, “Forgive me,” but she had no time to respond. Their combined weights had increased their velocity, and all she could do was to conjure up the image of her husband’s handsome countenance before she hit the water and was dragged under by the gypsy’s body. “Darcy,” her lips formed the silent word.
Elizabeth had never swum in her gown and half boots, but she had swum before; therefore, she held hopes of surviving this encounter once she hit the water. One of her fears had been that they would crash onto the jagged rocks, but evidently, the gypsy’s weight had carried them out over the lake’s surface.
As they sank together, she turned from his grasp and kicked hard to surface for air. She broke the water line and gulped in her first breath since the Rom had pounced. However, her efforts were short lived: her enemy had also surfaced. With flailing arms, he reached for her.
In a panic, the man fought to survive, but his fight would cost them both dearly if she could not calm him. “I have you,” she shouted over the sound of water being slapped by her attacker. She treaded water. Her gown floated upward and wrapped about her waist, but she still thought they could reach the shore if she could make him listen to her. “I have you,” she screamed louder, but the man’s shouts for assistance drowned her efforts.
She caught him about the neck to pull him through the water; yet, the Rom evidently thought she still fought him. An arm across her throat sent her backward and struggling to stay afloat. The gypsy swallowed a mouthful of water and spit it out in a sputtering twirling motion, which caught Elizabeth in the side of the head. The blow stunned her, and she shook her head to clear it.
Again, the Rom reached for her, catching Elizabeth’s shoulders and dragging them both below the surface. His grasp shoved her downward where the light did not reach and the temperature had cooled. The gypsy’s grasp had tightened as he realized his peril, and she was pushed deeper and deeper. Even in the murky water, she could see his eyes widen with the realization he had breathed his last breath.
Yet, even then, he did not release her. Instead, his fingers twisted into the material of her sleeve, and he tugged her closer. Again, she fought him. Striking his face. His throat. His chest. But he held her tightly. Elizabeth struggled. She had held her breath for longer than she ever remembered doing previously. With one last effort, she brought her knees to her chest and kicked him as hard as she could. She slid further from him, but still the gypsy clung to her gown. Her hair had come loose when he had struck her, and her bonnet’s ribbons had twisted about her neck, making it harder to hold her breath. The Rom’s grasp loosened when she used his chest as a footboard. A final kick to his throat sent her hurtling from him and slamming into a soft spongy object on the lake’s bottom.
A Huntington, West Virginia native and Marshall University graduate, Regina Jeffers spent thirty-nine years in the public classrooms of three different states: West Virginia, Ohio, and North Carolina. She considers herself a Jane Austen enthusiast. Jeffers is the author of several Austen-inspired novels, including Darcy’s Passions, Darcy’s Temptation, Vampire Darcy’s Desire, Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion, The Phantom of Pemberley, Christmas at Pemberley, The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, Honor and Hope, and the upcoming The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy. She also writes Regency romances: The Scandal of Lady Eleanor, A Touch of Velvet, A Touch of Cashémere, A Touch of Grace, His: Two Regency Novellas and The First Wives’ Club. A Time Warner Star Teacher and Martha Holden Jennings Scholar, Jeffers has been an Austen presenter at the Smithsonian. She often serves as a consultant in language arts and media literacy. Currently living outside Charlotte, North Carolina, she spends her time with her writing, gardening, and her adorable grandson.
Twitter – @reginajeffers https://twitter.com/reginajeffers
Facebook – Regina Jeffers https://www.facebook.com/pages/Regina-Jeffers-Author-Page/141407102548455\
(Books available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Joseph Beth, Kobo, and Ulysses Press.)
PUBLISHING HISTORY (from Ulysses Press)
· February 2009 – Darcy’s Passions: Pride and Prejudice Retold Through His Eyes
· September 2009 – Darcy’s Temptation: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice [2009 Booksellers’ Best Award Finalist – Historical Romance]
· October 2009 – Vampire Darcy’s Desire: A Pride and Prejudice Adaptation
· March 2010 – Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion: Jane Austen’s Classic Retold Through His Eyes
· October 2010 – The Phantom of Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery [SOLA Fifth Annual Dixie Kane Awards – Third Place – Romantic Suspense]
· March 2011 – The Scandal of Lady Eleanor (Book 1 of the Realm Series) [2011 Write Touch Readers’ Award – Second Place – Historical Romance]
· October 2011 – Christmas at Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Sequel [2011 Booksellers’ Best Award Finalist – Inspirational Romance] and [Runner Up, New England Book Festival]
· April 2012 – The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery
· March 2013 – The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery
PUBLISHING HISTORY (WHITE SOUP PRESS)
· April 2012 – Honor and Hope: A Contemporary Romantica Based on Pride and Prejudice
· May 2012 – The First Wives’ Club (Book 1 of The First Wives’ Club Trilogy) [SOLA Seventh Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards – Honorable Mention – Historical Romance]
· May 2012 – A Touch of Velvet (Book 2 of the Realm Series)
· June 2012 – A Touch of Cashémere (Book 3 of the Realm Series)
· July 2012 – A Touch of Grace (Book 4 of the Realm Series) [SOLA Seventh Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards – 3rd Place – Historical Romance]
· November 2012 – Second Chances: The Courtship Wars
· February 2013 – His: Two Regency Novellas
Thanks again to Regina Jeffers for generously offering either a paperback or ebook (winner's choice) of her new book, The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy. This giveaway is international. To be entered please leave a comment below. Be sure to include your email address in the comment. To prevent unwanted spam, put your email address with an (at) instead of @. Winner will be chosen in a random drawing. Giveaway ends at midnight, April 2. Good luck.