Monday, September 16, 2019

The Journey Home to Pemberley...Joana Starnes

Welcome to More Agreeably Engaged, Joana. It's so exciting that you have a new release! The excerpts that you have been posting really made me want to read more! :) I've been anxiously awaiting your visit today and everything you have in store for us! 

Dear Readers, Joana has written a special treat just for us. Aren't we lucky! It is lovely, but I will say no more for now, except...! OH MY! I swooned! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Before we get to the vignette, let's take a look at the trailer.

Isn't it lovely! Wow! I keep watching it again and again. What do you think about it?


Do you want to know a little more about Joana Starnes?
Not only is she an excellent writer, she is also a lovely person. 

Author Bio:

Joana lives in the south of England with her family. Over the years, she has swapped several hats – physician, lecturer, clinical data analyst – but feels most comfortable in a bonnet. She has been living in Georgian England for decades in her imagination, and plans to continue in that vein till she lays hands on a time machine.

She is the author of eight Austen-inspired novels (From This Day Forward ~ The Darcys of PemberleyThe Subsequent ProposalThe Second ChanceThe Falmouth ConnectionThe Unthinkable TriangleMiss Darcy’s CompanionMr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter and The Darcy Legacy) and one of the contributors to the Quill Ink anthologies (The Darcy Monologues, Dangerous to KnowRational Creatures and Yuletide). They are all available at Amazon in Kindle and paperback, and some in Audible too: Joana’s Amazon Page.

You can connect with Joana on:


Are you ready for the vignette? I am, so here you go! Enjoy!

Thank you, Janet, for welcoming me here today on the blog tour for my latest book, The Journey Home To Pemberley, which was released a few days ago.

I’ve been posting some excerpts at Austen Variations since the beginning of August, and there was another one in the cover reveal post at Austenesque Reviews last week. In those excerpts we see what Elizabeth is thinking and feeling (and how her thoughts and sentiments take her by surprise) when she finds herself tending to an injured and barely conscious Mr Darcy. But what – if anything – is he thinking at the time?

How about a vignette from Mr Darcy’s point of view? Please follow the links above if you’d like a quick reminder of just where we left our favourite couple – or rather how we left them 😊 – then pray read on:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It made no sense at all that he should be shivering uncontrollably while his mouth felt parched and his body was on fire. Wave after wave of fire and throbbing pain washed over him. Pain in his head? His body? He could not tell, nor did he care.

It made no sense either that he should hear her voice. Mr Darcy! Good heavens, Mr Darcy? Time and again he fancied he could hear this – now a shocked cry, now a barely audible whisper. Senseless fantasies, of course. The sound of her voice was but a forlorn echo in his imagination. Just as she was but a phantasm now – in equal measure a comfort and a torment. Nothing but a phantasm that came to him in dreams.

But that made no sense either. She had never called him Mr Darcy in his dreams.

Fogged with pain, his mind refused to grapple with the unsolvable conundrum. So Darcy allowed himself to drift into dizzying darkness, even as an intermittent cool sensation on his brow brought temporary comfort. Yet it also brought the aching wish to believe it was her healing touch that soothed him.

It could not be. And with that lucid thought, he sunk into oblivion.

* * * *

The ice seemed to have lost its grip on him. It was melted – gone. But the heat had not subsided, and as it swirled and trapped him in its heavy folds, the dreamy haze around him acquired an increasingly poignant quality. For the treasured phantasm was still there, somewhere in the haze, almost as substantial as a physical presence.

He could have sworn he could detect her scent. Jasmine and gardenia. Her scent, and hers alone. He could have likewise sworn that the cool touch on his temple was hers. Hers too, the fingers that seemed to stroke his hair. And when he reached out blindly, searching blindly, he could have sworn it was her hand he found and clasped.

It slipped away, the phantasm’s hand, and he winced when the illusive succour vanished.

“Elizabeth…” he whispered in his dream, and at length the phantasm was willing to indulge him. He was permitted to feel the clasp of cool fingers yet again, and her voice, brought forth from the deepest recess of his memory, spoke the words he wished to hear. Spoke gentle words – as only a conjured phantasm would – urging him to rest and promising she would not leave him.

A dream, as always. It must be. Yet it felt more comforting than ever, and he could only pray he would not wake anytime soon and find the sweet illusion shattered.

She was but a phantasm, as he knew full well. But he answered her as if she were real:

“Thank you, my love.”

