Monday, March 11, 2019

More to Love...Robin Helm


It is so nice to have Robin Helm as a guest. Her latest release, More to Love, is today's spotlight. Robin shares an excerpt and has a giveaway. Thank you, Robin. Welcome!

Excerpt:

After telling Sarah her plan, Elizabeth crept stealthily through the hallway, down the stairs, and out the front door. The sun had set hours before, but the moon was full, and she knew the way to Oakham Mount as well as she knew her own name. Unafraid, she set out at a brisk pace.
As she continued deeper into the trees, she heard a twig snap behind her and looked back. ’Tis only a small animal. No one is there.
Another sound, and she stopped to listen, turning slowly. Footsteps. Something large.
Her breathing increased. Between me and Netherfield. I cannot go back.
She bolted at full speed, hoping to find a place to hide, but her fear drove her forward. I shall run all the way to Longbourn, if I must.
Only a few steps into the open space surrounding Oakham Mount, she tripped and fell, sprawling on the ground, hitting the side of her head on a large rock.
Just before she fainted, Elizabeth thought she heard someone call her name from a great distance. I know that voice.
As she came back to herself, she opened her eyes and saw golden hair surrounded by a halo. “Are you an angel, come to take me to Heaven? Have I died?”
“Thank God!” replied the angel, kneeling next to her. “You are most certainly alive, Miss Elizabeth, though you gave me quite a scare.”
She tried to sit up, but the strong angel stopped her, holding her by the shoulders as he leaned over her. His face is in shadow. I want to see him. She lifted her hand to touch his cheek. There is stubble. Do angels have beards like mortal men?
He untied her bonnet and carefully removed it from her head. I am safe with him.
She felt his fingers in her hair, lifting her head a bit, removing the pins and setting her curls free.
“Let me help you sit up slowly. I would not have you faint again, but I must check your head. You fell and bumped it.”
“Who are you?” she asked.
She felt his hands moving gently across the back and sides of her head, stopping over a tender spot.
“Do you not remember me? I am Thaddeus Beckett, a physician. Fortunately, your bonnet and hair must have protected your head somewhat when you fell. You have quite a lump, but there is no blood.” His voice was filled with relief.
“A physician? Not an angel?”
His laugh was low. Melodic. “I assure you that I am a flesh and blood man – not an apparition and most certainly not an angel.”
He is glorious. “You are beautiful.”
The man stopped and looked down at her. His voice was soft. “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. You are the angel.” He gathered her up in his arms, holding her as if she were a child.
Tears filled her eyes. “You speak of my sister, I think.” Her voice broke. “You must put me down. I am far too heavy for you to carry.”
“Where did you get such a preposterous idea? You are perfect.”
Elizabeth shut her eyes, and the tears ran down her cheeks. “Mr. Darcy refused to dance with me. He said there was too much of me.”
Mr. Beckett clenched his jaws, striding towards Netherfield with Elizabeth in his arms.
She put her head against his chest, listening to the steady beating of his heart, wanting nothing more than to sleep.
His deep voice rumbled against her cheek as he muttered, “The man is an idiot.”

*****

Robin is giving away one eBook, international and 1 paperback, US only, of More to Love. To enter tell us what you think about the excerpt. Don't forget to leave me a way to contact you should you be one of the lucky winners. The giveaway will end at 11:59 AM central on the 16th of March. Good luck to everyone. 
Thanks, Robin, for including More Agreeably Engaged in your stops. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Inspiration...Maria Grace

 Maria Grace is my guest today and I'm happy to have her visit. Her latest novella, Inspiration, has art as a main part of the theme. I especially found this intriguing and was glad to learn more about muses and their origins. We often think of muses more for writers, but in this case, it is the artist who has the muse.  I hope you will find her research as fascinating as I did. The excerpt she shares also mentions the muse.  Enjoy!

*****


Good morning, Janet. Thanks so much for having me. I’ve been especially excited to visit with you because this particular book features Darcy as an artist, tortured by his muse. Since you are an artist yourself, I though he might be in a predicament that would be familiar to you.

The idea of an artistic muse goes back into antiquity. In Greek thought, inspiration meant that the artist would go into a divine frenzy or madness, being transported beyond his own mind and given divine thoughts to embody. Greek mythology suggests the muses are the goddesses responsible for such inspiration. Though some counted only three muses, the classical understanding suggests that nine goddesses embody all of the arts including song, acting, writing, music and dance.

