Maria Grace's new book, Remember the Past,was recently released and today she is going to tell us a little about the book and some enlightening info regarding the navy in Regency times. There is a tantalizing excerpt too and I know it is one you will all enjoy. Thank you, Maria, and I hope you have much success with this latest book. Readers, be sure to notice the giveaway opportunity at the end of the post! :)
Thanks so much for having me Janet.
I’m very excited to share a little bit about my new book, Remember the Past.
write, I like to explore how things might have been for our favorite Jane
Austen characters had their circumstances been a bit different—or a lot
different. While I try to keep the characters the ones Jane Austen wrote at
their core, changes in circumstances do change people. Some more than others.
Some for the better, some, not so much. I love exploring those changes and
One of the changes in this book was
that Mr. Bennet was not the heir to Longbourn, but a second son who went into
the navy. His naval experiences changed him from a lackadaisical man to a very
active, powerful one, who would become Admiral Thomas Bennet, Rear Admiral of
Why would a young Thomas Bennet
have joined the navy? The navy offered greater potential for social mobility
than most institutions in Regency era society. Generally only the sons of
gentlemen or perhaps wealthy middle-class parents could enter the path to
becoming an officer, but the way was not entirely closed to others. Once a
lieutenant, a man could rise through his own merit to a high position, even
above those with higher origins. Unlike army officers, naval officers did not
purchase their commissions, they earned them.
Naval service was dangerous,
though, with nearly 100,000 casualties between 1793 and 1815. Battle at sea
accounted for less than 10% of naval casualties. Accidents and disease
accounted for 80%.
Naval wages, even for Captains were
notoriously low. Prize money was the only way to wealth and came in various
forms. If an enemy ship was sunk, 'Head and Gun' money (calculated by the
numbers of men or guns on the enemy vessel) was awarded. Until1808, a 3/8 share
went to the captain and the remainder was divided on a diminishing scale,
according to rank, among the other officers, commissioned and non-commissioned,
and the ordinary members of the crew. After 1808, a slight change was made to
the allocation of these shares.
If they captured an enemy ship, the
Admiralty was often prepared to buy it from them and resulted in higher
rewards. The best payouts came if the captured ship was carrying a valuable
cargo. This kind of prize money was divided up so officers received more than
the ordinary crewmen. It was possible for officers to earn substantial wealth
in prize money.
In this tale, that is exactly what
happens for Thomas Bennet, enabling him to retire to rank, connections and
wealth. When he retires, though, things do not go exactly according to plan.
Their long-awaited first season in London proves a disaster, and the resulting
scandal sends the Bennets fleeing to the wilds of Derbyshire.
Widower Fitzwilliam Darcy, the
master of Pemberley, wants for nothing, most especially not a wife. From the
moment the Bennets arrive in Derbyshire, Darcy’s neatly ordered life turns upside
down. His sons beg to keep company with their new playmates, the young Bennet
twins. His mother-in-law sets her cap for Admiral Bennet. Worst of all, Darcy
cannot get his mind off a certain bewitching Miss Elizabeth Bennet, but she has
sworn never to let another gentleman near her heart.
Darcy’s best efforts to befriend
and assist the Bennet family go horribly awry, alienating first Miss Elizabeth,
then her father, and finally endangering what both men hold most dear. Can the
two men Elizabeth loves most set aside their pride to prevent catastrophe for
their families and win the love they seek?
Here’s a brief excerpt of the book:
“Are we almost
there?” Francis Bennet clambered over his father’s lap and smashed his nose
against the side glass. “You said we would arrive before supper. I’m hungry.”
across the coach to grab his arm, but he squirmed out of her reach. It was high
time Francis learned not to speak every thought that crossed his mind.
“No ‘Lisbet! I want
to see!” He bounced on his father’s knee.
Bennet grimaced and seized him around the ribs, lifting him off his lap.
“Come here.” Jane
caught his elbow and pulled him toward her. “You know Papa’s leg pains him.”
He bowed his head
and scraped his feet. “I am sorry, Papa.”