As if her promise to remain beside him were something that he could depend upon.

* * * *

The perfect dream had not vanished yet – extraordinary! – but recent recollections gradually emerged from the haze, as did faint wisps of sanity. He must have hit his head when the skittish beast, his uncle’s mount, had thrown him, Darcy reasoned. So now his addled mind was playing tricks on him. For, instead of signalling that he was lying in the rain by the side of the rough track, it sought to convince him that he was somewhere else. That he was abed – and safe – and warm.

Moreover, it insidiously laboured to persuade him that he was not alone. That she was beside him, her head resting on his shoulder. The warm weight felt impossibly real. So did her scent, as it invaded his senses.

He exhaled. Reality would eventually hit, no doubt, and the illusion would give way to loss. As always.

‘Reality be damned,’ Darcy hazily thought, and allowed his mind to foster the delusion for a little while longer. It was easily done – so easy to imagine that her head was on his shoulder. That her hair brushed his cheek as his chest rose and fell with every breath. He had even fooled himself into believing that the warm softness beneath his lips was her brow, when reality hit with far more force than he had expected.

There was someone with him in the darkness. The stranger jumped and gasped. And the high-pitched gasp was that of a female.

His senses abruptly jolted into alertness, Darcy sought to shuffle up as unmitigated horror washed over him. Surely he had not lost his mind to the point of taking some wench to his bed in a fever-induced haze – in the insane pretence that she was Elizabeth!

He had no recollection of any such debauchery, but that could hardly count as reassurance. His head pounded more fiercely than ever and his throat felt painfully raw as he rasped, “What the devil? Who goes there?”

“Sh-sh. All is well. ‘Tis I – Elizabeth,” the answer came at last in a faint whisper, and it brought no reassurance either.

Instead, the sense of loss swelled, mingled with no little anger at the disembodied voice that chose to mock him so. A sound escaped him, half sigh, half muffled snort.

“Do not toy with me, woman,” he muttered. “I am in no fit state to put up with it.”

What he heard next was a mild chuckle that might have fuelled his vexation, had it not been followed by a softly spoken, “Probably not.”

The air left his lungs in a shocked rush. He must be running stark raving mad if he was patently awake – and yet was still hearing things. Hearing her everywhere!

‘Say something else! Speak to me again!’ he wanted to cry out, yet all he managed was a hoarse, “Your voice! Who are you?”

“We need some light,” she said, and then there was light, as though she had willed it so. Blinding light. Exhilarating.

Darcy stared, scarce daring to believe his eyes.

“Good God! It is you,” he choked out in a ragged whisper.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So what happens next?

They are alone – the best possible chance for them to talk uninterrupted. So they talk. About what? The Hunsford debacle, of course. Things must be said, apologies made – by both of them – and in Mr Darcy’s case the apology turns out to be forthright, if not very articulate.

And where do they go from here?

I hope you will enjoy finding out.

Many thanks for stopping by to read the vignette. Please enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win one of the 8 Kindle copies of The Journey Home To Pemberley, or a paperback copy, or a P&P and Austen-related goodie bag. The Giveaway is international.

Best wishes, thanks for reading and thanks again, Janet, for hosting me today. It’s always such a pleasure to be here!

Thank you also for sharing this vignette with us. It was delightful! Swoon! Did I say that already? lol It was such a pleasure having you visit my blog again. Best wishes with The Journey Home to Pemberley. Please come back again soon.

Thank you for such a generous giveaway, Joana! There are going to be some very lucky people!
Readers, to enter, please use the Rafflecopter below.
Don't forget to visit all the stops on the blog tour.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A Taste of Peanut Butter...Jennifer Redlarczyk

It is such a delight to have Jennifer Redlarzcyk visit More Agreeably Engaged again. Jennifer always has such wonderful pictures to share with us, as well as a fun excerpt and delicious sounding excerpt! :) Jen also is giving away two eBooks so be sure to comment. Thank you, Jen, and welcome!


Greetings, and many thanks to Janet Taylor for hosting me on her blog with A Taste of Peanut Butter. What could be better than a story preview and a slice of Chocolate Lover’s Pie?

Elizabeth Bennet has a passion for baking and peanut butter is her signature ingredient. In this first scene let’s find out a little more about our aspiring baker, shall we?

O’Hare International Airport
Friday afternoon, late spring

“So, did you have to pay extra to check your overweight bag?” Jane Bennet stood with her hands on her hips and gave her younger sister a quizzical look.