According to the seventh century BC writer Hesiod, the muses were the daughters of Zeus, king of the gods, and Mnemosyne, the Titan goddess of memory. That makes them sound a little intimidating to me. Sometimes, though, they are described as wood nymphs associated with or even born from sacred springs. (Darcy’s muse favors the nymph embodiment.)

Ancient artists would invoke the Muses while creating, asking for help or inspiration from them. In true goddess fashion, Darcy’s muse insists upon him proving himself worthy of her interventions. Here’s a peek at how his muse treats him:

***
The journey to Kent proved nothing like the ride to Hertfordshire. Nothing. And yet, the promise of a journey was all it took to send his muse thrumming, awakening every nerve with agonizing precision.

It was not possible, but still his ears ached for Miss Elizabeth’s musical voice, his eyes sought her out in every shadow, ever flash of sunlight, he longed for the scent of her—what sort of flower was it that she wore? All hunger, yet knowing no satisfaction awaited him at the end of this journey. That should have been enough to quell the longing, but no, somehow it only increased the anticipation.

If only to make the disappointment when he saw Anne all the more acute.

Realistically, that he should look forward to that. The sight of Anne was enough to chill his muse into silence. Usually. But not this time.

Why not this time?

Why could he not cease to hear Miss Elizabeth’s voice on the wind, see her face in fleeting shimmers of light? Why had he come here at all? Dreadful fool he was to think he could flee the relentless cur nipping at the heels of his soul.

He locked himself in his room with the curtains drawn against the sun. Perhaps he could sleep until it was time to depart this horrible place.

Fitzwilliam insisted he drag himself to Holy Services on Sunday. While it was his habit to do so, the knowledge that the vicar was none other than Miss Elizabeth’s cousin made the entire affair unpalatable at best. But after Fitzwilliam’s years in the army, he could be a force to be reckoned with, and Darcy lacked the energy for the standoff. So, he went.

Though the sun was bright and the air crisp and fresh, the walk to the stone parish church was flat and dull and grey. The birdsong seemed monotone and off key, even the sheep bleating rasped harsh against his beleaguered nerves.

The smell of cold, damp stone filled his nostrils as he settled into the family pew, trying to avoid eye contact. Yes, there were those with whom he shared an acquaintance, and he should deign to speak with them. He would fulfill all the obligations of etiquette at the first moment that civility was available to him. For now, it was not.

A flash of blue caught his eye. His lungs seized and refused to breath.
Wait. No, it could not be. That was simply not possible. There in the vicar’s family pew with a woman who must be Mrs. Collins.

Her.

Darcy swallowed hard and blinked several times. Breathe, he must breathe.

“Darcy? Darcy? Are you well? You look like you have seen the devil himself.” Fitzwilliam elbowed him sharply.

Darcy jumped and shook his head. “Yes, yes, I am fine.”

“You have noticed Mrs. Collins’ houseguests I see. Aunt Catherine was just telling me about them.”

Them? Were there two? By Jove, yes there were two young ladies sitting with Mrs. Collins. The other must be her sister; they shared a very similar look. But the other—

“… the other is Miss Elizabeth Bennet, I am told, a childhood friend of Mrs. Collins and cousin of Mr. Collins.”

His heart swelled to fill all his chest and shut off any hope of breathing. It was her, it was her! Here in the middle of exactly where she had no reason, no hope of being, she was here. A strange sense overtook him. A foreign mix of peace and euphoria floated his limbs and left his head muzzy and light.

***
I hope you enjoyed this peek. If you’d like more, you can find Inspiration at all major e-book sellers. If you’d like to catch up on the short stories I mentioned, you can find them at RandomBitsofFascination.com.

Thanks!

*****

Inspiration Blurb
His muse desires her; she detests him. How will his soul survive?
Gentleman artist Fitzwilliam Darcy had never been able to express himself in words, but with his brushes and paints, he expressed what few men ever could. When his flighty muse abandons him, though, he finds himself staring at blank canvases in a world that has turned bland and cold and grey.

Worried for his friend, Charles Bingley invites Darcy to join him in Hertfordshire, in hopes the picturesque countryside might tempt Darcy's muse to return. The scheme works only too well. His muse returns, with a vengeance, fixated upon the one young woman in the county who utterly detests him.

Will his selfish distain for the feelings of others drive her and his muse away or can he find a way to please this woman with the power to bring color and feeling back into his world?