Papa lost his
officer’s glare and ruffled the boy’s hair.
toward Jane, stumbled and fell into his identical twin’s shoulder. “Oh, oh! I
see it, I see it!”
“Look, Papa.” Philip
tapped the glass. “See the gables and look—look, there’s the turret, just as
you described. Might that room be ours, Papa?”
“We shall see.” He
kneaded his thigh.
himself against his father’s side, making room for Francis near the side glass.
“It is just as grand as Papa said. Isn’t it, Jane?”
“Why not sit beside
Jane so you can get a better view?” Papa gave Philip a gentle push toward the
Jane settled him
beside her and draped her arm around him.
“I think it horrid.”
Francis tossed his curls and stamped. “Why did we have to leave Longbourn? I
liked it there. You said we would not have to move again.” He stuck out his
“That is enough!”
knotted, and he ground his teeth.
One day Francis
would learn the meaning of that expression and be far more careful about
“We left because my
nip farthing, ninnyhammer brother, Collins, insisted on installing his
worthless son and his French wife-in-water-colors there.”
“He wanted to bring
a painting to Longbourn?” Philip huddled close to Jane. Papa’s ire always upset
him, poor boy. “Mightn’t we have stayed and let him hang the painting?”
“It is a little more
complicated than that, dear,” Jane said.
“Bloody, rank, white
Elizabeth caught his
eye. Philip would soon ask what all those words meant and she was not about to
explain mistresses and other manly things to him. Papa could have that
conversation all to himself.
Papa wrinkled his
nose. “An honorable man would have given us more than a month to vacate.”
Elizabeth laid her hand
on his arm. “Let it go. You always say a man should be captain of his own ship.
Now that Alston Hall is yours, you are master. You were never happy at
Longbourn with the specter of our uncle looming over you.”
“My voice of
reason.” He patted her hand, scowl softening. “Using my own words against me,
no less, clever lass.”
“Francis!” Jane and
The coach slowed as
it trundled up the gravel lane. The looming, dark windows in the pale stone
elevation dared them to approach.
“Let us see if she
floats.” Admiral Bennet pushed the door open before the coach came to a
He jumped down,
grimaced and clutched his knee. The boys bounded after him. Jane and Elizabeth
waited for the coach to come to a proper halt. By that time though, Papa was
long gone. After so protracted a journey, one could by no means expect patience
Papa’s man, Piper,
shambled over from the other coach and
handed them out. Frightening scars puckered the old sailor-come-valet’s
face and his eye patch lent him a menacing air, one he cultivated at every
opportunity. All the Bennets knew better, though. He had been with Admiral
Bennet for as long as the girls could remember. The two men had saved each
other’s lives so many times neither kept count.
Mrs. Hill, their longtime housekeeper, and Miss Iola Wexley, the boys’ long-suffering
governess, joined them at the front door.
“Permission to come
aboard, Cap’n?” Piper saluted and squeezed his good eye shut, drawing his cheek
and lip into something resembling a snarl.
The boys saluted.
Papa twisted the key in the lock and wrenched the doorknob. The hinges squealed
their protests and the door inched open. He took his sons’ hands and stepped
over the threshold. The rest followed.
Elizabeth sniffed the
stale air, musty and dusty as a well-traveled sea chest. Jane sneezed. Twice.
“At least they kept the
furniture properly covered,” Mrs. Hill muttered. “I best go find the kitchen.”
She trundled off.
Elizabeth bit back a
giggle. Only Mrs. Hill dared wander away without awaiting the Admiral’s orders.
He gave her a wider berth than even Piper. Not even he had cheek enough to
raise the sturdy woman’s ire.
“Miss Wexley, survey
the servants’ rooms.” He turned to Piper. “Take the boys and reconnoiter the
east wing. Perhaps you can find a school room and nursery.”
The twins moaned and
sputtered incomplete protests that they dare not give full voice lest Papa find
it necessary to correct their attitudes.
“Yes, sir.” Piper
Francis and Philip
mimicked him and followed him upstairs.