“I did—a total of one hundred dollars to be precise. Can you believe it? My bag was only nine pounds over the limit. Heck, I could have checked in an extra suitcase for that price. If only peanut butter didn’t weigh so much.”

 Jane giggled. “Lizzy, you probably wouldn’t have had to pay a thing if you only left some of your baking pans and that ridiculous Chinese wok behind. Plus you wouldn’t have had to stuff so much in your carry-on and backpack.”

“What are you talking about? My flat is almost barren when it comes to kitchenware. Okay, I admit I probably could have gotten by without the wok even though I did promise my teammates from the bank that I’d cook Thai when we start working on our hospitality booth for Wimbledon. Believe me, by that time they will have had their fill of my practice desserts. Nevertheless, the bake off is coming up, and I need every single one of those baking pans if I’m going to keep practicing. I have big plans for my babies—chocolate peanut butter cream pie, peanut butter spice cake, not to mention my killer cheesecake. I only hope I don’t run short of peanut butter. The good stuff is like gold in the UK.”

“Now you listen to me, Elizabeth Anne Bennet! With the exception of the contest, you, my dear sister, are supposed to be taking a hiatus from cooking. Your roomy, Charlotte, is absolutely right. You will never get a decent guy to like you for the smart, intelligent, beautiful woman you are if you keep flaunting your cooking skills at every turn. Men aren’t normal when it comes to your culinary expertise. It’s like they’re on drugs or something. I’m tired of hearing about all the bozos who somehow think they’ve struck it rich with their own personal chef while forgetting how to treat you like a real date. I’d like to know, dear sister, when was the last time a guy friend invited you out to dinner instead of having you come over to his place with your apron in hand.”

“Look, Jane,” she huffed. “I won’t stop being who I am. That’s all there is to it. With going to school and my internship at the UBI, I have a very stressful schedule. Not to mention, I have to suffer through a nasty test on derivatives as soon as classes resume. Believe me; I need a diversion after putting in so many hours between the bank and school. Feeding my friends is how I relax.”

Jane couldn’t resist giving her younger sister a big hug. “Okay, I understand. I just wish you would give Charlotte’s plan a try the next time you meet a new guy. How hard could it be to refrain from talking about your hobby on the first date?”

“I know.” She pouted.

“Hey, don’t give me that. I want assurance and a pinky promise that you’ll at least try.” The two laughed as they went through the ritual.

“All right, I promise, I’ll do my best. But if….”

“No buts! Oh, I almost forgot. Here’s my reader. See if you can squeeze it in your bag. I loaded it with my favourite, Pride and Prejudice. Maybe you can take a hint from your namesake and challenge yourself to find a real Mr. Darcy.”

Elizabeth let out a hearty laugh. “Oh, Jane, I love how you have me giving up my cooking passion and meeting Mr. Darcy all in one fell swoop. You are without question one demanding sister!”

“Not really. I’m simply a romantic at heart, just like you. Now, get on through security.” The two sisters hugged, and Jane waved as she rushed toward the exit. “Don’t forget to text me once you get squared away on the other side. Love you!”

“Okay, Sis! I love you, too!” Elizabeth called as she clumsily lugged all of her things to the closest security checkpoint. Removing her sandals and pulling out all electronic devices from her backpack, she quickly filled two grey plastic holding bins and managed to hoist her overstuffed carry-on onto the conveyor belt.

Little did Elizabeth Bennet realise, however, that she was being closely eyed by a very interested party of the male persuasion. Captivated by the perky brunette, he had overheard her entire conversation and was now formulating his own plan.

Curious, I never thought of dating an American. She said that she is an intern at the UBI. I wonder why I haven’t ever seen her there. Of course, there are loads of interns at the bank. He couldn’t help smiling while candidly giving her the once over. Beautiful, long, dark, silky hair, her eyes, great figure and even more important, she cooks. I’ve never dated a woman who liked to cook. Without a doubt, this Elizabeth is different from all the other Elizabeth Bennets I’ve ever met, or any other woman for that matter. She’s so … unpretentious, refreshing and obviously not a part of the corporate set. I wonder. Richard did suggest that I consider stepping out of my comfort zone for a change. Maybe….

Well, what do you think? Will Elizabeth be able to resist tempting you know who with her delicious baking? Now is your chance to speculate in the comments and enter in the giveaway for two eBooks. Thanks so much for stopping by. Jen Red


Thank you again, Jen, for being my guest today. It is always such a pleasure having you visit. For those of you interested in seeing the photos Jen picked for this book, check out her Pinterest page,
A Taste of Peanut Butter and Blame It on the Squash.