Buy Links

*****

About the Author

Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16-year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development and counseling. None of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences.
She has one husband and one grandson, earned two graduate degrees and two black belts, raised three sons, danced English Country dance for four years, is aunt to five nieces, is designing a sixth Regency costume, blogged seven years on Random Bits of Fascination, has outlines for eight novels waiting to be written, attended nine English country dance balls, and shared her life with ten cats.

Her books, fiction and nonfiction, are available at all major online booksellers.  
She can be contacted at:

 *****


Thank you for stopping by, Maria. It is always great to have you here. Your having Darcy's muse torture him was interesting to me. I guess in some ways, Darcy, and the actors that portrayed him were my muse. It was always my desire and sometimes my obsession to make them look as much as possible, like the scenes from the movies. I would lose all track of time, trying to capture the essence that made the scene special. 

Best wishes with Inspiration. I hope you will come back for a visit when you have another release!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Most Intersting Man in the World...J.L. Ashton and Justine Rivard

This is the last stop for The Most Interesting Man in the World Blog Tour. If you've been following the tour, you know there have been some great posts, interviews, and reviews. Today's post is no exception and is such a fitting end for the tour. It is a fun post and I'm confident you will all enjoy reading just who is the most interesting man, besides Darcy, of course! I love how these men are scored! Quite clever, ladies, but then, after reading your other posts and your book, I believe you both have wit and "cleverness" in abundance! :)
Thanks for stopping by and congratulations on your release.

Please forgive the formatting and spacing of this post. No matter how many times I changed it, Blogger has had a mind of its own and changed it back. I have been trying for several days to no avail! :(  Blogger will not even let Darcy's score stay red like the rest!


*****
Janet, it is such a pleasure to join you here at More Agreeably Engaged to talk about our book, The Most Interesting Man in the World. The cover you designed with Ellen Pickels is so perfect, and we want to thank you again for your fine eye for art. As we wrote the book, Justine and I indulged our love of research and history and took on an investigation as to the rivals for the title Bingley has bestowed on his great friend.

Darcy Aside, Who Was The Most Interesting Man in
the World?
[Darcy] had a brilliant mind. He was the best master, the best brother, the most loyal companion, the most accomplished sportsman, and, furthermore, the owner of the broadest shoulders and the best seat Bingley had ever seen. Not to mention his handsome face and magnificent cleft chin.
He suspected that Darcy did not smell of sweat and horseflesh. Darcy once told him that a gentleman should not follow the example of Beau Brummell, but—perhaps due to his disdain of the Prince Regent—he did agree with the fashion arbiter that all gentlemen should smell of good washing and fresh clean air. It was a valuable bit of advice even though Bingley was fond of dusting powders and hair pomade.

The Regency era was a fascinating time of change and innovation and London was at the center of it. Many of those transformations were led by men of taste and fashion, brains and bravery. They were the men who would be headline news for their accomplishments. But while these men were esteemed and influential personages (and actually real), Bingley has his own estimation of what makes a man interesting, admirable and awe-inspiring.