Elizabeth cleared her
“Ah, Lizzy, do not say
it. Go look through the house first. You and Jane take the west wing whilst I
survey downstairs. I am certain you will yet find the manor meets your
“Yes, Papa.” Elizabeth
trudged toward the stairs, Jane at her side.
“It is a lovely house,
is it not?” Jane whispered.
“The architecture is
beautiful, I fully grant you.” Elizabeth clutched the banister in one hand and
her skirts in the other. “Mahogany and paper hangings are lovely, dust and
disrepair are not.”
“The roof and the
windows appear sound,” Jane offered in her plucky,
“A fine beginning,
indeed.” Elizabeth landed her foot on the final step a little harder than
strictly necessary. “If you are correct, I am grateful. Still, I hope for more
than just roof and windows.”
The hall stretched on
and on and disappeared into the horizon. A chill wind whistled and moaned past
“My goodness.” Jane
rubbed her arms. “This is a grand place, indeed.”
Elizabeth shrugged and
yanked the first door. “These look like family quarters.” She pulled the dusty
sheets off the press and jerked open a drawer. A moth flew out as she tugged
out a crumpled sheet. “Badly folded and musty.” Her nose wrinkled and she
fought not to sneeze. “Everything must be washed before it can be used. Much
will need mending too.”
Jane jerked back the
bed’s dust covers to reveal an elegantly carved frame. “How lovely.” She sat
The mattress caved in
and swallowed her.
Elizabeth wrestled her
away from the hungry featherbed. “That needs work, too.”
“Perhaps we should rig
some hammocks from the bed posts.” Jane held the musty sheet between the
“No doubt Piper still
sleeps in one.” Elizabeth beckoned Jane to the next room.
Half an hour later they
met Papa in the foyer.
“I found neither coal
nor firewood,” Mrs. Hill screwed her lips into her smile-so-she-did-not-frown
expression that Elizabeth assiduously avoided, “and if you be askin’ me, it be
far too early in the spring to be without the option of a good fire. Not to mention,
I expect you will be demanding proper meals from time to time, and fire be
required for that effort, too.”
“No bedroom is fit to
sleep in right now.” Elizabeth crossed her arms and leveled a stern gaze at
Papa. “We must take Mr. Darcy up on his offer—”
“No, I will arrange
rooms at the Bull in Lambton where I stayed when I came to see the place in—”
“What of the fire? Mr.
Darcy said repairs to the inn were not complete.” Jane tapped her foot softly
on the dusty marble floor.
“You do not have to.”
Elizabeth set her jaw.
He harrumphed. “I
suppose we have little choice but to impose on our neighbor’s hospitality. I
will send Piper to warn them.”
“It is good of you to
do so, but I have no doubt we are already expected,” Elizabeth murmured.
Happily, Papa did not
appear to have heard.
A quarter hour later,
two carriages trundled toward Pemberley.
Buy links for the book:
Paperback will be available soon
Though Maria Grace has been writing
fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a
file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are
grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a
break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational
Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first
love, fiction writing.
She has one husband, two graduate
degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five
nieces, sown six Regency era costumes, written seven Regency-era fiction
projects, and designed eight websites. To round out the list, she cooks for nine
in order to accommodate the growing boys and usually makes ten meals at a time
so she only cooks twice a month.
Maria can be contacted at:
English Historical Fiction Authors
On Twitter @WriteMariaGrace
Thank you for visiting again, Maria. Last time you were my guest we played the 10 Things Game. It was such fun too. For those of you that may not have seen the post, click on the link above left to read it. It shares 10 things that you may not know about your favorite literary characters. Fitzwilliam Darcy was the first one! Okay, now back to this post...I found the information you revealed about the navy to be very informative and interesting. The excerpt was great and I cannot wait to have a little time to read the book!
Giveaway time!!! Maria Grace is giving away one eBook to a lucky winner and the giveaway is international! YAY! Thank you Maria. We want to hear your share in the conversation so leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway. Be sure to include your email address in the comment. To prevent unwanted spam, put your email address with an (at) instead of @. Winners will be chosen in a random drawing. Giveaway ends at midnight on August 7, 2014. Good luck to all.