Jen's book, A Taste of Peanut Butter is available on Amazon. Jen is also giving away two eBooks of  A Taste of Peanut Butter as she mentioned above. To be entered in the giveaway, tell us what you think. Will Elizabeth tempt a certain gentleman that has been eyeing her or will she not? We would love to hear your thoughts. The giveaway will end on the 16th of September at midnight. Be sure I am able to contact you should you be the winner. Good luck to all and thanks for stopping by.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Victoria Kincaid...Audiobooks

Welcome, Victoria Kincaid. It is always good to have you stop by. Your new audiobooks, with the ever popular narration of Stevie Zimmerman, are sure to be wonderful listening. Congratulations!

Thank you for stopping by my blog and offering an excerpt and double giveaway! That is awesome! I know my readers will be as excited as I am! The excerpt is, well, I'll use Elizabeth's words, "thrilling!" It almost took my breath away in places! Imagine listening to those words as an audiobook! 

Hello Janet and thank you for having me as a guest.  I was lucky that Stevie Zimmerman recently agreed to narrate two of my books, Darcy vs. Bennet and When Jane Got Angry.  She does a great job with the Pride and Prejudice voices and my readers always love her narration.  Below is an excerpt from Darcy vs. Bennet and information about how to enter a double giveaway for copies of book audiobooks!

Elizabeth dearly loved to dance but seldom had she found a partner as accomplished as William.  They moved so well together that it was as if they had been dancing together for years.  Already she regretted that they would not share another set.  But she had sufficiently indulged her whims; she and Louisa would need to leave soon.  What would Jane think if she knew Elizabeth had kept company with a masked man—without any sort of proper introduction?  Elizabeth herself was a bit startled at her own temerity.
She had planned to observe Louisa from the shadows and avoid the other guests.  But then Louisa had abandoned her, and William had appeared as if heaven sent. He had intrigued her at once.  His clothes were almost all black—a common choice for men at a masquerade—and of the highest quality; they displayed his tall figure to great advantage.  What she could see of his face suggested he was quite handsome.  He was gentlemanly and solicitous in his manners.  But what most struck Elizabeth was that the conversation between them flowed so effortlessly; it was as if they had known each other for years rather than minutes.  
She had resolved many times to quit his presence but found herself instead agreeing with his every suggestion.  When he had left her to speak with that other woman, she had felt a ridiculous twinge of jealousy—and accompanying relief when he revealed her identity.  But even in the grip of such a turmoil of emotions, Elizabeth had eagerly awaited his return rather than take the opportunity to escape.
And now they were dancing.  Each touch of his hand thrilled her upon contact—like a special gift reserved for her alone.  Every touch felt so illicit, so naked; Elizabeth actually checked to ensure they were both wearing gloves.  Although she knew it was wrong, she yearned for more contact with him—to touch his arms, his back, his face.  Shivers traveled up and down her spine.  She had danced with many men; why did this one affect her so?
Other women in the set were throwing William flirtatious glances, but he ignored them.  Undoubtedly, they knew his identity.  The quality of his clothes suggested his family had at least a moderate fortune, which was bound to attract feminine attention.  Why does he pay me any attention at all?  He is too high in the instep for me.  Sharply she reminded herself it did not matter.  There was no harm in enjoying his company for this one night, and she would never see him again.
The dance called for them to clasp hands and turn in a circle.  His eyes caught and held her gaze as they turned.  Despite his mask, she could discern he was a handsome man with a fine figure.  But there was something else that stirred inside Elizabeth when she lost herself in his dark blue gaze—almost as if she were coming home to someone she had known all her life.
Then she gave a little shake of the head.  Stop this foolishness! she admonished herself.  The warm air, the torchlight, and the scent of roses are simply casting a spell—enchanting my senses and encouraging flights of fancy.  At the conclusion of the dance, she would thank him, and they would go their separate ways.  It was well past time for Elizabeth and Louisa to depart.  The longer they remained, the greater the risk of detection.
Elizabeth ignored the pain in her chest.  She could not possibly miss a man she had known for less than an hour.  This was not a fairy tale or a popular novel.
He had simply sought her temporary companionship.  Perhaps he was more handsome and charming than most…well, any other man she had met.  But no doubt he would forget her the moment they parted ways.  And she would forget him as well…eventually.
The dance brought them very close for a moment, face to face, and he smiled at her, creating a tingle of excitement that spread into the very core of her body.  The sensation was both exhilarating and frightening.  Would she—could she—ever have these feelings for another man?