Let’s take a quick look at a half-dozen rivals for the title, and see how they measure up to Bingley’s icon.
The Royal: The Prince Regent
The man later known as King George IV presided over society,
influencing style, taste, and culture. But helping establish the National
Gallery and shape the landscape of modern London means nothing compared to his dissolute way of life, bad habits, personal extravagances, and selfish, petty viciousness. He may have shared Bingley's enormous appetite for food, but that is probably the only thing Bingley would find admirable in him. Score: no cravats on a scale of 1 to 5 cravats
The Dandy: Beau Brummel
Much as our Bingley admires Darcy’s belief in smelling like good washing and the great outdoors, he would have admired this trendsetter, who transformed male hygiene (and hence, grooming) by persuading men they should wash every day. Boo-yah! This arbiter of fashion created the definitive style of the English gentleman with his tailored, very tight clothing. But Beau was pretty high maintenance, and he had a wickedly acid supply of bon mots and social judgments. Poor Bingley would likely misunderstand many of them, and perhaps create yet another international incident. Score: 3 cravats
The Soldier: The Duke of Wellington
Gallant and honorable and totally swoonworthy in his uniform, Wellington had many admirable traits that Bingley might want to emulate. But while Bingley would occupy his time with mundane pursuits such as daydreaming about Jane, Wellington was ever so busy leading the troops and ending years of conflict in Europe. Thus this knight was rarely home long enough to take off his shining armor, and when he did, his charisma was such that he was always surrounded by a throng of women clamoring to get a piece of him or his neckcloth. He was the Franz Liszt or Frank Sinatra of his day. Bingley loves the attention of beautiful ladies, but would prefer not to be torn apart by rabid packs of them. Score: 4 cravats
The Player: William Wellesley Pole
Even Jane Austen was intrigued by the man considered the finest young dandy of the Regency era. A brilliant athlete, he was renowned for his waltzing, equestrian skills, and a Regency-style six-pack. Women more than admired him; he was a player with the nickname Mr Long Pole. Bingley would likely imagine his moniker referred to a penchant for punting on the Cam, which, while romantic, is not his cup of tea, preferring as he does pursuits taking place on good old English soil. Score: 3 cravats
The Poet: Lord Byron
The man who wrote “She walks in beauty, like the night of cloudless climes and starry skies” was more than just one of Britain’s greatest poets; he was brilliant, handsome and passionate. Very passionate—about and with many women. Such passion might be a point of admiration for our dear Bingley, who is likewise an expert at falling in and out of love, but Byron’s experience and poetical vernacular would overwhelm him. Score: 4 cravats
The Writer: Sir Walter Scott
The man who wrote Ivanhoe and The Lady of the Lake is exactly the kind of man Bingley would admire: Scott fell madly in love with his future wife and married her after only three weeks of courtship. He was tall and well formed, with a round, noble forehead. Scott even leased a fine estate on his way to purchasing one of his own. Whether Bingley would read Scott’s books, let alone add them to his library, is another thing indeed. Also, Scott was a scholarly man and a judge and legal administrator by profession, so overall the man was far too intimidating and versed in Latin and Greek for the likes of Bingley. However, Scott was a happily settled family man, so Bingley would award him some points there. Score: 4 cravat
And… The Most Interesting Man in the World? Fitzwilliam
Darcy
Need we quibble? His looks and dress and manner are effortlessly elegant. He is a superior man. His natural arrogance is tempered by decency and kindness, and he brings full attention to the cares, responsibilities and duties of his great wealth and inheritance. He exemplifies the qualities of a gentleman who is a cut above the rest. The six men he bests here would have found very little fault with Mr Darcy, most especially the new and improved version who married Elizabeth Bennet.
Score: all the cravats of the other men combined, i.e., 18
out of 5 cravats

*****
Book Description:
The Most Interesting Man in the World written by JL Ashton and Justine Rivard
What has gotten into Fitzwilliam Darcy lately?
Charles Bingley, a jolly fellow who relies on his great friend’s impeccable judgment in all things, is determined to find out. What could explain Darcy’s ill humour and distraction? Or his uncharacteristic blunder of speaking Greek to a horse who only understands Latin? Not to mention that shocking book accident! Certainly, it has nothing to do with Elizabeth Bennet, the sister of Bingley’s own angel, Jane. Bingley is certain of it.
What was really going on behind the scenes at Netherfield, Pemberley, and Darcy House, and just what did those men talk about over billiards and brandy? In this novella, Bingley sheds a little light on keeping company with the most interesting man in the world, and shares his own musings on puppies, his dreadful sisters, and the search for true love. Prepare to be shocked, delighted, and confused by a Charles Bingley the likes of whom you’ve never met before.
Author Bios:
Justine Rivard is a very serious college professor who has no time for frivolity or poppycock of any kind. She strenuously objects to the silliness found in this story and urges you to put the book down at once before it gives you ideas. You are invited instead to join her in the study for a lecture about her extensive collection of whimsical 18th-century animal husbandry manuals.
J.L. Ashton, on the other hand, is a very unserious writer of Jane Austen variations you might have read (A Searing Acquaintance and Mendacity & Mourning) and collector of recipes she will never attempt. She encourages a general lack of decorum and has a great appreciation for cleft chins, vulnerably brooding men, and Instagram accounts featuring animals. Especially cats. Also foxes.

