To add a little excitement to the day, I have a guest post by Victoria Kincaid. As most of you are aware, I am a big fan of Ms. Kincaid's writing. The excerpt and post that she has for us today are good examples of why I love her writing. Please join me in welcoming Victoria Kincaid as she tells us of a different 'love connection'!
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After Elizabeth (naturally), Mary is the Bennet sister authors are mostly likely to see as a protagonist in a Pride and Prejudice variation. But when I contemplated writing the story that became When Mary Met the Colonel, I realized I wanted to do something that was a little different from many other Mary-oriented stories I had read. Mary is often paired with a clergyman or equally awkward (and boring) man—someone who shares Mary’s tendencies toward religiosity and bookishness. While there is nothing wrong with this choice, I don’t always find it to be the most compelling or lead the story in new, unexplored directions.
I thought about the old adage, opposites attract, and wondered which man was dissimilar from Mary, yet someone she might find attractive. Colonel Fitzwilliam naturally came to mind. The combination isn’t as farfetched as it might seem on the surface. The Colonel is gregarious and lively, while Mary is quiet, calm and thoughtful. This combination of extrovert and introvert is one I’ve observed in both real and fictional couples (Elizabeth and Darcy).
I also envisioned a Colonel who was tired of empty-headed girls who chase redcoats (like Kitty and Lydia), so he finds Mary’s steadiness attractive. Mary, in turn, has been reading about military history and is fascinated to speak to an actual soldier about the battles he’s seen. With these ideas in place, the combination of Mary and the Colonel didn’t seem that outlandish at all. In fact, it seemed downright…inevitable, as all love stories should.
I had great fun crafting a love story for Mary and Colonel Fitzwilliam. Hopefully readers will have just as much fun reading it!
Blushing an even darker red, Mary glanced about the clearing as if hoping to be rescued from this conversation. She was not only unaccustomed to compliments but also exceedingly shy, Fitz decided. She resembled Georgiana a bit, although Miss Bennet must be at least two or three years older.
Apparently deciding that no help would be forthcoming, she returned her gaze to the hands tangled in her lap. She cleared her throat. “Mr. Darcy said you are recently returned from the peninsula.”
Fitz blinked, a bit surprised at the abrupt shift in topic. Did she wish to direct the conversation away from the personal? “Yes.”
“I have been following the war in the papers,” she murmured. Fitz raised his eyebrows. A woman had never broached this topic with him. “Do you believe those accounts to be accurate on the whole?”
Fitz leaned toward her slightly. “Are you certain you wish to speak about this? Many women find the topic to be…distressing.”
A crease formed between her eyebrows. “Sir, the events of this war will affect our country for generations to come. It will influence the futures of my nieces and nephews. Faced with such weighty matters, I do not understand why anyone believes I should care about the latest designs in lace!”
Abruptly, she bit her lip and blushed. “I apologize for that outburst. I have had a trying day. I am overwrought.” She stood quickly, straightening her skirts. “I will trouble you no—”
Without forethought, Fitz seized her hand in his. “Please do not leave just when you are proving to be an interesting conversational partner.” He remained seated, hoping it would encourage her to stay.
“I think I must.” She stared at the ground.
“Miss Bennet, if you will allow me to be frank, the majority of my visit has been occupied by your younger sister and her friend admiring the fine handiwork of the buttons on my uniform.” Her shoulders shook; had he provoked laughter? “Intelligent conversation about the happenings in the world would be quite welcome.”
Slowly, Mary’s head lifted. Her eyes traveled down her arm, paused on her hand—which he had not released—and then rose to meet his eyes. Whatever she saw there caused her body to soften slightly. Fitz took the opportunity to tug on her hand, encouraging her to sit once more.
It was wildly inappropriate to be holding her hand, although they both wore gloves. If anyone should happen upon them, their proximity could lead to all sorts of difficulties, including an accusation of compromising her reputation. Yet he could not bring himself to leave; he was too intrigued to allow the conversation to end.
She allowed him to pull her down on the bench beside him, and he instantly released her hand. “I pray you, ask your questions.” Mary regarded him warily, a wild animal that might be easily startled. “What did you wish to ask me?” he asked gently.
“Did you fight at Salamanca?” He nodded. Her eyes lit with interest. “The papers all claimed Wellington’s strategy was brilliant, but they never described the details. What did he do?”
Fitz was momentarily in the uncharacteristic position of being at a loss for words. This was her most pressing question? He expected a query about the Spanish people or Wellington’s character. Instead, she asked about…battle strategy?
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Without the beauty and wit of the older Bennet sisters or the liveliness of the younger, Mary is the Bennet sister most often overlooked. She has resigned herself to a life of loneliness, alleviated only by music and the occasional book of military history.
Colonel Fitzwilliam finds himself envying his friends who are marrying wonderful women while he only attracts empty-headed flirts. He longs for a caring, well-informed woman who will see the man beneath the uniform.
A chance meeting in Longbourn’s garden during Darcy and Elizabeth’s wedding breakfast kindles an attraction between Mary and the Colonel. However, the Colonel cannot act on these feelings since he must wed an heiress. He returns to war, although Mary finds she cannot easily forget him.
Is happily ever after possible after Mary meets the Colonel?
Thank you, Victoria Kincaid, for telling us a little about your new novella, When Mary Met the Colonel, and for sending such an ingenious excerpt. I find the thought of Mary and the Colonel as love interests to be very creative. That should not surprise me, though, as you are excellent at coming up with new and unique premises. Anyway, back to the excerpt, I like it and it has whetted my appetite for more of this tale.
There is a giveaway of one, When Mary Met the Colonel, eBook. I know all of you will appreciate that the giveaway is also international. Dear Readers, to be entered in this giveaway, please have your share in the conversation. Tell us what you think about a possible pairing of Mary with Colonel Fitzwilliam. Be sure to leave your contact info so I may reach you should you be the lucky winner!
The giveaway will end at 11:59 PM on Saturday,the 20th of February. Good luck to all and once again, Happy Valentine's Day! Hope this little tidbit has increased your pleasure for the day! :)