Did you enjoy the excerpt? Did the mask make it easier to talk to Elizabeth? What do you think? Have you read this book? I think it would be lovely to listen to the audiobook. How many of you enjoy listening to audiobooks? Victoria Kincaid is giving away two audiobooks. There will be two lucky winners. The winner can pick which audiobook of the two he/she would like to have. The audiobooks in the giveaway are Darcy vs. Bennet and When Jane Got Angry. Leave a comment to be entered. The giveaway will end on the 10th of September at midnight. 

Thank you Victoria Kincaid for visiting and sharing an excerpt with us. We appreciate your generous giveaway too, and we wish you the best with your audiobooks.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

A Sister's Curse...Jayne Bamber

My guest today is Jayne Bamber, and this is a special day for her. Not only is she here to share an enticing excerpt from her new book, A Sister's Curse, she is also celebrating her birthday! Happy Birthday, Jayne! I'm so excited that my readers and I can help you celebrate! How fun for us to be with you on this day. I know my dear readers will join me in wishing you the very best of days!

Getting back to reason that Jayne joins us today, her new release sounds quite intriguing and different. Have any of you read it yet? If you have, maybe you will share some of your thoughts with us in the comments. 

Jayne, I will turn the floor over to you. 


Fan-casting A Sister’s Curse

When writing, it’s easy enough to imagine Lizzy and Darcy, Jane and Bingley, and even Colonel Fitzwilliam, with all the adaptations I have seen. Of course, there are times when I picture them a little differently – a handsomer Colonel, a younger Lady Catherine, etc. With my new release, A Sister’s Curse, there are several characters I imagine very differently from any portrayal I’ve seen, and a few original characters that exist only in my imagination!

So, I thought I ought to provide some visual aid, as I share with you just a little introduction to these new characters, and a few minor tweaks to some existing characters. Lizzy, Darcy, Jane, and Bingley have been omitted from this list because I think their portrayals have always been so very perfect in film, even when so different from one movie to another.

As to the minor characters and new characters, allow me to introduce Darcy and Lizzy’s extended family….

Lady Anne Darcy (Kelly MacDonald)

As a writer who is weirdly interested in small characters, Lady Anne was a delight to written and to get to know. In A Sister’s Curse, I envisioned her as a spirited woman who, being related to so many feisty Fitzwilliams, she still seems tame in comparison – Lady Catherine, the Earl, and even their mother are overpowering in contrast. Early in the story, Lady Anne will stand up for herself, when pushed to do so, though her brother likes to anticipate her. As the story progresses, time is not kind to Lady Anne, and it is more of a struggle for her to go back to speaking her mind as freely as she once did, so there is a strong sense of regret that clouds her character.

Sir Edward Gardiner (James Frain)

I definitely see Uncle Edward as more complex than the jolly, portly, white-haired standard depiction in films, and in A Sister’s Curse he is an integral part of the story from very early on. Like Lady Anne, Sir Edward first appears in the story as a younger man; he, too, shoulders a great burden that wears him away over the years, until he begins to resemble Mr. Bennet in terms of parenting style as well as general marital woe. He has a dose of self-loathing to overcome before the story ends, but he is still fortunate in his friends and beloved by his nieces.

Henry Fitzwilliam, the Earl of Matlock (Sean Bean)

The Earl is a powerful enough man to be used to having his own way, and but still a man of enough good intention to interfere in the affairs of others on behalf of those he loves. His meddling early on in the story, though well-meaning, leads to some unexpected consequences for the people that he seeks to assist.


Lady Eleanor, Dowager Countess of Matlock (Caroline Goodall)
My sass queen! Mother to Lady Anne Darcy, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and the Earl of Matlock – the kind of mother who will loudly and proudly declare she loves all of her children equally, and in the next breath throw some serious shade.

Lady Charlotte Fitzwilliam (Jodie Comer)

The younger sister of the Viscount and Colonel Fitzwilliam is also a stand-in for Charlotte Lucas, as Lizzy’s friend and confidante. On the verge of spinsterhood, Charlotte retains a sense of humor and good cheer, and though she may speak sensibly and practically, she secretly harbors a romantic nature.