Social Media Information:
J.L. Ashton
Facebook: J.L. Ashton Author   https://www.facebook.com/JanAshtonAuthor/?ref=bookmarks
Twitter: @Jan Ashton https://twitter.com/jancat10
Pinterest: AustenAshton  https://www.pinterest.com/jsashton25/
Instagram: jancat95
Blog: http://jlashton.merytonpress.com/

Justine Rivard Justine’s Twitter : @JustineJRA   https://twitter.com/JustineJRA
***** Purchase Link : Amazon
*****

The Most Interesting Man in the World Blog Tour Schedule


February 11 / Austenesque Reviews / Character Interview
February 12 / A Covent Garden Madame Gilflurt’s Guide to Life / Guest Post
February 14 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review
February 16 / JustJane 1813 / Meet the Authors
February 18 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Guest Post
February 22 / FromPemberley to Milton / Character Interview
February 24 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review
February 26 / MyVices and Weaknesses / Book Excerpt
February 28 / MoreAgreeably Engaged / Guest Post


Giveaways:
Meryton Press is offering eight eBooks copies of The Most Interesting Man in the World. The giveaway runs until midnight, March 1, 2019.

Terms and Conditions:


Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified. One winner per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

Thanks again for visiting my blog, Jan and Justine. I hope you will come back again soon. I wish you the best with your book. A special thanks to Claudine Pepe for organizing this blog tour.
Rafflecopter
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 25, 2019

And the winners are...

It's time to announce some winners! Yay! That is always a good time, especially if you are one of the winners.

Regina Jeffers gave away 2 eBooks of In Want of a Wife.


Winners:
tgruy
Mary



Elaine Jeremiah gave away one eBook of Love Without Time.


Winner:
Crista Buchan

Friday, February 22, 2019

Maggie Mooha...Elizabeth in the New World


Today, I welcome a first time guest to More Agreeably Engaged. Maggie Mooha, author of Elizabeth in the New World, is here for a visit. 

Thanks for stopping by, Maggie, and for sharing an excerpt from your premier novel. I've been hearing a good bit about it, and I have noticed it is getting some great reviews. Congratulations Maggie is giving away two eBooks, so two lucky winners will get the chance to read this book! :)

I enjoyed getting to know you better through your bio. Thanks so much for including it. I love learning more about the authors who write Austenesque novels.

Here's the blurb to get us started. It made me gasp when I first read it! What do you readers think?

*****

Blurb:

“Darcy watched every moment of that pistol’s slowly revolving descent. It hit the ground, and with a sudden cracking sound, discharged.  At first, he was not sure where the shot had landed until he fell to his knees like a broken marionette and collapsed face-first on the ground.”

            Thus begins the adventure that would test the limits of Darcy’s devotion and Elizabeth’s strength. In this premier novel based on actual historical events, Elizabeth Bennet is transported to a Caribbean island on the brink of revolution. The drawing rooms and assembly halls fade as we are transported to tropical nights, sailing ships, and heroic adventure. Never before has Darcy sacrificed so much for the love he fought so vehemently against. And never has Elizabeth’s strength of character been the only thing standing between her and death.

In Elizabeth in the New World the social constructs of Jane Austen’s world have been shattered and replaced with a new reality that reveal how much Elizabeth and Darcy would endure for one another.

*****

Author Bio:




Maggie Mooha – Bio-ish

            I think I’ve always been a storyteller. When I was still little, I used to tell my sister stories before we went to sleep. Most of them were serials – Superman and the like. It was funny how it never occurred to me until much later in life that I should try my hand at writing. 
            Most of my career, I’ve been a music teacher. It’s funny how music is such a help when crafting a story. I actually see the structure of a book or a screenplay as if it was a musical composition. 
            As for the nuts and bolts of my life, I grew up in the Chicago area and was a teacher there for quite a few years. I had a chance to teach at an international school in Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, and I spent two years there. After adopting my son from Russia, we spent four years at an international school in the Philippines. During that time, I began writing. 
            Most of my work has been screenplays, and my writing mentor is Madeline DiMaggio. I learned a great deal from her, not the least of which is what parts of my “deathless prose” or in screenplays “deathless dialogue” to toss out because they don’t contribute to the narrative. During my screenwriting days, I won a competition sponsored by a magazine in New York and was a semi-finalist at the Austen Film Festival in the Prime-Time Television Series category. I’m just telling you all of this so you don’t think I just sat down one day and wrote a novel right out of the blue. I’ve spent a lot of years working and learning. 
            It took me four summer vacations to write Elizabeth in the New World. I had the idea for the beginning of the book and the dénouement of the plot in my head for a while. I saw them like they were scenes from a movie. I knew I wanted to set it in a real conflict, so began searching for a conflict that involved the British that took place during Jane Austen’s lifetime. That conflict was Fedon’s Rebellion in Grenada. The rest of it was like putting a puzzle together – a puzzle that included tons of research. 
A couple of things that helped me a lot was advice I got from a self-publisher who gave an extension class at our local university. She said to write down the plot of the entire book in short scenes and put them on note cards. I did that and taped them to the two doors in my study and then just started cranking through them. The other really valuable thing she said was, “Don’t go back and read anything you wrote until the whole book is done.” She was right. You can fix the first three chapters forever if you let yourself. 
I am hoping that this is not my first and only book. I don’t know if the next one with be a sequel or something new entirely. Someone a long time ago called me “an insatiable romantic”. I hope it is still true. 
*****
Since part of this story takes place in Grenada, Maggie has some lovely pictures that I want to include. Although the excerpt does not take place in Grenada, the pictures provide an idea of the setting when the story does travel there.