Phyllis Gardiner – Fitzwilliam (Harriet Walter)

The younger sister of Edward Gardiner and Fanny Bennet is still a young lady at the opening of the story, not yet wed to Mr. Phillips of Meryton. Thanks to the dowager countess, Phyllis’s life takes a very different turn – she first becomes a paid companion to the Sass Queen Extraordinaire, and then marries far beyond what might have been expected of her.

William Collins (Tom Mison)

A Sister’s Curse portrays Mr. Collins as both kinder and wiser, having had the advantages of growing up at Longbourn, receiving a gentleman’s education, and never having to grovel to the likes of Lady Catherine de Bourgh! As a friend of Mr. Bingley’s, he takes the opportunity to extend an “olive branch” to his fair cousins, but on this occasion it is much better received.


Georgiana Augusta “Rose” Gardiner (Lily James)

Ostensibly Sir Edward Gardiner’s oldest daughter, Rose goes by her middle name to hide the fact that her spit-fire mother Lady Olivia named her after her natural father – that’s right, you guessed it, none other than the Prince Regent himself! While her parentage is only a problem inasmuch as the discord it sows in the family, Rose, who is four years younger than Lizzy, is a fiercely loyal, though sometimes Lydia-esque accomplice.

Elliot de Bourgh (Jason Momoa)

This de Bourgh cousin is deployed as a secret weapon of sorts; a second son and cousin of Anne de Bourgh, who arrives in London to fulfill his family’s wish of getting Rosings back into their hands, much to the dismay of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Elliot is clever and a little shy around ladies, despite his staggering good looks, and his visit to London is quickly derailed.

Madeline (Helena Bonham – Carter)

Sir Edward Gardiner’s first love fulfills a very different role in this tale. While she typically appears as Lizzy’s doting aunt, full of wisdom and encouragement, Madeline and Edward do not marry in their youth in this tale, leading to a domino effect that brings her back into his life later on, in much different circumstances….


The excerpt I will be sharing today is a view of the extended Fitzwilliam family at Christmas, when Lizzy is just 13 years old – as you will see, life has been very different from canon for many characters….