Excerpt from Elizabeth in the New World by Maggie Mooha
Darcy’s carriage lurched. It broke him out of his reverie. What was he doing? Surely, Wickham would relent at the smell of money. Of course, he would. No shots would be fired. The lanterns clanked against the coach. It was nearly dawn.
The events of the last few weeks had changed his life forever. Elizabeth, his beloved
Elizabeth had refused him. He’d returned to Hunsford, if not a broken man, at least one who was
no fit company for gentle folk. As he dwelt in his misery, a letter arrived. It was from Mr.
Bennet. That letter, and how events would unfold this morning, would determine how Darcy’s
life would reveal itself. Hope or despair? Happiness or desolation?
News had come of Wickham’s elopement with Lydia, Elizabeth’s sister. She was a silly girl, typical of her breeding and…He must strike thoughts like that from his mind. Elizabeth was
raised in the same family, and she was…she was perfect. Besides, had not his own sister,
Georgiana, succumbed to Wickham’s charms? He had prevented that tragedy but was not
vigilant enough to prevent this one. It was entirely his fault, really. Entirely his fault. He should
have realized that the threat was real. Now, he hoped it was not too late.
Now, sitting in his coach, Darcy thought of the countless ways that George Wickham had
tried to hurt him. Perhaps he should have given Wickham the allowance his father had
recommended lo these many years ago and let him spend it or gamble it away. He would have
been rid of him then, once and for all. No, he had chosen to ignore his father’s wishes because of
Wickham’s feckless behavior, and subsequently, Wickham had extracted his revenge at every
turn, even involving his own sister, Georgiana. That plot Darcy had foiled. This last one,
however, would keep Elizabeth out of reach forever.
George Wickham had run away with Elizabeth’s sister, Lydia. They were not married.
Although Darcy had offered his services in searching for Lydia, he had arrived in London too
late. Elizabeth’s father had found the couple in some stinking lair in London, and one thing had
led to another. Now Darcy was forced to be a second in a duel. A second for poor Mr. Bennet.
No matter how this turned out, no good could come of it. If Mr. Bennet killed Wickham,
Lydia would still be disgraced and have no hope of marrying. That would compromise or ruin
her sisters. There would be even more of an impediment to his marrying Elizabeth. Marry her?
She had refused him. Oh, Elizabeth.
If Mr. Wickham killed Mr. Bennet, which was much more likely, then there would be no
hope for Lydia. Wickham would leave her in an instant, and all the Bennet girls would not only
be unmarriageable but also eventually without a home, because Mr. Bennet’s estate was entailed
to Mr. Collins.
There was one way that something positive could come of the entire affair. Darcy could
intercept Wickham before the duel and offer him money to marry the simpering Lydia. Once the
marriage was accomplished, the duel would be all but forgotten and the Bennet sisters would be
saved from disgrace.
Wickham’s words, however, rang in his head. Wickham’s plan all along was to hurt the
Bennets to exact his revenge upon him. He was sure of it. Again, he felt a pang of guilt. Why had
he been silent? Had he told of George Wickham’s plot to run off with his sister Georgiana and
make off with her fortune, the Bennets would have avoided Wickham like the plague. It was spilt
milk now. He must think of a way out of this predicament.
Two things that Darcy could rely upon worked in his favor. One was that Wickham was
mercenary. The other was that Wickham was a coward. He had no honor. It suddenly became
clear to him. He knew what he must do. With his walking stick, he rapped on the carriage
ceiling. The driver opened the trap door.
“Sir?” he asked.
“Take me to Regent Street.”
***
Darcy arrived at the Gardiners’ the following day as the sun’s pink and golden rays began to colour the clouds. Although a servant opened the door, Mr. Bennet stood ready in the hall. He
looked exceedingly agitated. Darcy made a slight bow.
“Thank goodness you have come, Mr. Darcy,” Mr. Bennet said, his voice shaking. “I
apologize for involving you, but you are the only gentleman of our acquaintance whom I trust…”
“Anything I can do to alleviate you or your family’s suffering,” he said gallantly. Mr. Bennet did not smile. He looked as if he would go apoplectic at a moment’s notice.
“Did you bring the pistols, Mr. Darcy?” Mr. Bennet asked, his voice quavering.
“Indeed, I did,” replied Mr. Darcy. “Have you ever handled a pistol before?”
“No, never,” Mr. Bennet squeaked.