     Lady Anne looked about her drawing room and let out a sigh of contentment as she cast her eyes
about everything before her – everything she had ever wanted. The Yule log her husband had collected
with their son and young George Wickham was blazing brightly in the fireplace, and Mary and
Elizabeth were hanging up garlands of holly with little Rose Gardiner and their Fitzwilliam cousins,
who were bearing up cheerfully on their first Christmas without their mother. George was turning the
sheet music for Jane as she practiced at the pianoforte she had been given for St. Nicholas’s day, and
the sound of the traditional carol, mixed with the crackling of the fire and the laughter of her children,
was sheer bliss.
     Upstairs, the rest of her recently arrived relations were settling in from their journey; Catherine, Sir
Lewis and Anne, the earl, dowager countess, and Phyllis Gardiner – soon to be Phyllis Fitzwilliam – 
would join them soon. Sir Edward Gardiner ambled into the room with a broad smile, and Anne patted
the sofa beside her.
     “How are you this evening, Lady Anne?”
     “The same as I am every Christmas – incandescently happy.”
     “I am glad to hear it,” Sir Edward replied, seating himself beside her. “That is just what I love
about visiting Pemberley. This place is always full of happiness and laughter.”
     “It is, is it not?” Anne gazed at her daughters and smiled. “I suppose I owe a great deal of that to you,
my old friend. You have given my husband and I three very good reasons to be happy. I only hope that
you are half as contented as I am.”
     Sir Edward smiled sadly; he must have known what she was really saying, and the question she
could not bear to ask. “I am well enough. Rose is a delight, in her own way. She is every bit a little
princess, you know, and stubborn like her mother.”
     “Is Lady Olivia well?”
     “She will be, after her confinement. She sends her regards, of course. I think she really would have
liked to be here this year. It is my hope,” he confided in a low voice, “that after the babe comes, she
may yet return to her former self. There are still traces of it about her, at times....” He sighed and
broke off.
     Anne looked away, recalling her attempts, all of which had been in vain, to dissuade him from the
match that had brought him wealth and a title, as well as a decade of misery that he had not been able
to conceal. Fond as she was of Sir Edward, she had often been forced over the years to remind herself
that he was a grown man, capable of making his own decisions. She had long felt little but doubt at his
attempts to assure her, whenever Lady Olivia acted up, that he had made his peace with his marriage,
if not his wife.
     “I have given some thought to your last letter,” he said. “If you wish to formally give the girls
the Darcy name, I have no objection to it. I think it would be better if I were with them when you and
George tell them about it, if only to assure them that they need not feel any uncertainty about the matter.”
     “Oh, Edward, thank you. Truly, it means the world to George and me. And of course it will be a fine
thing for Jane, too, with her going off to school in the new year. She is so very shy, and I think the
Darcy name might help her make friends in spite of her reserve.”
     Sir Edward regarded his eldest niece and smiled warmly. “She is nearly a woman grown, is she not?
The years certainly have flown by. She is a fine young lady, and I appreciate your influence on her.”
     Anne swatted at him. “And what of the other girls?”
     “Lizzy is still all Thomas, and I daresay she ever shall be.”
     “I could not wish her any different. She gives me the most trouble of the three, but between you
and I, I confess I rather adore it.”
     “And little Mary, how she diverts me! I should never have imagined Fanny having a daughter who
would be so very serious, and so bookish. She rather reminds me of your William. I see his influence
in her, as much as your own.”
     “And dear William is entirely his father, as I am sure you are aware.”
     “He has got a good head on his shoulders, and is every bit the gentleman.”
     Anne smiled to herself as her eyes drifted over to her son. Her husband had shaped William
into a fine young man indeed, and she was tremendously proud of him. She only wished that he might,
in time, grow closer with the girls. She supposed it was a great disparity in their ages, and the fact
that he was already of an age to begin schooling so soon after the girls first came to them, that must
have produced this reserve she sensed from him. He was certainly not as outspoken as young
George Wickham, their steward’s son, but he was easy and open enough with Richard
and John Fitzwilliam.
     “I think he is rather mortified by Catherine’s new notion of his marrying Anne someday,” she felt
herself blurting out. “He shows the same reserve to poor Charlotte as well.”
     Sir Edward chuckled. “They are all of them far too young to be thinking of such things yet,
but given how time does tend to fly, I am sure we must all be thinking of such things ere long.
Soon it will be our girls.”
     “Perish the thought!” Anne shook her head teasingly, and was on the point of changing the
subject entirely when her mother swept into the room. She greeted her family warmly, saving Anne
and Sir Edward for last.
     “You are looking well tonight, Daughter,” she said cheerfully as she took a seat nearby. “And how
are you, dear Edward? I hear you have left Lady Olivia in London on this visit. Tell me, how does
your charming wife?”
     Anne could perceive the barb by the turn of her mother’s smile, and suspected Sir Edward could
as well, but he only replied, “She sends her love.”
     “Oh yes, I am sure. Well now, Anne, I suppose the rest of our party will be down soon. Have you
asked him?”
     Sir Edward quirked his eyebrows knowingly, and Anne laughed. “Well Good Heavens, Mamma!
I suppose if I had not, you would have quite muddied the waters, putting him on edge by making
such a speech!”
     “Yes, well, I like to keep my beaux on their toes, you know.”
     “We have spoken of it, Lady Eleanor,” Sir Edward said with humor in his tone. “I have given
my hearty approval to the girls taking the Darcy name.”
     “I am glad to hear it. I was quite your supporter, I shall tell you that. I told them how it would be,
that you would think it the most natural thing in the world, and most advantageous. You are a fine
uncle indeed! Now then, when shall we tell the girls?”
     “Oh, I do not know,” Anne sighed. “To own the truth, I am rather nervous. George assures me
I am making a fuss over nothing, but I worry about Lizzy.”
     As Sir Edward gave her a nervous look, her mother harrumphed. “Yes, well, I worry about all
thirteen-year-old girls. It is a difficult age!”

What do you think? It's been enjoyable reading that Lady Anne and George Darcy are living. What
about the choice of characters? Elliot de Bourgh? (Aquaman and looking handsome!)
Hmmm, are you ready to read more? You can get your copy with the link below or just maybe, you will
win one in the giveaway!

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Now it is giveaway time! I believe this is a bit backward, don't you Dear Readers? Jayne is giving one
of you a gift on her birthday. How generous you are, Jayne! You should be the one getting gifts!

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Please share some birthday wishes and some book love with Jayne Bamber. I'm so glad that you were able to join us today, Jayne. It's lovely having you here. I hope your day is wonderful and full of many fun and happy times. Happy Birthday and Best Wishes with your new release.