Darcy put a comforting hand on Mr. Bennet’s arm. “Do not concern yourself, Mr. Bennet. I will teach you what you need to know, but I must speak with you first, as I think we may circumvent these proceedings altogether.”
“What are you saying, Mr. Darcy?” Mr. Bennet asked, hope shining in his eyes.
“I do believe that we can make this situation come out to our satisfaction,” said Darcy
confidently. Mr. Bennet smiled.
“I will rely upon you,” he said as they entered the study.
***
“Papa, are you in there? I would like to speak to you before you go,” Elizabeth called through the study door.
Mr. Bennet was already at the door, opening it. Elizabeth entered and began to speak but
stopped short when she saw Darcy. For a moment, she was speechless.
Mr. Bennet looked from one to the other. It was Darcy who spoke first.
He cleared his throat. “Good morning, Miss Bennet. I am sorry that we are not meeting under
happier circumstances. I will take my leave, so that you may speak to your father alone.” He
made his way toward her to the door.
As if awakened from a dream, she suddenly cried, “No,” before he reached the door. He
stopped, a surprised look on his face. They both looked at Mr. Bennet.
“Lizzy,” Mr. Bennet offered. “I think perhaps you might want to have a word with Mr.
Darcy. I will go and have my breakfast.” He tried to sound lighthearted, but Elizabeth knew he
was hiding his dread from her.
As soon as they were alone, Elizabeth went to the window. She could not look in Darcy’s
face. She was afraid her countenance would reveal all the tumult of emotions she was feeling.
“Mr. Darcy, why are you here?” she asked finally.
“Your father asked me to be his second in his duel with Mr. Wickham. He felt that I, being a gentleman, would possess the necessary knowledge and…” he groped for the word, “authority, to see that all proceeded fairly with adherence to the rules.”
“Rules?” she cried and turned upon him. “Rules. Mr. Darcy, what good can come of this?
Can you not do something to stop it? My father—” Her voice broke and she turned away from
him once more, burying her face in her handkerchief. “My father is an elderly man, a country
gentleman. What does he know of dueling?” The tears welled in her eyes, and then broke free
and ran down her cheeks. She wished he would rush to her and throw his arms around her and
hold her to his breast. Instead, he stood apart and spoke calmly.
“I do think that some accord can be reached without resorting to violence,” he said.
Elizabeth ceased crying at once and turned toward him. “Oh, do you think so?”
“I have made some arrangements.” He stopped. She looked at him expectantly. When she
saw that he was not forthcoming, she pressed the matter further.
“You are very vexing. You shall not leave this room until you have revealed all your plans to me. My father’s life, nay, all our lives, hang in the balance today. If you are to be our savior, you must tell me what you propose to do. If not, I think I shall go mad.”
Tears sprang to her eyes again, and she turned from him. She was angry at herself for crying so much. But my dear father, my dear, dear papa.
Darcy crossed the room and stood so close to Elizabeth that she could hear him breathing.
“Miss Bennet. Please. Do not cry. I will tell you,” he said softly. His words acted on Elizabeth almost like a caress. She turned to look at him. His dark eyes bored into her. She audibly caught her breath. He offered his hand to her and she obediently took it. He led her to the sofa, where they sat facing each other.
“I was going to reveal all once everything was accomplished. I see now that that is
impossible.” His intent look suddenly softened into sympathy Did he understand her torment?
Perhaps all was not lost between them.
“Please. There is so little time,” she said.
“I considered all the facts and was led to one conclusion. Wickham will want money in order to make things right with your sister. I am prepared to offer a generous endowment to him for the rest of his life, and with provisions for your sister and any children they may have.”
“Oh, Mr. Darcy. I do not know how any of us will ever repay you.”
“Rest assured that I do not do any of this for your family. I do it only for you.”
His words struck her like a blow. He does still care for her. Oh, why does all this have to
happen now? They have no time. She forced herself to think.
“But the duel? Surely Mr. Wickham will have to go through with it. He will be attended, I presume, by at least one man from his regiment. He will have to go through with it to preserve
his reputation.”
“I expect so,” said Darcy. Elizabeth’s face fell. Wickham could still kill her beloved papa.
Darcy, gingerly covering her hand with his, continued. “I am his second. It is in my
prerogative to finish the duel if your father is unable. I can and will insist on that point. If
anything happens to your father, Wickham will have me to deal with, and he knows that I am a
very good shot.”
He got up to take his leave. “I must be going now. Do not worry. Wickham is a coward. He will not go so far as to fire even one shot. You can rely on it.”
Elizabeth looked up into his face and smiled for the first time. He smiled in return.
She was grateful for all he was doing for her, and for her family despite its low connections
and its unseemly behavior. Gratitude, however, was not her overwhelming emotion at that
moment. She wanted him to take her in his arms. She wanted to kiss him good-bye, again and
again. He turned to look at her once more.
She swallowed hard. His eyes. They bore into her like a dagger. It was now or never. What if he were killed? What if he lay in his grave never knowing that she loved him? He was prepared to sacrifice everything for her, his position, his reputation, his wealth, and now he was prepared to sacrifice his life. Could she hold her reputation above that?
He turned away from her and headed to the door. She could not let him go without telling
him of her feelings. What if he was mistaken? What if Wickham killed her father and killed him
too?
As he opened the door and exited, she said in a barely audible tone, “I love you.” She waited for the click of the door. It did not come.
The door opened again, and Darcy entered the room once more.
“What did you say?” he asked.
She faltered for a moment, then repeated, “I love you,” louder this time. It all happened in an instant. She did not move and yet she was in his arms. He strode across the room with such force that he lifted her off the ground. The touch of his body was intoxicating. Suddenly, a dark cloud
 crossed his face, and he let her down. He still had not kissed her.
“Perhaps you are only grateful to me,” he said, pulling away slightly, but not letting go of
her. Oh no, no, he would know. She reached up and caressed his cheek.
“How can you doubt me?” she said. “Do you think I do not know my own mind?”
She watched his face. His eyes searched hers as if he would find in them the truth he wanted to know. She touched his face again. He kissed her.
It was not the polite kiss she had seen exchanged so many times among the married people she had known. No, this was something more. His mouth touched hers, parted her lips, embraced her. She felt her body yield to him. He kissed her again and again and then began to kiss her beneath her ear and down her neck. Pulses of a heretofore undiscovered energy radiated from her heart throughout her body. She felt urges from her nether regions that both excited and alarmed her.
When he reached her mouth again, she opened it to his and felt him enter her there with his tongue. She became weak with desire and he held her to him, whispering her name, “Elizabeth.”
A knock at the door parted them suddenly. She tried her best to recover herself and called
out, “Come in.”
By the time the door opened, Darcy had turned from her and was standing at the window, his back to them. Her father entered.
“It is time, Mr. Darcy.”
Tears welled in her eyes. She bit her lip to control herself. “Papa,” she said, and rushed to
embrace him.
“Now, now, Lizzy. Everything will be fine. You will see,” he said cajolingly, although
Elizabeth could feel the tension in him. Mr. Bennet planted a kiss on his daughter’s cheek. “Be
brave. I am counting on you.”
“Yes, Papa,” she said, using everything in her power to gain control of herself. Her father left the room, and Darcy followed. He turned to look at her, and she tried to speak to him with only a glance: please come back to me. The front door closed, and the sound of carriage wheels drifted up from the street below.
***
Wow, what an exhilarating excerpt. It took my breath away! Thank you, Maggie Mooha, for sharing it with us. Dear Readers, what are your thoughts? Have you read this Elizabeth in the New World yet? If so, share some of your favorite parts, without spoilers, of course. One of the things that I think sounds neat, is the historical background of the story. It is always fascinating to me when a good novel incorporates actual historical content. 
Thank you again for stopping by my blog. I hope that you write another novel and will visit again. You are always welcome.
Ms. Mooha is giving away two eBooks, and the giveaway is international. Leave your comment below and don't forget to include contact info if I don't already have it. The giveaway will end on the 26th of February at midnight, central time. Good luck to all!